When to Consider a Managed Service Provider Change for Cybersecurity

Article by Jonathan Wolff, Luminant Digital Security

Threats are becoming more sophisticated and traditional technologies are no longer enough to protect businesses from cyberattack. Have you started to put an emphasis on cybersecurity?  

If cybersecurity and compliance is part of your business’ future, when do you look at making an IT provider shift to a security focused Managed Services Provider (MSP) and what criteria does your business need to look at?  

Many organizations are now realizing cybersecurity standards and compliance processes will be a part of their foreseeable future and taking steps to ensure they will be ready when it comes time to have a formal assessment completed. In some instances, organizations were allowed to simply self-assess and show a plan of action and milestones, but now stricter processes may be required. In different parts of North America some industries require organizations to now provide evidence that they are fully compliant with certain security frameworks such as CMMC, ISO or UK Cyber Essentials, otherwise they risk losing customer relationships or future contract awards.  

With the rise of cybersecurity standards many organizations have had to reevaluate their priorities and business objectives. This includes deciding if the juice is worth the squeeze, in terms of operating with a specific standard. The stringent security controls require organizations to take a hard look at how they operate and the impact the practices will have on operations. This includes technology to not only satisfy practices, but to also enable the workforce to continue to operate. 

For small to medium-sized businesses that operate within the spectrum of cybersecurity compliance, it is a large challenge to overcome, as they often do not have the resource availability of larger enterprises. This typically means smaller businesses will have to be strategic in how they approach cybersecurity, including leveraging outside expertise. When it comes to Information Technology (IT), it can be difficult to keep up as a small business and outsourcing IT operations to an MSP has been a great option for businesses for many years. This is where things seemingly are coming to a head. Traditional MSPs are not designed or prepared for what comes with cybersecurity and most are currently trying to figure it out themselves as well as how to support their customers needs.  

With technology underpinning many of the controls in cybersecurity compliance frameworks, it is important for organizations with requirements to ensure their internal IT department or IT provider has a security first mindset, approaching the controls from a foundational level. This is an important step to evaluate early in the process because many of the practices are compounded on one another. Making this evaluation and decision early in the process allows the organization to be strategic with available resources, which can be hard to come by. Partnering with a security first MSP who already understands compliance will pay dividends when it comes to supporting standards and practices, as well as maintaining your cybersecurity certification. 

When a business needs to evaluate partners with a security first mindset, it is important to look for key indicators that will help you make an informed decision. First, and most importantly companies must assess the culture fit. Does your organization and the prospective MSP have a likeminded company culture and vision? This is the single greatest contributor to success between an organization and a partner. Does the MSP have experience with clients under compliance frameworks?  

Understanding what experience an MSP has with other frameworks and their efforts already put towards cybersecurity will provide you with a better understanding of how security focused they truly are. This includes internally with frameworks they must adopt to facilitate IT support for their clients. Ask what frameworks they comply with and how past assessments have gone. Speak with references! Ask for some client references you can speak with and get firsthand feedback. 

When evaluating, it is extremely important to get a good look at how an MSP operates around compliance frameworks and the impact that it has on operations. It is one thing to be compliant, but it is a completely different thing to comply and keep operations functional and end users happy. Getting firsthand feedback from client references should help give you a better idea of how well the MSP is performing while operating within the confines of various frameworks. 

The most important step is to evaluate early and ensure you’re partnering with a likeminded, security first MSP. Ensuring the foundational building blocks are in place is crucial, and with technology being such a large factor for cybersecurity compliance, partnering with a security first MSP is a key element toward a successful journey and protecting your business.  

If you have questions, concerns or need assistance navigating the cyber-risk landscape of your MSP,  contact us. 

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