A Managed Service Provider Can Help You Secure Your Network

Highlights from the August 25, 2021 webinar in the HBK Risk Advisory series hosted by William J. Heaven, CPA/CITP, CISA, CSCP, Senior Manager, HBK Risk Advisory Services; and Pawel Pikul, Senior Manager, HBK IT

A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages customers’ IT infrastructures and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. Think of an MSP as an outsourced IT department.

• The MSP concept emerged in the early 2000s, Prior to that the business was primarily IT consultants and tech support, most of it onsite, and often accompanied by long system interruptions. Then in the late 1990s applications allowed for remote access and help desk services. Over the years tech support moved to remotely ensuring networks are operating and running without downtime and in a secure environment.

• MSPs provide a wide range of services, and have access to a great diversity of tools and technologies. Different MSPs offer different services, including cloud technology, a fully managed IT department, strategic technology advisors, around-the-clock help desk, data security, business continuity and backup, change management, and hardware procurement.

• You can fully outsource your IT department to an MSP or use particular services, including using their expertise to support and monitor your networks. Bigger organizations often adopt a co-managed model, where they keep their IT team and use an MSP to fill skill gaps and free up their IT team’s time.

• Most MSPs price their service packages based on the number of users or number of devices in the network. Your service level agreement should include key aspects of the service, including response times.

Types of Managed Service Providers

• MSP service can be defined as any continuous, regular management, maintenance, and support, including:

- Networks and infrastructure

- Security services: Some MSPs, known as MSSPs, are focused on security services.

- Support services

- Print Services

- Cloud infrastructure

- Software as a Service (SaaS)

- Wireless and mobile computing

- Communications services

- Data analytics

• A standard MSP package will have to some degree cloud storage, managed backup, hardware procurement, change management, business continuity/disaster recovery, system security, system management, system monitoring, and a help desk. The MSP will ensure your IT systems are operational—usability and performance are primary concerns. They will provide some level of security but having an MSP does not guarantee 100 percent network or data security. You can add additional layers of security to mitigate risk, which you are advised to do, but companies are always vulnerable.

• Basic security provided by an MSP includes a managed firewall, virtual private network, anti-virus and anti- malware, windows and third-party patching, vulnerability scanning at least on a quarterly basis, and backup and disaster recovery. MSSPs, which are more focused on security, provide additional levels of security and services, including a security operation center, security information and event management, endpoint detect and response, user behavior analytics, ongoing vulnerability scanning as a new users or devices are added to the network, and cybersecurity risk assessment. Other services that can provide additional security include a password manager, security awareness training, dark web monitoring, disk encryption, and single sign-on and multi-factor authentication.

• To ensure the most security possible you need to communicate with your MSP to determine who is covering what.

• The benefits of an engaging an MSP include access to an entire team of IT experts which translates to substantial IT cost savings, predictable costs, data recovery services provided quickly following a disaster, and 24/7 support for all end users.

• It is important to understand your company’s needs and the benefits you expect from your MSP and communicate that to your MSP, then review your contract to stay current with your needs. Also:

- Study and understand the MSP’s reports on your network and services.

- Ask your MSP security-related questions.

- Undergo a cybersecurity risk assessment at least once every two years.

Cybersecruity Statistics

• Ninety-vie percent of data breaches are caused by human error.

• The average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million.

• The average time to identify a breach in 2020 was 207 days.

• Data breaches exposed 36 billion records in first half of 2020.

• Sixty-eight percent of business leaders feel cyber risks are increasing.

• The FBI reported a 300 percent increase in cybercrimes since the beginning of the pandemic

• Remote work increased average cost of a data breach by $137,000.

Cybercrime Trends

• Remote workers are being targeted.

• Cloud breaches are increasing.

• Cybersecurity skills gap remains an issue.

• IOT (Internet of Things) devices will become more vulnerable

• Cyber insurance will increase in cost especially for organizations that don’t take appropriate measures for risk mitigation.

• The most common cyber attacks include:

- Malware, which can perform malicious tasks, obtain data, or disrupt

- Phishing for credit card information or intellectual property

- Zero-day exploiting vulnerability to get access to the network

- Password attacks: what’s important is not necessarily the length or complexity of a password. Most often attackers gain access to passwords via a compromised website. An organization should have unique passwords for every website. Multi-factor identification is one important way to prevent access.

Tips on security your network

• Ensure systems are being patched.

• Ensure vulnerability scans are being performed.

• Segregate networks.

• Train end users.

• Implement internal security policies.

• Require multi-factor authentications for all systems and applications.

• Use unique passwords and implement single sign-on.

• Test backup and disaster recovery.

• Create an incident response plan.

About the Author(s)
Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.

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