Why Security Companies Can Entrust Their Clients’ Cyber Defense With Managed Service Providers

Why Security Companies Can Entrust Their Clients’ Cyber Defense With Managed Service Providers

With cybersecurity issues and concerns rising among commercial security clientele, it behooves physical security integrators to align themselves with IT MSPs to create a two-way street of opportunity.

By Kevin Blake

In today’s complex security landscape, commercial electronic security can include many different components: access control, video surveillance, identification systems, intrusion detection, real-time monitoring and more. These pieces of the security puzzle have become standard for physical security companies, but recently information security and cybersecurity have become larger concerns among commercial clientele than ever before.

Though the importance of cybersecurity has been discussed for some time, increasing conversation around high profile corporate security intrusions has led to cybersecurity being on the top of mind for nearly every corporate client. In just the past few years, massive intrusions into the systems of Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Adobe and others have led to millions of customers’ personal and financial information being released, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. These high profile cases, combined with an increased climate of security discussion — recently marked by discussions between Apple and the federal government — have made it clear that no company, big or small, is immune to the realities of cyber breaches.

This increase of discussion around cyberattacks and security also comes at a time when technology is reaching new levels of integration into businesses and homes. Now more than ever, computer systems are reaching into the physical world through the Internet of Things (IoT) — blurring the lines between the virtual and the physical. In a new world where a door lock can be opened by a smartphone via Bluetooth, which could be compromised via software intrusion, physical security and cybersecurity are becoming indistinguishable. As technology becomes even more central to business operations and everyday life, this climate will only increase, making cybersecurity an increasingly large concern in the minds of corporate customers.

When companies begin to look at addressing potential cybersecurity issues, they will likely turn first to their physical security firms. Generally, corporate security clients do not distinguish between service providers of physical and information security. To the client, both fields serve the same purpose: to protect the integrity of their business. Because of this, one of the biggest hurdles today for physical security companies is adapting to the ever-changing technology and cybersecurity landscape, and the expectation of services that are far outside of the ordinary security space.

Getting Serious About Cybersecurity
For traditional physical security companies, not having the ability to service cybersecurity concerns can negatively impact their business in multiple ways. Not only can it lead to lost potential revenue, but a lack of expertise in an ever-growing security specialty can trigger red flags in the minds of the customer — leading to lost clients and long-term reputation issues. Today, it has become essential for all physical security firms to have the ability to service cyber and information security concerns.

While this shift may seem daunting, many physical security integrators have found a way to more easily gain the skills and necessary personnel, without taking on a large, in-house risk. These forward-thinking security firms are entering into mutually beneficial partnerships with IT managed service providers (MSPs) to accomplish this goal.

MSPs are generalized IT companies that act as outsourced managers of their customer’s IT infrastructure. This management usually happens through proactive monitoring and maintenance, in addition to IT upgrades and coordinated, long-term projects. By engaging in a service agreement with clients, MSPs are able to identify and troubleshoot technology issues on an ongoing basis, often implementing new tools and features to benefit their clients.

MSPs are often hired by corporate clients that prefer a hands-off approach to their technology infrastructure. They can provide a number of services, from telecommunications and telephony to computer support and cloud services — including cybersecurity. Their general service agreements often extend to physical security such as access control and camera systems, but this is not the core service offering of an MSP. By partnering with MSPs, physical security integrators are often able to provide these security-based services for the MSP, while allowing the MSP to provide the cybersecurity needs of their current customers. As the lines between the physical and virtual world blend, these types of firms must work more closely together to produce the best outcomes. By proactively forming this type of partnership, issues can be preempted, and a mutually beneficial relationship can be formed.

Not only can firms contact each other for specific projects, but an ongoing relationship can significantly benefit the mission of comprehensive security. Through their everyday work, MSPs have ongoing access to technology monitoring generally used for ensuring the function of equipment and processes — but this monitoring capability can be leveraged to manage the security of their clients’ facilities and technology as well. Often, this will allow for MSPs to introduce security products as preventative measures, bringing security integrators into the loop. While consistent ongoing monitoring of IT is standard for many corporations, the need to expand this technology-based monitoring to security systems is clear. By leveraging the constant data-driven intelligent solutions that MSPs are currently using for other purposes, physical security can be enhanced, providing a better end product for the customers of both partners’ core businesses.

Maximizing MSP Benefits
While at the most basic level, an alignment with an MSP can provide an exchange of clients or services, there are other intangible benefits to these types of partnerships. Over the long term, these partnerships can provide important credibility, showing potential clients that cybersecurity is a field in which a firm is comfortable in. Through these partnerships, physical security companies are able to gain expertise and provide complete cybersecurity solutions without increasing in-house employees or overhead expenses. This ultimately can turn what could be seen by a potential client as a weakness into a strength and competitive advantage.

Likewise, these types of partnerships greatly benefit MSPs in a number of ways. MSPs generally do not have a security background, staff or expertise, so a partnership with a dedicated security firm provides greatly needed benefits to their clients and customers. Having physical security expertise provides important legitimacy to the safety and security of their IT infrastructure, creating a win-win relationship between the MSP and the security firm.

In these relationships, partners can be brought in and white-labeled, or an active partnership can be created. This can fluctuate on the brand, partner size and even change on a per-client basis. But often corporate clients express a positive sentiment toward vendors that actively cooperate with other firms to provide complementary services. This willing expansion of services shows that a corporate client can trust the firm to provide the best service for them — even through outsourcing to meet a specific need.

Future-Proofing Your Business
In recent months, the number of partnerships between managed service providers and security companies to deliver much-needed security components to their clients has risen. After years of requests from customers in the access control and video security fields, MSPs have begun partnerships to meet these needs. In return, MSPs have been able to increase the cybersecurity offerings of these partners, ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship and a much higher quality end product for their customers.

In today’s shifting landscape of technology integration into every aspect of life, physical security companies will continue to be faced with requests and demands for cybersecurity expertise. While building an in-house team may not always be feasible or desirable, partnering with IT MSPs can provide a mutually beneficial method of meeting these ever-expanding needs.

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