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Why Businesses Should Consider MSPs as Cybersecurity Partners, Not Vendors

Internet, computer security

This article is part of a Channel Partners Conference & Expo/MSP Summit sponsorship.

Expanding attack surfaces, years of underinvestment in cybersecurity and a growing skills gap have emboldened threat actors and are resulting in a rise in breaches. According to a recent survey by Bitdefender, more than half of businesses surveyed suffered a data breach in the past 12 months.

Recognizing they may need help; organizations are increasingly looking at engaging with managed service providers (MSPs). According to a new report by Canalys, cybersecurity managed services grew 16% to $70 billion in 2023 and are expected to top $80 billion in 2024. Leaning on managed services partners with dedicated, rich cybersecurity expertise and capabilities helps organizations keep up with today’s increasingly sophisticated threats to better protect users, systems, and data.

However, Not all MSPs Are Created Equal

To effectively navigate the growing complexities of today's cybersecurity environment, organizations are recognizing the need for a trusted partner who can do more than just manage technology. Such a partner should offer comprehensive cybersecurity services that cover the full incident lifecycle—ranging from threat hunting and vulnerability management to detection and response.

Organizations also need insight into how digital transformation and cloud migration are affecting their security strategies. They require guidance on safeguarding their evolving, distributed infrastructures and hybrid workforces, regardless of where they connect. These trusted partners should bring specialized cybersecurity expertise to the table, helping to fill the widening skills gap in this critical area.

Shifting from a mere vendor-based relationship to a true trusted partnership is crucial when engaging with a cybersecurity MSP. This partnership needs to be agile and collaborative, adapting in real-time to ever-changing threat landscapes and emerging trends. Such a relationship fosters a deeper understanding of your security needs, enabling quicker and more effective responses to cybersecurity challenges.

Here are three things to look for when looking for an MSP partner:

1. Strategic Alignment 

In the past, most managed services were transactional. A provider would procure a security solution and make sure it ran as expected. But today’s cybersecurity landscape requires close collaboration and communication between customer and provider. MSPs need to align their customers’ cybersecurity strategy with business goals. This starts with a robust discovery process that establishes a baseline of where you’re at, where your organization is vulnerable and how best to address those gaps. From there, MSPs need to help create a long-term strategy for where your organization is headed in the future. This really is about going beyond providing transactional services and establishing a trusted partnership.

2. Augment In-House Capabilities

Partners need to work together to achieve communal goals. Hiring an MSP isn’t about replacing in-house expertise. It’s about augmenting current workflows and capabilities. This requires an open, collaborative approach that proactively seeks out and resolves security vulnerabilities. According to the new Canalys survey, only 25% of cybersecurity MSPs operate their own Security Operations Center (SOC), and only 40% have dedicated analyst resources that are available for threat detection, investigation, and response. Given the speed at which threats operate today and their highly evasive and adaptable nature, it is critical that you work with a cybersecurity partner that is actively working on your behalf to proactively deal with these threats. MSPs know this, of course, with 70% expressing plans to provide managed extended detection and response (XDR) services in the near future.

3. Risk Averse

Many MSPs are implementing stricter requirements for customers, such as having their own cyber insurance policies and adhering to cybersecurity best practices. While potentially onerous, these requirements are a good thing. It means they are serious about protecting your organization and won’t allow you to fall asleep at the wheel on their watch. Customer requirements, guidelines and insurance essentially codify how you operate as a partnership, giving you responsibility for meeting a basic security baseline. Partners push each other to meet expectations and do what’s necessary to identify and stop today’s constantly evolving threats.

Forging a Partnership

A constantly evolving threat landscape is putting pressure on in-house cybersecurity capabilities. In-house teams can’t do it all and are increasingly relying on cybersecurity managed services to help keep up. However, it’s critical that organizations go beyond a transactional relationship with their MSP and forge a strong partnership that pushes each side to go above and beyond what’s expected. Together, MSPs and their customers can proactively go after today’s sophisticated threats and keep users, data and systems secure.

Don't miss out on invaluable insights that could redefine your cybersecurity strategy. Act now — download the Canalys report today and discover how to elevate your relationship with an MSP from vendor to trusted partner.

Managed service providers, MSP Summit, cybersecurity, Bitdefender