Managed service providers carry a few additional burdens that many traditional IT companies don’t. Because the products and services of a managed service provider are used by different businesses, often in different industries, there is a balancing act between managing their own security needs and the needs of their clients. Different responsibilities, requirements, and approaches could fundamentally change how an MSP offers services.
Here, we’re covering 7 ways that you can protect your clients. From managing your own security to extending expertise and skills to customers, you can give them something that they might not be able to give themselves: real security and peace of mind.
Get Your Own House in Order with Best Practices
It goes without saying for most providers… but not all of them. You aren’t going to provide any sense of security for your clients if you aren’t secure yourself. That means that you have to practice what you preach and demonstrate to your customers that your network and products are secure.
What are some of these best practices?
- Stay on top of the latest regulations and trends. If you aren’t performing internal audits then having a third-party security partner to help shows your clients that you take the security of their data, and your own, seriously.
- This can include staying up-to-date with general audits for SOC 2 compliance or maintaining clear, industry-specific audits for standards like HIPAA or FedRAMP regulations.
- Maintain backups and records of all data. Keeping backups should be part of any company’s plan. Set an example by highlighting an extensive backup record-keeping strategy that keeps everyone’s data safer.
- Stay transparent. If you’re having security troubles, don’t try to hide them. Like any other compliance practice, make sure your customers see you as a transparent source of information. If there is a breach or attack, report it, and make a clear, visible plan on how you are addressing it so it doesn’t happen again.
Include Clear Segmentation Plans for All Clients
Your risk management plan should, in part, be a management plan for your customer as well. A major part of that plan should involve clear segmentation of resources on your network to avoid security breaches from spreading.
Logical segmentation is a crucial aspect of risk mitigation. If you are a managed service provider handling multiple customers, then there should be a clearly defined segmentation plan for all customers that includes controls for access and security in and outside of the network as well as within it.
Not only will segmenting your resources help reduce security risks, but it will also help you better manage shared resources and reduce the fallout from any successful breach or service outage.
Offer Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning Services
Another way to set a good example for customers is to offer them something you should get anyway: testing.
This approach can benefit both you and your customers in two ways:
- In terms of trust, you build trust with your customers by offering them something they may not know they need complete security testing. Many companies don’t field their own penetration tests or vulnerability scans, so having a more experienced IT company take the reins for it just endears them to your business.
- In terms of relevant security, offering security testing gives you a chance to control the quality and quantity of the testing to meet proper security needs. Offering specific tests like penetration tests can persuade customers to see these as relevant and necessary rather than optional, which means that you have some input on the level of testing in play.
It’s not the case that you must offer these kinds of services in-house. Even if you work with a security vendor as a partner, your managed service provider business can provide the trust and security your customers need.
Understand Your Responsibilities for Compliance as a Managed Service Provider
Some industries have stringent compliance requirements, requirements that come with hefty penalties for non-compliance. And, for some of these industries, any managed service provider working with clients is equally culpable for non-compliance.
If you work with customers in industries like healthcare, then it’s important to understand your responsibilities under the law. This helps you avoid problems, but it also helps you better position your offerings for success when it comes to compliance.
Create a Clear Security Framework for Your Services and Client Usage
Following the offer for testing, you can also offer to develop security plans and frameworks that lead to success. By supporting a customer in developing a security plan, you can help them better prepare for compliance issues related to their industry. At the very least, you can persuade them to see their security as part of a larger strategy.
Managed service providers have a great bargaining chip to convince partners to adopt, or at least formulate security plans. By pushing basic plans and best practices as conditions for using a suite of services or a cloud network, you can usher customers towards important security items like:
- Basic or industry-specific security controls
- Penetration testing
- Risk and vulnerability management
- Threat modeling
Be the catalyst for adopting any of these items can directly contribute to the security of your customers.
Document, Document, Document
As attacks on managed service providers continue to rise, it might be inevitable that any managed service provider will have a data breach. At the very least, most MSPs and data-driven companies will need to expect some sort of cyberattack.
It’s important for the security of you and your clients to maintain documentation and logs on any attacks, successful or not.
Part of your documentation should also include your plans for reporting attacks, responding to those attacks, and shoring up security controls after those attacks. Most industry regulations require some level of reporting and documentation as part of their compliance demands, but your company should go above and beyond to ensure that every part of your security apparatus is documented.
Documentation is also going to support optimization for you and your clients. If you’re safe and efficient, then you can pass that efficiency to your customers in a way that they can use, whether it is through secure tools or expert security support.
Recommend the Right Solutions
Not all security solutions are created equal, and not all of them are a good fit for every company or every industry. Knowledgeable managed service providers can help their clients in specific industries with suggestions on how different solutions on the market can support their governance, risk, and compliance needs.
You don’t have to maintain that level of knowledgeability and it doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders, especially if you don’t have a dedicated internal security team. The partnership you make with security vendors can extend to your customers, so you can bring the right expertise to the right partners when they need it. That kind of support can be extremely helpful to a company in need of security support, especially if you work with a security vendor that can optimize compliance and governance with a modern solution platform.
Be a Partner to Your Customers
The connecting thread for all of these paths is to be a partner. An MSP can be just that: a provider with products to sell and manage. But the relationship between MSPs and clients can be and should be, much more than that. These relationships are built on trust, where the well-being of patients, customers, clients, and businesses are at stake.
As a managed service provider, putting any of these practices into place shows your customers that you want to be a partner, to work together on security and compliance. This kind of service is something that most clients will not forget.
Are you an MSP working with clients and want to formulate better security measures for your systems and their operations? Call 1-888-896-6207 to learn more about how Continuum GRC can help streamline security and compliance for you and your customers with little overhead.