Managed Service Providers

An MSP and SMB guide to disaster preparation, recovery and remediation

Introduction It’s important for a business to be prepared with an exercised business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan plan before its hit with ransomware so that it can resume operations as quickly as possible. Key steps and solutions should be followed...

Podcast: Cyber resilience in a remote work world

The global pandemic that began to send us packing from our offices in March of last year upended our established way of working overnight. We’re still feeling the effects. Many office workers have yet to return to the office in the volumes they worked in pre-pandemic....

5 Tips to get Better Efficacy out of Your IT Security Stack

If you’re an admin, service provider, security executive, or are otherwise affiliated with the world of IT solutions, then you know that one of the biggest challenges to overcome is efficacy. Especially in terms of cybersecurity, efficacy is something of an amorphous...

How Cryptocurrency and Cybercrime Trends Influence One Another

Typically, when cryptocurrency values change, one would expect to see changes in crypto-related cybercrime. In particular, trends in Bitcoin values tend to be the bellwether you can use to predict how other currencies’ values will shift, and there are usually...

Fools Rush in: 5 Things MSPs Should Know Before Adopting EDR

Buzzwords and acronyms abound in the MSP industry, an unfortunate byproduct of marketing years in the making. Cybersecurity is a hot watercooler topic at any business. Well, now probably more likely a virtual happy hour than a watercooler, but nevertheless cybersecurity remains top-of-mind.

To sleep at night, MSPs feel they must enhance or expand their security offerings beyond the standard layers, like; firewalls, firewall filtering, active directory protocols, DNS Filtering and antivirus/malware detection. One of the ways many MSPs feel they can satiate their cybersecurity concerns involves buzzword-y new acronyms floating around involving “EDR” or endpoint detection and response. But what is EDR really and what can it do for MSPs and their clients?

But first, besides EDR, there’s also ADR, MDR, xDR and the industry can surely expect newer blank-DR acronyms coming in the next few years. What are all these acronyms and how do they help MSP protect their clients? Here are a few definitions:

  • EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) – Technically, every security agent sitting on an endpoint is an EDR solution. The information the agents feed back to administrators determines what action to take and when.
  • ADR (Automatic Detection and Response) – Newer technology allows the agent to automatically make a decision without human intervention. Ideally, ADR automatically remediates a situation and reports to the administrators on action taken.
  • xDR – This newer acronym refers to agents across a network communicating to make a remediation decision or report decision across multiple endpoints.
  • MDR (Managed Detection and Response) – A best-of-breed solution using EDR, ADR and possibly xDR tools in various combinations, MDR allows a human team to make decisions and respond to situations. While more complex and administrative heavy, MDR closes the gap that arises when suspicious applications are being monitored and observed, but not reacted to by an ADR or xDR solution. Human-driven MDR ferrets out the suspicious and reacts.

Here are five things MSPs should consider when evaluating EDR solutions:

1. All security tools with an endpoint agent are basically EDR.

Their job is to detect malicious code, applications, scripts or other malicious files and make a status determination on the fly. Most security agents use various methods like physically scanning file hashes, scanning file content, watching behaviors, looking at scripts, detecting known attack surfaces and other techniques to try to ascertain if a newly encountered file is good or bad.

How the security agent reports its activity depends on the EDR tool. So, while many security tools claim they offer an “EDR” solution, the key is to determine the level of threat, suspicions and action taken in reporting or alerting that adds value for MSPs.

2. The “R,” or response, is key to a successful EDR solution.

While many security tools report and alert, the level of response is the most important aspect of any security practice. If the security agent provides minimal information for decision making, it’s of limited use to the technical personnel responsible for intervening.

On the other hand, technicians can take advantage of security tools with consoles that display alerts, reports and visibility into whether an agent responded, how and the agent’s current status. Too often tools don’t provide necessary insight for reviewing or comparing threat data or approaches – like the MITRE attack framework or other sites with relevant threat information.

Solutions with a more comprehensive API  are advantageous for custom review, integration into more dedicated threat review tools or for alerting through a log gathering and reporting tool. APIs are valuable for providing added information from which human technicians can make decisions.

3. What can be done with the EDR information? Is it actionable?

Once a tool has been selected, what should be done with the information it provides? Answering this is key to successfully setting EDR expectations for customers. If a client requires an MSP has an EDR solution in place, installing an agent is only half of the equation.

Gathering the information into a comprehensive tool or suite can be daunting. If the security solution provider has tools like alerts, reports or an API, start there. However, these tools are often limited and need to be supplemented by a solution with higher performance or a faster response time.

Log gathering tools are a higher performance option that allow many tools to feed into a single system. Once such a solution is in place, the next challenge is to build rules for sifting through the millions of ingested points of information. These rules provide human reviewers  more details for making decisions. It may take several cycles to hone in on the rules that lead to successfully spotting suspicious or malicious activity and protecting customers.

4. Understand what’s behind the EDR hype.

What’s the buzz around EDR and why has it become such a topic for discussion? Fair question considering level of effort to stand up, manage, monitor and address a situation when it arise can be costly and time consuming. Simply having a security vendor “supports EDR” isn’t enough. Selecting a check box to satisfy a requirement is, again, only half of the equation.

So, why go through the time and expense of implementing EDR? Here are three top reasons:

  • Cybersecurity insurance – With the rise of breaches across business and public sector landscapes, cybersecurity insurance on the rise. Many providers have requirements from governance to tools that meet a specific scope. EDR is one such requirement.
  • Good practice – Having layers of protection for customers is important. Extending security offerings by adding an EDR solution with a process will increase that security footprint.
  • Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) – More and more MSPs are adding value to their customers by adding cybersecurity-specific services. With cybersecurity challenges on the rise, many service providers can increase revenue and provide greater security posture for their customers. Implementing an EDR solution will contribute to that effort.

5. Plan out next steps for adopting EDR at your MSP

  • Evaluate the need. Investing in potentially costly new solutions because of a buzzword is not advisable.
  • Determine the level of effort required to adopt an EDR solution and devise a plan for doing it.
  • Review existing tools and determine if existing solutions are being leveraged most effectively today.
  • Build the team. Part of the plan for adopting EDR should include designating a security team to both manage the solution and respond to its findings.

Simply selecting ticking an EDR box won’t necessarily contribute to client security. MSPs should evaluate the needs EDR will satisfy, the level of effort it takes to implement and how EDR fits into their overall service offering. Vendors won’t hesitate to offer “EDR solutions,” but it’s up to the MSP to properly implement and establish process to support expectations. Simply having the solutions does no good. EDR done right requires the additional team focus, rules, review and responses. Implement an EDR offering with caution and planning.

The NSA Wants Businesses to Use DoH. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Most people would categorically agree that increased privacy online is a good thing. But in practice, questions of privacy online are a bit more complex. In recent months, you’ve likely heard about DNS over HTTPS, also known as DNS 2.0 and DoH, which is a method that uses the HTTPS protocol to encrypt DNS requests, shielding their contents from malicious actors and others who might misuse such information. It can even address several DNS-enabled cyberattack methods, such as DNS spoofing or hijacking. On the other hand, obfuscating the content of DNS requests can also reduce admins’ visibility and control, as well as negatively affect business network security.

Ultimately, this DNS privacy upgrade has been a long time coming. While its creators’ original 1983 design has undoubtedly proven itself by scaling to meet the demands of today’s internet, privacy just wasn’t a consideration 38 years ago; thus, the need for DoH.

“Privacy just wasn’t a consideration 38 years ago; thus, the need for DoH.”

When weighing the obvious privacy and security benefits against the visibility and potential security drawbacks, some businesses are having difficulty managing these new protocols. That’s likely why the NSA recently released a guide that not only explains the need for DoH, it strongly recommends that businesses protect their networks from rogue DNS sources to improve their network security. But what their guide doesn’t really focus on is how.

Correctly managing encrypted DNS can be very challenging. Here’s what businesses need to know about the NSA’s guide and how to successfully embrace DoH.

What does the NSA guide recommend?

The NSA supports the privacy and security improvements DoH provides. However, they also recommend that DNS be controlled, which may leave some admins scratching their heads.

“The enterprise resolver should support encrypted DNS requests, such as DoH, for local privacy and integrity protections, but all other encrypted DNS resolvers should be disabled and blocked.”

What does the NSA caution against?

The NSA specifically warns about applications that can make DNS requests for themselves. Previously, if an application needed DNS, it would ask the local system for the resolution, ideally following whatever configuration the admin had set. These requests would then be sent to the network DNS resolver. This process provides a wealth of information to the network, helping with visibility in the case of a malware attack, or even in the event of a user accidentally clicking a phishing link.

With DNS encryption like DoH, this visibility not only disappears, but now DNS itself becomes incredibly difficult to control. The real challenge comes in as DoH hides the DNS requests using SSL, just as your web browser does when connecting to your online banking website. With this method, DNS requests appear as regular website traffic to most firewalls and networks, and can’t be identified by them as legitimate or malicious.

What other challenges should I consider?

DoH is fairly early in its adoption and only a few applications currently use it, though adoption will continue to grow. In North America, Mozilla Firefox uses DoH for DNS resolution by default. Other browsers, such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge have also begun to support DoH, though their default behavior will not enable DoH on most business networks.

Worth noting is that Microsoft itself has yet to support DoH on their DNS servers, so enforcing the NSA’s recommendations may be somewhat difficult. Additionally, as DoH traffic runs on port 443, just like a secure connection to a website, it is not easily regulated or blocked. You can’t just block port 443 at your firewall either, as this action would also block all secure websites. You could block some of the known DoH providers, but as with any new technology solution, more DoH resolvers appear daily.

How does Webroot address security with DoH?

The Webroot® DNS Protection agent already secures DNS requests by using DoH for all of its communications and leverages the power of Webroot BrightCloud® Threat Intelligence to identify and block alternate DoH connections. Our DNS Protection solution also includes an option to echo all DNS requests to your local resolver, so it maintains visibility into the DNS requests being made, leaving intact the powerful information provided by DNS.

Essentially, with a solution that works like Webroot DNS Protection, you still get the power of DNS filtering while also benefitting from DoH encryption. This protection secures remote and on-site users, devices, and networks, effectively fulfilling the NSA’s recommendations.

Hacker Personas Explained: Know Your Enemy and Protect Your Business

In today’s rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, the battle for privacy and security is relentless. Cybercriminals are masters at using technology and psychology to exploit basic human trust and compromise businesses of all sizes. What’s more, they often hide in plain sight, using both covert and overt tactics to cause disruption, steal money and data, and wreak havoc with MSPs and SMBs.

While cybersecurity advice is often focused on technology like endpoint protection, firewalls and anti-virus, it’s important to remember that behind every breach is a human. Knowing who they are and why they target your business is essential to remaining cyber resilient.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, hackers come in many forms, but their methods can generally be classified into three distinct types of cybercriminals:

  • The Impersonator – Hackers that pretend to be others, often using social engineering and human psychology to trick users.
  • The Opportunist – Hackers that exploit public events and socio-political crises for disruption or personal gain.
  • The Infiltrator – Hackers that target specific organizations and work to breach systems using a variety of tools and tactics.

Each one has their own methods and protecting against them requires a multi-layered approach. Let’s look at a few primary examples.

Who is the Impersonator?

An impersonation attack recently made headlines with the 2020 Twitter/Bitcoin scam, in which 130 high-profile Twitter accounts were compromised by outside parties to steal bitcoin. The perpetrators gained access to Twitter’s administrative tools in order to pose as legitimate CEOs and celebrities to trick users into sending bitcoin with the promise of doubling their investment. Unfortunately, attacks like this work, and the hackers received $121,000 that was never paid back. This is a scam that’s been around for years and since no one can reverse a cryptocurrency transaction, it’s very likely here to stay.

This type of cybercriminal manipulates victims into opening doors to systems or unwittingly sharing sensitive information by pretending to be someone you would inherently trust. The most notable attack is the “Nigerian prince” email scam, also known as “foreign money exchange” scams. These typically start with an email from someone overseas claiming to be royalty, offering to share a financial opportunity in exchange for your bank account number. Nowadays, you’re more likely to receive an email from your boss’ boss asking for gift cards or money, but these scams are still active in many forms, as the Twitter attack shows.

Impersonators are known to use phishing, Business Email Compromise (BEC) and domain spoofing to lure victims, and they’re always looking for new ways to innovate. In fact, our 2020 Threat Report found that impersonators are now imitating legitimate business websites to release malicious payloads or steal data, and a shocking 27% of phishing sites use HTTPS to trick the user into clicking phishing links, which makes these attacks even more dangerous. It’s easy to assume an official-looking website with an HTTPS address is safe, but hackers can also use HTTPS sites to launch phishing emails and distribute BEC scams as obtaining SSL certificates is trivial now. This is why a multi-layered approach that can block phishing sites (including HTTPS) in real time, is key for staying safe.

What Does the Opportunist Want?

While attacks of opportunity are nothing new, the tactics of the opportunist have gone to a new level with the recent coronavirus pandemic. According to our COVID-19 Clicks report, at least one in three people have fallen for a phishing email in the past year. This year has been all about the pandemic and the fear surrounding it. These phishing attempts often appear in the form of articles about the best ways to avoid coronavirus or links to documents that have lists of people with COVID-19 “in your area.” These documents will ask users to enable an embedded macro that then delivers malware, usually in the form of ransomware. Over 90% of malware campaigns used the pandemic in their initial phishing email this past year.

Opportunists wait for the right opportunity to strike, and just as impersonators take advantage of trust, opportunists also rely on trust and familiarity to deceive users into downloading malicious payloads. Unlike other hackers, however, they don’t have specific victims in mind. The opportunist capitalizes on urgency, fear and unpreparedness to catch as many victims in their net as possible.

As we point out in a popular Hacker Personas podcast, other opportunist attacks like those exploiting U.S. government stimulus payments are also on the rise. Business leaders in particular should watch out for these tactics, as phishing emails can compromise company devices. With the increase of remote workers using unsecured systems and personal devices to access corporate networks, all businesses are at risk from opportunists who bait remote employees.

How Do Infiltrators Breach Systems?

One of the best examples of an infiltration attack is the 2020 SolarWinds breach, in which a foreign state hacked the SolarWinds supply chain to infiltrate at least 18,000 government and private networks including over 425 of the fortune 500. Nation-state hackers took advantage of   SUNSPOT malware to insert the SUNBURST backdoor into software builds of the Orion platform, and unbeknownst to SolarWinds developers, they released it as a normal update to their customers. Several significant US agencies, including parts of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Treasury were attacked. What’s more, the fallout of this attack is still ongoing and we may never know the full damage.

The Infiltrator is the opposite of an opportunist in that they target specific victims and have a clear-cut approach to getting what they want. Rather than casting a wide net and hoping for the best, they usually know the system they want to infiltrate, and they use stealthy measures to breach systems, often coming away with a large payout in the form of a costly ransom to criminal enterprises or valuable intel to nation states.

What Steps Should MSPs and SMBs Take to Stay Cyber Resilient?

If knowing your enemy is the first step to protecting your business, the next step is to develop a strong cyber resilience posture that protects against their attacks. Part of that is understanding that cyberattacks are often a matter of “when, not if.” Even if you’re not the target of an infiltrator, for example, your business or employees may be the unknowing victims of an opportunist or impersonator.

Protecting your business includes:

  • Implementing a multi-layered cybersecurity approach that includes complete endpoint protection, firewalls, real time anti-phishing as well as Security Awareness Training
  • Continuously educating and training employees, staff and customers to follow cybersecurity best practices and to stay up to date on cyberattack news
  • Using a backup and recovery solution that can restore critical files after an attack and keep the business up and running during a crisis.

To learn more about hacker personas and strategies to protect against their various attacks, check out our eBook, Hacker Personas: A Deeper Look Into Cybercrime. You can also follow our Hacker Files and Lockdown Lessons series that include a variety of guides, podcasts and webinars covering these topics and more.

Four Roadblocks to Increasing Employee Security Through User Training

We’ve been doing our homework, and two things seem to be true about cybersecurity awareness training simultaneously:

  1. It can be very effective at protecting businesses from one of the most common security threats they face (the majority, according to the Ponemon Institute). Namely, phishing.
  2. MSPs, often the single most reliable source of cybersecurity for small business, want to offer training as a part of their services but unwillingness on the part of their clients prevents them from doing so.

If you know, as we do, that one in three American workers admits to clicking on a phishing link in the past year, what’s the reason for such reluctance? Here are four we commonly encounter and how to overcome them.

The “higher-ups” don’t see the value of training

For (the lucky) companies who’ve yet to be hit by a significant cyberattack, security awareness training may not hold obvious value. After all, very few organizations have zero cybersecurity measures in place. “What’s my endpoint security for, anyway?” “Threats are stopped by my firewall.” So the thinking goes…

Even if they see the need for user training from cybersecurity standpoint, some small businesses aren’t sure it’s worth the effort. IT budgets are often strained as it is, and couldn’t those dollars be better spent on the latest high-tech trend in the cyber defense industry?

Well, the numbers don’t lie, as they say. And in survey after survey, anecdote after anecdote, the numbers tell the same story: training works. In our latest survey of more than 4,000 managed service providers, for instance, 59 percent reported more suspicious emails being reported to IT. Thirty-seven percent reported fewer security incidents in general. Our own internal data tells us that our customers who use security training see up to 90 percent less malware than those that use an antivirus alone.

Leadership expects a “set it and forget it” or “one size fits all” experience

Executives will also often back off security awareness training when they realize it’s not a one-time test or a certificate they hang on a wall in their office. It’s true that the most effective cybersecurity training programs are tailored to a specific business and delivered on an ongoing basis.

Ensuring that training is tailored to a business’s operations is one of the best ways to overcome our next objection—that training doesn’t accurately represent the threats facing employees. That means providing industry-relevant compliance training and providing riskier users more training than tech savvy ones. This doesn’t happen by itself.

Persistence is also key when it comes to user security training. Our data indicates that the average click-through rate for a phishing simulation campaign is 11 percent. That drops to eight percent in the second campaign, but by the eleventh it’s down to five percent. Commit to 20 campaigns and you can reduce that rate to two percent.

Training doesn’t mirror real-world threats

Cybersecurity “tests,” especially of tactics like phishing, are of dubious effectiveness. When an employee knows a test is being administered, his or her guard goes up in unnatural ways. Results are skewed by the subject merely knowing a test is underway. Additionally, as any former student knows, studying up on cybersecurity principles is no guarantee of long-term retention.

For training to be effective it needs to be topical and believable. A healthcare provider needs to be familiar with HIPPA compliance protocol, for instance, and be able to identify an email spoofing a large insurance provider.

Real-world training should also mirror real-world events. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rise in scams related to the virus, so users should be cautious of any communications that look like they could have been ripped from the day’s headlines. Training that can’t be tailored to this degree won’t be as effective.

Employees aren’t onboard

Several factors can negatively affect employees’ willingness to adopt training. Some may believe they know all there is to know about cybersecurity. Some may believe it’s hopelessly over their head. For some, it’s simply not in their job description and that’s enough to stop them from pursuing training.

Whatever the reason for reluctance, buy-in starts at the top. Executives and other leaders should make it clear to employees that they subject themselves to the same training as their employees. (And if the C level doesn’t believe it’s an attractive target, encourage them to read up on spear phishing or “whaling.)

Some training is also just poorly designed. Courses don’t have to be drawn-out, black-and-white, bubble-filling multiple-choice tests. Sometimes simple awareness-raising of current security threats is enough. There’s evidence to suggest that micro learning modules are more effective. Courses can be aesthetically pleasing and feature good UX. It’s key to getting employees to engage, in fact.

The right approach requires the right platform

Whatever the reason a client or employee has for being reluctant to adopt security awareness training, there’s a good chance it can be overcome with the right tool. Visit the Webroot® Security Awareness Training page to learn more and to see why the research firm Info-Tech had this to say about Webroot:

“Our SoftwareReviews data shows that Webroot and their customers have a very positive relationship, with 91% of sentiments being positive.”

How to Build Successful Security Awareness Training Programs in 2021 and Beyond

Security awareness training is one of the most straightforward ways to improve a business’ overall resilience against cyberattacks. That is, when you get it just right.

Thanks to the disruptions to “normal” work routines that COVID-19 has brought, launching a company-wide training program to teach end users how to avoid phishing scams and online risks is a big challenge. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has also brought a major acceleration in phishing activity. With so many office employees working outside the safety of corporate network protections, you can see why the need for training has never been more critical.

But there’s another issue: training is outside the skillset for most IT admins, and the level of effort to set up and run a program of training courses, compliance accreditations and phishing simulations can be daunting.

To help you get started, here are our top 5 recommendations for starting your security awareness program so you can maximize the impact of your efforts.

  1. Get buy-in from stakeholders.

    While you probably already have some combination of security tools in place, such as endpoint protection, DNS or web filtering, etc., the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report states that phishing and social engineering are still the primary tactics used in successful cybersecurity breaches.

    Make sure your stakeholders understand these threats. Send an email introducing the program to management and clearly explain the importance of educating users and measuring and mitigating your risk of exposure to phishing and other social engineering attacks.
  1. Start with a baseline phishing campaign.

    When you run your first phishing campaign, you establish your starting point for measuring and demonstrating improvement over time. (You can also use this real-world data to accurately show the need for improvement to any still-skeptical stakeholders.) Ideally this initial campaign should be sent to all users without any type of forewarning or formal announcement, including members of leadership teams. Make sure to use an option that simply shows a broken link to users who click through, instead of alerting them to the campaign, so you can prevent word-of-mouth between employees from skewing the results.
  1. Set up essential security and compliance training.

    Create training campaigns to cover essential cybersecurity topics including phishing, social engineering, passwords and more. Establish which compliance courses are appropriate (or required) for your organization and which employees need to complete them.
  1. Establish a monthly phishing simulation and training cadence.

    Repetition and relevance are key for a successful security awareness training program. By setting up a regular simulation and training schedule, you can more easily measure progress and keep an eye on any high-risk users who might need extra attention. Using our shorter 4-5-minute modules in between more substantial training is an effective tactic to keep security top of mind while avoiding user fatigue. And if you can’t run phishing simulations monthly, strive for a quarterly cadence. If you get pushback on sending emails to everyone, then we recommend you prioritize testing users who failed the previous round.
  1. Communicate results

    A great way to raise awareness and increase the impact of your phishing campaigns is to share the results across the organization. Keep in mind, the goal is to capitalize on collective engagement and share aggregate results, not to call out individuals. (Your “offenders” will recognize themselves anyway.)

    The critical piece is seeing the statistics on where the organization stands as a whole. After the baseline phishing simulation, send out an email to all employees with the results and the reasoning for the campaign. Communicating these numbers will not only help show improvement over time, it’ll also demonstrate the value of the program overall and reinforce to employees that cyber resilience isn’t just IT’s job – it’s a responsibility we all share.

Although there are numerous other tips and tricks that can help ensure the success of your security awareness training program, these are our top five basic pieces of advice to get you on your way. When you follow these steps, it won’t take long to see the very real returns on your training investment.

For more detailed tips on how you can put Webroot® Security Awareness Training to work to improve your business’ cyber resilience posture, view our white paper.

Getting to Know Cloudjacking and Cloud Mining Could Save Your Business

A few years back, cryptojacking and cryptomining emerged as relatively low-effort ways to profit by hijacking another’s computing resources. Today, cloudjacking and cloud mining capitalize on similar principles, only by targeting the near infinite resources of the cloud to generate revenue for attackers. Knowing this growing threat is key to maintaining cyber resilience.

Enterprise-level organizations make especially attractive cloudjacking targets for a few reasons. As mentioned, the computing power of cloud networks is effectively limitless for all but the most brazen cybercriminals.

Additionally, excess electricity consumption, one of the most common tipoffs for smaller scale cryptojacking attacks, often goes unnoticed at the scale large corporations are used to operating. The same goes for CPU.

Careful threat actors can also throttle back the amount of resources they’re ripping off—when attacking a smaller organization, for instance—to avoid detection. Essentially, the resources stolen at any one time in these attacks are a drop in the Pacific Ocean to their largest targets. Over time, though, and depending on particulars of a usage contract, the spend for CPU used can really add up.

“Hackers have definitely transitioned away from launching ransomware attacks indiscriminately,” says Webroot threat analyst Tyler Moffitt. “It used to be, ‘everybody gets the same payload, everyone has the same flat-rate ransom.’

“That’s all changed. Now, ransomware actors want to go after businesses with large attack surfaces and more pocketbook money than, say, grandma’s computer to pay if they’re breached. Cloud is essentially a new market.”

High-profile cloudjacking incidents

Arguably the most famous example of cloudjacking, at least in terms of headlines generated, was a 2018 attack on the electric car manufacturers Tesla. In that incident, cybercriminals were discovered running malware to leech the company’s Amazon Web Service cloud computing power to mine cryptocurrency.

Even with an organization of Tesla’s scale, the attackers reportedly used a throttling technique to ensure their operations weren’t uncovered. Ultimately, they were reported by a third-party that was compensated for their discovery.  

More recently, the hacking group TeamTNT developed a worm capable of stealing AWS credentials and implanting cloudjacking malware on systems using the cloud service. It does this by searching for accounts using popular development tools, like Docker or Kubernets, that are both improperly configured and running AWS, then performing a few simple searches for the unencrypted credentials.

TeamTNT’s total haul remains unclear, since it can spread it’s ‘earnings’ across multiple crypto wallets.  The fear though, now that a proven tactic for lifting AWS credentials is out in the wild, is that misconfigured cloud accounts will become prime targets for widespread illicit cloud mining.

SMBs make attractive targets, too

Hackers aren’t just launching cloudjacking attacks specifically against storage systems and development tools. As with other attack tactics, they often see MSPs and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as attractive targets as well.

“Several attacks in the first and second quarters of 2019 involved bad actors hijacking multiple managed service providers,” says Moffitt. “We saw that with Sodonakibi and GrandCrab. The same principles apply here. Hacking a central, cloud-based property allows attackers to hit dozens and potentially hundreds of victims all at once.”

Because smaller businesses typically share their cloud infrastructure with other small businesses, compromising cloud infrastructure can provide cybercriminals with a trove of data belonging to several concerned owners.

“The cloud offers an attractive aggregation point as it allows attackers access to a much larger concentration of victims. Gaining access to a single Amazon web server, for instance, could allow threat actors to steal and encrypt data belonging to dozens of companies renting space on that server hostage,” says Moffitt. 

High-value targets include confidential information like mission-critical data, trade secrets, unencrypted tax information or customer information that, if released, would violate privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA.

Some years ago, smaller businesses may have escaped these cloud compromises without too much disruption. Today, the data and services stored or run through the cloud are critical to the day-to-day even for SMBs. Many businesses would be simply crippled should they lost access to public or private cloud assets.

The pressure to pay a ransom, therefore, is significantly higher than it was even three years ago. But ransoms aren’t the only way for malicious actors to monetize their efforts. With cloud mining, they can get right to work making cryptocurrency while evading notice for as long as possible.

How to protect against cloudjacking and cloud mining

Moffitt recommends using “versioning” to guard against cloudjacking attacks. Versioning is the practice of serializing unalterable backups to prevent them from being deleted or manipulated.

 “That means not just having snapshot or history copies—that’s pretty standard—since with ransomware we’ve seen actors encrypt all of those copies. So, my suggestion is creating immutable backups. It’s called versioning, but these are essentially snapshot copies that can never be edited or encrypted.”

Moffitt says many service providers have this capability, but it may not be the default and need to be switched on manually.

Two more tactics to adopt to defend against cloud jacking involve monitoring your configurations and monitor your network traffic. As we’ve seen, capitalizing on misconfigured AWS infrastructure is one of the more common ways for cybercriminals to disrupt cloud services.

Security oversight of devops teams setting up cloud applications is crucial. There are tools available that can automatically discover resources as soon as they’re created, determine the applications running on the resource and apply appropriate policies based on the resource type.

By monitoring network traffic and correlating it with configuration data, companies are able to spot suspicious network traffic being generated as they send work or hashes to public mining pools that are public and could help identify where mining is being directed. 

There tends to be a learning curve when defending against emerging attacks. But if businesses are aware of how cloud resources are manipulated by threat actors, they can be on guard against cloudjacking by taking a few simple steps, increasing their overall cyber resilience.

What DoH Can Really Do

Fine-tuning privacy for any preference

A DNS filtering service that accommodates DNS over HTTPS (DoH) can strengthen an organization’s ability to control network traffic and turn away threats. DoH can offer businesses far greater control and flexibility over their privacy than the old system.

The most visible use of DNS is typically the browser, which is why all the usual suspects are leading the charge in terms of DoH adoption. This movement has considerable steam behind it and has extended beyond just applications as Microsoft, Apple and Google have all announced their intent to support DoH.

Encrypting DNS requests is an indisputable win for privacy-minded consumers looking to prevent their ISPs from snooping on and monetizing their browsing habits. Businesses, on the other hand, should not easily surrender this visibility since managing these requests adds value, helping to keep users from navigating to sites known to host malware and other threats.

Here are three examples of how.

1.  By enhancing DNS logging control

Businesses have varying motivations for tracking online behavior. For persistently troublesome users—those who continuously navigate to risky sites—it’s beneficial to exert some control over their network use or even provide some training on what it takes to stay safe online. It can also be useful in times of problematic productivity dips by helping to tell if users are spending inordinate amounts of time on social media, say.

On the other hand, for CEOs and other strategic business units, tracking online activity can be cause for privacy concerns. Too much detail into the network traffic of a unit tasked with investigating mergers and acquisitions may be unwanted, for example.

“If I’m the CEO of a company, I don’t want people paying attention to where I go on the internet,” says Webroot DNS expert Jonathan Barnett. “I don’t want people to know of potential deals I’m investigating before they become public.”

Logging too much user information can also be problematic from a data privacy perspective. Collecting or storing this information in areas with stricter laws, as in the European Union, can unnecessarily burden organizations with red tape.

“Essentially it exposes businesses to requirements concerning how they’re going to use that data, who has access to it and how long that data is preserved” says Barnett.

By optionally never logging user information and backing off DNS logging except when a request is deemed a security threat, companies maintain both privacy and security.

2. By allowing devices to echo locally

With DoH, visibility of DNS requests is challenging. The cumulative DNS requests made on a network help to enhance its security as tools such as SIEMs and firewalls leverage these requests by controlling access as well as corelating the requests with other logs and occurrences on the network. 

“Let’s say I’m on my network at the office and I make a DNS request,” explains Barnett. “I may want my DNS request to be seen by the network as well as fielded by my DNS filtering service. The network gets value out of DNS. If I see inappropriate DNS requests I can go and address the user or fix the device.”

Continuing to expose these DNS requests through an echo to the local network provides this, while the actual requests are secure and encrypted by the DNS protection agent using DoH. This option achieves the best of both worlds by adding the security of DoH to the security of the local network.

3. By allowing agents to fail open

DNS is instrumental to the functionality of the internet. So, the question is, what do we do when a filtered answer is not available? By failing over to the local network, it’s assured that the internet continues to function. However, there are times when filtering and privacy are more important than connectivity. Being able to choose if DNS requests can leak out to the local network helps you stay in control by choosing which is a priority.

 “Fail open functionality essentially allows admins to make a tradeoff between the protection offered by DNS filtering and the productivity hit that inevitably accompanies a lack of internet access,” says Barnett.

Privacy your way

The encryption of DoH enables options for fine-tuning privacy preferences while preserving the security benefits of DNS filtering. Those that must comply with the needs of privacy-centric users now have control over what is revealed and what is logged, while maintaining the benefits of communicating using DoH.

Click here to read related blogs covering the transition to DNS over HTTPS.

Cyber Resilience for Business Continuity

“Ten years ago, you didn’t see state actors attacking [small businesses]. But it’s happening now,” warns George Anderson, product marketing director at Carbonite + Webroot, OpenText companies.

Sadly, many of today’s managed service providers who serve small and medium-sized businesses now have to concern themselves with these very threats. Independent and state-sponsored hacking groups use sophisticated hacking tools (advanced persistent threats or APTs), to gain unauthorized access to networks and computers, often going undetected for months or even years at a time. In fact, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, cyber-espionage is among the top patterns associated with breaches targeting businesses worldwide.

These attacks can be difficult even for highly sophisticated enterprise security teams to detect, stop or recover from. But all businesses, no matter their size, must be ready for them. As such, MSPs, themselves ranging in size from a few techs to a few hundred professionals, may find they need help protecting their SMB customers from APTs; that’s on top of the consistent onslaught of threats from ordinary, profit-motivated cyberattackers. That’s where the concept of cyber resilience comes in.

What does cyber resilience look like?

“Being [cyber] resilient – knowing that even if you’re knocked offline you can recover quickly – is essential for today’s businesses,” George says.

The reality is that today’s organizations have to accept a breach is pretty much inevitable. Their level of cyber resilience is the measure of the organization’s ability to keep the business running and get back to normal quickly. “It’s being able to absorb punches and get back on your feet, no matter what threatens,” as George put it in a recent podcast with Joe Panettieri, co-founder MSSP Alert & ChannelE2E.

Read more about how businesses can build a cyber resilient company culture.

How can businesses and MSPs achieve cyber resilience?

Because cyber resilience is about both defending against attacks and preparing for their inescapability,  a major component in a strong resilience strategy is the breadth of coverage a business has. In particular, having tested and proven backup and disaster recovery solutions in place is the first step in surviving a breach. If a business has reliable, real-time (or near real-time) recovery capabilities, then in the event of an attack, they could make it through barely skipping a beat.

Now, George has clarified that “no single solution can offer complete immunity against cyberattacks on its own.” To reduce the risk of events like data loss from accidental deletion, device theft or hardware failure, your clients need multiple layers of protection that secure their devices and data from multiple angles. Here are George’s top data protection tips:

Ultimately, George says ensuring business continuity for MSPs and the businesses they serve through comprehensive cyber resilience solutions is the primary goal of the Carbonite + Webroot division of OpenText.

“We want to up the advocacy and stop attacks from happening as much as we possibly can.  At  the  same time, when they inevitably do happen, we want to be able to help MSPs recover and limit lost time, reputation damage, and financial impact so businesses can keep functioning.”

To learn more about cyber resilience, click here.

MSP Insight: Netstar Shares Cyber Resilience Strategies for Remote Work

Guest blog by Mit Patel, Managing Director of London based IT Support company, Netstar.

In this article, Webroot sits down with Mit Patel, Managing Director of London-based MSP partner, Netstar, to discuss the topic of remote work during a pandemic and tips to stay cyber resilient.

Why is it important to be cyber resilient, specifically when working remote?

It’s always important to be cyber resilient, but a lot has changed since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown that needs to be taken into consideration.

Remote work has posed new problems for businesses when it comes to keeping data secure. Since the start of lockdown, there has been a significant increase in phishing scams, ransomware attacks and malicious activity. Scammers now have more time to innovate and are using the widespread anxiety of coronavirus to target vulnerable people and businesses.

Moreover, the sudden shift in working practices makes the pandemic a prime time for cyber-attacks. Employees can no longer lean over to ask a colleague if they are unsure about the legitimacy of an email or web page. Instead, they need to be confident in their ability to spot and avoid potential security breaches without assistance.

Remote work represents a significant change that can’t be ignored when it comes to the security of your business. Instead, businesses need to be extra vigilant and prioritise their cyber resilience.

What does cyber resilience mean to you?

It’s important to differentiate between cyber resilience and cyber security. Cyber security is a component of cyber resilience, referring to the technologies and processes designed to prevent cyber-attacks. Whereas, I believe cyber resilience goes a step further, referring to the ability to prevent, manage and respond to cyber threats. Cyber resilience recognises that breaches can and do happen, finding effective solutions that mean businesses recover quickly and maintain functionality. The main components of cyber resilience include, training, blocking, protecting, backing up and recovering. When all these components are optimised, your cyber resilience will be strong, and your business will be protected and prepared for any potential cyber threats.

Can you share some proactive methods for staying cyber resilient when working remote?

Absolutely. But it’s important to note that no solution is 100% safe and that a layered approach to IT security is necessary to maximise protection and futureproof your business.

Get the right antivirus software. Standard antivirus software often isn’t enough to fully protect against viruses. Businesses need to consider more meticulous and comprehensive methods. One of our clients, a licensed insolvency practitioner, emphasized their need for software that will ensure data is protected and cyber security is maximised. As such, we implemented Webroot SecureAnywhere AnitVirus, receiving excellent client feedback, whereby the client stressed that they can now operate safe in the knowledge that their data is secure.

Protect your network. DNS Protection is a critical layer for your cyber resilience strategy. DNS will protect you against threats such as malicious links, hacked legitimate websites, phishing attacks, CryptoLocker and other ransomware attacks. We have implemented DNS Protection for many of our clients, including an asset management company that wanted to achieve secure networks with remote working capability. In light of the current remote working situation, DNS Protection should be a key consideration for any financial business looking to enhance their cyber resilience.

Ensure that you have a strong password policy. Keeping your passwords safe is fundamental for effective cyber resilience, but it may not be as simple as you think. Start by making sure that you and your team know what constitutes a strong password. At Netstar, we recommend having a password that:

  • Is over 10 characters long
  • Contains a combination of numbers, letters and symbols
  • Is unpredictable with no identifiable words (even if numbers or symbols are substituted for letters)

You should also have different passwords for different logins, so that if your security is compromised for any reason, hackers can only access one platform. To fully optimise your password policy, you need to consider multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication goes a step further than the traditional username-password login. It requires multiple forms of identification in order to access a certain email account, website, CRM etc. This will include at least two of the following:

  • Something you know (e.g. a password)
  • Something you have (e.g. an ID badge)
  • Something you are (e.g. a fingerprint)

Ensure that you have secure tools for communication. Collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams, are essential for remote working. They allow you to communicate with individuals, within teams and company-wide via audio calls, video calls and chat.

When it comes to cyber resilience, it’s essential that your team know what is expected of them. You should utilise collaboration tools to outline clear remote working guidance to all employees. For example, we would recommend discouraging employees from using personal devices for work purposes. The antivirus software installed on these devices is unlikely to be of the same quality as the software installed on work devices, so it could put your business at risk.

Furthermore, you need to be confident that your employees can recognise and deal with potential security threats without assistance. Individuals can no longer lean across to ask a colleague if they’re unsure of the legitimacy of something. They need to be able to do this alone. Security awareness training is a great solution for this. It will teach your team about the potential breaches to look out for and how to deal with them. This will cover a range of topics including, email phishing, social media scams, remote working risks and much more. Moreover, courses are often added and updated, meaning that your staff will be up to date with the latest scams and cyber threats.

Implement an effective backup and disaster recovery strategy

Even with every preventive measure in place, things can go wrong, and preparing for disaster is crucial for effective cyber resilience.

In fact, a lot of companies that lose data because of an unexpected disaster go out of business within just two years, which is why implementing an effective backup and disaster recovery strategy is a vital layer for your cyber resilience strategy.

First, we advise storing and backing up data using an online cloud-based system. When files are stored on the cloud, they are accessible from any device at any time. This is particularly important for remote working; it means that employees can collaborate on projects and access necessary information quickly and easily. It also means that, if your device is wiped or you lose your data, you can simply log in to your cloud computing platform and access anything you might need. Thus, data can easily be restored, and you’re protected from potential data loss.

Overall, disaster recovery plans should focus on keeping irreplaceable data safe. Consider what would happen to your data in the event of a disaster. If your office burned down, would you be confident that all your data would be protected?

You should be working with an IT support partner that can devise an effective and efficient disaster recovery plan for your business. This should set out realistic expectations for recovery time and align with your insurance policy to protect any loss of income. Their goal should be to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible, and to a high standard (you don’t want an IT support partner that cuts corners). Lastly, your IT support provider should regularly test your strategy, making sure that if disaster did occur, they could quickly and effectively restore the functionality of your business.

What else should fellow MSPs keep in mind during this trying time?

In the last four years, cyber resilience has become increasingly important; there are so many more threats out there, and so much valuable information that needs protecting.

We have happy clients because their machines run quickly, they experience less IT downtime, and they rarely encounter viruses or malicious activity. We know that we need to fix customers’ problems quickly, while also ensuring that problems don’t happen in the first place. Innovation is incredibly important to us, which is why we’ve placed a real focus on proactive client advisory over the last 24 months.

That’s where a strong cyber resilience strategy comes into play. MSPs need to be able to manage day-to-day IT queries, while also focusing on how technology can help their clients grow and succeed in the future.There is plenty of advice around the nuts and bolts of IT but it’s the advisory that gives clients the most value. As such, MSPs should ensure they think like a customer and make technological suggestions that facilitate overall business success for their clients.

4 Ways MSPs Can Fine-Tune Their Cybersecurity Go-To-Market Strategy

Today’s work-from-home environment has created an abundance of opportunities for offering new cybersecurity services in addition to your existing business. With cyberattacks increasing in frequency and sophistication, business owners and managers need protection now more than ever.

MSPs are ideally positioned to deliver the solutions businesses need in order to adapt to the current environment. In this post, we’ll briefly summarize four ways to fine-tune your cybersecurity GTM strategy for capitalizing on the shifting demands of today’s market.

1. Build an Offering That Aligns with Your Customer’s Level of Cyber Resilience

A cybersecurity GTM strategy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each customer has unique needs. Some operate with higher levels of remote workers than others. Some may have more sensitive data than others. And some will have lower tolerances to the financial impact of a data breach than others. So, understand the current state of your customer’s ability to adequately protect against, prevent, detect and respond to modern cyberthreats, and then focus on what aspects of cybersecurity are important to them.

2.  Leverage Multi-Layered Security

Today’s businesses need a cybersecurity strategy that defends against the methods and vectors of attack employed by today’s cybercriminals. This includes highly deceptive and effective tactics like Ransomware, phishing and business email compromise (BEC). These methods require a layered approach, where each layer addresses a different vulnerability within the larger network topology:

  • Perimeter – This is the logical edge of your customer’s network where potentially malicious data may enter or exit. Endpoints (wherever they reside), network connectivity points, as well as email and web traffic all represent areas that may need to be secured.
  • User – The employee plays a role when they interact with potentially malicious content. They can either be an unwitting victim or actually play a role in stopping attacks. This makes it necessary to address the user as part of your GTM strategy.
  • Endpoint – Consider the entire range of networked devices, including corporate and personal devices, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Every endpoint needs to be protected.
  • Identity – Ensuring the person using a credential is the credential owner is another way to keep customers secure. 
  • Privilege – Limiting elevated access to corporate resources helps reduce the threat surface.
  • Applications – These are used to access information and valuable data. So, monitoring their use by those with more sensitive access is critical.
  • Data – inevitably, it’s the data that is the target. Monitoring who accesses what provides additional visibility into whether an environment is secure.

For each layer, there’s a specific tactic or vector that can form the basis of an attack, as well as specific solutions that address vulnerabilities at that layer.

3. Determine the Right Pricing Model

Pricing can make or break a managed service. Too high and the customer is turned off. Too low and there’s not enough perceived value. Pricing is the Goldilocks of the MSP world. It needs to be just right.

Unlike most of your other services, cybersecurity is a constantly moving target, which can make pricing a challenge. After all, a predictable service offering equates to a profitable one. The unpredictability of trying to keep your customers secure can therefore impact profitability. So, it’s imperative that you get pricing correct. Your pricing model needs to address a few things:

  • It needs to be easy to understand – Like your other services, pricing should be straightforward.
  • It should demonstrate value – The customer needs to see how the service justifies the expense.
  • It needs to focus on protection – Because you have no ability to guess the scope and frequency of attacks, it’s important to keep the services centered around preventive measures.
  • Consider all your costs – Cost is always a factor for profitability. As you determine pricing, keep every cost factor in mind.

4. Rethink How You Engage Prospects

Assuming you’re going to be looking for new customers with this service offering (in addition to selling it to existing customers), it’s important to think about how to engage prospects. The days of cold outreach are long gone as 90% of buyers don’t respond to cold calls3. Instead, today’s buyer is looking to establish connections with those they believe can assist their business. Social media sites have become the primary vehicle for a number of aspects of the buyer’s journey:

Build a Cybersecurity GTM Strategy that Works

The biggest challenge with bringing a cybersecurity service to market is meeting the expectations of the prospective customer. Demonstrate value from the very first touch through social media engagement and content. Meet their unique needs with comprehensive solutions that address all their security vulnerabilities. And finally, make sure your pricing is simple, straightforward and easy to understand.

10 Ways a Commercial DNS Filtering Service Improves Your Cyber Resilience

If you’ve landed on this blog, then there’s a good chance you’re already aware that DNS is undergoing a major overhaul. DNS 2.0—aka encrypted DNS, DNS over HTTPS, or DoH—is a method for encrypting DNS requests with the same HTTPS standard used by numerous websites, such as online banking, to protect your privacy when dealing with sensitive information display.

While there’s no doubt that DoH offers incredible privacy benefits, it also has the potential to be a major security risk for businesses. That’s because DoH effectively wraps DNS requests in encryption protocols, which prevent traditional DNS or web filtering security solutions from being able to filter requests to malicious, risky, or otherwise unacceptable or inappropriate websites.

Although some DNS filtering solutions are now making moves to modernize, many of them simply provide the option to either allow or block all DoH requests, rather than offering any sort of nuanced control.

“That’s really where Webroot® DNS Protection differs from the competition,” says George Anderson, product marketing director at Webroot, an OpenText company. “Ours is currently the only DNS security product that lets businesses fully leverage DoH and its privacy benefits. Our solution encrypts data using HTTPS to route DNS requests through secure Webroot resolvers to prevent eavesdropping, manipulation, or exploitation of data.”

How a Commercial DNS Filtering Service is a Game Changer

According to George, the cyber resilience benefits of using a private, commercial DNS security service that fully supports DoH are numerous. When we asked him to narrow down to his top 10, here’s what he had to say.

  1. First, it provides a very secure, reliable, multi-point of presence connection to the internet with high availability.
  2. Second, trusted DNS resolvers process ALL of your internet requests—we are talking any user, server, or application using the internet with a single, tamperproof choke point for admin and policy request controls.
  3. Third is confidentiality. It keeps your organization’s internet requests private and invisible to malicious actors, your ISP, and so-called “free” DNS resolvers—all of whom can abuse this data.
  4. It then gives your organization full visibility and log access to all of your internet traffic requests, allowing for security analysis and management through reports or ingestion via a SIM/SIEM.
  5. With Webroot, you also get transparent security policy filtering of both encrypted (DoH) and clear text (DNS) requests.
  6. Webroot BrightCloud® threat intelligence data automatically applies the latest and most accurate internet domain security in real time to every outbound request, regardless of source, meaning we stop the majority of malicious and suspicious request responses that could have led to a breach.
  7. A commercial service also provides the flexibility to manage internet access for guest/public WiFi networks, IP address ranges, user groups down to individual user, and lets you filter using a wide range of domain categories.
  8. In the context of WFH, if the user is connected to the internet via VPN or a local DNS agent on their device, then a DNS filtering solution protects them no matter where they connect.
  9. Also, from a WFH perspective, you need your DNS security service to integrate with the majority of VPNs and work easily with your other security and network technologies.
  10. Lastly, and definitely key your organization, a commercial DNS security service can offer great visibility into internet usage with scheduled executive reporting that lets you oversee internet use, assist with HR initiatives, and help ensure compliance.

As DoH continues to grow in adoption, George advises all businesses to be proactive about their cyber resilience strategies. Particularly as more work is conducted outside of more traditional office settings, it’s critical to understand and embrace the value that a flexible cloud gateway—whose protection is not confined to a physical network—can offer.

“Ultimately, in a world where many companies continue to support remote workers, businesses really can’t afford not to use a filtering solution that provides both privacy and security control.”

– George Anderson, product marketing director at Webroot, an OpenText company

Learn more about Webroot’s answer to DNS filtering or take a free trial of Webroot DNS Protection here.

Bouncing Back from the Pandemic A Step-By-Step Guide for MSPs

To try to fight the isolation and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, a few weeks ago we began what we’re referring to as “Office Hours” on the Webroot Community. It’s meant to be a forum where users can come together and pose their COVID/cybersecurity-related questions to some of our experts, and we try to help however we can.

The quality of questions and value of the dialogue were high right off the bat. It’s proven to be an excellent reminder of the usefulness of the Community in general. Some of the questions were even topical and popular enough to warrant a deep dive.

How can MSPs help their clients bounce back from these challenging times?” is a good example.

As the question suggests, it’s not all bad being an MSP right now. With many employees migrating to remote work, IT services are in high demand. That could explain why, according to a study by the RMM platform Datto, though about 40% of MSPs anticipate cutting revenue projections for the year, 84% still say it’s a good time to be an MSP.

There’s both opportunity and necessity in developing a plan to help small business clients stay afloat in a flagging economy. On the opportunity side, exceptional customer service can be a great way MSPs to stand out in an industry with typically tight margins. On the other hand, if an MSP’s clients’ tank, they will longer be around to need the MSPs services. So, the ability to be an IT advisor for clients’ through tough times is intimately tied to the success of the MSP themselves.

What follows are a few pieces of advice for doing that, but’s important to remember that there’s no stock solution for bouncing back as a business. Every client is unique and so are the pressures applied by the coronavirus and subsequent economic slowdown. But here are some generic tips for being your client’s go-to adviser for weathering the storm.

  1. Set-up a virtual ‘discovery’ meeting to discuss with them what their situation really is? This should be a (perhaps painfully) honest conversation about the state of the business and what obstacles stand on the way of then getting back to “business as usual.”
  2. Devise an agenda based on the services you provide today and the associated costs. Based on the client’s challenges (or strengths) what is affordable what can maybe be minimized? Has the business direction changed at all? Many SMBs may be looking to pivot considering COVID-19.
  3. Aim to be flexible (while remaining profitable) and willing to accommodate the period between their business restarting and establishing a new normal. Ask yourself if taking a slight hit in monthly income or margins is an acceptable sacrifice to make in order to help keep a potentially long-term client afloat?
  4. Next, work with a client to draw up a joint “Recovery Plan” with a timeline for scaling back up the workload and how you can specifically assist with their recovery. This may involve stressing the costliness of a data breach, downtime, and other ways your services help the clients bottom line suffering.
  5. Finally, schedule regular client account reviews (hopefully, you already have some version of these in place) to monitor technology-related pain points and assist with addressing them as reasonably as possible.

Economic recovery for small businesses will undoubtedly entail some tough decisions. But doing everything you can as an MSP to assist with that recovery by being proactive and establishing a common recovery plan will lead to a much stronger business relationship in the future. Not to mention establishing you as a trusted, reasonable business advisor for the life of the relationship. So, take advantage of the opportunity of helping your clients’ bounce back from this pandemic.