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Buckle up because 2020 promises to be quite a ride for MSPs that offer cybersecurity services. The MSP Expo, the annual gathering of stakeholders from across the spectrum, has declared that “2020 will be the year of MSP cybersecurity.” We couldn’t agree more.

The journey will be full of opportunities to those who are nimble enough to act quickly and be flexible. The rise of 5G, the continued permeation of AI across all platforms, and the explosive growth of IoT will continue to test the boundaries from one side. From the other side, hackers, bad actors, and state-sponsors of all stripes will continue to ceaselessly probe for weaknesses to exploit.

MSPs that haven’t already done so can carve out a role for themselves as “traffic cops,” by keeping clients and hackers out of each other’s lanes. The opportunities will be ample to sell additional security services to clients using the rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape as a springboard. Let’s look at some of the evolving and emerging opportunities for MSPs in 2020:

AI opportunities

MSPs should continue to monitor the proliferation of AI-infused cybersecurity tools. AI deployment can free up technicians and allow them to monitor network performance in other ways. Email threat scanners can play a crucial role in cybersecurity and warding off social engineering attacks. Products like Barracuda’s Sentinel are leading the way in using AI to sniff out spear-phishing and other attacks.

AI will continue to expand its capabilities in identifying predictive and behavioral patterns to flag persistent threats. AI can increasingly be used to monitor threats from the inside — either rogue or simply careless employees who threaten an organization with poor cyber hygiene. AI will also continue to be weaponized by the bad guys, using predictive and behavioral analysis to find the weak spots.

IoT opportunities

For MSPs, IoT continues to be one of the most significant growth verticals. Everything from office thermostats, to autonomous vehicles is becoming connected. With increased connectivity comes increased vulnerability. These vulnerabilities create opportunities for MSPs.

Gartner predicts a world with over 20 billion IoT devices by the end of 2020. That’s a lot of devices, but those are also a lot of attack surfaces for someone to exploit. MSPs need to be on the front lines of this battle, offering up additional services and information to clients about how to build the best defenses.

“IoT threats are the biggest cybersecurity issue facing society. As more devices become connected, that will create more and more attack surfaces, and I’m not sure manufacturers have caught up with security,” admits Hussain Aldawood, cybersecurity director at GulfNet Solutions.

MSPs need to stay ahead of attacks and be proactive. If manufacturers aren’t doing enough to make their devices secure, MSPs can fill the void. Watch for any IoT security opportunities to offer clients in 2020.

Beware the state-sponsors

It’s one thing to defend your client’s network against a college kid working out of their dorm. It’s quite another to be fending off breaches from an army of hackers who have a government regime behind them. MSPs that have interests in financial services, transportation infrastructure, and utilities need to be on guard for the latest threats and make the case to clients that less isn’t more when it comes to cybersecurity.

2020, is a presidential election year in the United States, and that can draw extra interest from hackers. Even seemingly innocuous infrastructures can be a target. In 2016, for instance, Iranian state-sponsored hackers were implicated in a breach of security controls over a low-level dam in the hamlet of Rye Brook, New York. Most experts believe it is only a matter of time before a regime somewhere decides to attack cyber defenses in the USA.

The growing menace of social engineering

MSPs have the tricky task of possessing the technical know-how, but they also need novices to have it. In other words, you can build a sprawling fortress, but if someone hands the key to the front door to a hacker, then that fortress is pointless.

MSPs should use their expertise to sell workshops and education to their clients. The risk of an employee clicking a bad link has never been greater because social engineering has never been more sophisticated, and fake sites have never looked so real. Hackers can take time to learn about prospective victims and then create a virtual world of deep fakes to lure someone into a trap.

MSPs can use the increasing sophistication of social engineering to educate and build security redundancy. If someone inadvertently hands out the key to the castle, perhaps the hackers can’t get much further than the front hallway.

Social engineering efforts will continue to become more sophisticated and require a lot higher awareness level and being able to catch the clues such as pressure to act immediately via threats or high reward for little or no action,” notes Aldawood.

The rise of residential managed services

Managed services have historically been focused on business clients, but the market for home-based managed services is poised to explode, and 2020 may be the year it finally takes off. 5G technology will turn homes into hubs of connectivity that resemble small businesses in terms of networking.

As more and more stories make their way into headlines about children being taunted through baby monitors, cameras, or health care wearables being weaponized, the appetite for in-house tech services to make home connectivity safe and secure will grow. MSPs are well-positioned to fill the void. But providing a safe and happy home is a higher-stakes game than delivering the latest sports package. People will be willing to pay a premium for a safe, connected home. MSPs that figure out how to do this in a way that brings value to everyone will be way ahead. Residential services can include tech support, set-up, cloud-based storage, cybersecurity, and data management to name a few.

There’s also a chance that something else will emerge as the “next big thing” in the MSP security services portfolio. In today’s world, one size does not fit all. MSPs need to offer solutions, security, education, value pricing, and, most of all, flexibility. All of that and more will be needed in 2020 — otherwise, hindsight will be 20/20.

Photo: Elena11 / Shutterstock

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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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