One of the best ways for managed service providers (MSPs) to expand their client base is by reaching out to new industries. This produces a large pool of potential new clients and can build an MSP’s reputation, customer trust, and brand recognition.
With any venture into new industries, MSPs need to be certain that they comply with the regulations and legal requirements specific to that sector. This not only ensures that an MSP operates within the boundaries of the law when managing and archiving often-sensitive data over cloud-based file sharing, but helps the MSP to gain additional expertise that will make its services indispensible to new clients.
Businesses are struggling to protect data. As much as 20 percent of the files shared insecurely over the cloud contain personal information that should be made public according to compliance laws. This is a prime opportunity for MSPs to build their client base by reaching out to businesses that handle private information, providing them with a secure data management system.
How do MSPs remain compliant with the varying regulations of different industries? Through research, documentation, and time. Here are some tips to help you out:
Know and apply the common-sense guidelines of data security
These guidelines are abbreviated from the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), but apply to the protection of all types of sensitive data:
- Analyze all systems and processes for potential vulnerabilities.
- Repair any vulnerabilities with the potential to leak data.
- Compile records of any repairs and maintain compliance reports.
Research legislation related to any industry you will pursue
Until recently, compliance and data security were left up to the client, not the MSP. Recent legislation has called on MSPs to keep data stored within the cloud safe and secure by complying with industry standards. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), and the PCI DSS require that MSPs follow industry guidelines for the health insurance, financial, and credit card industries regarding data security. Before seeking out clients in new industries, determine whether the responsibility for data security rests solely with the client or also with the MSP.
Create the position of security professional
Every MSP should employ a staff member dedicated exclusively to matching the MSP’s security standards with those of the industries they serve, while also answering client concerns or questions about how the protection of their data. Train qualified hires thoroughly to ensure that no time is wasted when regulations inevitably change and new clients request audits. A supportive and knowledgeable security professional will help to cement trusting and amiable relationships with new clients.
Regularly test and maintain secure networks
A security breach can occur at any time. It’s not enough to build a secure network and leave it to collect and store data for the next few years. Security systems must be continually tested to ensure that personal information is protected against potential threats.
Be prepared for an audit on standards compliance
With a dedicated security professional on staff, an audit should be quick and easy. MSPs must be able to produce documentation of compliance to regulation requirements on-demand. Keep contracts, service level agreement language, and all communications backed up and easily accessible.
Becoming compliant with industry regulations is not just necessary from a legal standpoint, it also helps MSPs to form trusting relationships with clients, build their brand, and grow their business.