Transitioning from MSP to MSSP – is Now the Right Time?

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Transitioning from MSP to MSSP – is Now the Right Time?

Cyber-attacks today are a daily occurrence. While high-profile attacks that cripple victims’ IT systems and prevent access to critical services make headlines, the threat applies to all organizations, regardless of their size or industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, opening the door to new threats and risks for organizations. The disruption of the pandemic combined with establishing a new remote workforce has created gaps in traditional cyber defenses. Combined with targeted threats and changing employee working practices, organizations have never been more vulnerable to attack.

Indeed, the threat to vital infrastructure is now considered so great that the European Commission has announced plans to build a Joint Cyber Unit to tackle large scale cyber-attacks.

As such, more businesses are reliant on their IT service provider to ensure they don’t fall victim to attacks. According to IDC, 60 percent of organizations said that accelerated public cloud adoption or migration due to COVID-19 has driven them to invest in managed security services. 

Also Read: 6 Data Security Strategies for Hybrid Environments

The challenge for MSPs

Cybersecurity has long been touted as a way for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to generate additional revenues and strengthen client relationships. Now, with a surge in demand from customers, many are seriously considering how they go about building a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) business.

However, this brings with it its own set of challenges – it certainly isn’t something that can happen overnight. The cybersecurity market is complex, fragmented and rapidly changing. Building a security practice can require significant investment in new technology, processes and a Security Operations Centre (SOC) among other considerations, which may be a risk with the current uncertainty generated by Brexit and the pandemic.

It also demands skilled cybersecurity professionals – while MSSPs can help bridge the continued cybersecurity talent gap within customers’ organizations, the same skills shortage is a major barrier in their attempts to recruit and retain security experts. There is a security staff shortage of more than 140,000 people within EMEA, according to ISC2.

Many customers already require their MSSP to adhere to their own data security agreements. This is typically based on the principles of ISO, SOC and others. Some governments and regulatory bodies stipulate that MSSPs must attain and maintain these globally recognized certifications and recommend that customers don’t engage an MSSP that does not have ISO 27001 as a minimum.

Additionally, there are new government regulations for MSSPs on the horizon following an increase in criminals using them to access their clients’ sensitive data. In the UK for example, the government is mulling a new cybersecurity framework for MSSPs to prevent these third-party attacks. New security providers will need to ensure they comply with each of the principles moving forward – not least because we’re seeing more cases of legal action being taken against MSSPs when customers do fall victim to an attack.

All these challenges are set against a landscape of increasing customer expectation, and the demand to ‘do more with less’.

So while the potential to tap into a new revenue stream will be tempting for many MSPs, it may be worth considering if now is really a good time to be transitioning to a different business model focused on security?

There is another option: align with a cybersecurity vendor that already has infrastructure and resources in place. This removes much of the risk, complexity and cost of establishing a security practice – especially in the current market.

Also Read: Stopping Data Leaks in the Automotive Sector

Going the extra mile

For any MSP looking to expand into new solution areas, the options are generally to build, buy or partner. In the current climate, it is the latter approach that makes the most sense, financially and operationally. Not least because MSPs can benefit from things like flexible subscriptions and consumption billing, aggregated license discounts and removing the need for large upfront investments.

Building a security practice is an opportunity for MSPs to go the extra mile for their customers. Partnering will enable them to capitalize on demand for cybersecurity services without the investment or risk in these uncertain times. By helping to secure their business, MSPs can deepen the relationship and generate long-term customer loyalty, which is crucial in today’s competitive landscape.

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