Face it; there is no wholly guaranteed way to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your clients’ data. If savvy hackers have the tools and moxie to carry out a variety of sustained attacks, they will most likely find and exploit an opening, no matter how small.

Determined offenders will work long and hard to find a way to get into a high-profile target. SMBs need MSPs who understand those odds and know the best defenses for frustrating the most well-funded and ruthless of these adversaries. Your clients need to know you have their back no matter what and will never give up the fight.

As every MSP should know, every business needs layered protection. Effectively designed, deployed, and maintained security measures might not stop every cybercriminal or catch every mistake by a careless employee. Still, a multi-leveled approach will improve your clients’ chances of stopping the worst threats.

The goal is to prevent severe damage. Defense in depth will slow down your smartest adversaries with the right mix of defensive solutions and monitoring services. With sound systems and a little luck, today’s MSPs can stop cyberattacks, or at least lessen the harm caused by these incidents.

Define and Deploy

What solutions make up an effective layered cybersecurity system? Many industry experts throw the idea around rather loosely, and definitions tend to vary between MSPs, vendors, and other thought leaders.

First, layered cybersecurity should be all-encompassing. Potential entry points must be covered with at least two defensive measures. You should receive immediate alerts when cybercriminals get through your initial defenses, systems fail, or other issues arise.

That proactive “guard dog” approach not only gets the attention of your techs but helps provide the time they need to respond while the other protection layers slow down attackers. The goal is to create a buffer so your team can assess the problems and take additional steps to foil cybercriminals and lock down clients’ systems and data.

Security for the Real World

A “standard” protection package typically includes antivirus, anti-spyware, routers, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to stop criminal activity. MSPs usually manage those technologies and monitor traffic for anomalies and performance issues that could signify a breach or other vulnerability concerns. A layered security approach adds protection measures on top of that stack to effectively lock down access to company systems and data.

A valid “defense in depth” strategy may include:

  1. Email security

Many organizational leaders fail to realize the risks associated with electronic communications and rely heavily on the base protection measures in their cloud solutions, including Microsoft 365 and Googe apps. Those fundamental security features are a good starting point. Unfortunately, cybercriminals usually look for “low hanging fruit,” and it makes good business sense for them to target these popular platforms first. MSPs can add a variety of security measures to slow down, if not stop hackers and other mischievous people, including inbound and outbound traffic filtering and encryption.

  1. Patch management standards

Every MSP should develop policies and procedures for downloading, testing, and push patches across all client locations (including remote offices and virtual workplaces).

  1. Phishing/ awareness training

Businesses should enroll all employees and business associates (anyone who accesses the corporate network) in these ongoing educational programs. MSPs can help implement, monitor, and report progress, and develop remediation plans for high-risk end users.

  1. Encryption

A growing number of compliance requirements and industry standards are making this a “must-have” for businesses. That included encryption of outgoing and incoming communications, especially emails that contain sensitive information, as well as stored data.

  1. Password management/ MFA

The objective here is to control both physical and online access to the IT ecosystem. MSPs must implement controls for assigning, monitoring, and revoking employee and visitor credentials. Those steps prevent unauthorized users from accessing company data and business applications. Access cards and smartphone-based options are faster and more user-friendly than older solutions.

  1. Physical security controls

Surveillance systems, motion detectors, and door access controls are great protection options for today’s IT professionals. Cloud applications allow many of these solutions to be monitored and managed like any other MSP offering. Physical security controls add a robust layer of protection that deters former and disgruntled workers from sabotaging your clients’ systems and may help those businesses address the latest compliance requirements.

  1. BDR/ business continuity

No business should operate today without a capable backup and disaster recovery plan in place. In the event a cybercriminal gets through the multiple layers of protection, this final piece of the puzzle becomes the failsafe for MSPs and their clients, especially in a distributed work environment like that brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Planning, implementation, and periodic testing should be considered a mandatory standard.

That’s Not All…

Of course, those solutions are just a sampling of the options for layering your clients’ cybersecurity protections. Defense in depth requires MSPs to take a substantial role in the planning and infrastructure design processes.

Providers can “lock the gate” on cybercriminals with a more proactive approach, especially with more employees working from home. Industry experts suggest layered defenses are now the channel standard with a plethora of cybersecurity options. From dark web and network assessments to detect vulnerabilities to monitoring services that spot anomalies and performance issues before issues take place, MSPs can add tiers to reduce risks that affect their specific customers.

Layered security may be the best cyber insurance policy that the SMB can buy today. With team members spread across larger geographic areas using questionable systems and networks, MSPs and their customers need all the protection they can afford.

Now is the right time to deliver that message to the SMB ‒ and put these comprehensive solutions in place.

Brian Sherman, Content Director, IoTSSA (Internet of Things Security Services Association)