MSPs handle large amounts of sensitive data, which is why cybercriminals view them as good potential targets. To adequately protect this sensitive data from today’s sophisticated attacks, it is crucial that MSPs leverage cybersecurity best practices to ensure the safety and security of their own systems and their customers’ systems.
This guide will outline some cybersecurity best practices for MSPs and enterprises, covering the importance of effective remote infrastructure management, utilizing a sophisticated endpoint detection and response (EDR) security solution, and implementing patch management software.
Why are MSPs prime targets for cyberattacks?
Large enterprises, which have access to mass amounts of customer information, are obvious targets for cyberattacks. However, most large organizations will use enterprise-grade security solutions that help them employ sophisticated security measures. This means that while they might be a profitable target for cybercriminals, they can (typically) require a lot of skill and resources to successfully attack.
MSPs, on the other hand, are likely to have access to large amounts of valuable customer data whether their customers are small, medium, or large businesses. MSPs have their hands in many pots, and can serve as an effective gateway for cybercriminals hoping to exploit confidential data.
MSP solutions are typically built to give technicians easy and direct access to their customers, allowing them to troubleshoot issues, perform maintenance activities, deploy software, and much more with minimal restriction. Given the huge amount of access MSPs are afforded by customers, it’s no surprise that cybercriminals consider MSPs to be attractive targets. If a cybercriminal manages to compromise just one MSP, they may find themselves with access to a whole score of other potential targets.
In addition, because an MSP’s core offering is to keep customer networks secure and operational, the threat of customer-facing damage and disruption makes MSPs the ideal target for extortion. If, for example, an MSP were to discover that all its customers had been infected with ransomware, cybercriminals hope they will pay a hefty sum to make the problem go away.
Six cybersecurity best practices
With cybercriminals looking to hack their way into MSP and enterprise systems, it’s more important than ever for MSPs to implement cybersecurity best practices that will help them avoid falling victim to an attack. Here are six key activities MSPs and large companies should engage in to help protect themselves from exploitable vulnerabilities:
1. PRIORITIZE PATCH MANAGEMENT
Some organizations can experience hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of individual cyberattacks each year, although these businesses are certainly outliers. Still, most businesses are at risk of cyberthreats simply because cybercriminals are always hunting for potential vulnerabilities in applications.
MSPs should make keeping systems patched and up to date a priority because outdated software and firmware are prime targets for cybercriminals and can be easily exploited. One of the most effective ways of protecting your MSP business and its customers from issues associated with outdated hardware and software is to employ robust and sophisticated patch management software. This can help you keep on top of updates and deploy patches on a regular basis before criminals have the chance to take advantage.
2. PARTICIPATE IN REGULAR VULNERABILITY MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT
Somewhat like patch management, vulnerability monitoring and management asks that you look for vulnerabilities criminals might be able to exploit in order to prevent this from happening. By regularly scanning and testing your environment for any weaknesses, you can identify areas in your systems or your customers’ systems that require updates, whether it’s a default password, a poor configuration, or an unpatched piece of software. This is a simple and low-cost way of significantly improving your cybersecurity.
A key part of vulnerability management is running vulnerability scans that look for potential vulnerabilities that cybercriminals might look to exploit. Host-based scanning can run vulnerability checks across the devices on your networks to ensure there’s no unpatched software or potential malware threats.
3. CONDUCT PROACTIVE THREAT DETECTION AND MANAGEMENT
Threat detection and prevention tools can encompass firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and reliable endpoint detection response (EDR). Comprehensive and effective threat detection is a crucial part of securing your business and its customers. Implementing a firewall is the first step in successfully monitoring and controlling network traffic according to your customers’ individual security rules. If possible, a next-generation firewall can help by not only controlling traffic but also providing other security features like antivirus scanning. An intrusion detection system can identify and block any malicious entities that breach the firewall.
Locking down endpoints is another key component of effective threat detection and threat management. The vast majority of cyberattacks begin with a user being fooled by a malicious email. Email and web filtering tools can help prevent employees and users from making potentially critical mistakes. To support email protection measures, you should set up DMARC, SPF, and DKIM, or use an email protection tool that can do so for you. Many managed antivirus software and EDR security solutions offer a range of threat detection capabilities. However, before choosing a security solution, you should consider whether it’s comprehensive enough to meet your security requirements. All-in-one cybersecurity and RMM tools, particularly those offering advanced EDR alongside web protection and email protection, can offer a centralized and streamlined approach that can be both cost-effective and less resource-intensive.
4. PRACTICE LOG MONITORING
Effective log monitoring involves examining logs for anomalies. This could include traffic from malicious domains or attempts to escalate user privileges. Log monitoring can help you detect threat patterns and close cybersecurity gaps. Depending on the size of your enterprise or your customers’ networks and the number of networks and devices that require monitoring, you may want to consider a security information and event management (SIEM) tool. These tools will help you sift through huge amounts of data and help you prioritize items in need of attention.
5. EMPLOY A BACKUP SOLUTION
Backups are a crucial part of remediating malicious activity and safeguarding business continuity in the event of a disaster or cyberattack. A good backup solution affords you and your customers access to the latest versions of business applications and data, giving you all peace of mind from both data breaches and natural disasters. Backup solutions are especially important for MSPs and enterprises that must meet compliance mandates such as PCI DSS and HIPAA.
You should look for a good cloud-based backup solution that allows for fast data transfers and gives you flexibility to choose the way you need to restore data. Being able to quickly restore after a downtime event, whether due to a ransomware attack, human error, or a natural disaster, is crucial for keeping customers safe. Additionally, it’s important to have backups stored in the cloud in the event a ransomware attack attempts to delete local backups on machines.
6. IMPLEMENT AND REVIEW PRIVILEGED ACCESS MANAGEMENT
Businesses experience internal change frequently in the form of onboarding, offboarding, and lateral moves within an organization. Because of this, regularly reviewing access privileges is critically important. When conducting access reviews, you may find that employees who once required access to certain mission-critical resources no longer need them. This can pose a major security risk, especially if the individual with access has left the company. To mitigate this risk, you should conduct regular audits to ensure employee access to critical data and applications is strictly “need to know.”
The best way to prevent privilege abuse is to establish barriers between users and assets. To achieve this, you could take a tiered approach, adhering to the principle of least privilege. The principle of least privilege limits privileges to the absolute bare minimum required to get the job done. Other access management best practices include avoiding sharing or reusing login credentials, enabling multi-factor authentication, using a password manager to create strong passwords, and having a strong process for employee offboarding and revoking privileges as needed.
Getting started with implementing cybersecurity best practices
Staying on top of all the best practices included in this guide can be a real challenge, and it’s likely that your organization will have unique cybersecurity requirements that haven’t been accounted for. To help simplify this process for your business, the most reliable and effective way of securing your organization and your customers against cyberthreats is to employ an all-in-one RMM solution.
SolarWinds® RMM is designed to help you meet your cybersecurity needs from one dashboard. The set of tools in RMM allow businesses to efficiently secure, maintain, and improve customer IT systems, all from within a single dashboard. This solution includes the following features:
- Out-of-the-box monitoring templates
- Fast and safe remote access
- Advanced web protection capabilities
- Backup and recovery
- Managed antivirus
- Endpoint detection and response
SolarWinds RMM is a popular solution designed to support MSPs and IT professionals. It’s scalable, cost-effective, and easy-to-use. With no training or experience required, you can get started with SolarWinds RMM in a matter of hours. A 30-day free trial is available.