By CYNTHIA MACNEIL – contributor
Mitigating cybercrime with managed IT services
You don’t have to be an experienced technology buyer or IT specialist to notice that cybersecurity incidents and IT security concerns are on the rise—both in number and severity. A huge ransomware attack on Miami-based Kaseya VSA recently dominated the news headlines. Here in Canada, you may have noticed that the health sector has been targeted repeatedly. Cybercriminals are trying to capitalize on the inherently critical nature of health care downtime, with their ransom demands reportedly doubling since the start of the covid-19 pandemic.
Of course, cybersecurity breaches aren’t exclusive to large organizations that will cause obvious disruption when attacked. Small businesses and mid-sized organizations have risks to mitigate too, especially if they encourage remote work, operate an e-commerce site, or have any involvement in smart manufacturing (i.e. creating connected devices that leverage AI, sensors, machine learning, or robotics). If even one of those factors relates to how you do business, you might need the expertise of a managed services provider. But what exactly can you expect them to take off of your plate?
Here are six security concerns a managed IT services provider (MSP) will alleviate:
Backing up data
One cybersecurity non-negotiable is reliably backed up data. Regardless of your industry, if you’re forced to deal with downtime, your team should be able to focus on reputation management and lessening the financial fallout, rather than scrambling to recover lost client data. A managed services provider can help you itemize and document exactly which data is being backed up (as well as what’s not) and for how long. For example, you don’t want to be in a crisis and discover that your data is retrievable for the last six months when you need it to be backed up for six years. It should go without saying, but your MSP (managed services provider) should also tell you where your data is backed up and who has access to it.
Verifying everything (everything, everything) with zero-trust security
As Microsoft’s website explains, “Instead of assuming everything behind the corporate firewall is safe, the Zero Trust model assumes breach and verifies each request as though it originates from an open network. Regardless of where the request originates or what resource it accesses.” The zero-trust mantra is essentially “never trust, always verify.” It’s increasingly relevant in an evolving work-from-anywhere world. Right now, many teams are entrusting a managed services provider with configuring a secure digital workspace based on zero trust access.
Right person, right role, right access
Managed services providers can help shape an identity and access management plan. To put it another way: a strategy to ensure the right people in your organization access the right data at the right time. In practice, this means your organization’s P&L statement is better safeguarded than, say, the team spreadsheet coordinating weekly yoga.
Next-generation firewall (NGFW) deployment
Configuring and implementing a secure firewall is a key part of network security. Spoiler for any Star Trek fans: the “next-gen” aspect of next-generation firewalls has nothing to do with your favourite space-themed show and everything to do with state-of-the-art threat intelligence. Traditional firewalls focus on access control and filtering. NGFWs add the ability to see and block risky apps as well as offer sources for threat intelligence. According to Cisco, the industry-standard speed for detecting a threat is between 100–200 days. A next-generation firewall can detect a threat in seconds and prioritize alerts according to severity.
In the context of cybersecurity, endpoints are essentially entry points—devices that are the physical end of your network. Laptops, desktops, cell phones, servers, and virtual desktops, are all examples. Managed IT services providers can guard all your endpoints—and all the intellectual property, client data, and employee info they contain—from phishing scams, malware, and ransomware.
Developing or testing an incident response plan
An incident response (IR) plan amounts to step-by-step instructions for recovering from all manner of cyber threats your organization could encounter. A managed services provider can either develop a plan for you or test the effectiveness of an existing one. Ultimately, the right MSP will help you close the gap between an “okay” vs. exceptional threat response and take a vested interest in mitigating your risks.
Want to learn more about managing cybersecurity? Read Protect Your Organization from Sudden Disruption and contact us to learn more about our Managed Services and how we can address your security concerns.