16 Mar SMB & Security: Finally, they believe! (Part One)
HOW ONE MSP USES NETWORK ASSESSMENTS TO WIN THE TRUST OF ONCE-SKEPTICAL SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
We recently spoke with Jeff Sumner, president of Tech Guides. Tech Guides is a 19-year-old MSP and IT consulting company located in Media, PA, and a proponent of the RapidFire Tools network assessment tools. The company offers managed services, security consulting, and digital media services such as digital signage and web sites.
Security comprises a considerable portion of Sumner’s business, and due to the frightening acceleration of breaches and viral threats we’ve seen in the business community in the last few years, this momentum isn’t expected to slow. If anything, Sumner sees an unintended upside to the scenario for the MSP community. Small business owners are finally starting to believe what their IT advisors have been telling them for years: That no one is beyond vulnerability, and that a single solution simply isn’t adequate.
Sumner and his team swear by network assessment reporting and the Network Detective solutions — especially the Security and HIPAA Compliance modules, and the Detector insider threat detection appliance. He uses them to identify the specific vulnerabilities and malicious activities that need to be addressed on his end-customers’ networks, legitimizing his recommendations, and better clearing the way for Tech Guides to implement major security upgrades.
Here’s Part I of what he had to say about the issue of security and IT assessments.
Why do you use network assessment tools?
As an MSP, we’re always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves, to create a competitive edge. The way to do that is to give our customers more tools and more ways to benefit from our services. RapidFire Tools enables us to conduct a broad range of services without having to be on-site nearly as much. We service customers across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. It’s tools like the Network Detective that allow us to service such a broad range of areas, since I can do more with less personnel. This is especially true of the Detector appliance, which when installed at a site, serves as a watchful eye for that client.
How are you using the module to benefit your customers?
When you’re in the IT security business, you want to do what we like to call “Defense in Depth.” You want to assemble multiple layers of security. Network Detective is terrific for this, because it gives us insights into what’s going on in the network and highlights the different areas to be addressed — and there are always vulnerabilities to assess. The Security module adds a lot of insights to the standard network assessment reports. But our goal is to have Detector appliances on-site for our clientele, so even when we’re not around the Detector appliance is watching the client’s network for us, 24 x7, creating an ongoing picture of network activity and sending alerts regarding questionable activity.
How do the assessment tools enhance your relationship with your customers?
We’ve always advocated security as a top priority. Network Detective legitimizes that effort in the business owner’s eyes. The tools create documentation for what we’ve been trying to impress on them all this time. It brings concrete evidence to the table of risks that need to be mitigated and tasks that need to be accomplished to lock down the network. The more of this we present, the more our clients want to give us projects.
For example, sometimes convincing a client of the need for a new firewall can be a struggle. The client will counter us, saying, “The firewall is functional, we can get on the network, it seems fine to us.” They don’t understand enough about what goes on across their network to justify a replacement in their minds. The more documentation they see, the more they come to believe our recommendations, and let us proceed with the level of security that we know they require.
MORE NEXT WEEK on the revenue potential of the typical security compliance project, how compliance assessments can change the MSP customers’ attitude about security, and Sumner’s advice for MSPs offering security services.