Ever feel like you’re spending way too much time managing your IT? Wish you had more time to focus on the things that matter to your business?

With a managed IT services provider, you can.

When you outsource your IT management to an MSP, they take care of a whole range of critical tasks but are often time-consuming and complex tasks. That way, you can focus on growing your business and making sure it runs smoothly.

With the right MSP, you’ll also get 24/7 monitoring, so they’ll be able to keep an eye on things and get in front of any issues before they become problems.

No more late nights worrying about security threats or wondering if your data backups were completed successfully.

You’ll get all the benefits of an entire IT department without having to invest in hiring and training an IT staff or paying for expensive technology upgrades and software licenses.

Sophisticated cyber attacks on the rise

The Sunburst attack discovered in December 2020 is a scary reminder about how hard it is for companies to stay safe when there are so many cyber criminals out there trying to break through.

Did you hear about the casino that got hacked through its fish tank? Or the Target breach that started with an air-conditioning contractor? The possibilities are endless!

This isn't meant to scare you. We want you to know that no business is 100% safe from cyberattacks, and we all need to be doing our best to protect ourselves as much as possible.

In the past, cyberattacks were committed by lone wolves who wanted to hack for the thrill of it. Nowadays, attacks are frequently launched by sophisticated groups of criminals or even nation-states. For example, Russia assisted the Syrian government with several cyber campaigns during its civil war, and North Korea is suspected of stealing $81 million from a bank in Bangladesh through a sophisticated cyber heist.

The rapidly evolving nature of the risk makes it difficult to assess, and all organizations are currently struggling with how to manage cybersecurity risk. New threat actors and types of attacks regularly emerge. For example, we are seeing the advent of AI-enabled attacks. In one highly publicized instance, cybercriminals tricked an employee into transferring money to them using AI to imitate the CEO’s voice.

Let’s discuss security vulnerabilities

One common cause of vulnerabilities is complexity. Complex systems increase the probability of a flaw, misconfigurations, or unintended access. This can include complex code, software, operating systems, and hardware.

Familiarity also increases the probability of an attacker finding or having information about known vulnerabilities. For example, standard code, software, operating systems, and hardware increase the likelihood of an attacker seeing or having information about known vulnerabilities.

Connectivity is another cause of vulnerabilities because the more connected a device is, the higher the chance of a vulnerability.

Poor password management is another reason why people have vulnerabilities on their devices. Weak passwords can be broken with brute force, and reusing passwords can result in one data breach becoming many.

Another cause of vulnerabilities is operating system flaws. Like any software, operating systems can have flaws. Operating insecure systems by default allow any user to gain access and potentially inject viruses and malware.

For most of us, our daily digital lives are a constant stream of input. We're constantly updating our social media pages, texting friends, and downloading fun new apps. But did you know that all this digital input comes with severe consequences if we don't protect ourselves adequately?

We've all heard horror stories about hackers stealing our information or infecting our devices with malicious software. However, the truth is that WE create these vulnerabilities every time we use the Internet without protecting ourselves. Whether it's checking Facebook at Starbucks or logging into your email account on the subway, you're opening yourself up to potential disaster.

Why outsource IT services?

Vulnerability management includes a cycle of identifying, classifying, remediating, and mitigating security vulnerabilities. This is done through vulnerability detection and assessment, which can be performed through vulnerability scanning and penetration testing.

While these methods are generally pretty effective, an even more common way hackers find vulnerabilities is through Google hacking—using Google to find security holes in a website.

What do you do if someone is trying to break into your house? You probably have a plan. Maybe you have an alarm system. Perhaps you set a web of booby traps by the door that will lock them in and alert the police.

It would help if you had a plan for cyber attacks, too. If someone is trying to get into your computer system or network, there are ways to defend yourself and protect your data. One of those ways is called vulnerability management—it's a process that identifies, prioritizes, and remediates security vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to disrupt your operations or steal your information.

The first step in vulnerability management is identifying and locating the points of weakness in your security systems. This can be done through scanning, penetration testing, and other methods of finding abnormalities in how your software programs interact with each other on your network. Next, you need to verify that attackers could exploit these vulnerabilities and their potential impact. Then comes priority management: which vulnerabilities are most important to fix first?

Once you know what needs to be addressed, it's time to mitigate—that means figuring out countermeasures to reduce risk while patches or updates are being made—and lastly, remediate—you patch or update the program or hardware.

What about vulnerability scanning?

Vulnerability scanners are designed to assess computers, networks, or applications for known vulnerabilities. They can identify and detect vulnerabilities arising from misconfiguration and flawed programming within a network and perform authenticated and unauthenticated scans of your assets.

Authenticated scans allow the vulnerability scanner to directly access networked assets using remote administrative protocols like secure shell (SSH) or remote desktop protocol (RDP) and authenticate using provided system credentials. This gives access to low-level data such as specific services and configuration details, providing detailed and accurate information about operating systems, installed software, configuration issues, and missing security patches.

Have you ever wondered what cyber attackers and security analysts are using to try to determine the security posture of your company's externally facing assets? It's called an unauthenticated scan.

Essentially, this tool is used to help check for open ports and services on a target system. The results can be used to find possible data leaks, but unfortunately, it also produces false positives, so the information is unreliable at best.

Whether you're big or small, if you have any kind of online presence whatsoever, you need to make sure you're protecting your company from these attacks.

Explaining penetration testing

Penetration testing is the practice of testing an information technology asset to find security vulnerabilities an attacker could exploit.

There are two approaches to penetration testing: Automated and manual.

Automated tests involve software that tests the asset non-destructive, looking for known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. Manual tests involve a human tester who probes the asset using methods similar to those employed by hackers, such as social engineering and exploiting vulnerabilities.

The past several years have been tough for everyone, and chances are your employees are exhausted. I mean, who isn't?

As a result, they might be more likely than usual to let their guard down regarding information security. And that can have devastating consequences.

After all, even the most robust cybersecurity defenses can be circumvented by social engineering attacks like phishing, which take advantage of human vulnerabilities to penetrate an organization's defenses and steal sensitive data like usernames and passwords.

According to the nonprofit Online Trust Alliance, up to 90% of data breaches are accomplished by exploiting human error – such as clicking on malicious links or falling for fake login pages.

According to the Information Systems Security Association survey, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we've seen a 63% increase in COVID-related phishing campaigns and fake social posts. Similarly, even computers outfitted with the latest anti-virus software can fall victim to zero-day threats and other malware that gets by traditional anti-virus defenses. Once a system is infected, in more than 25% of cases, it may not be detected for months or more, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Even with the most diligent security measures, threats increase in sophistication. It’s, therefore, time to rethink security with a cloud-based, as-a-service offering that takes advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and thwart threats before they cripple end devices effectively – and productivity.

You might be thinking: “Why do I need endpoint protection when I already have antivirus?” The short answer: Antivirus software is no longer sufficient.

Implement zero trust

Another critical aspect of providing proper security is adopting a zero-trust approach. In simple terms, zero trust means you don't blindly trust a user's identity, operating system, or the network they're using.

Instead, you ask them to prove their identity and verify that they are who they say they are. This can be done with multi-factor authentication (MFA), where it takes two more pieces of evidence to authenticate a user.

If MFA is deployed in every environment, it still doesn't provide 100% security because there will always be users who can bypass the MFA. However, if MFA is only enabled for certain types of access and resources (such as data or applications), it can be much more effective in protecting sensitive data and assets.

Another way to reduce the attack surface and contain threats is through micro-segmentation. This means limiting the number of devices that have access to sensitive data or applications by modifying them to those systems designated as trusted devices by the policy. This reduces the attack surface for an individual device and other devices on the same network.

Benefits of managed IT services

Turning to a trusted provider also brings you additional benefits such as:

Your organization has already invested in hardware, software, and outdated systems in many cases. Before outsourcing your IT services, compare the costs and risks of maintaining these systems with the costs and risks of outsourcing these systems to a managed service provider. By taking advantage of managed IT services, you can lower risk.

For example, when you outsource the maintenance of your network to a managed service provider, you no longer have to deal with costly downtime caused by hardware issues.

Additionally, when you outsource your IT services to a managed service provider, you can reduce the operational costs associated with hiring and training staff members who will be responsible for maintaining your existing systems in-house. When you outsource your IT services to a managed service provider, you save on consulting fees typically included in the monthly fees charged by service providers when they provide their services.

Finally, because most managed IT services come with a service level agreement (SLA), an SLA is included in the cost of your managed IT services, so there is no need for excessive hourly or per-incident fees.

When investing in IT needs upfront, predicting operating expenses can be challenging as your business grows. These expenses are consolidated into a single, fixed set of OPEX costs with outsourced IT services.

Because managed service providers typically operate with fixed monthly rates, items like hardware breakdowns, maintenance, and repairs are calculated into your operational budget. They won't break the bank when they unexpectedly occur.

And don't forget about this little thing called experience!

One of the biggest managed IT services advantages is that you onboard a team with the qualifications and training - not to mention the certifications and experience - specific to your industry. A managed services provider gives you access to top-notch IT administrators with particular skill sets, negating the need to find and hire them yourself.

Don't let your in-house tech department slow down your team.

With 24/7/365 support, managed IT services can help you make sure your employees are always as productive as possible, even during unexpected downtime.

Many industries and businesses must meet strict standards and requirements for integration with their IT initiatives, like SOX and HIPAA. It's crucial to find a well-versed partner with these standards and keep you safe from compliance issues.

2022 is the year of managed IT services

PCI compliance is a must-have for businesses that handle clients' credit card information. If you're unfamiliar with PCI standards and the processes that ensure they are followed, it's easy to make a mistake. When you work with a managed services provider like SSI, we take care of all your IT needs, including PCI compliance.

We make sure your data storage is secure—and even if you experience an outage or any other unexpected event, we have you covered. We remove IT bottlenecks from your workflow through end-to-end IT services, freeing you to devote more resources to generating revenue.

Make 2022 the year you invest in Managed IT Services. Contact us today to get started.