Top Challenges for MSPs in 2023
Posted 16 Dec at 1:12 pm in Productivity
Top Challenges for MSPs in 2023
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are oftentimes a versatile organization that offers IT services, ensuring smooth, secure, and efficient operations. As we wave goodbye to 2023, we look back on the year and discuss the top challenges for MSPs in the year; as the year evolves, so does the sophistication of threats.
As businesses increasingly rely on technology, the role of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in maintaining and securing IT infrastructure has never been more critical. This past year has brought a new set of challenges that threaten the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of systems and data managed by MSPs. From cyber threats to compliance mishaps, MSPs are oftentimes found on the frontline, serving as the first line of defense against these attackers.
The Current State of Cyberthreats
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
MSPs must keep up with Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), which are continuous, stealthy, and sophisticated hacking processes that aim to, for the lack of a better phrase, play the long con. They are oftentimes linked to espionage, data leaks, data theft, and so no.
Ransomware attacks have become more aggressive, targeting MSPs to leverage their network access to multiple clients. The challenge is not just in prevention but also in recovery and minimizing downtime.
In 2023, we saw (not us personally, but the cybersecurity space in general) some of the largest ransomware attacks in history. While their tactics may remain largely the same, they were in fact an undoubtedly large thorn in the side of businesses all across the globe… MSPs included.
Compliance and Regulatory Challenges
Navigating a Maze of Regulations
For certain clients, MSPs must keep up with global and local regulations, like GDPR, HIPAA, and others, which dictate data handling and privacy protocols. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines and reputational damage. In fact, following these compliance orders can become so trick that companies will oftentimes hire MSPs for this reason alone.
With regulations tightening, MSPs need to demonstrate compliance through audits and reports, adding layers of complexity to their operations.
The Remote Workforce
VPNs and Endpoint Security
Since the pandemic, it is undeniable that there has been a mass shift to the remote workspace. The shift to remote work has expanded the attack surface, with employees accessing systems from various, often unsecured, networks. Ensuring secure connections and endpoint protection is paramount. It should come as no surprise that Starbuck’s public wifi is not nearly as secure as that of a dedicated workspace.
Remote work has reminded MSPs the need for user training and awareness programs to help further prevent targeted attacks such as phishing attempts.
Securing cloud environments, especially in multi-tenant scenarios where resources are shared, requires meticulous attention to isolation and data protection.
As the cloud becomes a more popular options for nearly anyone connected to the internet, so does the risk of an attack. By 2025, there will be 200 zettabytes of data stored in the cloud (don’t ask us how much 200 zettabytes is… we’re IT guys, not math wizards). As more individuals shift their storage platform, attackers shift their mindset as well. For MSPs, cloud storage is great. While we have only mentioned the cons, there are plenty of pros that make it hard to go without. This is certainly a problem that will recur for the near future at least.
Supply Chain Vulnerabilities
MSPs often rely on a network of suppliers and partners, each potentially a weak link in the security chain. Managing these third-party risks is critical.
While these partners are oftentimes security companies themselves, that does not make them bulletproof. MSPs operate with a “stack” of vendors. If you have 20 applications in consistent use every day, there is a higher chance of one of them suffering from a cyberattack than if there was only say… ten vendors/applications in use by your MSP.
Data Privacy and Protection Challenges
As we said before, there are plenty of regulations surrounding this but, what about those companies that do not need to follow any sort of policy? They still require a similar level of attention as that of the regulation-compliant companies.
Other than meeting the standards in place to handle the data MSPs have access to, there is also still the primary job of it all… keeping the data safe. While the regulations and standards may be some hoops to jump through, above all else the job of an MSP is to keep their clients safe.
Developing a Proactive Incident Response Plan
Readiness is Key
Everybody has a plan… until they get punched in the face. Perhaps the biggest challenge for an MSP in our world today is how they respond when things go wrong. Will your MSP have a plan in place for when things go south? Well, more often than not, yes. But, as threats evolve, the ways they attack do as well. As AI, LLMs, and other recently popularized technology avenues grow more popular, and stronger, MSPs must be aware of what tools they can use to aid them against potential threats.
Security for MSPs, and their clients, is loaded with challenges, each demanding a strategic and informed response. From cyber threats to compliance, and talent shortages to technological advancements, MSPs must be agile and proactive. By understanding these challenges and implementing robust security measures, MSPs can protect themselves and their clients, ensuring trust and reliability.