The champagne hasn’t been purchased, the noisemakers are still in storage, and the ball in Times Square hasn’t fallen to usher in 2019 yet. The ball is operated and dropped using a computer network, one that we hope is well protected — we wouldn’t want any bad actors to drop the ball early. Before the festivities begin, we thought we’d put on our New Year’s party hats and prognosticate about what MSP security trends we’ll see when the calendar flips. Here are five security trends that MSPs will be grappling with next year. Make sure your MSP gets on top of them early, so you don’t drop the ball.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

2019 will be the year that AI as a security tool comes into its own. MSPs will have more access to new AI-driven tools that can analyze network traffic and respond to potential threats in real-time as they occur. Imagine a burglar trying to pry open a window to your house, but as soon as the pry bar is sensed, the window’s defenses harden and the intruder is thwarted. It is far easier to deal with an intruder before they enter, compared to after they get inside. AI’s ability to sense abnormalities in activity presents new predictive possibilities. Of course, bad guys won’t be far behind, using AI to thwart AI. “Good AI” will have to get even smarter and the AI arms race will spiral. Barracuda’s Sentinel is a recent example of a targeted aim at phishing. Look for more AI tools to combat everything from “malvertising” to email bombing.

Blockchain

No longer the new kid on the block, more and more applications are being leveraged for this anonymous ledger-based technology. While blockchain will continue to be the realm of Bitcoin and Monero, there will also be opportunities to use it in security. The technology can be used in data protection, record-keeping, and more. Every day seems to bring blockchain out of the shadows and into the sun where its applications are expanding. 

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“Security professionals are finding that the qualities blockchain brings to a solution are effective in securing data, networks, identities, critical infrastructure, and more,” says Dark Reading. Look for 2019 to bring some breakthrough tools for MSPs to use blockchain in certain situations to prevent attacks.

Home Security

SmarterMSP documented a trend towards more residential managed services in 2018, and we believe that will accelerate in 2019. With more and more vital IoT health equipment moving into homes, security becomes far more than warding off teenage hackers from your one-computer network. Instead, it becomes a literal matter of life and death. If MSPs can get the pricing to a “sweet spot”, we think many connected homeowners would be happy to farm out the security upkeep of the home to an outside service. 2019 will accelerate a trend towards homes being humming hubs of connectivity, from smart cars to home security. Someone needs to manage that network and MSPs are the logical guardians to step in, if they can come up with a model that makes sense.

Security moves to the edge

With the explosion of IoT and the proliferation of sensors, security cameras, and mobile data, the need to process it quickly and on-site will only increase, but so does the attack surface. For MSPs, this will present both a growing challenge and a growing opportunity. A breach on the edge can ripple through supply chains, inventory systems, and into production facilities. The challenge for MSPs is that robust firewalls, secure sensors, and remote security are needed to safeguard the edge. The opportunity, though, is that it presents a new way to monetize services in industrial settings.

Pricing Models

How is this a security challenge? MSPs have been squeezed by increased competition, consolidation, and “off the shelf” technology. Meanwhile, SMBs are navigating an increasingly complex tech ecosystem and the majority don’t have the budget to hire in-house staff to manage their systems. Clients that choose to skimp on certain services run the risk of breaches that can result in costly problems. That isn’t necessarily a good thing if the MSP gets blamed. The days of using a “one price package” are fading as IoT creates innumerable more attack surfaces and the ecosystem grows more complex. À la carte offerings, service upsizing, and tiered pricing must find a “Goldilocks zone” in the year ahead or clients and their MSPs could be damaged.

The overall mood heading into 2019 is one of excitement. There have never been more opportunities for MSPs to offer their security and network management services, from homes to hospitals. We are excited to see how these predictions pan out in the year ahead!

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Photo:  Leszek Kobusinski / Shutterstock.

Kevin Williams

Posted by Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams is a journalist based in Ohio. Williams has written for a variety of publications including the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and others. He first wrote about the online world in its nascent stages for the now defunct “Online Access” Magazine in the mid-90s.

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