Content provided by our partner Tom Bull, Two River Computer ~
This may or may not be something you want to do. The question is do you NEED it? Let me first explain what it is.
Managed Services is the process of providing computer hardware and software (collectively known as IT) support to a company. Everything from managing the anti-virus software on your computer, your hosted website and email, not to mention the most popular use of this…replacing or augmenting your own in-house IT department.
Most businesses are in the business of doing what they do best…and it’s usually not IT support, unless they’re an IT company (duh). So instead of paying a staff to manage the internet, network/wifi, website, email, software questions and hardware problems, businesses will contract for Managed Services. Those companies are known as MSPs…Managed Service Providers. Many things are being outsourced these days. In fact, it’s been going on for decades. MSPs have been developing over the last decade, with a big growth spurt in just the past few years. Breakthroughs in technology, inexpensive online storage and super-fast internet have helped to make this a viable alternative for many businesses. Why pay a staff that needs sick and vacation days, not to mention benefits and other related things provided to an employee when you can outsource it? Signing on with an MSP can let your business do what they do best. Period.
Some micro-businesses (less than 10 people), like retirement specialists, wealth managers and other financial services providers often broker for a bigger firm and have security rules they need to abide by. Having an MSP handle the complex firewall needs, data encryption and protection can be a blessing for these “little guys” because the costs to bring that in-house can be overwhelming. Yet they need to be compliant with the brokers demands. Surprise audits by the broker reveal shortcomings that threaten their dealership.
Generic businesses have concerns beyond the simple management of their IT stuff. They too need to be concerned about exposing their clients’ data to the “bad guys”. That can be a big problem if you’re storing Social Security numbers, birth dates and credit card information. If that gets out, identity theft is sure to follow and your business will be liable for the damages. We always recommend that clients storing this type of data seek out a Cyber insurance policy. That’s not enough though because if you haven’t adequately protected your network and the data, the policy won’t pay if you get breached. And speaking of breached…
A breach is when bad guys get past your network security and start poking around your internal network and computers until they find some data. Often times they will then encrypt your data making it impossible to open and then try to sell you the key to unlock it. It’s a dirty, dirty business and is happening all over to small and large businesses alike. It’s called Ransomware and can cost thousands of dollars. If one of your employees clicks on a bad link in an email or social media post taking them to a poison website, that can start this nastiness. If your network typically allows for remote access by employees, you are particularly prone to an attack because the access exists, even if there’s username/password to get in. The bad guys are good at “brute force” attacks that can crack that info and get in. You need to treat your business like a medieval castle; you need a moat, a drawbridge, vats of hot oil, archers in the towers and my favorite…a dragon! Just a lock on your front door is not enough for these types of attacks.
An MSP can provide network protection, hardware support, handle software installations and questions and perhaps the most important thing is protecting you from yourself with managed anti-virus and web-filtering to make sure if you do click that bad link it will prevent any bad stuff from coming back in.
What about a home user…do they need an MSP? Maybe not to the extent a micro-business needs it, unless there’s a home-based business being run out of the house. Home users still may need or want robust network security as well as support when something goes wrong. The needs of the home user are a bit different, if not the same but on a smaller scale than a business. They still need a managed anti-virus, web-filter and a good firewall to be truly protected. Maybe just a moat and a drawbridge will do. But a dragon would be super-cool!
Home users are also worried about identity theft and password management (jeez, what a mess that has become for us all), not to mention internet access rules for the kids. Seeking out a company that can put a security blanket around your house (maybe decorated with dragons?) can be very comforting. With all the tech in our homes these days, the concept of a breach using those devices is becoming more and more possible.
So, do what you do best and let the MSP handle the rest. And don’t forget the dragon!
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