MSP Cybersecurity: 3 Tips for MSPs to Handle Cyberattacks

    Cyberattacks are on the rise, and malicious actors are preying on anyone with sensitive information for data theft or a more targeted attack. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) handle a vast amount of valuable data for various businesses. Hence, prioritizing MSP cybersecurity is a must.

    The MSPs market is growing, and according to NTT’s 2021 Global Managed Services Report, around 38% of companies today employ the service of a third party to manage and control more than half of their IT needs. 

    Statista claims this sector is expected to generate approximately $274 billion in revenues by 2026. The increasing popularity of MSPs makes them major targets of cyberattacks. Leveraging their reach and attacking their large customer base is like striking gold for cyberactors. 

    These are significant threats for both MSPs and their clients. Implementing MSP cyber security is thus vital to protect both an MSP organization and its clients.

    This guide outlines three top MSP cybersecurity tips. Read on to learn how to identify, prevent, and handle cyber attacks. But first, why are MSPs potential targets for cybercriminals? 

    Why are MSPs Being Targeted by Cyberactors?

    With the increasing demand for business support, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) rely on Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). Cost-effective IT infrastructure, general support, monitoring, and security are just some reasons why.

    SMBs also depend on MSPs to help secure their confidential data. There’s just so much potential for cyberattackers to steal data and commit other devious acts—especially when an MSP lacks effective cybersecurity measures.

    How Do Cyberthreats Affect MSPs and Their Clients?

    A successful cyberattack affects MSPs and their clients in several ways—these range from disruption in operations to loss of access control and data breaches. 

    A recent and very typical attack is the Kaseya VSA attack in July 2021. Cybercriminals targeted the Kaseya VSA servers, delivering the REvil ransomware to over 50 Managed Service Providers that used the product. It paralyzed more than 1,500 organizations. Below are some of the effects of cyberthreats on MSPs and their clients. 

    Hindering an MSP’s Ability to Offer IT Services

    Cyberactors can use phishing emails, DOS (Denial Of Service) attacks or other cyberassaults to shut down or cripple the MSP’s system. A hacker can also launch an attack to access the MSP’s systems and data. 

    When any of these incidents happen, it hinders the MSP’s ability to control its customers’ IT infrastructure. Customers lose access to their systems, networks, and applications as a result. 

    Risking Critical Data

    Besides hindering an MSPs ability to offer IT services, cyberattacks can also put critical data of MSPs and their clients at risk. If an MSP employee clicks on a malicious link, cyberactors can access the service provider’s networks and systems. 

    This can result in a data leak that can irreparably damage the MSP’s reputation or cause substantial financial losses in the case of a ransomware attack. 

    Damaging an MSP’s Reputation

    The selling point of most MSPs is the benefit of having a seamless experience, proactive support, and reliable infrastructure. When the reputation of an MSP is damaged, it’s often difficult to win back. A study conducted in 2020 claims that 97% of MSPs that experience a ransomware attack suffer a reduction in their customer base. 

    Compliance Issues 

    Cyberattacks on MSPs can also lead to compliance issues. The jurisdiction of compliance regulations such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and the General Data Protection Regulation can impose hefty fines on MSPs for noncompliance issues that may have contributed to the cybersecurity attack.

    Tips to Prevent MSP Cyber Attacks

    With Managed Service Providers increasingly targeted by cyberactors, MSPs must have a tailored MSP cybersecurity strategy in place. to mitigate the risks of these attacks. Among several things MSPs can do to enhance their security plan and mitigate cyber risks, here are three tips to implement:

    Risk Assessment is a Top Priority

    Cyber risks vary depending on the business size. Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to determine the extent of the risk. The procedure should encompass these three critical steps:

    • Identify what assets could be affected by a cyberthreat, such as the server hardware, financial, HR data, customer data, intellectual property, network, and application systems. 
    • Identify the type of risks that could affect the mentioned assets. 
    • Prioritize your cybersecurity efforts to ensure the designated security policies, control, and solutions are suitable for identified risks.

    Risk assessment is an excellent method to determine the security efforts MSPs need to implement before a cyberattack. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States has a framework for MSPs to conduct an in-depth risk assessment. 

    This helps determine the cyber risks and close any gap that cybercriminals can leverage to compromise critical data and systems. 

    Employee Education is Crucial

    MSPs are no different from other organizations. No matter the business, the weakest link in the security chain is the people behind the systems and networks. This means MSPs and MSSPs are vulnerable to phishing emails and other forms of cyberattacks. While cybersecurity best practices are crucial, educated employees are equally as important. 

    MSP and MSSP cybersecurity plans should include cyber awareness training in the form of seminars, online posts, and newsletters to educate employees and clients on the latest cyberthreats. You can also simulate phishing scams to determine which of your users and employees are ignorant of such attacks and need some cyber risk awareness. 

    Finding the Right Cybersecurity Tools is a Must

    Many cybersecurity tools are available for MSPs. So knowing the right ones can be overwhelming. However, if an MSP or MSSP understands the risk at hand, finding the most effective tools becomes easy. Below are some (not all, by any means) cybersecurity aspects modern tools cover::

    • Antivirus (AV) and endpoint detection: Antivirus is the first resort for any computer user, but using it to protect your MSP business is important, too. However, managed service providers’ needs are much larger, so they need tools that deliver enterprise-grade protection from a vast range of modern cyberthreats. 
    • Identity access and event visibility: This cybersecurity tool category allows MSPs to securely manage “who can see what” with native account creation across Linux, macOS, and Windows devices. These tools can usually track the changelogs and history of any services used by employees, making it easier to monitor and track work done for large clients.
    • Discovering API vulnerabilities: More often than not, it’s easier to detect anomalies and vulnerabilities than to mitigate risks resulting from them.
    • Email security: This should be a top priority for any MSP. Email security tools like encryption, spam filters, validation, and source authentication have the power to intercept malicious communication on outgoing and incoming channels. While some clients can afford the cost of SIEM tools, every customer needs email and internet security.

    Check out our MSP email security guide 2022 for more information on this topic.


    Managed Service Providers will always be common targets for cybercriminals. Hackers are targeting MSPs and MSSPs not just for company information, but for the data they can steal from  customers using such providers. 

    If hackers get hold of your system, the consequence can be destructive for you and your customers. It’s become imperative for MSPs to leverage cybersecurity tools and implement best security practices to keep clients’ information safe.

    How Can EasyDMARC Help?

    At EasyDMARC, we understand the effect phishing and other email attacks have on MSPs. We’ll provide you with an easy-to-use platform with the required features to control, adopt, and monitor email authentication standards for SMBs and enterprises. We offer support for SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, so you can implement best practices, prevent email spoofing,  and ward off phishing attacks.

    One of the best ways to enjoy our email authentication service is by becoming a DMARC MSP and MSSP partner with EasyDMARC. With us, you’ll get customized support and training to help seamlessly infuse email security into your services.

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