ChannelTrends: Developing a Cybersecurity Strategy

cybersecurityWhether you consider yourself an MSP, VAR or another type of tech professional, business clients likely look to your team to protect their data and networks. Cybersecurity is hot because most organizations simply can’t operate without it.  

Their reliance on 24/7 support is a blessing and a curse. Downtime is no longer just an inconvenience ̶ it can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars every time there’s a disruption. And a breach or ransomware attack can drive that price tag significantly higher. Businesses need proactive security support, as well as a fast response and quick resolution, to keep problem from turning into worst-case scenarios.   

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Combined with a growing number of regulatory compliance requirements, it’s easy to see why cybersecurity is now a top priority and a real differentiator for channel businesses. Despite the increasing number of tech companies offering basic data and network protection, countering the basic threats may no longer be good enough. Cybersecurity is that moving target that requires more proactive management.

Protection should be tailored for each client, starting with assessments and regulatory requirements before adding advanced services based on the industry and individual business risks. To keep pace with the escalating threats, channel firms either need to advance their own cybersecurity skills or partner with experts who can deliver those services. Or both.

How can they accomplish that?

1.       Build for the Market - No two businesses operate the same way, and the compliance issue and threats they face are often unique and potentially complex. That’s as true in the SMB space as it is in the enterprise, and those who can assess and address their clients’ cybersecurity risks will stand out from the crowd.  

2.       Security starts with the assessment – now one of the most important steps in cybersecurity. The process involves extensive engagement with IT teams, managers, users and anyone else who touches the network (or data). Every access point must be evaluated and protected, as should employee education and training. Of course, people remain the weak link as they’re often to blame for breaches and for storing information that violates regulations and industry rules.  

3.       Enhance cybersecurity skill sets – what services are you currently offering? Start with your present portfolio and look for gaps based customers’ needs. Are you investing in the training and tools needed to build out an advanced practice, including assessments, encryption, policy development, penetration testing and even e-cycling? 

4.       Address the elephant in the room - 100% protection should always be a goal, but with people involved in carrying out policies, there are no guarantees. There is no ‘bulletproof’ cybersecurity program to keep businesses completely protected ‒ even after identifying and mitigating the known risks. That’s why nine out of ten businesses employ some sort of training for their employees. Malware detection only goes so far, and the best way to slow down or even counter a hacker is to reduce poor internet and email practices. Well-protected networks and devices only go so far.  

5.       Leverage the Cybersecurity community - with the rising threats; channel firms must design security portfolios that address the specific needs of their customers. Compliance-heavy organizations (i.e., medical facilities, banks, retailers) may require a higher level of support than companies that store low-value information and face fewer government regulations. Does it make sense to offer auditing services or to partner with an existing specialist? The good news is there are advanced cybersecurity professionals who are ready, willing and able to offer that support.  

While the channel continues to emphasize cybersecurity, many firms need to assess their plans and build out the services their clients want and need. With the threats and concerns escalating, opportunities for well-prepared MSPs and VARs, as well as their alliance partners, also continue to grow.


Brian Sherman is president of Tech Success Communications, a channel-related content and social media development firm. He served previously as the chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at


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