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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and according to experts, one of the things MSP owners should consider doing to mark the occasion it to join an association or trade organization.

“One of those most overlooked aspects of cybersecurity is the simple act of networking with other like-minded professionals, and joining an association or trade organization is a low-cost, high-benefit way to do just that,” offers Greg Wheeler, a cybersecurity consultant in El Paso, Tex.

Wheeler shares that some MSPs can become “isolated” and that joining an organization or association can help enhance best practices skills, give your company credibility, and be a great source of business-building insights.

“I’m always surprised when I talk to an MSP owner who may have some certifications on file, but doesn’t belong to any trade organizations, associations, or groups,” adds Wheeler. “This is really short-sighted as there’s a lot of value in investing in your personal brand.”

Wheeler recommends looking for non-profit organizations or independent associations to join. “Some groups bill themselves as advocacy organizations, but they are really focused on selling a product or service,” he says. “I advise against those as you want to look for something neutral, an organization that is simply interested in disseminating good information.”

Be on the lookout for local organizations

Wheeler suggests that MSPs should be on the lookout for local organizations. “You don’t have to join an international trade organization, sometimes you can get just as much out of something more local,” he explains, adding that there are a lot of states with great cybersecurity associations and even some Chambers of Commerce that have working groups for local cybersecurity experts.

“The advantage of something hyper-local is you’ll be networking with people who experience some of the same conditions you do,” Wheeler points out. “Of course, the advantage of joining a larger group is that you can tap into national and international expertise, so often I recommend an MSP join two to three organizations.”

Associations and resources MSPs should consider

CompTIA: The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a leading voice and advocate for the $5 trillion global information technology ecosystem; and the estimated $75 million industry and tech professionals who design, implement, manage and safeguard the technology that powers the world’s economy. CompTIA is vendor-neutral and an independent source of information. They offer various certifications that can be used to build skills and enhance credibility, along with training and networking.

ISSA: Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) International is an international organization for cybersecurity professionals dedicated to advancing individual growth, managing technology risk, and protecting critical information and infrastructure. Benefits of joining include building professional relationships, keeping up on the latest developments in cybersecurity, chapter meetings, professional development program, and learning of best practices.

“I have found ISSA to provide indispensable information that helps MSPs feel like a part of something larger,” Wheeler says.

CIS: Center For Internet Security (CIS) is a community-driven nonprofit, that emphasizes best practices for securing IT systems and data. Membership includes tools to track compliance with industry frameworks, secure systems with more than 100 configuration guides, and more.

FIRST: FIRST brings together a wide variety of security and incident response teams including especially product security teams from the government, commercial, and academic sectors.

SIA: The Security Industry Association (SIA) is the leading trade association for global security solution providers, with over 1,200 innovative member companies representing thousands of security leaders and experts who shape the future of the security industry. SIA hosts cybersecurity workshops, boot camps, and advocates for best practices. SIA provides a virtual library of information for its members to keep track of the latest trends and insights in the security industry.

SANS: SANS Institute is one of the largest sources for information security training and security certification in the world. It also develops, maintains, and makes available at no cost, the largest collection of research documents about various aspects of information security, and it operates the Internet’s early warning system – the Internet Storm Center. Benefits of joining include enhancing skills with access to thousands of free resources, 150+ instructor-developed tools, and the latest cybersecurity news and analysis.

“SANS is a membership that I have found indispensable in my business when trying to stay on top of the latest cybersecurity trends,” Wheeler offers.

NCI: National Council of ISACs (NCI) advances the physical and cyber security of the critical infrastructures of North America by establishing and maintaining a framework for valuable interaction between and among the ISACs and with government. Members of the Council are the individual Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISAC) that represent their respective sectors.

ISA: Internet Security Alliance (ISA) was founded in 2000 in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. ISA membership is open to public and privately held entities and currently has substantial participation from the aviation, banking, communications, defense, education, financial services, health care, insurance, manufacturing, security, and technology industries.

Photo: sarayut_sy / 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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