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cybersecurity in 2022 | SmarterMSPThis week we feature an MSP’s perspective on what is hot and what is not with regards to cybersecurity in 2022.

Smarter MSP recently caught up with Dallas Haselhorst, owner of Treetop Security, an MSP in Hays, Kansas, and learned about what trends and challenges he expects to face in the coming year.

Haselhorst began by explaining that breaches and cybersecurity incidents in 2022 may not be the headline-grabbing Fortune 500 company variety, but instead the kind that ensnares the “mom and pop,” or small business operations, those that generally fly under the radar. But that’s where many of the vulnerabilities lie. As such, MSPs with a portfolio of SMBs will need to be especially vigilant in 2022.

Small businesses have always been in the crosshairs, but they will move from a target of opportunity to more of a stalked target as large businesses and governments improve their defenses, and less sophisticated attackers seek lower hanging fruit,” Haselhorst says.

Getting back-to-basics

Haselhorst suggests that getting “back-to-basics” could go a long way towards improving an SMB’s cybersecurity posture. Still, even the basics can be tough to implement. Everyone, he notes, is looking for that elusive quick fix. And, the continued breakdown of the human element of cybersecurity is something businesses must keep an eye on.

“I’m concerned that we will see a level of burnout that cybersecurity has never seen before, which is a worst-case scenario with so many security teams already overworked and understaffed,” Haselhorst states.

Ransomware will continue to evolve

So, while the human element will continue to be a cause for concern in this new year, another antagonist from 2021 will remain a menace: ransomware. But as Haselhorst points out, it will have variations.

“It has become increasingly common for ransomware gangs and state actors to add new, sweeping vulnerabilities to their attack arsenal. The primary difference is that the time from vulnerability disclosure to attack will shorten to days or even hours instead of the weeks, months, or years as we’ve seen in the past,” Haselhorst explains.

Another factor to keep an eye on, he adds, is that insurance companies have been backpedaling from cybersecurity protection. These insurance pay-outs have made ransomware very profitable for hackers, but if this “easy money” source gets cut off, they may have to regroup.

Remote work vulnerabilities remain

To stay competitive, Haselhorst advises, businesses will have to continue to offer work-from-home as a perk. But the continued prevalence of remote work in 2022 may create an opportunity for hackers to regroup because more remote means more attack vectors.

The ill-fated side effect is that this will be the year that we see numerous compromises resulting from incorrectly configured remote setups,” Haselhorst contends. He adds that there was a lack of options when the pandemic began if a business didn’t already have a robust, security-centric solution in place.

“Now, going back and investing dollars in fixing what works (devoid of security concerns) will be a tough sell to upper management,” Haselhorst says.

Beware of software

2022 has started with another significant security challenge: legacy software.

I continue to be amazed at how overly reliant we are on software components that few have heard of previously,” Haselhorst declares, pointing to the logj4 vulnerability that emerged in December.

The FTC, for instance, recently warned of vulnerabilities in this standard software. According to an FTC alert issued on Jan 4:

Recently, a serious vulnerability in the popular Java logging package, Log4j (CVE-2021-44228), was disclosed, posing a severe risk to millions of consumer products to enterprise software and web applications. A growing set of attackers is widely exploiting this vulnerability.

This type of problem has been common, and hackers will continue to exploit it, Haselhorst says.

Think outside the box when it comes to hiring

Meanwhile, Haselhorst’s advice on where MSPs should be allocating resources in 2022 focuses on talent. The most significant funding needs to address the talent gap in cybersecurity professions. “The cybersecurity talent shortage is real, and it’s not going away,” Haselhorst asserts.

And he encourages MSPs to think outside the box when hiring. “Even if someone doesn’t check all of the boxes, yet they are smart and show initiative, give them a shot. Don’t be afraid to grow talent,” Haselhorst recommends.

“Similarly, invest in people first, tech second. Send employees to training and encourage them to attend local conferences/meetups. That is how you make security part of your very fabric rather than an afterthought,” he adds.

Lastly, Haselhorst advises MSPs to choose an easy-to-follow cybersecurity framework (such as the Critical Security Controls), determine what capabilities they have today, and understand where their gaps lie.

“Meanwhile, produce quantifiable results from your various efforts so you can chart your travels. Don’t forget to report those results back to the business stakeholders, so they better understand the process that is cybersecurity,” Haselhorst says, urging MSPs to play the long game.

“Don’t lose sight that this is a journey, not a race,” he concludes.

Photo: Udaltsova / Shutterstock


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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.

7 Comments

  1. Nice outlooks to keep in mind as we start the new year.

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  2. “invest in people first, tech second”, i like that, every C suite should see that in

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  3. All solid points for 20222 Security concerns. As we as MSP’s work to update improve our layered security offerings, legacy software still in use is being a constant issue/threat. The logj4 attack should be the start of the wake up call to clients, update you applications and versions

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  4. I agree, keep the pressure on businesses to improve their security posture with an educational approach. Definitely some fear to play on, but this is the biggest area of improvement MSPs can hone in on to benefit customers this year.

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  5. The legacy software seems to come up a lot lately, I know some customers cannot switch, but we try to let them know the vulnerabilities. Lot of good ideas overall, thanks!

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  6. “Don’t lose sight that this is a journey, not a race,”

    We need this reminder daily. Never best to go fast as mistakes are bound to happen. A focus on security requires patience.

    Reply

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