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MSP Hacks on the Rise According to US Secret Service Alert

By Laura Stotler

MSPs are experiencing an increase in hacks, according to a security alert sent out by the US Secret Service last month. The June 12 alert was sent to both government and private sector organizations, warning that the Service's investigations team had observed an increase in MSP breaches. Hackers then used the MSPs and customers' networks to attack point-of-sale systems, deploy ransomware and launch business email compromise scams.

The alert, which was posted online by ZDNet, offers lists of best practices for both MSPs and their customers to protect against hacking. The agency suggests MSPs have well-defined SLAs and also ensure remote administration tools are patched and up to date. They should also perform annual data audits, enforce least privilege for accessing resources and have well-defined security controls that comply with end users' regulatory compliance needs.

MSPs should also factor in local, state and federal data compliance standards into their best practices. Finally, they are advised to conduct cyber training and education programs for their employees.

MSP customers are advised to audit their SLAs and also audit any remote administration tools being used in their network environments. They should enforce two-factor authentication for all remote logins, as well as restrict administrative access during remote logins.

Customers are also advised to enforce least privilege for access to resources along with maintaining a secure network and system infrastructure. They are also encouraged to proactively conduct cyber training and education programs for their employees.

According to threat intelligence firm Armor, at least 13 MSPs were hacked in 2019 so that their infrastructure could be used to deploy ransomware on customers' networks. And Kyle Hanslovan, CEO at managed threat detection and remediation company Huntress Labs told ZDNet that Huntress provided support in at least 63 MSP hacking incidents in 2019. Those incidents all involved ransomware being deployed on customer networks. Hanslovan believes the total number of MSP hacks in 2019 could be well over 100.

The Secret Service alert is not the first time the federal government has warned MSPs about hacking dangers. In October, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about an ongoing campaign of cyber attacks against MSPs that has been linked to the Chinese government.

The threats are specifically from the APT10 threat group, allegedly sponsored by China's Ministry of State Security. While Homeland Security has been tracking the group since 2006, it strategically shifted its tactics some time between 2014 and 2018 to focus on MSPs. The agency launched a series of webinars last year to help educate MSPs about the attacks.

To provide more information about MSP security challenges as well as opportunities, TMC is hosting MSP Expo from February 9-12, 2021, in Miami, FL. The event will bring together MSPs and technology specialists to facilitate discussions about security, strategy and growth within the industry.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

MSPToday Contributing Editor

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