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Navigate the compliance maze to unlock MSP business growth

Navigate the compliance maze to unlock MSP business growth

The cybersecurity compliance landscape continues to transform significantly as regulations get tighter and enforcement gets stricter. While businesses (and to be fair, MSPs) try to keep up, the MSP opportunity to win new business with compliance expertise and strategy is greater than ever. By understanding the current changes to key mandates and  tailoring their offerings to meet those evolving requirements, MSPs can not only differentiate themselves from competitors but also unlock significant new business opportunities.

Here’s what MSPs should be thinking about when it comes to cybersecurity compliance.

The challenge of commoditization and the power of compliance expertise

Many MSPs are faced with this challenge, demonstrating value. Clients see their services as a commodity, and often prioritize the costs over an alternative provider with more chops. However, the rising complexity of cybersecurity compliance regulations is shifting this paradigm.

Businesses now recognize the inadequacy of more basic security measures to mitigate cyberthreats. This creates a crucial window for MSPs to demonstrate their value as trusted advisors with:

  1. Knowledge to the ins and outs of complex cybersecurity mandates
  2. A comprehensive suite of services that address these ever-increasing compliance demands

Potential clients increasingly face significant risks with non-compliance. They receive supply chain questionnaires they’re supposed to fill out, they are sent requirements from their cyber insurers, etc., all of which is taxing, and often confusing.

Business leaders who are concerned after being told they’re now regulated (or that their lax cybersecurity is a barrier to securing cyber insurance and exposes them to hefty financial penalties, reputational damage, and potential operational disruptions) will be eager to partner with knowledgeable cybersecurity MSPs. MSPs can further emphasize their value by demonstrating calm and preparedness. They can also highlight real-world examples of data breaches (including those affecting smaller firms which many do, though they don’t make headlines) and how the right practices protect their clients from a similar fate.

Several key compliance developments hold immense potential for MSPs in 2024. Let’s take a quick look at three of them and what they mean for MSPs.

FTC Safeguards Rule: A booming market for robust cybersecurity services

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Safeguards Rule, implemented in 2023, mandates stricter cybersecurity standards for businesses handling financial data. Millions of organizations now require comprehensive information security programs to comply. This translates to a pool of potential new clients for MSPs who can have services that implement these vital security measures. The consequences of non-compliance are substantial, with potential fines reaching six figures per violation. Regulatory enforcement also continues to be more aggressive.

Understanding these financial and legal risks allows MSPs to tailor their communication and go-to-market strategies by emphasizing their expertise in navigating the complexities of the FTC Safeguards Rule. Fortunately for MSPs, FTC Safeguards acumen is relatively straightforward to develop; it largely requires familiar tools that should be in any cybersecurity-conscious MSP’s wheelhouse.

HIPAA’s evolution: A shift that favors MSP partnerships

HIPAA has become increasingly complex for smaller healthcare providers to manage effectively on their own. Recognizing this challenge, the government’s recent 405(d) Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices (HICP) guidelines encourage healthcare entities to partner with qualified, cybersecurity minded MSPs. This is a clear signal that MSPs with expertise in delivering HIPAA compliance can leverage this growing opportunity to expand their client base within the healthcare sector.

Furthermore, the H.R. 7898 bill streamlines HIPAA compliance by aligning its practices with modern cybersecurity frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and ISO 27001. This standardization empowers MSPs to implement a wider range of strategies while ensuring the protection of client data remains and HIPAA compliance continues. Developing a deep understanding of these frameworks and their alignment with HIPAA enables MSPs to demonstrate a more comprehensive and future-oriented approach to healthcare data security for clients.

The enforcement landscape around HIPAA is also evolving rapidly. Businesses and MSPs unaware of the trend will continue to be caught off-guard. Fines have been adjusted to reflect a more realistic financial burden on businesses. However, the frequency of enforcement actions is increasing. Businesses now face significant fines of $35,000-$50,000 per violation. Ultimately this underscores the importance of data security solutions that ensure checks aren’t going to be written to HIPAA regulators. By positioning themselves as a safeguard against these substantial (and now much more commonly assessed) penalties, MSPs can attract more healthcare providers seeking end-to-end data security practices.

CMMC 2.0: Preparing for the future of defense contractor cybersecurity

More businesses than ever are competing for lucrative contracts with Department of Defense (DoD) contractors and subcontractors. Compliance with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework is crucial to qualify.

CMMC involves an assessment and certification process that verifies a business’s cybersecurity posture aligns with NIST 800-171 controls and additional requirements. With CMMC 2.0 set for release next year, details are still being finalized. Forward-thinking MSPs should leverage this transitional period. They can build up their expertise in guiding clients through the current CMMC certification process while staying current on anticipated changes in CMMC 2.0. By demonstrating their understanding of evolving CMMC requirements, MSPs can become trusted advisors for businesses seeking to secure DoD contracts.

A busy moment for cybersecurity compliance—and opportunity

An important note: MSPs shouldn’t be intimidated by the idea of learning the ins and outs of multiple regulations. While you need to be the expert, requirements in each of these areas are quite similar. MSPs don’t need to start from scratch with each. You can often take security controls that serve one compliance framework and map them across the board. MSPs that capitalize on the opportunities presented by new and evolving compliance regulations can not only solidify their position in the market but better foster long-term client relationships.

Photo: 3rdtimeluckystudio / Shutterstock

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