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Cybersecurity has increasingly become table stakes for not just new projects, but also retroactively existing ones. Many managed service providers (MSPs) are now being required by customers to layer additional cybersecurity services on top of both new equipment and a wide variety of legacy infrastructure.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the realm of managed print services. A survey of 250 enterprise IT organizations published today by Quocirca, a market research firm, finds 62 percent of survey respondents rely on MSPs for print management and security skills that they themselves lack.

That same scenario is playing out across every class of IT technology being employed. Everything from servers and endpoints, to processes such as backup and recovery all need to be secured. While that requirement clearly creates new opportunities for MSPs, it also adds considerable risk. Cybersecurity is a 24/7 commitment.  If an issue arises in the middle of the night, an MSP is expected to address it immediately. MSPs can’t tell a client they’ll get back to them between 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Cybersecurity issues are expected to be dealt with immediately.

The obstacles to providing security services

Obviously, providing that level of service comes at a cost. MSPs need to acquire the skills and services needed to deliver on their cybersecurity promise. The challenge is that it’s not always easy to deliver cybersecurity services profitably. Clients tend to view cybersecurity as a feature that gets delivered as part of the overall service. Those same clients, however, also tend to resist the price hikes to a managed service that are needed to cover the cost of the cybersecurity service that has been added.

To add insult to that injury, most cybersecurity incidents are not the result of some oversight of the MSP. The Quocirca study reveals that 60 percent of organizations experienced at least one print-related data loss incidents in the past 12 months. Only 11 percent of those incidents had anything to do with the print infrastructure. The rest of the incidents were the result of human error. Nevertheless, MSPs know all too well they are still expected to devote resources to address the problem.

Worse yet, MSPs also continue to find themselves under attack. Cybercriminals have figured out the most efficient way to compromise organizations is to attack the MSPs they rely on for critical services. Most MSPs are already investing more heavily in cybersecurity technologies just to protect their own business.

Providing security is the new norm

Whether they like it or not, MSPs need to increase their investments in cybersecurity. Therefore, it only makes sense for MSPs to also launch a dedicated managed security service, to help defray the cost of layering cybersecurity across its entire operations. The good news is that the demand for managed security services has never been higher and it’s going to be easier to recoup the cost of that investment via a dedicated service than it is to get customers to pay extra for a managed print service.

The simple truth is MSPs that don’t provide a dedicated managed security services are essentially harming themselves. Cybersecurity investments are going to be made no matter what. If that’s the case, every MSP should offer managed security services. After all, the only real alternative is to eventually lose business.

Photo: Mark Agnor / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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