Smart MSPs are Moving to Protect What They Connect

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Smart MSPs are Moving to Protect What They Connect

By Matthew Vulpis

In August, Analysys Mason analyst Joseph Bertran wrote that SMBs are purchasing more of their cybersecurity via MSPs, referring to a report (SMB technology survey insights: getting back to business) that 30 percent of SMBs already purchase at least some of their cybersecurity solutions via MSPs. The report also predicted security spending through the channel (including MSSPs) will grow from $25 billion this year to $48 billion in 2027.

At a CAGR of 14 percent, cybersecurity as a category is an obvious choice when it comes to investing in developing offerings designed to accelerate growth. The good news for MSPs is that, with advancements in cloud-first security solutions and marketplaces that SMBs can utilize to source, test, select, consume, pass through and manage, building a security practice can be done in a matter of weeks, with no major upfront CapEx required.

"Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) continue to show strong demand for cybersecurity services, and many report a desire to purchase security solutions from their trusted managed service providers (MSPs)," Bertran said. "However, many MSPs lack the expertise to provide full-scale security to clients, despite this strong opportunity. Cybersecurity and MSP-focused vendors can help MSPs to bolster their security credentials while also benefitting themselves."

The research also indicated that "43 percent of all SMB spending on cybersecurity will go to MSPs and systems integrators (SIs) by 2027. Businesses that have started to work with an MSP for general IT workloads are likely to want to work with the same partner to address their cyber-security needs. SMBs typically prefer to work with fewer parties when possible, and they lack the time needed to meet and vet new providers. This creates a strong 'land and expand' opportunity for MSPs, which can also benefit the vendors that sell security solutions."

Scott Chasin, Chief Technology Officer of Pax8, agrees: "We've been witnessing and contributing to an exponential increase in MSP consumption of cybersecurity solutions listed on our marketplace, in large part because we make it easy to discover the best solutions we've discovered ourselves, after vetting hundreds of options, then integrated with our platform which in turn is integrated with the top PSAs in the world. Our data support the growth forecasts from industry analyst firms, and beyond the data, our educational programs for the over 25,000 MSPs who rely on our platform are trending beyond our expectations."

Last week, Pax8 held a regional, in-person cybersecurity Bootcamp, which saw three times the expected attendance by MSP.

"Llistening to their stories further inspired us to triple down on ensuring our MSP partners have everything they need to participate in this important category,” Chasin said. “Our most active partners are, by extension, our most successful partners, who never stop pushing themselves to provide the full scope of cloud-based computing, communications, and business applications services their end customers need. As digital transformation and the move to the cloud accelerates, the fact is that every cloud and network delivered service needs to be fully secured."

Chasin explained the typical journey for MSPs, who started off as value-added resellers (VARs) but, with the emergence of the cloud, transformed themselves by providing management, monitoring, and scaling of "everything as a service," or XaaS.

"Our MSP partners generally begin with standard solutions, reselling email and anti-virus basic offerings,” he explained. “They experience the benefits of deepening relationships with their installed base and enjoy more revenue and profitability as they take on more sophisticated cyber-solutions, as attacks, both internal and external, surface."

On the flip side, Chasin said, "The security purveyors on our marketplace are growing rapidly when they make their offerings easy to understand, deploy and manage. We're seeing major trends in the various mixes of solutions that MSPs are putting together to build profitable cyber offerings, while we are also tracking the success rate based on growing consumption after the MSPs have trained their staff and taken advantage of channel marketing support programs and overall collaboration. It was very clear during our first Security Bootcamp last week that 2023 is gearing up to become a pivotal year."

Taking action on cybersecurity threats can be daunting, with the number, type, and variety of cybercrime growing by the day, but MSPs need to make a start. "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good" were the watchwords shared at a panel of MSPs and Pax8 experts at the Bootcamp.

About 160 MSPs from around the country attended and participated in live demonstrations of security threats, panel discussions, presentations by security vendors in the Pax8 Marketplace, and networking. Bootcamp session topics included "Threats Facing the Modern Workplace," "Hardening Azure Identity," "Securing Windows Endpoints," "Managing BYOD Scenarios," and "Safeguarding Intellectual Property and PII."

Cybercriminals continue to develop new ways to outsmart the technology solutions designed to thwart them, but if the conversation and questions by the MSPs at the Bootcamp were any indication, there is growing attention on keeping enterprises cyber safe.

"This is how important security is," said Henry Snaza, Pax8 Channel Programs Specialist, to open the event. "You asked for it, and we brought it to you."

Amber Thomas of FortifyIT, a Utah-based MSP, drove eight hours to attend the Bootcamp after she was moved off the waitlist. On LinkedIn, she describes herself as a "Mad Computer Scientist Jedi Wizard." During a break in the sessions, she said that getting to meet other Pax8 partners at the Bootcamp "has been incredible" and praised Pax8 for its quick response times and its "high focus on security and the needs of end users."

Henry Timm, President and CEO of Phantom Technology Solutions traveled from South Bend, Indiana, for the Security Bootcamp.

"We look at cybersecurity as foundational, and moving forward, we must be engaged if we want to be relevant," Timm said. He brought some of his staff to the event to gain technical knowledge and perspectives on security, as well as to help "know what we don't know."

Daniel Johnson, CEO of machineLOGIC, a Denver MSP, said Pax8 Mission Briefings and Bootcamps "offer MSPs a unique opportunity to understand what is necessary to deliver the next generation of security solutions to their clients. There is no other vendor offering this level of education and individual attention to an MSP and their clients and helping solve their problems. It's a big game changer."

Johnson said the Bootcamp provided the opportunity to hear directly from Matt Lee, Pax8 Senior Director of Security and Compliance, and Dom Kirby, Pax8 Director of Cloud Services, about where their focus is now on cybersecurity and learn from other MSPs about the security challenges they face.

Nathan Taylor, Chief Technology Officer of machineLOGIC, said by attending the Bootcamp, he hoped to learn more about threat hunting, defensibility, and new tools and configurations he hasn't seen yet. He was also interested in hearing where Lee and Kirby of Pax8 are focusing on in the security arena. Connecting with other MSPs at Pax8 Bootcamps is a bonus, he said.

Topics of conversation throughout the Bootcamp included the best ways to set up Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA); leveraging Azure settings for security; determining what user, device, and applications need what types of security; where security leaks can occur; the principle of least privilege; old threats that are making a rebound; setting up the right controls for a variety of security scenarios, and creating plans for detection, response and recovery after a breach.

On a panel discussion on the first day of the Bootcamp, MSP owners urged other MSPs to be first movers on security and help clients understand the cost of not taking action. "We are at the point of talking about your cybersecurity posture as a competitive advantage," Lee of Pax8 told the attendees.

Alexander Stavdal, Vice President of Strategy for Homefield IT of New York, formerly ManhattanTechSupport, sat on the panel and urged other MSPs to "keep moving forward, and two years later, you will be able to tick the boxes of all the things you're doing. Don't question the time and investment to get off the starting line." He likened developing security practices to going to the gym: get started and pick something to work on. "Over time, you will gain confidence. It will be a great service you are providing to your clients by continuing to move forward."




Edited by Erik Linask

Content Contributor

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