Ask an MSP ExpertQ: We often have a hard time explaining new cyberthreats to customers. What tips do you have for helping us be more effective in this area?

As security solutions have become more robust, cybercriminals have been forced to adapt their attack methods to bypass security measures. In some cases, it has required tinkering with existing methods, and in others, it has led to the development of previously unseen attack types.

To get a better understanding of the evolving cyberthreat landscape, Smarter MSP sat down with Mark Ballegeer, systems engineer at Barracuda MSP. Mark discussed threats he has seen emerge recently and how MSPs can help customers outlast these threats.

Types of cyberattacks to note

In the last few years, there have been numerous cyberattacks that have emerged. Some notable ones are lateral phishing, blackmail, and zero-day attacks.

Lateral phishing occurs when a hacker compromises an organization and then uses the access they have gained to compromise the organization’s customers, partners, or other parties the organization has a business relationship with.

MSPs should be weary of lateral phishing because it could allow a hacker to impersonate the MSP and have easy access to customers and their end users. Since MSPs are directly involved in their customers’ IT management, it is easy for the customers willingly hand over passwords or other network information when they receive an email from their MSP requesting it. MSPs should instruct their customers to always check with them if the customer receive an email from “the MSP” requesting passwords or other private information.

Blackmail is much more straightforward and involves the hacker extorting its target. Blackmail has been recently popular with bad actors because they can now utilize Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, that allow them to stay anonymous. With the help of an MSP, end-users can be educated to ensure bad actors won’t gain access to their private data — and know that if a hacker attempts to blackmail them, that the hacker is bluffing.

There has also been an increase in zero-day attacks because it has become more profitable to operate than ransomware attacks. With zero-day attacks, bad actors can make small adjustments to their previously unsuccessful ransomware efforts that allows the new attack to bypass standard security setups. MSPs that can detect these small changes and alert their customers to remain on the lookout will have an advantage against zero-day attacks.

Putting safeguards in place to successfully protect your customers

To successfully protect customers, make sure you have cybersecurity coverage on all threat vectors: firewall, endpoints, email, etc. This prevents bad actors from having an entry to the end-user’s network.

Educating end users on a regular basis — ideally monthly, but quarterly often works as well — is another important focus to have because they are often the weakest link. A well intentioned, but ill-informed end user will undo the best cybersecurity set-up every time. The security awareness training should include examples of cyber attacks that end users could face, and detailed explanations of how to differentiate these attacks from regular emails.

In addition to educating your customers, educate your team as well. Some MSPs don’t take the time to fully understand the cyber threats that they are facing, which impacts how they are able to educate their customers. By not truly understanding these threats and how to educate customers about them, you are essentially leaving a wide vulnerability open for hackers to take advantage of. Knowing the cyber threat landscape can also give your customers a better appreciation of the value of the security services that you provide for them.

Lastly, one important thing that you should remind your customers of, is that is doesn’t hurt to double check suspicious requests. If an email looks suspicious, reach out to the sender in a separate email chain or in-person to confirm that they sent it. This will help prevent end users from being tricked by a bad actor impersonating a trusted sender. In cybersecurity, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.

The evolving threat landscape can appear daunting at times, but an MSP with a well-rounded portfolio of cybersecurity solutions can provide potential customers with an invaluable partnership.

Photo: Syda Productions / Shutterstock

Bill Petherbridge

Posted by Bill Petherbridge

Bill is a Content Marketing Associate at Barracuda MSP. In this position, Bill is a key contributor to the management of the SmarterMSP.com and Barracuda MSP blogs. He also serves as copyeditor for Barracuda MSP content, in addition to maintaining Barracuda MSP's social media presence.

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