In the face of a constantly evolving threat landscape, many MSPs are looking at the potential of and opportunities in moving to MSSPs. But what is inspiring this change? And what does that mean for the career MSP?
From a global perspective, the exponential growth of not only threats but the attack surface vulnerable to those threats has been incredible. Ransomware is the buzzword of the day, with two headline-grabbing attacks in the past few months, but ransomware is only the latest in a long line of threats as the bad guys continue to evolve and find new ways to steal data. For MSPs, looking at ways to add security services is a logical next step. They’re looking at ways to provide more, differentiated value – to grow from a trusted IT advisor into almost a virtual CISO role.
How to protect data has also evolved. Backups simply aren’t enough anymore as threats mutate and grow – you do need backup, but you also need powerful security defenses against the attacks themselves.
This is particularly relevant because we’ve come to realize and openly talk about what the real “soft underbelly” of IT security is. While we often think of protecting our data from disasters – a flood, tornado, or fire destroying our servers, for example – the real risk to company data isn’t an act of Mother Nature, but people. People make mistakes online, and hackers know this, and so the source of most concern for anyone looking to secure their data is how to keep their end users safe and educate those end users against the threats that lie in wait.
What’s the difference?
There’s some debate over the precise definition, but at the core, an MSP offers IT systems services, managed on-premises and on the cloud, ensuring their customers’ IT systems are up and running. MSPs focus on making sure your data is available, with an eye toward usability, performance, and administration. MSSPs on the other hand, offer a full suite of security options. They provide threat protection and response to make sure your IT systems are safe from outside interlopers.
A full-fledged MSSP offers monitoring and managing of such roles as
- Firewalls, UTM technology
- Intrusion detection and prevention
- Security gateways (web and email)
- Advanced threat defense
- Vulnerability scanning for networks, servers, databases, and applications
- DDoS mitigation
- Customer-deployed SIEM technologies
- Security analysis and reporting (logs)
- Reporting connected to monitored/managed devices and incident response
Given the number of new and emerging threats we see every day, it’s understandable why MSPs are beginning to think long and hard about a transition to focus on security as well as functionality.
Where to begin?
For an MSP just beginning the transition to an MSSP role, there are a number of potential jumping in points in terms of what you can offer. Whether it’s unified threat management (UTM), firewall management, endpoint security, business continuity, intrusion protection and detection, or DDoS protection, these are all security offerings businesses need in the current threat landscape.
Clients face huge challenges in the current market. Many lack in-house expertise or 24/7 support for their solutions, and it’s a struggle for even the most adept to keep up not just with the new and evolving threat landscape but also the emerging technologies that come along to combat those threats. Add to this the costs to secure their users and equipment and the need to understand how delivery models for security solutions evolve, and there is a real need for expertise across the board.
While the ideal reason to provide security offerings is to keep your clients safe, there are very real, quantifiable reasons to investigate this shift. It can translate into increased revenue as you up-sell and cross sell security services – you’ll add additional products and can, through aggregate billing, increase your profitability.
There’s an opportunity to lower your own costs as well. The right product or vendor, like Sophos Central, offer a method to manage resources, solutions, and clients through a single pane of glass. A concept like Sophos Central also provides you the chance to offer an even higher level of defense as products that work even better together work in tandem to keep your clients safe.
The MSSP can become the resource their clients need for IT security – they know first-hand what products work and work best together; the most efficient ways to manage multiple solutions to defend against existing and emerging threats; and become the go-to resource when new threats do rise up.
Cyber attacks like ransomware are only going to get more challenging from here. Offering security solutions is a logical next step toward keeping clients safe.