Whether you're an MSP or an MSSP, prioritizing security is essential — especially today, when cybercriminals are increasingly targeting MSPs as a way to get into IT systems. Indeed, despite efforts by IT security professionals to mitigate threats, more than 33 billion records are expected to be stolen by cybercriminals in 2023 alone, according to a report by Juniper Research.
Even though they’re considered to be experts, MSPs and MSSPs will be the victims of some of these attacks.
To prevent this from happening to you, there are a few concepts to consider.
Why Do Cybercriminals Target MSPs?
Even though selling cybersecurity services has become a lot easier for MSPs, especially as the number of cybersecurity incidents continues to increase, there’s still a rising concern around cybercriminals gaining access to numerous business’s networks by targeting the MSPs that support those businesses. If you can breach a single MSP's systems, you can potentially gain an open door into all of the networks that that MSP supports. From an attacker's perspective, that's a lot easier than having to break into each business's network individually.
Further reading Takeaways From 2019 Ransomware Attacks on MSPs
This worry isn’t new. Federal agencies have been issuing warnings about the rising number of nefarious attacks targeting MSP customers since April 2017, when the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued its first alert on the matter. Since then, the problem has grown and continued to impact channel partners by putting their reputations at risk. (After all, would you outsource IT to a cybersecurity professional if it increased the likelihood of being targeted by cybercriminals?)
More recently, cybercriminals have been using ransomware attacks — more than 4,000 have taken place daily (which amounts to about 1.5 million per year) — to target MSPs. Instead of going after businesses separately, they’re banking on locating several data sources to hold for ransom by attacking a single MSP.
For attackers, this approach has been paying off. For example, an MSP in June 2019 paid a hacker more than $150,000 to recover data after a ransomware attack.
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, assess your business's security infrastructure the same way you would a customer’s.
Proceed as if You Were Securing a Client’s Infrastructure
It happens: sometimes, you get so bogged down with protecting your customers that you forget about your own needs. Yet securing your own infrastructure shields your customers from potential harm — and ensures you won’t be paying a six-figure sum for customer data anytime soon.
When reviewing what a customer needs, you review a checklist, don’t you? There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go through the same process when evaluating your own infrastructure, even if you believe you don't need to because “you’re the expert.”
Begin by assessing your goals and objectives. While it may be difficult to do, try your best to evaluate your business objectively. How has your company evolved? If you’ve picked up new clients in industries unfamiliar to you, do you need additional protection for their data sources? Reviewing your company’s objectives is the first step to securing your infrastructure.
Next, map your infrastructure for pain points, just like you would with a client. Where are the greatest challenges in your network? Can you overcome any of them?
One of the best ways to identify your pain points is by testing your systems regularly, but you’re already doing that, right?
Test Your Systems for Vulnerabilities Regularly if You’re Not Already Doing It
One of the best ways to identify your pain points is by testing your systems regularly. But you’re already doing that, right?
After all, as an MSP, you should be leading by example instead of following a “do as I say and not as I do” approach.
The purpose of security testing is to discover flaws within your network. When you skip this vital step — as you well know — you leave your firewalls, web servers, routers, switches and systems vulnerable to attacks by outside threat actors dedicated to exploiting you and your clients. To prevent unwanted intrusions, take the proper precautions by deploying the appropriate testing strategies.
For example, use penetration testing tools not only on client systems but also on your own, to ensure your networks are protected from the very threats your customers hired you to thwart.
Don’t forget also to review your SIEM software, antivirus solution, endpoint security tools, BDR solution, and password management tools.
Attacks on MSPs aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Protect your networks by treating them as if they were your clients’. Recognize the threats that are out there, and properly secure and test your systems to ensure that not only you but also your clients are protected from the growing number of cybersecurity threats.