MSP Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity 101 for M365: What MSPs Need to Know

Adrien Gendre

September 30, 2021

3 min

cybersecurity 101 for microsoft 365

What exactly should an MSP offer their M365 clients? Technical support is a given. Scalability is a must if your customer wants to grow. Many businesses these days require cloud services in order to be competitive, so you’ll naturally offer that support. But cybersecurity services are often left out of MSPs' service offerings.

After all, managed security service providers (MSSPs) specialize in that sort of thing. And you only ever hear about large, highly visible businesses being targeted by cyberattacks. Right?

Not exactly. Businesses of every size suffer from cyberattacks, and Microsoft is the #1 impersonated cloud brand in the world. If you’re an MSP managing clients’ Microsoft instances, offering a complete cybersecurity stack is a must. Being familiar with cybersecurity 101 for M365 won’t turn you into an MSSP, but it will ensure that your clients’ businesses can grow unimpeded by ransomware and phishing attacks.

The most important lesson in cybersecurity 101? There shouldn’t be any gaps in your cybersecurity stack. Identifying, evaluating, and implementing the different solutions that make up a cybersecurity stack might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll walk you through the five elements every MSP should have covered with their cybersecurity stack.

Cybersecurity 101: 5 must-have solutions

1. Backup and recovery

Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field. As our defenses grow more sophisticated, so too do malicious actors’ attacks. Inevitably, an attack will get through. That’s why having a backup solution in place is essential.

Consider a scenario where your client is the victim of a ransomware attack. The attackers have encrypted your clients’ data and demand payment in exchange for the cryptographic key. If you’re offering a solution that regularly backs up client data and stores it on a separate system, then your client may not have to cooperate. Instead, they may be able to remediate the threat and use their back-up data to continue operations.

2. Email security

Think of your clients’ inbox as the front door of their house. It needs to let the right people in, of course, but it also needs to keep the wrong people out. And nobody would want a front door that doesn’t come equipped with a lock.

If your client's inbox serves as their front door, then phishing and spear phishing act as confidence men trying to persuade their way inside.

Frequently, it’s easy to spot suspicious phishing emails, but that’s not true all of the time and for everybody. Spear phishing emails can be much more difficult to recognize as fraudulent. A good email cybersecurity solution can keep as many of these fraudulent emails away from your clients’ eyes as possible.

In the past, email cybersecurity solutions would scan email signatures to detect phishers, but modern attackers use more sophisticated techniques and have grown better at obfuscating their identities. These days, the most effective email cybersecurity solutions use AI to identify the signs of a phishing email. When evaluating such a solution, it’s important to ask about the size, relevancy, and timeliness of the data that informs the AI algorithm—as is the case with all AI solutions, a larger and more current database will yield better results.

3. Remediation

As we described above, cyberattacks are constantly evolving, and defenses are constantly evolving to meet them. Because of the gap between an attack’s sophistication and an MSP’s defenses against it, there is always a risk that a malicious actor will gain access to your clients’ systems and data. By acknowledging this possibility, we can take steps to minimize the damage they make when they do launch a successful attack.

Cybersecurity remediation tools enable MSPs to do exactly this. These systems take a variety of damage mitigation techniques, such as highlighting vulnerabilities, changing system configurations, updating software, removing malicious emails post-delivery, confirming fixes, testing defenses, and more.

4. Management tools

In order to ensure their clients’ systems are up to date and operating efficiently, MSPs should employ a management tool such as a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool, a professional services automation (PSA) tool, or both.

Using these tools, an MSP can more easily provide technical support, track system performance and changes, compile logs, and generally manage their clients’ M365 instances. Not only does this enable the regular upkeep and maintenance that help strengthen a client’s system against attacks, but it also provides you with greater visibility into attacks, vulnerabilities, remediation efforts, system health, and so on.

5. A secure communication system

Microsoft Teams has its own default security, but this may not be enough for your clients, or it may be inappropriate for select, high-value communications. Secure communication tools could include Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), messaging, chat, and other solutions. The exact solution will depend on your client and their industry; a business working in the healthcare industry, for example, might need a communications platform that is HIPAA compliant.

To make cybersecurity more manageable, standardize

If the idea of evaluating and building competency in all of these different solutions seems daunting, you should rest easy knowing that it’s not a process you’ll have to go through very often. Standardizing your cybersecurity stack is another key part of cybersecurity 101 for MSPs.

Evaluate the needs of your industry, your own preferences, and what the bulk of your clients need. Then, seek out solutions that meet those needs, become an expert on those solutions, and offer them as part of your standard cybersecurity offering.

It can seem paradoxical, but offering custom services tailored to an individual client often means offering a subpar experience. By evaluating and selecting the elements of your cybersecurity stack ahead of time, you’ll ensure that you only offer the services and solutions that you know best. Thus, you’ll only have to learn how to provide cybersecurity solutions in these different categories once or twice—not every time you onboard a new client.

At Vade, we believe the best place to start evaluating a cybersecurity solution is by seeing what it’s capable of firsthand. Whether you’re just starting to build your cybersecurity stack or considering a change, contact us for a demo of Vade for M365 today.


New call-to-action