Last week, I had the privilege of attending ConnectWise’s IT Nation Secure conference. The three-day conference focused on managed service providers (MSPs) – specifically, how those MSPs can better secure and protect small businesses and midmarket companies. If you haven’t attended this conference in the past but have attended others, I highly recommend attending the ConnectWise IT Nation Secure conference due to the unique perspective they provide for the cybersecurity industry.
While it’s important to highlight the work larger vendors are doing to protect enterprises, businesses over 500 employees only account for fewer than 1% of businesses in the United States and only account for 11.1% of the total workforce. The remaining 99% of businesses account for 33.2 million small businesses with an average of seven employees, and in 2021 these small businesses generated $6.1 trillion in revenue. Small businesses still require IT and cybersecurity services, but typically can’t afford to hire an entire team of professionals to manage and protect their networks and computer systems. Even more challenging is the ongoing cybersecurity workforce shortage, which means that even if they can afford to hire a team, there will be significant challenges in finding the appropriate experienced talent. Finding the talent becomes even more difficult since small businesses are more likely to be located in rural areas than in urban areas. This often results in owners, administrative assistants, or even other non-technical roles taking on the responsibility of managing the organization’s IT assets in addition to their normal duties. This not only results in reduced income, but also forces the organization into a continuously reactive posture, constantly responding to IT and security issues in emergency situations and deferring much-needed proactive measures that should typically be performed. Unfortunately, small businesses are also more likely to become victims of cyber attacks. Their employees are not typically well-trained in cybersecurity best practices and are more likely to use outdated software and hardware due to the costs of upgrading and replacing end-of-life assets. With so many small businesses, limited resources, and lack of available cybersecurity talent, is it any wonder small businesses are more likely to become victims of cyber attacks?
Enter MSPs to help solve these staffing challenges. By hiring an MSP to manage the IT assets and cybersecurity posture of small and medium-sized businesses, employees can focus on revenue generation while the MSP focuses on proactively managing the network and devices, preventing most problems before they occur. The MSPs work together to build a full ecosystem of products and services to fully manage and protect small and medium businesses from growing cyber threats. With sessions such as security awareness, zero trust, vulnerability management, ransomware, and even protecting against supply chain attacks, this conference provided an excellent opportunity for MSPs to help build the security skills needed to protect small and medium businesses.
What was really interesting about the IT Nation Secure conference was the slightly different atmosphere at the conference. While other conferences talk about the need for the cybersecurity industry to work together to protect businesses, this often falls short on the expo floor, with every solution vendor competing for leads in a very crowded market. However, at IT Nation Secure, a true sense of community and working together seemed present on the expo floor, with many vendors recommending to me that they visit other complimentary technology booths. While the mission is the same (to protect businesses from cyber attacks), the focus and direction of this mission seems just a little different, a little more unified. In the process, we have a segment of the cybersecurity industry working to solve the workforce shortage by allowing businesses to do more with less.
We hope the rest of the cybersecurity industry will take note and follow suit.
 Small Business Administration, SBA.gov