Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Aug 05

MSSP Partner Support & Service Enablement

By | Managed Services News

Young adviser with operational reports around

FASTCHAT: Exploring the impact of Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) is increasingly critical to more efficiently collecting threat data and responding to low-level threats without human assistance. But that’s not all. Hear from Stephan Tallent, Fortinet’s Senior Director of MSSP & Service Enablement, how SOAR also helps channel organizations: Address staffing and skills shortages Tackle data silos and department […]

Aug 05

Microsoft Teams: 12 New Virtual Meeting Features

By | Managed Services News

These are the new features Microsoft is adding to Teams to enhance virtual meetings.

Together Mode for Microsoft Teams is now available. This is one of many new features designed to make virtual meetings feel more natural.

The Microsoft Teams road map called for many of the features to roll out last month, or in the near term. But use of Microsoft Teams Meetings has increased exponentially since the beginning of this year.

After COVID-19 left millions of people working at home, virtual meeting capabilities in Microsoft Teams became a lifeline. Usurped only potentially by Zoom, usage of Google Meet, Cisco WebEx and numerous others has also surged.

While some workplaces have started to reopen, many workers throughout the world continue to work remotely. Many companies haven’t determined when – and in some cases if – they will bring all their employees back. Google this week said it will keep its employees’ home for another year. No one knows when risk of infection will subside, but few would dispute its enduring impact on how people work.

It took little time for Microsoft to conclude that the sudden shift to virtual meetings has resulted in “meeting fatigue.” In its latest research, the company found that work and home lives are intertwined. People are having more meetings and more frequently than before, outside of normal business hours.

Based on use of Teams, Microsoft found that people are working earlier in the morning and later in the evening. Teams chats have increased from 15% to 23%, and by more than 200% on weekends.

“We see this blending of work and life as a durable workplace trend with potential for technology to help ease some of the challenges that come with it, according to a blog by Microsoft corporate VP Jared Spataro. “You’ll see us continuing to innovate in the areas of organizational analytics and employee wellbeing in the near future.”

Scroll through the slideshow above to see how new Microsoft Teams features aim to improve the virtual meeting experience.

Aug 05

MSSP Partner Support & Service Enablement

By | Managed Services News

Young adviser with operational reports around

FASTCHAT: Exploring the impact of Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) is increasingly critical to more efficiently collecting threat data and responding to low-level threats without human assistance. But that’s not all. Hear from Stephan Tallent, Fortinet’s Senior Director of MSSP & Service Enablement, how SOAR also helps channel organizations: Address staffing and skills shortages Tackle data silos and department […]

Aug 04

CompTIA ChannelCon Online Covers Diversity, Partner Experience, What’s Next

By | Managed Services News

The first day of the virtual conference hit on several hot industry topics as well as best practices.

Today was the opening day of CompTIA ChannelCon Online 2020, the virtual conference. Sessions ranged from topics such as diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, to what’s next for the channel, partner experience trends, and maintaining (and growing) your sales pipeline in times of economic uncertainty.

Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

Todd Thibodeaux, CEO, CompTIA

CompTIA’s Todd Thibodeaux

CompTIA ChannelCon Online opened with a virtual town hall meeting on “Diversity and Inclusion in the Tech Industry.” Moderated by CompTIA president and CEO Todd Thibodeaux, the session consisted of five executives — all current or former CompTIA board members.

While speakers expressed hope that real change will come from America’s social justice and equality protests, their hope is tempered by a history of past promises gone unfulfilled. However, the conversation shone a light on what has to happen to alter the current course. 

Transformation Lead's Georgette Fraser-Moore

Transformation Lead’s Georgette Fraser-Moore

“We have to have those hard conversations,” said Dr. Georgette Fraser-Moore, founder and CEO of Transformation Lead. “We need to find ways to communicate that don’t make people feel even more separated.”

“The typical blockers are fear and ignorance,” said Eric Hughes, partner of Agio Advisory. “These topics are hard, yes. But in order for us to advance this conversation, we have to get to a place where it’s not just [underrepresented demographics] advocating for these human rights. It has to be the majority.”

Diversity in the Workforce

One of the ways the industry can demonstrate its leadership is to make a true, long-term commitment to diversify its workforce, CompTIA ChannelCon Online panelists said.

Comcast Business' Barry Williams

Comcast Business’ Barry Williams

“There have been plenty of studies that shows the more diverse the company is the better the opportunity you have to be successful,” noted Barry Williams, executive director, indirect channel sales, Comcast Business.

“It’s time for the tech industry to step up, for [venture capital] to step up and start asking the diversity questions,” said Louis Steward, chief innovation officer for the City of Sacramento, California. “You have to have the will to hire to make your company reflect the customers you serve.”

The momentum of the movement for change and the large numbers of people involved have instilled hope, and point to a willingness and want for a shift. 

“This is not just a Black challenge,” said Thibodeaux. “This is a community challenge. You must now do the work. This needs to be a new channel of change.”

What’s Next for the Channel?

Another session dove into the topic of what’s next for the channel. Industry experts discussed the impact the first half of 2020 has had on the channel and asked the question, “Where do we go from here?” 

Experts discussed practical advice and strategies to keep partner businesses moving forward in these unprecedented times. Most solution providers and MSPs have found that their value to customers has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s especially as clients view them as essential partners. Their role as trusted advisers has been critical. So how can one maintain and enhance that role moving forward?

“Many in the channel were trying to tread water in 2008 and make sure they didn’t go out of business, but those that were able to invest were more robust when things got better,” said Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA, and moderator of the session. “That’s an economic dynamic that exists and hopefully we’ll see that in the channel today.” 

The other panelists wholeheartedly agreed in the sense that …

Aug 04

Digital Defense Targets MSPs, MSSPs, MDR Providers with New Program

By | Managed Services News

Proof of value is a key essential for MSPs.

Digital Defense just launched a new MSP partner program to help grow the shifting cloud security market.

The program allows partners to raise their brand profile, services and “proof of value” to their clients. Proof of value is essential for MSPs, according to the company. They are under increasing pressure to prove their worth as clients reevaluate spending and adjust to new business models.

Bob Layton is Digital Defense’s chief revenue officer. He said this move expands his company’s partner program for MSPs, MSSPs and managed detection and response (MDR) providers.

Digital Defense's Bob Layton

Digital Defense’s Bob Layton

“The massive disruption in the security-as-a-service space prompted Digital Defense to consider how managed providers are retooling their operations for higher profitability and proof of value to their customers,” he said.

By 2026, 77% of cybersecurity will be as a service. And Digital Defense can deliver more value than its competitors, Layton said. It allows partners to make money quickly from their AWS-based SaaS platform. It also makes operational integration easier and provides proof-of-value reporting that customers want.

Program Benefits

The new program offers flexible billing cycles that align to monthly recurring revenue (MRR) business models, Layton said. It also offers self-provisioning on the platform, and procurement directly or through cloud marketplaces including AWS, Azure, Oracle and Google.

“Many of our existing partners [needed] more from our platform as they white-label expanded services and security programs, all with an eye for staying inside the per-user industry average for higher-value services,” Layton said.

The program embraces cross-selling and upselling existing recurring revenue customers, and acquiring new customers, he said.

“This is an area of frustration and great expense for partners across the spectrum of operational maturity level,” Layton said. “Whether you are a VAR diversifying revenue to MRR, or an MSSP or MDR seeking a differentiated service offering for the vertical you serve, or profitability when expanding services aimed at high customer value — Digital Defense has the answer.” addresses the network, application and IoT environments on premises and in the public cloud, he said.

Digital Defense partners are more profitable and respond to threats more quickly, he said. And they’re able to use their existing security information and event management (SIEM), remote monitoring and management (RMM) and workflows.

“With the average cost of a data breach at $8 million and the unrelenting onslaught of attacks, ongoing vulnerability management is a key component of a robust security program,” said Paul Caiazzo, Avertium‘s senior vice president of security and compliance.

Aug 04

Cybersecurity Professionals Need Long-Term Career Planning

By | Managed Services News

It’s some dire news, indeed.

Cybersecurity professionals have been in crisis mode for 10 years. That’s because as a profession, these tech pros don’t have a big picture view of their profession or careers. That’s according to a recent cooperative research project from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).

The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals 2020 report is the fourth annual research project to focus on the lives and experiences of cybersecurity professionals. The report gathered information from 343 cybersecurity professionals who work in organizations of all sizes, across industries and geographies.

The comprehensive survey focuses on cybersecurity careers, skills development, cybersecurity organizational considerations, security incidents and vulnerabilities, the cybersecurity skills shortage, and cybersecurity activities.

“As this and past reports clearly indicate, organizations and cybersecurity professionals are not looking at the profession strategically. There is a continuous lack of training, career development and long-term planning. As a result, cybersecurity professionals often muddle through their careers with little direction, jumping from job to job and enhancing their skill sets on the fly rather than in any systematic way. This, combined with the continued cybersecurity skills shortage, has stalled cybersecurity progress,” writes Jon Oltsik, senior principal analyst and fellow at ESG.

The News Is Dire

That’s dire news, indeed.

In fact, the cybersecurity skills shortage is getting worse. Seventy percent of organizations are negatively impacted by this crisis, according to the ISSA members and survey takers for the report.

There isn’t a silver bullet that will solve the cybersecurity skills gap. Rather, multiple issues contribute to the problem and have for a number of years. Report researchers cite those factors as: lack of understanding the role of information security at businesses; no clear and agreed upon career map within the profession; and the constant stress security pros face in attempting to improve collaboration efforts with IT.

“Cybersecurity will only exhibit a positive change through a more holistic approach, according to report authors.

This year’s report includes a number of new questions. For example, respondents rated several constituencies in terms of their ability to keep up with cybersecurity challenges. Most respondents believe that government and schools are not keeping up with cybersecurity challenges. Almost all respondents said that government agencies should be doing somewhat or a lot more to address cybersecurity challenges. Eighty-four percent of respondents believe that public schools/institutions should be doing somewhat or a lot more to address cybersecurity challenges. This data reflects an age-old cybersecurity belief — cybersecurity is most effective when it is baked in, rather than bolted on, to any discipline or culture, according to the report.

The Bad Guys Are Winning

Another question new to this year’s research asks how long it takes to become a proficient cybersecurity professional. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said three to five years; 22% said two to three years, and 18% said more than five years.

For the second year in a row, survey respondents were asked to compare the status of cyber adversaries over cyber defenders. The answer was discouraging.

This year, two in three (67%) believe adversaries have an advantage over defenders. That number is up from less than three in five (59%) in last year’s research.


Aug 04

Top Gun 51 Profile: Juan Perez, IBM MaaS360, North America Channel Leader

By | Managed Services News

Perez humanizes how IBM works with partners.

Strategic partnerships are nothing new to IBM. Juan C. Perez just understands them in a way that’s novel for the company. He is a grass roots kind of guy who long ago recognized the importance of working locally.

IBM's Juan C. Perez

IBM’s Juan C. Perez

Since June 2018, Perez has been a cloud security MSP business development leader with IBM MaaS360. IBM MaaS360 is an open cloud approach to unified endpoint management. It is powered by artificial intelligence and analytics, and integrates with the customer’s IT infrastructure. Prior to his current role, Perez was IBM MaaS360 digital sales leader for Latin America for more than three years.

It was during his time working in Mexico, Chile and Argentina, that he realized selling direct didn’t make sense. That’s because the relationship with local businesses suffered. Since that time, Perez’s work has focused on developing local relationships with clients. In his current job, Perez helps MSPs and MSSPs succeed. For his unique vision, the industry recognized him as a Top Gun 51 award winner.

We caught up with Perez to learn more about his role at IBM and the company’s channel community.

Channel Futures: You brought a fresh approach to IBM and the partner relationship. Tell us more about working closer to the community.

Juan Perez: While working in Latin America, I realized that a local relationship with business was essential to develop real connections with clients. Also, the need to develop local business was crystal clear. If we help local businesses, we’re going to grow.

IBM’s Juan Perez is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.

CF: So this realization about working closer to the community translated into working with the channel?

JP: My approach in Latin America, with the cloud security solutions of IBM, made me think about how we could work with the channel and how the local [partner] businesses could add value to IBM’s solutions. We started to do this, and management saw the results. More local businesses got engaged with the sales processes of IBM.

However, it wasn’t just about selling IBM offerings. It was a different approach. It was about developing the relationship with local partners and helping them understand that they can add value. This has been a differentiator for IBM and the partners.

CF: Was IBM on the radar of these partners before you stepped in? 

JP: I returned to the U.S. to focus on the North American market — the U.S. and Canada. My management team and the partner ecosystem were interested in my approach to business development and partnering.

I started working with local [partner] businesses, attending events and supporting events for MSPs and MSSPs. That’s how my role gained relevance. The success is not because of me; it’s because we are engaging the community of MSPs in small towns in North America, and bringing them into the IBM partner ecosystem.

Usually, when the channel relationship is built based on just pure business sales, profit and results, the community business [with partners] suffers. The channel and managed service provider business is usually family-owned and grows from there.

There are more than 1,000 partners who are experiencing this different type of relationship with IBM, and we’re expanding that to other solutions. Before this program, partners didn’t think that IBM was for them. They thought that IBM was just for large partners.

[There are about 160,000 partners, various size businesses, in the IBM PartnerWorld ecosystem.]

CP: What is the role of the cloud in enabling this growth of MSPs and MSSPs?

JP: The journey to cloud and cloud solutions changed the market. At the same time, cloud solutions changed the relationship with partners of all sizes. Segmentation [of partners] is important to provide the level of access and responsibility, and access to the market today.

CP: What is the future for local MSP partnering?

JP: It’s a work in progress. In the next five years we’ll see huge participation of small partners offering cloud solutions. Cloud solutions are key to developing local economies as well. If local partners jump into the cloud and cloud offerings, they will have a way to overcome this crisis that we’re currently in. But, at the same time, it’s a huge opportunity to reinvent digital providers, cloud providers and cybersecurity providers.

Going forward, for 2020-2025, we’ll see changes in the behavior of the consumer, the partner and the relationship of the partner ecosystem of IBM.

Aug 04

Sophos: WastedLocker Ransomware Among Most Dangerous Threats

By | Managed Services News

WastedLocker ransomware was used in the recent Garmin attack.

Businesses need both artificial and human intelligence to fight cybercriminals targeting organizations with evolving ransomware. That includes the newly emerging WastedLocker ransomware.

That’s according to new research by Sophos. WastedLocker ransomware makes it harder for behavior-based antiransomware software to keep track of what’s going on. It encrypts networks and demands millions of dollars in bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key.

Malicious hackers used WastedLocker ransomware in an attack on Garmin. They went after the GPS technology giant for $10 million.

Chet Wisniewski is Sophos‘ principal research scientist. He said about 90% of the incidents involving Sophos’ rapid response team are “one of these high-value ransom events.”

Sophos' Chet Wisniewski

Sophos’s Chet Wisniewski

The thing that teams are struggling to handle on their own are these events,” he said. “Part of that is the ability to quickly analyze the data that endpoint detection and response (EDR) products are gathering.”

How WastedLocker Works

With WastedLocker ransomware, the attacker gets a foothold in the door through phishing attacks or a VPN vulnerability, Wisniewski said. They then drop their tools, and in a few days start hunting for valuable things to look up or steal.

“We’re starting to be able to detect these attacks in that early stage where they may not have triggered any antivirus alerts or those kinds of things yet,” he said. “If we can catch it at that stage with effective threat hunting, we can then go and search across all of our customers’ EDR and see every one  that attacker may have a foothold with.”

The problem is, information sharing is a little slow. Because of that, it’s hard to take action until you’ve seen it yourself, Wisniewski said.

“And so one of the advantages that MSPs, MSSPs and organizations like us have is being able to see that across a large number of clients and have our staff very familiar with any one of those given attackers and know exactly what they’re looking for,” he said. “It takes a little longer for individual enterprises to figure out how Revil (ransomware) looks because if they’ve never been attacked by them they’ve got no experience.”

Strategic Delay

That delay between getting a foothold and initiating an attack is likely strategic, Wisniewski said. And it’s not like many organizations have the ability to spot them before an attack starts, he said.

Most of the time, most organizations are not actively threat hunting, so they can get away with staying dormant for a very long time without being caught,” he said. “They can get away with what their doing three-quarters of the time, so why change tactics? There are plenty of victims out there as far as the crooks are concerned.”

There are also varying motives for attackers out there, Wisniewski said. But there are indicators that suggest a number of these groups come in solely to do the ransoms.

“There’s some indication that they may be stealing intellectual property first, then saying,  ‘We may do some ransom on the way out and get some money out of these guys,’” he said.

Early Attack Indicators

Sophos has identified five clear indicators that attackers are lurking in networks and hiding under the radar to scan systems, install backdoors and steal information. Those include:

  • A network scanner, especially on a server.
  • Tools for disabling antivirus software.
  • The presence of MimiKatz.
  • Patterns of suspicious behavior.
  • Test attacks to see if the deployment method and ransomware executes successfully, or is stopped by security software.

“If you took these five things to heart, you’d have an incredibly high percentage chance of detecting that initial breach right away,” Wisniewski said. “Obviously most organizations put all of their effort into prevention, and not enough into detection and response. If you’ve got a human adversary, prevention is never going to be 100% effective. We really need to start pushing IT people toward understanding that they need to find more balance between protection, and detection and response.”

Dan Schiappa is Sophos’ chief product officer. He said the combination of AI and human intelligence is critical to make sure no stone is left unturned.

“Something may evade a protection technology but be seen by a threat hunter in the human capacity,” he said.

There’s also a “massively heightened” attack vector against critical infrastructure tied to remote working, Schiappa said.

“In a lot of cases, what they’re doing is getting into those devices and then knowing they have access to a bunch of resources from those launching ransomware attacks,” he said. “And so this combination of AI and human intelligence come together to really build the best response and protection against that.” 

Aug 04

Protect Your Customers’ Office 365 Data

By | Managed Services News

Microsoft Office 365 provides a wide array of powerful services within Office 365 — but a comprehensive backup of your Office 365 data is not one of them. This creates a tremendous opportunity to scale your business while generating net new revenue streams!

Sponsored By: 

Aug 04

Adapting to the ‘New Normal’: Focus on Value-Add

By | Managed Services News

MSPs must help customers reshape business for today’s realities and set priorities for maximum impact.

ConnectWise's Brad Schow

Adapting to the “new normal” is crucial for MSPs as COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty in markets, worldwide. MSPs are evaluating how to adapt and evolve their business models. Having weathered the day-to-day practicalities of the initial crisis, the focus now turns to preserving strength while growing the business.

Managed service providers should focus their efforts in four key areas. Doing this can help them stabilize the business and optimize their operations. They’ll also have the ability to gather resources to identify and maximize potential opportunities.

Understanding the financial health of the business is critical, and in doing so, will help the leadership team identify what needs to be accomplished in the coming months. Maintaining the strength of the balance sheet goes beyond calculating how factors such as customer churn or the potential prolongation of payment terms may affect revenue. It also depends on reshaping the business for today’s realities and prioritizing activities that generate maximum impact. Adapting to the new normal means doing things differently or rethinking how you’ve been doing them.

Get Going with Digital Transformation

For MSPs that failed to complete a digital transformation in recent years, the current pandemic has served as a major wake-up call. Enabling a remote workforce is the No. 1 priority for ensuring productivity in today’s climate.

Implementing the resources that a distributed workforce will need to connect, communicate and collaborate is the first order of action. After doing so, MSPs should equip themselves to offer the remote workforce solutions customers are looking for.

The current crisis has demonstrated the importance of having the right tools in place to maintain business continuity. If nothing else, the pandemic is driving companies of all sizes to expedite their digitalization plans and reconsider how their employees will work for the long term.

For MSPs, this presents an opportunity to have applications cloud-enabled and offer customers a digital transformation plan tailored to their exact business needs.

Cybersecurity Knowledge Is Crucial

Enterprise security and data governance are of utmost importance with the rapid shift to distributed working models. Prior to the pandemic, most MSPs were focused on the tools side of the security conversation. However, the post-coronavirus world of work has created an opportunity for MSPs to help customers establish education and policies for securing operations and maintaining compliance.
MSPs must become well-versed in cybersecurity to continue their role as a trusted adviser to clients. It’s particularly important to understand how the secure perimeter is dissolving and how cyber threats are increasing.

Cybersecurity isn’t just about technology alone — it also encompasses people and best-practice processes. With customer workforces gradually becoming more remote, and in many cases permanently remote, improving their security posture is ever more important. As endpoints increase, so do potential vulnerabilities and risks.

MSPs will need to adopt a holistic solution approach to help customers transcend these security challenges. The approach should focus on informing customers of the potential risks that need to be addressed as well as …