Work From Home and Business Continuity: Where MSSPs, SD-WANs Fit In


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of enterprise workers have moved out of the office environment and into a teleworking routine. However, even as some begin to transition back to a new normal, the cultural impact of widespread remote work will remain. In fact, 38% of teleworkers expect expanded and more flexible remote work policies to remain in place for the long-term or even become permanent.

Stephan Tallent, Senior Director MSSP & Service Enablement, Fortinet.
Author: Stephan Tallent, senior director, MSSP & Service Enablement, Fortinet.

This climate presents managed security service providers (MSSPs) with an opportunity to support these new customer requirements to help them grow their businesses while guaranteeing continuity.

The MSSP Opportunity

The explosion of remote workers presents an opportunity for MSSPs to enhance business relationships with customers by expanding their service offerings to support what will likely be a persistent shift in the workplace. Due to limitations associated with the current economic landscape, the best thing MSSPs can do for their customers now is to provide them with services oriented to securing hosted applications and work from home users. During these times of uncertainty, MSSPs can help customers stabilize their businesses, scale their remote workforce rapidly, and minimize costs. This can be achieved through the expansion of their current service offerings, with the most valuable of these being secure access to public cloud applications and SD-WAN with secured LAN (SD-Branch).

How MSSPs Can Leverage the Existing Resources

In the current climate, customers have been forced to rapidly retool their networks and cut costs to ensure business continuity. Moving forward, these same businesses must go a step further by converting these makeshift solutions into reliable, business-ready strategies that can ensure future success.

Below are three challenges and solutions that MSSPs can leverage to assist their customers during this challenging time.

Secure Cloud Migration

Due to customer needs in the current environment, there has been a tremendous push for cloud migration to support remote workers at multiple endpoints. In many cases, these organizations are migrating to the cloud without having done much planning, especially considering the massive workforce shift prompted by the pandemic. As a result, customers are connecting to hosted applications without proper visibility, access control and data protection. Instead, they are using an easy and inexpensive method to transfer existing workloads to the cloud known as the "lift and shift" approach. This method, however, can result in security issues down the road. In a matter of months, customers who migrate to the cloud using a "lift and shift" process could see issues with compliance, security breaches, misconfigurations, and more. MSSPs are in a position to offer their expertise in secure cloud migration, saving their clients time and money while helping them to avoid potential issues with security and compliance.

Cloud Security Assessments as a Service

As the attack surface expands, organizations need to protect their networks from the risks of things like the poor configuration and management of cloud applications, as well as new risks originating from the use of cloud APIs and user interfaces. Unfortunately, many of these companies do not have the expertise necessary to detect vulnerabilities in their new cloud systems.

To help address this challenge, MSSPs can offer cloud security assessments as a service. By assessing an organization's risk management, data security, threat detection and response, and compliance – along with traffic analysis and investigation capabilities - service providers enable their customers to gain visibility into their security posture, configuration challenges, and risky activities across clouds. With a posture management system in place, customers can further benefit from policies that automate alerts and trigger remediation actions based on security events. MSSPs, in turn, are presented with a measurable way to add value by effectively managing these vulnerabilities.

SD-Branch for Purposes of Business Continuity

What started as a teleworker use case is morphing into a critical business continuity strategy as customers determine that elastic operations and ample capacity for remote work is essential. With SD-WAN, those customers will realize enhanced performance to hosted applications, optimized path selection, and integrated operations that will bolster daily business operations across multiple remote locations.

With the explosion of WFH, your customer executives and remote deal makers are working from a local area network environment that has not been secured to company standards. Is file and resource sharing turned on? What is the impact of socially invasive applications that family members might be using to the customer's corporate security policy? MSSPs can leverage this opportunity by turning on secure SD-WAN functionality within existing edge hardware, combined with Fortinet switches and APs to secure the work from home users against questionable LAN security in home offices. This will add service revenues and highly valued services for customer executives, and can be tied to a total public cloud solution to extend performance at a low cost.

Fortinet Solutions to Secure Teleworker Strategies

It is more critical than ever that MSSPs and Fortinet partners highlight the capabilities already built into customers' existing solutions that have a clear and measurable impact on business operations. In order to further support customers as they transition to a full-time remote workforce, Fortinet partners and MSSPs should leverage cloud components within the Security Fabric. For those partners whose customers are in a position to do so, additional teleworker solutions like FortiAuthenticator, FortiCWP, Secure SD-WAN, and SD-Branch can help customers ensure business continuity and secure and agile connectivity as they work from home. As part of Fortinet’s suite of teleworker solutions, these offerings will enable partners to grow business opportunities and maintain steady operations throughout these challenging times.

In addition to these solutions, Fortinet provides partners with several resources that can help grow business opportunities – this includes value propositions for top use cases, technical guidance, tools, templates, cookbooks, and more. And with Fortinet's free Fast Track workshops, MSSPs can improve their cloud security and networking skills to further enhance service offerings.

Final Thoughts

SD-WAN and cloud connectivity solutions offer great opportunities for MSSPs to enable business continuity for customers as they adjust to the remote workforce. Fortinet sets partners and MSSPs alike up for success in this pursuit with secure, broad, and integrated SD-WAN and cloud offerings that are easy to deploy and manage. By leveraging this suite of products, both current and new, partners and MSSPs can lend a helpful hand to customers while also expanding service offerings.

Author Stephan Tallent, CISSP, is senior director, MSSP & service enablement at Fortinet. Read more Fortinet blogs here.