On the 13th and 14th November, Stonegate attended the Empower MSP London conference, hosted by Solarwinds. As clients of theirs, we were keen to learn about product developments but also understand how they might be responding to technological advances and current issues such as security and GDPR.
The event kicked off with an informative introduction about Solarwinds. We learnt that users on average use around 3.5 devices each and using these devices to connect to servers on-premise or in the cloud
Artificial intelligence and machine learning were the main focus of the morning and Solarwinds explained how this would be driving more sophisticated developments with automation surrounding their products.
They also talked a lot about security. This is a really topical issue following recent cyber security breaches and ransomware attacks such as NotPetya and WannaCry. Businesses should be looking at what risks they are currently taking with security, rather than looking at how secure they.
Alarming security stats show that 87% of SMBs are confident about their IT security. 59% of those believe they are less vulnerable. Yet 71% have experienced a security breach. Complacency is a growing trend.
Now is definitely the time to reassess security needs and this is really driving the Service business going from MSP (Managed Service Provider) to MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider).
Technology and Humanity
We have attended a fair number of conferences about transhumanism over the last few months, but this particular talk; Technology and Humanity: The future of the Opportunities and Challenges by Gerd Leonard, was outstanding.
Gerd Leonard is a futurist, humanist, author and global speaker. His focus is on the digital transformation of society and business. His keynote covered technological progress and finding a balance between technology and humanity to ensure we do not make the work of humans obsolete.
Here is a YouTube video of a similar talk he gave on digital transformation.
Gerd discussed the future needs in Business and Employment, specifically industries and skills that could not be taken over by robots and bots. Careers in creative thinking and those involving emotional intelligence would be untouchable by AI. Food for thought was a warning to encourage our children to learn skills that were not repetitive.
On the flip side, we were presented with examples of some of the world’s most impressive technologies as demonstrated below:
With the rise of electric and self-driving cars, the future of car sales is changing. Not only is the driving experience smarter, what we are selling is different. With increased accessibility, we are beginning to sell mobility rather than cars. Rarely do we buy a car outright now. We rent experiences. We are heading towards an automotive version of Spotify.
Audi recently trailed a Car subscription service in Berlin in 2014. Cadillac have announced Book, a $1500 per month subscription for cars ‘on-demand’. This has initially been launched in New York, LA and Dallas.
BOTs are becoming more and more sophisticated and there is a literally a bot being developed for just about everything.
A new BOT called Do Not Pay is a virtual lawyer that automatically fights things like parking tickets, with a list of responses based on your experience.
Never in our wildest dreams did we expect a robot to be given citizenship but that’s exactly what has happened in Saudi Arabia. Developed by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong, Sophia the humanoid robot has been designed to respond to questions, and is even fighting women’s rights. In October 2017, the robot became the first robot to receive citizenship of any country.
During the early afternoon there was a panel question and answer session with 4 leading Global MSPs.
Key points they discussed were customer retention, working with other partners, security, marketing, employee development and communication.
10 Steps to Proactive Security
Towards the end of the afternoon we attended a conference on proactive security, delivered by Tim Brown, Solarwinds’ VP of Security. Here are the 10 points he presented for MSPs considering client security:
- Change the conversation from security to risk
- Understand the customers environment and help define their crown jewels
- Not necessarily what the customer thinks are crown jewels but what the bad guys want to get and make money from, or get access to, to other things. The vulnerabilities. OR what would cause the company harm.
- Cyber hygiene – utilise managed AV, vulnerabilities, backups (inc. restoration), SPAM, reduce the attack aperture, incident response and remediation plans.
- Secure the environment at different levels
- Use security as a differentiator for you and your customer
- Use regulations to drive security maturity
- Develop Security Knowledge
- Help build a culture of security
- Position security as a proactive entry point and engagement point
- The bad guys have a community; we need a community too. Work together
There is a lot of discussion around GDPR at the moment what with the date for GDPR compliance fast approaching. MSPs naturally have secure procedures surrounding data storage, however it’s always interesting to hear discussions on this topic and receive updates and training.
This keynote was delivered by Ardi Kolah from Henley Business School and covered the considerations that MSPs should already be aware of and practicing. These included:
Level of risk
Knowing where data is stored and where (if at all) any weaknesses lie in the security of this data.
A matter of ethics
This is not a check box based exercise where businesses tick off things to be compliant. This is an ethical way of storing, managing and processing data.
If a policy does not exist for data processing or destroying, it must be created.
Links to ISO
There is an ISO being linked to GDPR (ISO27000-Security) which all MSPs should be aware of. It won’t make a company GDPR compliant, but will go towards understand and complying with best proactive security measures.
The Last Word
To summarise, the event was really useful for Stonegate IT. As server migration and server support specialists, it was great to see some brilliant developments to the Solarwinds’ MSP products we use, such as RMM and MSP Manager, as well as understand evolving technology to increase security and improve customer service for our clients.