MSPs At Increased Risk For Cyberattacks

It’s no secret that cyberattacks are on the rise. Data shows that 31% of organizations have experienced cyberattacks on operational infrastructure—and that number is assumed to be higher since many incidents go unreported.

Now add in the fact that cyberthreats related to the coronavirus shot up 600% from February to March, with remote workers a prime target for online criminals. In fact, Stephen McBride, chief analyst at RiskHedge, has predicted that the global pandemic has paved the way for a massive cyberattack.

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And new research is showing that it’s not just big corporations and governments that need to be worried. According to Wes Spencer, a nationally recognized technology innovator and cybersecurity expert, criminals have made managed service providers (MSPs) a big target of their attacks—and that spells trouble for small and midsize businesses.

While MSPs have come under attack in the past, the average ransom payout was less than $10,000 in 2018. Just one year later, that number jumped to an average of $754,723 when an MSP and all of its clients were ransomed.

“They certainly hit some MSPs in 2018, but the ransoms were relatively small,” explained Chris Loehr, Executive Vice President of Solis Security, an incident response firm. “In 2019, MSPs became more of a target, with increasing ransom demands and the threat actors leveraging MSP tools with greater efficiency to affect clients.”

In 2018, the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent out warnings to MSPs and their technology platform providers about these types of attacks. But that hasn’t deterred cyber criminals, who in 2020 have used such common methods as phishing, misconfigurations, and attacks against MSP vulnerabilities, including RMM (remote monitoring and management) software, which Loehr called “the most dangerous program in the world” that can “literally destroy small businesses in a heartbeat.”

As a result, thousands of MSPs have activated two-factor authentication as a means to stop hackers from entering systems. And according to Loehr, when it comes to selecting an MSP, SMBs need to focus less on price or word-of-mouth references, and more on researching whether an MSP is following best practices around items like third-party assessments.