One of the most profound side effects of the pandemic was the rapid shift to work from home. To the surprise of just about everyone, organisations accomplished this massive shift quickly and seamlessly. That’s thanks in large part to managed service providers (MSPs), which played an indispensable role in helping organisations make the transition to remote.
Now, as we gradually move to a post-Covid world, MSPs will play a vital role in helping each of their customers find its own new normal. Most customers will settle into a hybrid environment where some employees work from home, some from the office, and some do both.
In addition to helping their customers come out stronger and more successful on the other side, MSPs will have the opportunity to expand their own business and focus on new monetisation efforts.
Better backup and recovery
First and foremost, MSPs can ensure that their clients have a solid and stable infrastructure for a post-Covid world, especially from a data-security standpoint. Offering better data backup and recovery options is critical to that effort.
One of the facts we have learned about the hybrid-work world is that it creates vast new opportunities for cyber attackers. With organisations in flux, employees in less-secure home-office environments, and much more data in the cloud, ransomware attacks have rocketed up. Indeed, ransomware incidents increased by 72% during the pandemic, and mobile vulnerabilities rose by 50%, according to Skybox Security’s Vulnerability and Threat Trends Report. These numbers highlight the dangers of the blurry line between corporate and personal networks in a hybrid workforce.
The ransomware problem will continue to grow in severity as companies increasingly use technologies like IoT, artificial intelligence, and 5G. These technologies generate ever more data that ransomware attackers can compromise and hold captive.
Fortunately, MSPs are in an excellent position to help customers implement data backup and recovery strategies and ultimately thwart the threat posed by ransomware.
For instance, by deploying or recommending the right backup solution, MSPs can help their clients react quickly to ransomware attacks and significantly mitigate damage. Specifically, MSPs should leverage modern data-backup storage solutions that take data snapshots every 90 seconds. These “immutable storage” solutions create a continuous series of recovery points. Information remains intact and recoverable even if ransomware does sneak through.
A broad range of services
Customers now expect their MSPs to step up to the plate and provide value-added services like better backup and recovery. Another service they are coming to expect is penetration testing. Indeed, most successful MSPs now offer penetration testing to their customers. They test for vulnerabilities in customer systems and provide fixes to close them.
A pen test is a quick and economical way for MSPs to assess the vulnerabilities of their customers. In a typical penetration test, MSPs test for common configuration issues, identify flaws undetected by automated tools and evaluate the effectiveness of whatever security controls their customers have in place. If they find gaps, MSPs can provide solutions for them.
MSPs could also help with the testing of backup and recovery capabilities. Despite the rise in cyber attacks, many organisations still neglect to test their data-recovery plan or don’t have a data recovery plan in the first place – which is a mistake. MSPs are well-positioned to help companies regularly test their backups and help them recover quickly in case of data loss.
MSPs could even consider getting into the cyber insurance game. These days, large insurance providers are selective about underwriting new cyber policies. They only want to do business with customers with robust cyber protocols and processes already in place. Organisations that work with MSPs to beef up their cyber posture are precisely the kind of customers that insurance providers want. MSPs have a real opportunity to partner with insurance firms to upsell cyber policies to their client base.
The future of work
There is no denying that the hybrid model is the future of work. Employees are demanding it. Jobs that are specified as “remote” now get 300% more applicants than jobs that are not, according to ZipRecruiter. Companies have no choice but to offer remote options and transition their data to the cloud.
In this new reality, MSPs can help customers find the right balance between on-premises and the cloud. And MSPs that embrace the hybrid model themselves can better meet the needs of their customers—and remain relevant and valuable to those customers for years to come.
MSPs have proven themselves to be vital partners throughout the trying times of the past two years. And there will be busy years ahead for those MSPs that think beyond their traditional offerings and deliver a complete suite of solutions to customers, including tools like penetration testing and cyber insurance. These MSPs will maximise their value and enable their customers to flourish in the new world of work, with all the challenges and possibilities it holds.