How Cybercriminals Attack MSPs (And How You Can Stop Them)

The high-profile Kaseya ransomware attack highlights the threats that managed service providers (MSPs) face in today’s digital environment. Cybercriminals target IT service providers because just one successful attempt can give them access to the networks of multiple clients.

In fact, the U.S. Secret Service has issued a warning against the rising number of threat actors who are hacking MSPs.

While breaches that affect thousands of users or cost companies millions of dollars make the news, many smaller-scale attacks happen every day. Countless individual cybercriminals who use tools widely available on the dark web are trolling the internet for opportunities. The moment you let your guard down, one (or more) of them will uncover a vulnerability and infiltrate your system.

To protect your clients from cyberattacks, you must first secure your own environment. Let’s look at how MSPs are attacked, how a breach can impact your business, and what you can do to strengthen your defence.

Types of Cyber Attack

Here are some common methods cybercriminals use to attack MSPs:

Automated Scanning Tools

Cybercriminals use automated tools to scan the entire public internet, which can be done in a matter of minutes, to look for open ports that run services with vulnerabilities that they can exploit.

Mass Phishing Emails

Hackers send out phishing emails to a random set of email addresses using automation software. Such a numbers game often pays off — it takes only one recipient to click on one malicious link or attachment to infect an entire network with malware or ransomware.

Reconnaissance Tools

Threat actors perform reconnaissance on a network by taking advantage of known vulnerabilities in outdated software. They collect data about your system to map out the environment before launching an attack.

Password Attacks

Cybercriminals try every combination of letters, symbols, and numbers until they hit the correct password. They may also purchase an employees’ login credentials (e.g. of their personal accounts) from the dark web and attempt to breach a system using those.

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks

Attackers use bots to send massive packets to overwhelm your servers and stop them from functioning normally. A DDoS attack against an MSP can bring down multiple organizations all at once.

How Cyber Attacks Impact an MSP

A cyberattack on a single MSP or MSSP could cause at much as $80 billion in economic losses across multiple businesses. Here’s how such a breach can affect your MSP:

Loss of Data and Services

An attack on your system allows hackers to access your clients’ networks and data, including sensitive personal information, intellectual properties, payment details, and more. Criminals can also bring down your remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools or steal your business-critical data, impacting your ability to deliver services to your clients.

Reputational and Financial Damages

A breach can tarnish your reputation and erode customer trust. This can cause clients to leave your company and affect your ability to win business in the future. For MSPs, reputation is key to acquiring and retaining customers. After all, if you can’t even protect yourself, how can you convince prospects to trust you with their cybersecurity needs?

Compliance Issues and Regulatory Fines

If you work with clients in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, and legal, you could get into regulatory hot waters. You may become responsible for hefty penalties for non-compliance issues that could have led to the attack. Not to mention, you may have to shoulder the costs of remediation actions, which can hurt your bottom line for years to come.

How MSPs and MSSPs Can Strengthen Their Defence Against Cyber Attacks

As an MSP or MSSP, you have the basic security measures in place. But are they enough to protect your system and your clients’ networks 24/7/365?

98% of firewalls were probed by threat actors from known malicious IP addresses. Phishing attacks are still highly successful because we can’t eliminate human errors no matter how hard we try.

What about patch management? The process is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Meanwhile, code conflict can bring down other software. Not to mention, the sheer number of vulnerabilities you need to patch is overwhelming, so you’re always a few steps behind threat actors.

It’s time to up your cybersecurity game with a new generation of tools and strategies that offer proactive monitoring and round-the-clock protection:

  • Automation to ensure prompt detection, response, and resolution of threats.
  • AI-driven open extended detection & response (XDR) platform for effective security information and event management (SIEM).
  • Security controls that comply with data security regulations and annual data audit to ensure ongoing compliance.
  • Network deep packet inspection to evaluate all the data passing through your network and block suspicious content.
  • Asset inventory monitoring to track and analyse all digital files and data to prevent unauthorized access and changes.
  • Least privileged access control and ongoing employee training to minimize human errors.
  • Vulnerability management (e.g., weekly scan) with regular reporting to give you a 360-degree view of your environment.
  • Threat assessment and reporting to help you understand where to invest your resources to strengthen your defence.

However, purchasing all the advanced tools and hiring a SOC team can be cost-prohibitive for most MSPs and MSSPs. That’s why savvy IT providers are using AI-driven solutions to step up their security.

MSP Protect from inSOC is designed specifically for MSPs and MSSPs, with 24/7/365 continuous monitoring by dedicated SOC experts. The AI-driven threat detection and vulnerability management platform helps ensure that you stay compliant at all times with even the most stringent requirements, such as GDPR, HIPAA. PCI-DSS, DFARS, ITAR, NIST, and more.

The customized onboarding process hardens your environment right away according to the appropriate CIS Critical Security Controls with the option for future enhancements. In the event of an incident, we’ll respond quickly to investigate critical alerts, analyse the data, and guide you to take the most appropriate remediation actions.

Learn more about MSP Protect and see how we can help you strengthen your defence and protect your reputation.

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