Ask Intronis: Why should my MSP manage firewalls for SMBs?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Jul 11, 2016 7:00:00 AM

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Q: With all the threats of hackers and ransomware, I’m thinking of adding security to my MSP offerings. While I always suggest that my SMBs protect themselves with firewalls, many just have basic anti-virus programs. Right now, I don’t manage any of these programs for my clients, but I know an opportunity is there. Will managing firewalls for my SMBs be worth my time?

First and foremost, congratulations on looking to grow your business.  While managing SMB’s data is a valuable service, firewalls add the next level protection for your clients and can help you make sure their data is fully protected. Data breaches can be costly and can even cause some businesses to go bankrupt, so it’s essential for MSPs to step in and protect their customers as much as possible.

To help you understand firewalls more in depth, we consulted one of our Systems Engineers, Cameron Cerasuolo. Cam is our in-house firewall expert and insists that all SMBs should have firewalls. Here are his top three reasons why MSPs should handle firewalls for their SMB customers.

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Firewalls are your first line of defense—threats are everywhere. To counter these attacks, firewalls have become a necessary part of protecting SMBs, and as an MSP you want to provide this service to your customer because:

  1. You understand IT. As an MSP, you’re familiar with business IT and understand security, and most SMBs don’t. If they’ve already come to you to manage other IT services for them, they probably have limited knowledge about firewalls to begin with.

Firewalls can be complex in nature, and for someone with little to no IT knowledge it can be daunting and overwhelming. A lot of factors go into managing them, such as  what permissions to set for users, how to protect against certain threats, and how to filter inbound and outbound traffic.

The makes and models can add to the difficulty of setting up a firewall, but depending on what type of firewall you use, management tools can simplify the process for you as an MSP.

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  1. You can guarantee that the SMB’s network is safer. By setting up and managing an SMB’s firewall, you’ll know that the network is significantly safer. You can ensure that inbound and outbound traffic are flowing correctly and make sure it is detecting threats correctly. If they do it themselves, all bets are off. Plus, if something happens to go wrong, it’s easier for you to look into the system and find out what happened than to walk into the SMB and figure out how they set things up and what they might have missed.

You can also keep an eye on what employees are doing on the network. This can help you spot suspicious activity or detect where a threat was enabled. Partnering with your SMBs, you can dictate where employees can—and can’t go. Putting restrictions on what sites employees can visit can help SMBs manage liability and track user’s usage. This also can protect SMBs from hackers and internal threats, whether or not they are known.

  1. Monitoring and deploying the firewall are all billable hours. If an SMB initiates and manages its own firewall, that’s money out of your pocket as an MSP. Setting up and monitoring firewalls are all billable hours, and it’s a service you can easily add to monthly billing plans—and that means more recurring revenue.

Following Cameron’s advice and offering firewalls to your SMBs will help you further protect their data and shield them from malicious threats. If you can stop the threats before they happen, both you and your customers’ lives will be easier. Plus, you’ll be creating more opportunities for recurring revenue, and that’s good for business, too.

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Ask Intronis is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between. Submit your questions by emailing AskIntronis@intronis.com. 

 Photo Credit: Doc Searls via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons 2.0

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