Data Breaches – How MSPs Can Look Out for Clients and Themselves

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Data breaches are one of an organization’s biggest nightmares. Not only are your systems compromised, but precious data is taken. In an upcoming webinar, Kaseya and security partner Ease Technologies detail how MSP and client data can be protected to ward off breaches.

MSPs have two types of data and network access to protect – their own and that of their clients. There have always been threats to both, but nowadays hackers are largely after data – and date breaches are becoming more serious every day. As an MSP, your business is protecting client data. Do it right and you gain your client’s trust, longer contracts, and great word of mouth. Fail, and the relationship is lost forever.

Is there anything worse? Sure. Having your operations cracked, which could give the bad guys the keys to your clients’ kingdoms.

How would you like to find out:

  • How to safeguard your business against cyber-risk
  • How to ensure the security of your clients
  • How to quickly develop a highly profitable Security-as-a-Service practice

In today’s security environment, these skills are more critical than ever. If you have any doubt, look at what just happened to Yahoo! The tech giant recently disclosed that over 1 billion accounts were compromised.

These breaches are scary, but even more terrifying is the unknown. Did you know that many breaches are never discovered, and the victim doesn’t know that thieves have and probably sold her confidential data?

How you handle a breach can either further tarnish or burnish your reputation. If customers’ clients fall victim to a breach when under your protection, your and their reputation can be ruined.

There is an obligation to disclose these issues. If you as an MSP are breached, you must disclose this to clients; if clients are breached, they must disclose this to their customers.

Expect these parties to be, shall we say, displeased. Understand this and minimize the anger by being as transparent and responsive as possible.

As soon as possible, tell them:

  • What happened
  • How it happened (as much as you know or can disclose due to concerns about future hacks)
  • The customer impact
  • What you are doing to make things better

The last item being the most critical.

This approach will help save your reputation. In contrast, having the breach notification come from a press report can help destroy it.

Dealing with a Breach – First Find That It’s There

Unlike malware, which shows its face immediately, a data breach usually involves the theft of data, which can be done quietly. In fact, hackers don’t want you to know they have your credit card or confidential data while they are busy trying sell or otherwise exploit what they’ve stolen.

Even more bad news: According to a report from the Ponemon Institute, it takes the victim an average of 256 days to find out he’s been had.

And these breaches cost serious money.

In the 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis sponsored by IBM and conducted by Ponemon Institute, “The average total cost of a data breach for the 383 companies participating in this research increased from $3.79 to $4 million. The average cost paid for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased from $154 in 2015 to $158 in this year’s study,” the Ponemon researchers found.

Insider Hacks Harder to Find

While outside hacks can be tough to find, the nefarious work of insiders is more vexing. In these cases, there is no real network breach – just a breach of your data from inside the network.

There are several reasons why insider-based breaches are so prevalent.

  • It is easier for insiders to access confidential data.
  • Insiders know where the important stuff lies.
  • Employees often have an ax to grind – passed over for promotion, hate their boss or are otherwise angry.
  • They are key targets for those conducting corporate espionage looking for that perfect mole.

There is also insider negligence.

According to the Ponemon study: “Forty-seven percent of incidents involve a malicious or criminal attack, 25 percent concern a negligent employee or contractor (human factor), and 29 percent involve system glitches that include both IT and business process failures.”

CompTIA also sees the human equation. It found that 52 percent of breaches are due to human error, which included falling victim to social engineering.

The answer? Treat your employees with as much caution as you would an outsider. By employees, we mean all employees. Management and IT staff are key sources of insider breaches. That means be careful who gets admin and other top-end privileges, and who can access what. It also means having a way of tracking, auditing and reporting on who does what on the network. At the same time, train employees to resist social engineering, phishing and other attacks.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.

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