You may think that IT security applies to you only if you delivered managed security services. But in fact, security is something every MSP needs to worry about in the managed IT services business. Here's why.

Once upon a time, cybersecurity was a relatively distinct discipline. It could be handled well enough by vendors who specialized in providing security services. MSPs who delivered other types of services left it to the security folks to worry about keeping data and networks safe from attacks.

But today, when the threat of cyberattacks looms in virtually every part of your app and infrastructure, security has become every MSP's concern.

Consider how security fits into the following types of managed services:

  • Data storage. If you provide storage services, you bear a big responsibility for keeping data safe from attackers. Security specialists can help, but only you have access to all layers of the storage infrastructure and the knowledge to secure each one.
  • Networking. The network is one of the biggest attack surfaces at most organizations. To keep it safe, you need to build in defenses against a number of different types of attacks, from DDoS intrusions to the installation of malicious traffic sniffers. Security vendors can help here by setting up firewalls or network monitoring software, but that on its own is not enough.
  • Hardware. MSPs who supply and manage desktops, servers or other devices as part of their service offering need to make sure that those devices are free of malware. Otherwise, they could be responsible for bringing malicious software inside an organization.
  • Website maintenance. If you build and maintain websites for your clients, you have to keep security in mind for two reasons. First, you need to make sure the Web software that you run on behalf of your clients is up-to-date and hardened against attacks that could be directed against it. Second, in order to protect your clients' reputation with their own customers, it's important to make sure malware that targets website visitors does not end up on the site you manage.

In each of these areas, security should be built into the managed services you provide - even if your mission doesn't call for you to be a security specialist.

After all, failure to secure the services that you provide could be devastating for your customers and, by extension, for you.

So do your clients and yourself a favor and make sure you factor security challenges into the equation at every step of the way as you build and deliver managed IT services of any type.