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MSPs can fill the security gap left by COVID-19 budget cuts

Channel firms should hold long-term strategic discussions with customers, and partner up with specialists

The COVID-19 pandemic has made cybersecurity more important than ever, with organisations facing increased threats as a result of widespread remote working. Of course, as more security threats targeting a business emerge, the greater the strength and depth in response required. 

However, despite these new security realities, many organisations have had to make cuts because of the pandemic, and no longer have the necessary skilled personnel.  This presents an opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs) to step in.

IT running blind

Many organisations have been forced to adopt remote working for the first time as a result of the pandemic. With the government advising the public to work from home where possible, this trend looks set to continue, and could even be a permanent fixture.

This obviously comes with benefits, but it’s important to remember the risks it brings. With the visibility of IT now far more limited, they can only hope employees are following best practises. Unfortunately, according to our research, this isn’t always the case, with most staff using personal devices to access corporate networks and almost half opening attachments from unknown sources.

The heightened security risk is well-documented, with news of attacks and breaches regularly in the press. While end-user organisations appreciate the need to improve their defences, many lack the skills and resources to do so. This means many might lean on MSPs to provide the necessary insight, education, and expertise to help them cope. 

By gaining the trust of their customers now, MSPs can reap the benefits in the longer-term as they continue to strengthen their relationships. By getting clued up on all things cyber security, they’ll also be able to capitalise on this growing need and highlight their security know-how. In this competitive industry, if MSPs can keep their customers safe and well-supported time, ultimately it’ll create stickiness, and lead to future opportunities with once we emerge from the pandemic.

Leaning on specialists

For MSPs to become that trusted partner, however, they may need to rely on specialists to ensure they’re providing customers with the best protection possible. After all, many MSPs are themselves lacking in resources due to COVID-19, so it’s worth working with vendors and leveraging them as an extended sales team to bolster sales, customer success and technical expertise. 

In today’s world, there are so many different attack vectors that require protection against - and this is constantly changing - so it can be difficult for MSPs to keep up. By working with cyber security vendors, it’s possible to offer a holistic approach that ensures customers have every vector covered.  

Many businesses still adopt a reactive approach to security, rather than a proactive one, so with the landscape changing so quickly, businesses must start preparing for the future. MSPs must take a proactive approach in addressing risks with their clients, and encourage them to act now with sophisticated attacks potentially only seconds away.

Strategy over sales

It may be a challenge for MSPs convince customers to purchase new systems at a time where they’re making cuts, but it’s a necessary investment. This is where trust is crucial - because MSPs must stress the cost of a data breach is larger than any financial investment in protecting against one. 

This almost goes without saying, but customers hit by a cyber attack may accrue reputational damage and a significant loss of productivity. There have been cases where the blame can be pointed towards the MSP for not providing sufficient protection, and so it’s hugely important for the MSP to proactively recommend that their customer adopts the best protective processes and technologies. This ensures customers can make well-informed choices about the future of their security strategy. 

This pandemic offers MSPs the opportunity to elevate the conversation to one about strategy, rather than one just about sales. With threats constantly evolving, it’s no longer enough to simply provide solutions to put out fires and when they appear. MSPs need to seize the initiative and start a strategic conversation with customers, while constantly reviewing their security needs. This will take the relationship from one that’s sales-based, to a more concrete partnership built on trust. 

Hannah Mayersbeth is MSP channel manager at Mimecast

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