IT Security and MSPs: 4 Misconceptions

July 22, 2021 / by Frederid Palacios

MSPs are taking the IT industry by storm, offering enhanced levels of security and maintenance. But, even though more and more companies are choosing to embrace the services of MSPs, misconceptions are still on the rise. Trusting your company’s information and IT network to a third-party provider can be daunting, but it is instrumental in enhancing your IT capabilities. With an MSP, your networks and systems are monitored and managed with expert precision, simultaneously strengthening information security.

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Now more than ever, high-level security is critical for IT companies. As our technical capabilities grow, so do the capabilities of hackers and the complexity of our networks. As a result, security is more challenging to manage, so it is best to leave it to the experts. To help you understand how an MSP can provide you with enhanced network security, we will debunk four misconceptions about IT security and MSPs.


1. Expert Security is Not a Necessity

Most companies, especially those in the IT industry, recognize the importance of maintaining a high level of IT security. What they do not realize is the magnitude of that task. For IT security to be as effective as possible, it must be proactive in addition to reactive. This means that a company’s internal IT department must regularly perform backups, in addition to constantly monitoring all networks, systems, and devices. Your security team must also implement password and two-factor authentication, in addition to performing their day-to-day roles such as help desk support. This is a tremendous amount of work for your internal IT staff. As they are spread thin over so many responsibilities, it comes as no surprise that mistakes are made, and this is where breaches occur.

Fortunately, there is an alternative solution. In acquiring the services of an MSP, you can leave security up to the experts. Not only does this alleviate some tasks off of your internal IT team, but it also provides your company with enhanced security. Because your security is an MSP's priority, they will devote the time and skills necessary to ensure that it performs as efficiently as possible. MSPs have the tools and time to monitor your IT infrastructure constantly while simultaneously preventing breaches, installing software, and updating your system. In the meantime, your IT department can devote its effort to other pressing tasks. So, while IT security can be performed internally, ultimately, it is a better decision to leave it to the experts. Just as your clients entrust you to perform expert-level services, you should trust your MSP.


2. Security is a Technical Problem

Another common misconception is that IT security is merely a technical problem. When individuals think of cybersecurity, they most often think of expert hackers breaking into their systems. While this does occur, many breaches occur as a result of human error. Whether an employee falls victim to a phishing campaign or accesses sensitive information without authorization, IT security goes beyond technology. Only so many attacks can be mitigated through software, so it is critical that your network users follow basic security best practices.

One of the best security practices that you can implement is zero-trust security. Many MSPs have adopted this concept, which is based on the belief that organizations should not automatically trust anything, whether inside or outside of a company's network. Instead, companies should verify any users that attempt to connect to their system before granting access. This ensures that only authorized users are given access. Even users that are permitted access to some information must be reverified as they move laterally through the network.

As MSPs are familiar with this concept, they can aid your organization in implementing its principles. This includes re-examining default access controls, employing preventative techniques, enabling real-time monitoring, and aligning your organization to a broader security strategy. Beyond managing your IT security, MSPs are trained in helping your organization implement new standards of security. By reducing human error in your network, you will drastically reduce the number of data breaches and misconfigurations experienced.   

Cyber Security as a Competitive Advantage

3. The Basics Can Be Overlooked

A fatal flaw that many companies experience is a ransomware attack due to exposed remote desk protocol (RDP). In failing to secure your RDP, you open up the risk of numerous security incidents occurring. While this seems like a basic task, it is often the most basic practices that are overlooked and forgotten. Many companies make the mistake of assuming that they have their basic security measures in order, but they do not take the time to monitor or maintain them. To avoid mistakes such as this, MSPs encourage companies to adopt established standards such as CIS Controls. The six basic CIS controls include:

  • Inventory and control of hardware assets.
  • Inventory and control of software assets.
  • Continuous vulnerability management.
  • Controlled use of administrative privileges.
  • Secure configuration for hardware and software on mobile devices, laptops, workstations, and servers.
  • Maintenance, monitoring, and analysis of audit logs.

By adopting these practices, companies can ensure that they have the basics covered. In doing so, they are removing the risk of facing security breaches that could be easily avoided. An MSP can help companies seamlessly integrate these controls into their preexisting systems, ensuring that security is managed from the most basic level to the most expert.


4. Having a Security Plan is Enough

It is critical that IT companies have a security plan in place. This ensures that every level of an organization has a clear understanding of security practices to avoid breaches and mistakes. A typical security plan will include best practices, protocols, and policies, but this is not enough in the case of an active attack. While companies attempt to act as proactively as possible in terms of security, not all attacks can be avoided or anticipated. When a breach does occur, it often causes chaos which can lead to further mistakes.

To avoid further damage from an attack, companies need to implement incident plans in addition to their basic security plans. Your incident attack should serve as a playbook for actions to take during and after an attack occurs. This will instruct team members with the best practices to minimize the attack's damage while recovering any damages. Keep in mind that the protocols listed in your incident plan must be tested before their use. If not, it can be just as futile as having no plan at all as time will be wasted adjusting unexpected conditions and scenarios.

Fortunately, MSPs are experienced in building such plans. Your MSP should take the time to conduct tabletop exercises with their incident report specialist, where they can run simulations and update "what if" scenarios. This will help their customers to build actionable incident plans with protocols that are proven to be effective. MSPs recognize that no matter how strong your IT security, it is not a matter of ifa security incident occurs, but when. As a result, MSPs are equipped to help you prepare for breaches, guiding you throughout the attack to ensure that damages are minimized, and your company can bounce back stronger than before.

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Tags: Cyber Security, Technical Support Services

Frederid Palacios

Written by Frederid Palacios

Fred Palacios is a seasoned software architect with more than 20 years of experience participating in the entire software development cycle across a host of different industries--from automotive and services to petroleum, financial, and supply chain. In that time, his experience working closely with high-level stakeholders has provided him with a strategic vision for developing the right solutions to flexibly meet critical business needs. As CTO of Intertec, he's continuing to focus on the creation of business-critical applications for large enterprise projects, particularly those that handle high concurrency and large datasets. He is passionate about using technology as a tool to solve real-world problems and also mentoring technical teams to achieve their maximum potential and deliver quality software.

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