Research and educational resources are powerful sales tools for the channel. The business-related information we gather and share increase awareness on a multitude of topics and, over time, can help influence opinions and procurement plans.
In today’s high-risk environment, your clients need that type of assistance. When decision-makers have little or no experience dealing in areas like cybersecurity, they typically pay closer attention to the topic in online forums and news sites and look to respected industry experts for advice and insight. That’s why MSPs have to keep up the pressure by leveraging all their communications options to spread the word.
Providers should regularly share news and articles on breaches, ransomware attacks, and other incidents with clients and prospects through their social media sites and email newsletters. Education should be the goal to ensure SMBs to take some sort of proactive action. While that may encompass signing a long-term contract or completing security-related projects with your company, they must do something to protect their business from cyberattacks.
Consider education a soft sell. With the escalating number of business-related news stories on cyberattacks on the SMB, it’s extremely difficult for decision-makers to ignore the inevitable ‒ that they are, in fact, in the crosshairs of cybercriminals.
Now is the perfect time to reflect on some of the top stories that affected the business community the previous year and share some of the forward-looking trends with your clients to ensure they take action. The lessons to be learned in 2020 will be relevant for months (if not years) to come, including:
1. Never Too Small to Be Cybercrime Targets
While a recent National Cyber Security Alliance survey found up to 60% of hacked SMBs go belly up within six months of an incident, confirmed stories are extremely rare. One of those tales emerged in early 2019 when a Battle Creek, Michigan medical practice closed after sharing the news that hackers had compromised its systems, including patient records and billing information. Rather than pay the ransom and hope the attackers would provide them with the encryption key to their data (never guaranteed), the doctors chose to cut their losses and closed down their clinic. IT pros may debate their decision to shut down over a $6500 ransomware demand (though restoration costs would have been significantly higher) and wonder how much these ENTs’ upcoming retirements factored into the equation. The fact that their employees lost their jobs following the cyberattack emphasizes the value of effective cybersecurity and business continuity planning.
2. Ransomware attack forces Arkansas CEO to fire 300 employees days before Christmas
Despite meeting the payment demands, delays in restoring the Heritage Company’s data and recovering its vital business systems made it difficult for the telemarking firm to pay its workforce. Nearly two months after the attack, its accounting and mail center operations remain offline and, with no way of processing checks, sending out invoices, or accepting client payments, its cash reserves vanished. In other words, the company is “dead in the water,” and the CEO still can’t assure when or if they may be able to reopen and bring back their employees.
3. Municipalities increasingly in cybercriminals’ crosshairs
Those who manage cities and towns should pay close attention to the dozens of reported security attacks in 2019. No one knows the true number of incidents that may have taken place (those addressed without public disclosure), but the chances of getting hit with ransomware or pursued by hackers will surely continue rising over the coming months (and years). Remind your municipal clients that every community is at risk, not just big cities like Atlanta and New Orleans, with similarly large budgets. Consider the case of the small town of Wilmer, TX. With a population of 5,000 people, the municipality was one of 22 in the state simultaneously held hostage last August by a sophisticated ransomware attack.
4. Educational institutions are extremely vulnerable to cyberthreats
Ransomware attacks affected more than 500 U.S. schools in just the first three quarters of 2019. With a massive number of endpoints to protect and limited budgets, colleges and K-12 facilities present prime targets for cybercriminals looking to access student and employee data. MSPs can expand their share of the education market by offering cost-effective cybersecurity and monitoring services, including email protection and encryption.
5. U.S. government issues Windows warning
In June, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) alerted MS users about BlueKeep, a critical security vulnerability that could allow remote access to their computers. The risk involves older versions of the OS not updated with relevant patches, and issues like this can help remind business owners about the value of experienced MSPs.
These are just a few examples of the cybersecurity issues that may affect your clients and prospects, and they deserve to know about these types of risks. In addition to reminding decision-makers about the increasing danger, this information can spark conversations that turn into new service opportunities and recurring revenue streams for your IT firm.
Of course, the things you share with your clients is only as good as the follow-up. The key is bringing the cybersecurity message home and getting those business owners to invest in more advanced protection measures. Be sure to share relevant news and useful tips on how to avoid those types of situations and offer best practices that will help make their businesses less vulnerable to cyberattacks.
With the right approach, your team can provide the thought-leadership vulnerable SMBs need while increasing your sales and profit margins. That’s a win-win situation everyone that benefits everyone, and sure way to make 2020 a more secure and highly lucrative New Year for all!