The role of an MSP in protecting critical infrastructure 

Cyber attacks against critical infrastructure have skyrocketed in recent years. As a response, governments have implemented new requirements for various industries — from emergency services and defense to healthcare, transportation, and water systems.

For instance, the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 requires businesses that own or manage critical infrastructure to report security incidents to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). At a minimum, the law impacts the 16 sectors defined as “critical infrastructure” industries under Presidential Policy Directive 21.

Meanwhile, the UK’s updated Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulations now emphasize new and stronger cybersecurity laws for “essential services” companies, such as healthcare and financial services.

These threats and regulations have presented new opportunities for MSPs and MSSPs to support clients in strengthening their cybersecurity postures and staying compliant with stringent regulations. Here’s what you need to know about the evolving role and expectations.

The critical infrastructure threat landscape

A study surveyed 500 U.S. critical infrastructure suppliers and found that 54% had reported attempts to control their networks, and 40% had experienced attempts to shut down their systems. Meanwhile, about 75% of organizations believe the attacks have become more sophisticated.

Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their techniques to exploit vulnerabilities. The most common threats include cyber espionage, cyber terrorism, advanced persistent threats (APTs), malware and ransomware attacks, and insider threats.

An MSPs’ important role in protecting critical infrastructure

Implementing security measures to protect critical infrastructure requires specialized knowledge and expertise. It has become increasingly costly and challenging for organizations to build in-house capabilities and stay current with fast-evolving threats. MSPs and MSSPs can support their clients to:

  • Detect threats, analyze risks, and mitigate vulnerabilities against increasingly sophisticated techniques used by cybercriminals.
  • Provide cost-effective cybersecurity solutions by pooling resources across multiple clients.
  • Craft and enforce policies and procedures to control access to critical services, applications, and data.
  • Implement 24/7/365 monitoring and provide prompt incident responses to minimize the impact of attacks.
  • Establish a layered security architecture supported by robust encryption and authentication methods.
  • Scale up their cybersecurity capabilities on a dime to support business growth and shifting market demand.
  • Implement proactive measures such as vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and security awareness training.
  • Stay current with changing regulations and maintain documentation to meet auditing requirements.

Cybersecurity measures for critical infrastructure protection

Implement the following essential security measures to secure critical infrastructure and services for your clients:

A risk management framework

This solid foundation should include technologies and processes for risk identification, assessment, and mitigation. You can implement advanced data analytics and use AI-driven predictive models to forecast potential risks and proactively address vulnerabilities.

24/7/365 monitoring and threat response

Implement the tools and procedures to monitor network traffic, log data, and analyze behavior patterns. You should be able to detect suspicious activities and respond to breaches immediately to minimize damage while collecting data to support reporting, cyber forensics, and investigations.

Regular risk assessments and audits

Vulnerability assessments and reports can help you identify weaknesses and help your clients track improvement in their security postures. You can identify gaps in your defenses and implement risk-based vulnerability management to focus your resources on addressing top-priority threats.

Compliance with multiple regulations and standards

Most critical infrastructure operators must comply with one or more data security laws and standards, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. To support these customers, you must ensure your systems and processes are compliant and stay on top of updates.

Supply chain attack prevention

Supply chain attacks have become more prevalent as criminals breach multiple organizations in one fell swoop by attacking one MSP. To protect your client systems, you must first and foremost safeguard your own infrastructure. For example, you can use inSOC’s  MSP Protect package to strengthen your defense with vulnerability management and 24/7 monitoring capabilities.

Critical Infrastructure security – best practices

These best practices help protect your infrastructure and client networks and support the cybersecurity measures discussed above:

  • Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) and access control: Prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems while mitigating the impact of a breach by limiting lateral movements.
  • Adopt a secure cloud-first strategy: As more critical infrastructure operations move to the cloud for scalability and cost efficiency, MSPs must help clients secure their complex hybrid environments.
  • Maximize reliability and availability: Implement redundancy to maximize uptime and a comprehensive backup and recovery plan to protect against ransomware attacks and data loss.
  • Establish a robust incident response plan: Document the processes for responding to cyber incidents. The steps should identify the source of the attack, contain the breach, and restore operations.
  • Adopt a zero-trust security model: Implement strict authentication and authorization policies to ensure only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and networks.
  • Leverage AI-driven analytics and open XDR technologies: Generate insights, process alerts, and streamline workflows to identify threats and mitigate breaches promptly.
  • Fill cybersecurity skill gaps: Invest in training and development to equip your team with the latest knowledge and skill sets. Also, leverage SOC as a Service (SOCaaS) to access the expertise you need when you need it.

What next?

As critical infrastructure operators face growing attacks and government scrutiny, more will turn to MSPs and MSSPs to help them stay current with the latest best practices, comply with stringent regulations, ensure prompt incident response, and handle cybersecurity tasks cost-effectively.

MSPs and MSSPs will become increasingly essential in protecting our critical infrastructure. However, not every provider has the expertise and capabilities to address all the cybersecurity requirements and move quickly to address demands and capture market shares.

SOCaaS allows you to add robust cybersecurity functions to your offerings on a dime — including vulnerability management, intrusion detection, cloud security monitoring, and open XDR technologies — to support critical infrastructure operations and win more business in this growing sector.

Learn more about our SOCaaS packages and get in touch to see how inSOC can help you grow your market share.

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