SMB Security

In the last few years, the rise in cloud-based applications and adoption of BYOD in the workplace has placed the spotlight firmly on cyber security. Ed Macnair, CEO of CensorNet, says the landscape is changing; businesses from multi-national enterprises to family run
small-scale SMBs now expect a similar level of security.

Protecting intellectual property is now just as vital for small businesses as it is for larger organisations; research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has shown that 61 per cent of small businesses are worried about the threat of data theft or loss. Added to this, most small businesses also have a responsibility to their staff and customers to secure the data that they use in the organisation, reinforced by regulations such as the Data Protection Act that also require personal data to be secured and used appropriately.

If we consider the average employee uses a staggering 28 apps at work, most of which reside in the cloud now more than ever, organisations need to be able to monitor an individual’s access to and use of corporate assets at the most basic level, regardless of whether users are in-office or working remotely

As SMB’s become increasingly aware of the threats that their IT infrastructure can, if unmonitored, pose, it provides a market opportunity for the Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to provide them with security and visibility across all corners of their business including cloud applications and the risk they present.

Along with the increased need for security, SMBs are also looking for their IT service provider to keep them current, competitive and ideally give them an edge through the successful application of new technology. They don’t require MSPs to simply fix current IT challenges, but provide them with ideas that can play further into the future and set them up for longer-term success.

MSPs therefore need business agility to be able to unlock this additional revenue stream. By remaining aware of technology trends and market conditions, they can offer their customers insight and advice on actions to incorporate new offerings and retire offerings that are no longer applicable.

However, for those stuck in the past, keeping up with changing technology trends can become an impossible task. Making sure that your technologies are competitive is paramount to an MSPs future and success.

In order for an MSP to remain competitive and increase their margins, they need to be able to innovate continuously to match the changing needs of their market. With more organisations moving to the cloud, Gartner estimates that by 2016 25 per cent of businesses will secure access to cloud-based services using a cloud access security broker (CASB) platform. Yet, MSPs are still providing their customers with legacy security products that were designed to protect a distinctly different technological landscape over a decade ago. As a result, these solutions are outdated and cannot meet the demands and complexity of a modern and mobile work force that is moving to the cloud, leaving it increasingly difficult for an MSP’s customers to monitor and control what their users are doing online.

Historically, some of the most well known web-security vendors have only provided solutions for the enterprise market, leaving SMBs largely ignored in terms of security, functionality, commitment and price. In order to cater for a growing SMB market, MSPs are moving away from standard-level agreements and offerings, instead they are building customised programmes – for which, MSPs require flexibility.

Having flexibility across services and being able to tailor programmes to meet specific customer needs is what separates the good from the great in the MSP marketplace. Having flexibility enables MSPs to meet an SMB’s requirements on their terms, prove their value and provide a competitive advantage that other competitors might not be able to deliver. As a result, some MSPs are moving towards multi-tiered services that can provide this flexibility for both their SMB and enterprise customers alike.

Additionally, MSPs now see one of their biggest areas of growth lying in hosted web security services. However, it has so far remained practically unheard of, and for one simple reason: historically vendors in the space do not have multi-tiered offerings and have been reluctant to let their solutions be white labelled or hosted by an MSP.

We are willing to change this as we understand that white labelling can offer MSPs the springboard to deliver their own custom-branded web security services – offering SMB’s the tools to cope with the exponential rise of cloud based apps and greater visibility across their business, all at a price point they can afford.

As technology continues to develop, so does SMBs reliance on robust cloud security solutions that bridge the gaping void currently between traditional web security and cloud application control. In an increasingly competitive IT channel, MSPs must work harder and smarter to cater for both their enterprise and SMB customers to open up the available revenue streams. By providing a flexible and proactive approach, MSPs can provide solutions that work and fit within the budgets of all.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine