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Maximising your MSP partnership: How to choose a certified provider

In today's digital age, where businesses are increasingly reliant on technology and the internet, cybersecurity has emerged as a top priority for organisations worldwide. With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and frequent, organisations, irrespective of their size or industry, are struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape.

Consumers are increasingly diligent in protecting their personal data, businesses are investing more resources to mitigate operational risk, and governments are taking measures to safeguard their citizens by introducing regulations. Yet despite this, the threat of cybercrime continues to persist, and the growing complexity of these threats poses a significant challenge, leaving organisations vulnerable to cyberattacks that can have severe consequences on their operations, finances, and reputation.

In Australia, between July 2021 and June 2022, the number of cybercrime incidents reported via ReportCyber, the online cybercrime reporting system operated by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) rose by almost 13% from the previous year, with over 76,000 reports recorded. These statistics show that one cybercrime report is now being made approximately every 7 minutes, an increase in the last year, which was every 8 minutes. 

This highlights the need for organisations to remain vigilant and employ robust cybersecurity measures to protect themselves. However, many of the traditional cybersecurity tools and practices are no longer adequate to mitigate these risks. This has created a demand for specialised expertise and services to help organisations tackle the prevalence and severity of cyber threats, with organisations turning to external service providers to ensure they have the necessary protection against potential cyberattacks.

Partnering with the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help organisations protect their business from cyber threats and ensure the best possible outcomes. However, finding the right MSP is not as simple as it sounds. Customers should take a proactive approach and ask the right questions.

When seeking an MSP, customers should prioritise those with strong security knowledge and insights into industry-specific challenges. By doing so, customers can identify MSPs who can provide tailored solutions to meet their unique needs. Furthermore, customers should focus on finding a partner who prioritises solutions, value, and business outcomes rather than just selling products or services. A good MSP will work with customers to reduce risk, increase security and act in an advisory role while also helping them get the most value for their technology spend.

To start the conversation with potential MSPs, customers can ask about their approach to cybersecurity, how they stay up-to-date with the latest threats and trends, and their experience with implementing security solutions for businesses similar to their own. They can also ask about the MSP's ongoing support and maintenance for security solutions, their security engineering stance and whether they can design plus implement a security roadmap.

MSPs bring valuable knowledge and expertise to the table, allowing companies to focus on their core competencies. Best practice would suggest companies appoint a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or a Chief Security Officer (CSO) and establish clear lines of communication between the CISO and the board. Ideally, board members should have cybersecurity expertise and regular communication on cybersecurity issues should be scheduled. Policies and procedures should cover areas such as incident response plans, disclosure practices, and external audits.

Given the volume of information that CSOs, CISOs, and IT leaders must manage, it's crucial to secure vulnerabilities quickly while juggling competing organisational priorities, which is where MSPs are well-positioned to provide support to leaders and their teams to assist with implementing effective governance and risk management strategies.

Of increasing importance and relevance today is the growing regulatory landscape, along with continued gaps in resources, knowledge, and talent. Whilst employing a CISO or IT leader might be best practice, many organisations lack the necessary expertise in cybersecurity internally, which is becoming increasingly problematic as regulators increase their monitoring of cybersecurity in corporations. Finding the right MSP with the appropriate cybersecurity certifications is crucial for organisations looking to outsource their IT operations. However, recognising which certification would be beneficial for your business can be a challenging task, akin to navigating a minefield.

Industry-leading cybersecurity certifications in Australia include:

  • Essential Eight framework - ACSC driven and designed to protect Microsoft Windows-based internet-connected networks, cloud services, enterprise mobility and other operating systems.
  • ISO27001 – increasingly required by suppliers to government agencies (local, state, federal) and large corporates addressing data privacy.
  • NIST-CSF – a holistic framework used by organisations to assess and improve their cybersecurity posture, security controls and guidelines.
  • DISP - is managed by Australia’s Defence Industry Security Office (DISO) and supports businesses to understand and meet their security obligations when engaging in Defence projects, contracts and tenders.
  • iRAP - Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) is governed and administered by the ACSC, providing the framework to endorse individuals from the private and public sectors for cybersecurity assessment services to the Australian government. 

Employing an MSP that has cybersecurity certifications provides significant value and benefits to customers. For example, MSPs holding the DISP certification signifies that it demonstrates compliance with the stringent security standards required for operating in Australia’s Defence industry. Additionally, possessing the DISP certification enables MSPs to access sensitive Defence information and bid for contracts related to Defence projects indicating that an MSP has implemented a robust information security management system (ISMS) in line with the ISO 27001 standard. This signifies that the MSP has taken adequate measures to manage and protect confidential information, such as financial data, intellectual property, and employee details, which can enhance the MSP's credibility and trustworthiness with clients.

When partnering with an MSP that holds cybersecurity certifications, clients are assured of adherence to industry best practices, including continuous training to stay current with the latest cybersecurity threats. Such expertise not only helps in mitigating risks and preventing cyberattacks but also in saving clients' time, money, and reputation. MSPs assist organisations in conducting regular risk assessments and ensuring customised security measures. With MSPs in their corner, organisations can more confidently navigate the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape and maintain a healthy balance between security and innovation.

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