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Reactive vs. Proactive Cybersecurity

By SolarWinds Passportal

For managed services providers (MSPs), today’s cyber climate calls for constant vigilance to avoid the ever-present threat of a cyberattack. Cyberthreats are climbing every year, with some “estimates indicating there might be “as many as 300,000 new types of malware identified every day.” Smaller businesses are generally in even more danger of cyberattack than larger enterprises. In 2018, 67% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) experienced a cyberattack. Those attacks forced 60% of the affected SMBs to close within six months.

Clearly, the repercussions of a cyberattack can be devastating. That’s why it’s critical that businesses—no matter their size—invest sufficient resources into their cybersecurity efforts. But it’s not enough to simply throw money at a cybersecurity program—the most effective programs require intelligent investment. Specifically, that means focusing on a proactive cybersecurity strategy instead of a reactive one.

The difference between reactive and proactive cybersecurity

The difference between proactive and reactive cybersecurity is essentially the difference between responding to a problem in the early stages versus reacting to it once the damage has already been done. With a reactive strategy, you spring into action only after a data breach occurs, leaving your team to focus on clean-up and damage control. With a proactive strategy, the goal is to anticipate the possibility of a data breach before it ever happens. For example, to prevent the likelihood of a successful cyberattack, your MSP might regularly monitor user activity to identify any abnormal behavior that might indicate an attempted breach. While a proactive strategy might seem tedious when there are no bad actors in sight, it can go a long way in minimizing potential damage.

The reality is that reactive cybersecurity can leave businesses very vulnerable to data breaches. Analyzing historical logs from a static environment is no longer enough to prevent attacks. To help stop a cyberattack in its tracks, you need to proactively analyze your security-related logs through constant threat monitoring and detection.

Are you following reactive cybersecurity practices?

Most organizations use reactive cybersecurity strategy, perhaps without even realizing they’re doing so. A reactive model relies almost entirely on you preemptively shoring up defenses—hopefully before cybercriminals can target and exploit a new vulnerability. If that fails, it then depends on your response to an alarm indicating the network has been breached.

This leaves you open to much greater damage from an attack than a proactive approach, given that once an attack gets past your defenses it’s already too late. In order to keep customers fully protected, MSPs should strongly consider taking a “proactive approach to security”.

How to approach proactive cybersecurity

Proactive cybersecurity doesn’t mean removing the reactive measures you already have in place, but rather enhancing them through additional measures and tools. Essentially, it involves constant threat monitoring for any suspicious activity that may indicate a vulnerability or an attack unfolding within your network.

As an MSP, you should work with your customer to make sure you’re offering them the right proactive cybersecurity strategy for their specific IT environment and needs. The first step of developing your strategy is to review what types of attacks are most common in your customer’s industry. Then, take steps to understand all the possible entry points into the system, as well as the specific location within the network that any vulnerabilities lie. This includes understanding all the endpoints on your network and what data these endpoints have access to. From there, you can begin designing a customized proactive security strategy.

Some of the key elements to include in your strategy include frontline defenses such as hardware firewalls, as well as routine checkups for any new software licenses, updates, or patches. These routine checkups represent the low-hanging fruit in your security program, as these updates are easy ways to instantly patch up any known vulnerabilities that leave the network exposed. It’s also important to include protocols that require following password best practices so as to reduce the likelihood of your accounts being hacked. In terms of the human element, you should also include regular cybersecurity training for your customers’ employees.

Of course, proactive cybersecurity is only helpful if you can act as soon as any issues are detected. To help ensure that your MSP is prepared for quick response, it’s essential that all records of customer information and historical data are easily accessible for your technicians to act on. Having quality password and “documentation management serviceswill help ensure that your MSP has the relevant information at hand when it counts.

Why MSPs should offer proactive cybersecurity

Most SMBs now appreciate how devastating the consequences of a cyberattack can be, but few have the resources to engage in proper proactive cybersecurity. As a result, many have begun looking to their MSPs to provide the high-quality cybersecurity services they need.

To be as helpful as possible to your customers, it’s important that you offer them proactive cybersecurity services. Not only does that mean being able to monitor for threats, it also means being able to respond at a moment’s notice whenever a security concern arises. To do that, you need a tool that helps you be proactive about passwords. SolarWinds® Passportal is ready to help tackle any security concern that might arise with its encrypted password and documentation services.

Additional Resources


SolarWinds® adds Passportal suite to its MSP product portfolio. MSP security, simplified. SolarWinds® Passportal + Documentation Manager is a SOC 2 certified, RAPID 7 tested, award winning platform.

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