Zero Trust for MSPs: What to Know


As a managed service provider, it’s possible that organizations are increasingly turning to you as a strategic outsourcing partner for the delivery of IT services.

Managed service providers are contracted to deliver IT services, including not only infrastructure, network, and application management but also security management in many cases. You take on the full responsibility for the services and determine what’s required to meet your clients’ needs.

You’re the go-to for your clients when it comes to everything related to IT. You have to deliver the resources and also the security they need to operate their businesses. To deliver on what they need, it’s increasingly important to implement Zero Trust.

This security concept is what’s going to allow you to go above and beyond for your client’s safety and security needs.

With that in mind, the following are some of the core things to know about Zero Trust, why MSPs need to use it, and how it benefits your clients.

What is Zero Trust?

You may have a general overview of what Zero Trust is, but you might not know the details.

Essentially, in this security framework, any user, no matter whether they’re inside or outside of the network, has to be authenticated and authorized. All users also have to be continuously validated to get or keep access to data and applications.

In a Zero Trust framework, there’s no network edge in the traditional sense.

A network can be in the cloud, local, or it can be hybrid. It’s easy to see how, in the current remote work environment, this becomes beneficial.

A Zero Trust framework is a means to secure data and infrastructure within the context of the current digital transformation.

Some of the most pressing challenges in the modern work environment are addressed through Zero Trust, including how to secure remote workers and hybrid cloud environments. Zero Trust can also help your clients defensively and proactively address the growing ransomware threat.

This framework is a major departure from traditional network security. In traditional security, the trust but verify method takes precedence. Under this concept, there are automatically trusted users and endpoints as long as they’re within the perimeter of the organization.

Unfortunately, this traditional approach doesn’t take into account the growing concern of compromised credentials and bad internal actors.

Between the move to the cloud and also the changes in the work environment accelerated by the pandemic, the traditional perimeter-based security model is essentially obsolete.

The perimeter model is also known as a castle-and-moat approach. Cybersecurity experts point out the fact that some of the most significant and damaging breaches have happened because hackers could gain access inside firewalls and then move internally without facing resistance.

The castle doesn’t exist in isolation as it once did, and IT departments or managed service providers have to realize this.

How Zero Trust Works

Zero Trust architecture means an organization is continuously monitoring and validating that both a user and the device they’re on has the proper attributes and privileges.

The organization, for this to function as it should, has to know all their privileged and service accounts and must have established controls in place.

Complete visibility is needed for the continuous monitoring required in the implementation of Zero Trust.

Zero Trust is not a product. It’s a way to approach security. It’s a framework, as we described above.

As a framework, the concept is built on the idea that employees need the lowest amount of access possible to do their jobs and nothing more.

Devices are trusted only once they meet all requirements, and they’re never trusted by default.

There are three core components of this framework. These components are the principle of least privilege, secure authentication, and authentication of each log-in attempt rather than just at the start of a session. Secure authentication uses methods like password-less authentication and multi-factor authentication.

Why Should You Implement Zero Trust for Your Clients?

As a managed service provider, you need to be able to sell your clients on Zero Trust, so you have to gain a deep understanding of what it is and what it isn’t.

This also means you’re going to need to be able to effectively convey the benefits and pressing need for Zero Trust.

Benefits include:

  • Of course, the key benefit of Zero Trust is increased security. No business can afford to take this lightly in an era driven by cloud-based environments. Cyberattacks, just since the start of the pandemic, have gone up 81%. Verizon reports the average cost of an incident is nearly $21,700, and of the breaches that occur, more than 60% are because of compromised login credentials.
  • Zero Trust can be used in both on-premises and remote environments.
  • A Zero Trust framework doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice productivity or the user experience. In fact, the very opposite is typically true. With things like password-less authentication, your clients can improve the user experience. There’s less frustration and friction along the way for employees, and your team will get fewer help desk tickets so you can focus on the bigger picture and more strategic thinking.
  • It’s inevitable that if your clients aren’t already primarily or solely cloud-based, within the next few years, they will be. Zero Trust is a preparation for this.

Along with the benefits for your clients, there are benefits for you as an MSP as well.

First, you’re going to position yourself as an advisor that your clients can trust and rely on because you’re leading the way in terms of modern security. When your clients trust you, it’s going to help you build and grow your business.

You likely also faced significant challenges during the pandemic, as all of your customers went remote at the same time. You had to make transitions in your own business and support the transition of your clients.

By adopting Zero Trust, it’s going to make your job more efficient, giving you streamlined, centralized oversight for all IT accounts.

Zero Trust isn’t a service or product, instead, it’s a new way to approach cybersecurity, and now’s an important time to think about how you can include it in your own business and the businesses of your clients.


Leave a comment