Developing an Effective MSP Software Security Stack

Most managed service providers are now offering managed security services to some degree, but what products should be included in an MSP software security stack? In this article, we suggest key areas to start with and an approach to take that will help you decide on the best managed security services to add to your packages to help your clients achieve a baseline standard of cybersecurity.

If you are just getting started and have yet to offer managed security services to your clients, you are in a minority and are missing out on a great opportunity to increase your revenue. Small- and medium-sized businesses find it hard enough to manage their IT infrastructure, which is why they turn to MSPs to manage their networks, data storage, and cloud environments. Many SMBs are comfortable with installing and managing basic cybersecurity solutions such as a firewall, spam filter, and antivirus software, but these solutions are no longer sufficient and are failing to deal with the rapidly changing threat landscape.

Further, as SMBs progress with their digital transformation and venture into the cloud, the traditional approach to perimeter security is no longer effective, as there is much less of a perimeter to defend. It is therefore no surprise that SMBs are turning to their managed services providers for help. An MSP software security stack is therefore vital to ensure that clients do not seek those services elsewhere.

MSPs Need to Provide Layered Security

The modern MSP software security stack should provide layered defenses – Multiple overlapping layers of security that ensure that if a threat can bypass one defense, there are others in place that can provide protection. That means an MSP software security stack must include multiple products, but many MSPs are unsure what products and services they should be offering, and the sheer choice available makes selecting products a daunting task. Finding the rights solutions is a time-consuming process and finding software solutions that work seamlessly with each can be a real challenge.

One of the best approaches to take when you try to develop your MSP software security stack is to follow the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and MITRE ATT&CK Framework. These will guide you through the different aspects of security you need to consider and can focus your efforts to help you find solutions that address each aspect of security.

The NIST Framework, for example, is built around five core functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. If you are to develop a comprehensive MSP software security stack, your products and services should cover all these areas. The best place to start is with a security assessment of each client, as in order to protect against threats you need to establish the current state of security, what needs to be protected, and where security gaps exist. Only then will you be able to determine the solutions that will best address those needs.

No cybersecurity defenses will be infallible, so you will need to have solutions in place that can detect threats and identify unusual activity and attacks in progress. You will need to have the right solutions to ensure you can respond quickly to those threats and mitigate them, and allow normal operations to resume once the threat has been mitigated.

When you are first starting out, you will need to invest time and resources into developing an MSP security stack, getting the right products to meet clients’ needs, and then implementing those solutions and training your staff on how to use them and provide managed security. This is not going to be an overnight process and developing an MSP software security stack that works well for the MSP, delivers the right protection to all clients, and is profitable, is likely to take a considerable amount of time.

Security Tools for the MSP Security Stack

The number of security tools available to MSPs may seem mind-boggling. Each addresses a specific security issue or range of issues or will protect specific applications. You can build up your portfolio of security services over time to meet the needs of clients, but the best place to start is building up a set of core cybersecurity services that you can offer to a broad range of clients that will provide a good level of protection. You can then provide add-on services to meet the needs of specific clients.  To get you on the right track, consider adding the following to an MSP software security stack.

  • Infrastructure Security – Firewalls
  • Identity Protection and Access Management Including Phishing-Resistant Multifactor Authentication
  • Endpoint Security
  • Email Security with Advanced Threat Protection
  • Malware and Ransomware Protection
  • DNS Filtering
  • Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulations
  • Data Loss Prevention
  • Mobile Security and Device Management
  • Disaster Recovery and Incident Response

When searching for software solutions for your MSP software security stack, bear in mind that not all cybersecurity solutions are ideally suited for use by MSPs. It pays to conduct some research and consult other MSPs, peer groups, review sites and forums to try to find the right products that are easy to manage, will protect your clients, and will not require extensive management, as that will thin your margins.

You are a Target!

In order to provide a comprehensive managed security service, you will need to be monitoring your clients’ environments, so you will need to use some kind of Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solution. You should bear in mind that while you may have implemented a range of cybersecurity solutions to protect your clients, as an MSP you are likely to be targeted. If an attacker gains access to your environment, they will be able to use your RMM to access the networks of your clients, so you will need to invest in security to protect your own network from attack and be monitoring your own environment to identify threats. First and foremost, you must ensure that you are adequately protected.