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Data Security Management: Best Practices for MSPs

As an MSP, you know customers are counting on you to keep their software up to date and their endpoints running smoothly. More importantly, they expect you to protect their data and assets. That’s why data security management is so important.

In this post, we’ll talk about common data security threats, best practices for managing them, and technology you can use to improve data security and overall MSP operations.

What is data security management? 

Data security management is the practices, policies, and technology that protect sensitive business data from unauthorized access. As part of data security management, MSPs may need to:

  • Ensure secure data backup to an offsite server
  • Automate patch management
  • Monitor and adjust user permissions
  • Identify outdated/unsupported customer devices
  • Use integrations to bolster security
  • Create rules — like multi-factor authentication — that force customers to secure their logins

Those are just some of the tasks that an MSP might handle for a client.

What are the main data security threats? 

There are several types of threats both internal and external that MSPs need to be aware of.


Malware — a portmanteau for “malicious software” — is commonly hidden in a link, email, or website that users click, triggering a malware download. Once installed on a device, malware can quickly spread throughout a network, disrupting or disabling critical business processes.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

DDoS attacks are what cybercriminals use to disrupt a server, service, device, or network. The attacks may target a variety of these points, ultimately creating a barrage of internet traffic that makes a website or server inaccessible.

Third-party vulnerability

A third party’s lax security can be a major threat for any business. For example, assume an MSP has a client that builds and maintains WordPress sites. The client hires an external contractor to post blog content to two websites, but the contractor is working in a coffee shop, using unsecured WiFi. Another person in the coffee shop intercepts the contractor’s login credentials and takes control of the two websites.

Poor access management

Companies that handle a lot of data tend to have protocols for monitoring and controlling user access. Without a process in place for that, users may have access to sensitive data that isn’t essential to their job function — or they may retain privileged access even after they’ve left the company.

Human error

Everyday mistakes are a common cause of data security breaches. Even something as simple as sending an invoice to the wrong client or accidentally downloading a client’s file to a personal device can compromise data security.

Natural disasters

Data security isn’t just about protecting data from unauthorized access; it’s also about ensuring no data is lost. A natural disaster — a flood or fire, for example — can destroy data that’s stored in a single on-premise location.

Unsupported software

Using outdated software that’s no longer supported by the provider presents a significant security risk. Without regular security fixes and patches, software is vulnerable to attack.

Unsecure hardware

Any device that’s connected to a network needs ongoing support to ensure security. To illustrate the importance of securing hardware, a security team from CyberNews hijacked nearly 28,000 printers in 2022 and forced them to print out a guide on printer security.
Weak password protocols

Cybercriminals who specialize in password-cracking often use automation to generate thousands of guesses for user passwords. And sometimes, the requirements businesses put in place for password security actually help password-crackers.

For example, if a business requires users to include a numeral, symbol, uppercase letter, and lowercase letter — and the password-cracker knows those parameters — they can eliminate irrelevant guesses and potentially crack the password faster.

What are the best practices for data security management?

Ensuring data security requires a mix of policy and technology. Let’s look at how top MSPs safeguard their customer data.

Antivirus software and intrusion detection

Malwarebytes, Webroot, and other antivirus solutions are the first line of defense against malware. This technology works around the clock to identify and immobilize threats and intrusions. Some MSP software can also detect when services and processes are running outside of normal business hours and define automatic responses for these situations.

Third-party agreement consulting

Because third-party threats are most likely to come from a client’s vendors and contractors, MSPs can offer some input on how clients can minimize risk by strengthening their contracts, but without offering legal advice. For example, clients could require vendors and contractors to agree not to use open WiFi networks when engaging with company data or systems.

Access and permissions configuration

With robust MSP software, admins can set access and permissions for technicians as a whole, or customize permissions by client. Admins can also use RMM tools to control access at the client level.

Setting guardrails

Many types of human error can be prevented with the right rules in place. For example, with automated billing, you never have to worry about sending the wrong invoice to a client. You can also prevent file downloads to personal devices.

Secure backup

To avoid losing data, MSPs can back it up across multiple secure servers offsite.

Automating patch management

MSPs can use software to identify when support will end for legacy systems and notify clients. For supported systems, MSPs can automate patch management to ensure software is secure.

SNMP monitoring

With SNMP monitoring, MSPs can detect when hardware goes offline. That includes servers, firewalls, and printers. Object identifiers (OIDs) help MSPs track individual hardware attributes across their entire portfolio.

Multi-factor authentication

MFA is the gold standard for password security. If an MSP platform detects a user password-reset request or login from an unrecognized device, it can immediately require the user to authenticate that activity through another means — like confirming a code sent to their smartphone.

The software that helps MSPs do more

Protecting client data is a big part of what MSPs do, but there’s a lot more to it than that. If you need a solution that enhances security, IT ticketing, RMM, and PSA management, Syncro is the answer.

Syncro’s 50+ integrations enable MSPs to manage every aspect of their business from a single interface. That means greater efficiency, better insights, and robust reporting capabilities that demonstrate ROI for clients and identify opportunities for improvement. Try Syncro for free — no credit card required — and see why it’s the scalable solution MSPs need in 2024 and beyond.

Jillian Ho-Lung

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