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3 Essential Solutions for the MSP Toolkit

Posted September 4, 2018by David Dufour

3 Essential Solutions for the MSP Toolkit

Just like any other business, running a successful managed service equates to profitability. It should come as no surprise, then, that guaranteeing client satisfaction, promoting retention, and presenting opportunities for increasing recurring revenue are central to the MSP mission.

What are the most important tools in an MSP’s toolkit for ensuring that clients are happy, they stick around, and they grow their contribution to a business? It turns out, they’re the same tools that help MSPs widen profit margins by spending less time on remediation per client. The more time that’s freed up, the more clients you can take on without incurring additional personnel costs, while still offering the most efficient and effective protection possible.

Here are three must-haves for making that happen:

1. Effective Endpoint Protection

This is where it all starts. It’s also one many MSPs consider a no-brainer. But endpoint protection isn’t what it used to be.

It's no longer about constantly scanning solutions that aren’t working unless they’re slowing down your devices. So-called “traditional endpoint security,” bulky and definition-based malware detection tools fed by static lists living on your device, is a thing of the past. Polymorphic malware and the performance demands of today’s users have seen to that. 

Today’s endpoint security solutions need to do a lot more than wait for users to attempt to execute known-bad files. They should be actively preventing users from navigating to phishing sites. They should be capable of determining if a website associates with others known to deliver malware or exploits. They should be cloud-based, so updates can be pushed instantaneously via the cloud. They should benefit from the collective threat intelligence of all devices on the lookout for malware.

Endpoint protection has changed in response to cybercriminals' continuous attempts to innovate and overcome legacy solutions. So, when considering this essential element for maintaining client happiness, retention, and willingness to adopt new products and services, be sure you choose a solution that’s done just as much to innovate as the criminals you’re looking to foil.

2. A Backup and Restore Solution and Plan

To dispel with any lingering confusion right off the bat: No, we are not referring here to cloud-based storage platforms like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive. These should be seen as device synchronization tools, not tools for data backup and recovery in case of an emergency. An actual backup strategy must be capable of producing physical copies of data and securely gating this so that access can be strictly controlled.

In the same way that any major company will have a communications team in charge of formulating a crisis communications plan for when things don’t go according to plan, MSPs should have a disaster backup plan in place and tailored to each client.

This plan should take into account the value of the data being protected and its volatility (how often it changes) when determining the necessary backup frequency. Ask questions like, “does this data need to be backed up every day, or only after each payroll cycle?”

Finally and most crucially, restore capabilities MUST be tested and validated. The implementation of your backup and restore plan is not the time to discover the restore step hasn’t been properly thought through.

3. A Patch Management Strategy

A patch management strategy is nothing more than a system for accommodating software updates as they are released. As simple as it sounds, a number of MSPs still overlook it, with potentially dangerous consequences. Exploits, for instance, are one of the most common methods for introducing malware onto a device. Exploits are fixed with patch updates. Still, some MSPs don’t have a plan in place for regularly implementing all patches published within a given timeframe.

It’s important to remember that every device your clients have entrusted to your protection likely exists in an ongoing cycle of exploit discovery and patch publishing. That means smartphones, laptops, desktops, even (especially) IoT-connected devices, need to be accounted for and updated frequently.

MSPs should stress the importance of patch management and encourage their customers to include it as a part of a regular maintenance plan. They should also work to automate this process as much as possible to increase efficiency and maximize available resources.

Webroot is a Titanium sponsor of Navigate 2018, taking place in Boston on September 24–27, 2018. Stop by our booth to say hi and learn more about how you can optimize the tools in your MSP toolkit.

 

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David is the Vice President of Engineering at Webroot. He has 30+ years of experience in systems integration and software engineering focusing on large-scale, high-performance, high-availability integration solutions.

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