3 Major Risks Managed IT Helps Mitigate

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) today have a diverse number of technology solutions and platforms available to help enhance operations and create competitive differentiation, ranging from the cloud to cybersecurity to the latest generative AI tools.

However, with such advanced tools comes significant IT risks that can jeopardize your operations without the proper preparation. Ransomware attacks, critical data loss and halted productivity are all potential risks that can severely impact your financial stability and reputation. 

Managed IT, also called managed service providers (MSPs) help mitigate your IT risks by implementing comprehensive security measures, continuous monitoring, and expert support. This proactive approach ensures protection against cyber threats, data breaches, and system downtimes, with the result being a secure and efficient IT environment, allowing your SMB to focus on growth without fearing unseen IT risks.

In this article, we will cover 3 major risks based on past discussions with our customers, and how managed IT ultimately helps mitigate those risks.

Risk #1: Ransomware attacks

Ransomware attacks are one of the most significant risks that SMBs face today, often leading to severe financial and operational disruptions if your IT environment is not properly protected. 

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or data, typically by encrypting the data and demanding a ransom payment for the decryption key. Cyber attackers often deliver ransomware through phishing emails, exploiting vulnerabilities in your business software, or using compromised websites. Once the ransomware is installed, it locks your users out of systems or encrypts their data, rendering it inaccessible until the ransom is paid. This can cause significant operational downtime and financial losses, especially if your SMB does not have the resources to respond quickly. Paying the ransom or relying on backups is not a guarantee of sensitive data retrieval, with only 57% of businesses reporting successful data recovery using backups according to Sophos’ 2021 The State of Ransomware Report.

In a case study published by Kroll, a logistics company implementing an Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solution faced a ransomware attack during its evaluation phase. Despite having a response team in-house, they were not exclusively dedicated to cybersecurity operations. The company turned to Kroll to contain the threat, prevent further damage, and investigate the events leading up to the attack on their behalf. This proactive approach led by a dedicated specialist IT partner allowed the company to transition swiftly from crisis mode back to business-as-usual operations, highlighting the importance of robust managed IT services in mitigating ransomware risks​ – especially if your SMB doesn’t have an in-house response team.

According to the 2024 Sophos State of Ransomware Report by Sophos, 59% of organizations experienced ransomware attacks in the last year, with 70% of these attacks resulting in data encryption. The report is just one of many that highlights the necessity for your SMB to have strong defenses in place to counteract these threats​​, which managed IT services provide via continuous monitoring and advanced threat detection capabilities that can prevent ransomware attacks before they cause significant harm. Additionally, the Symantec Threat Report notes the shift from botnets to exploiting known vulnerabilities in public-facing applications as the main infection vector, reinforcing the need for up-to-date security measures which specialist MSPs can manage for you, especially if you don’t have an existing cybersecurity team to do so.

Risk #2: Data breaches and credential theft

Data breaches and credential theft are among the top cybersecurity threats that SMBs face today. A data breach occurs when sensitive, protected, or confidential data is accessed or disclosed without authorization; this can involve personal information, financial data, or proprietary business information. Credential theft specifically refers to the stealing of usernames, passwords, or other authentication credentials, often through phishing attacks, keyloggers, or malware. Once attackers obtain these credentials, they can gain unauthorized access to your systems and sensitive data, leading to further exploitation, fraud, or data loss.

According to the aforementioned 2024 Sophos State of Ransomware Report, nearly 50% of malware detected in SMBs was designed to steal data and credentials, which attackers then use to gain unauthorized access, extort victims, and deploy ransomware​​. For example, attackers using keyloggers and spyware can steal passwords of your critical systems, such as accounting software, potentially funneling your company funds into their own accounts. Unless you have a vigilant in-house IT team dedicated to strengthening identity access management practices and monitoring for external malicious threats, these risks are very hard to combat.

What managed IT services offer to help mitigate such risks is continuous monitoring and advanced threat detection, ensuring that your SMBs’ sensitive information remains secure at all times, and that you don’t have to spend resources manually watching for said threats 24/7. You also gain peace-of-mind that dedicated specialists who have experience working to protect businesses against these malicious actors are handling the protective solutions on your behalf.

The Sophos report also highlights the role of initial access brokers (IABs) who break into networks and sell access to other criminals, making SMBs prime targets due to typically limited security resources​, while the Symantec report shows that data theft is increasingly used as leverage in ransomware attacks, with attackers opting for encryption-free methods to extort victims​​. These insights further underline the importance of your SMB considering managed IT services for help, as they provide a layered security approach that includes regular updates, vulnerability management, and real-time threat intelligence to safeguard against data breaches.

Risk #3: System downtime and operational disruptions

System downtime, whether it’s caused by cyber-attacks or unexpected technical failures, can halt your business operations, leading to substantial financial losses or lost productivity. 

Downtime refers to periods when a technology system is unavailable or inoperable, which can result from cyber-attacks like ransomware, hardware failures, or software issues. For SMBs, system downtime can be particularly damaging as it not only halts your business operations, but also affects customer trust in your product and services, and overall revenue.

The 2024 Ransomware Report by Sophos indicates that the financial impact of ransomware has increased significantly, with ransom demands rising fivefold in the past year. Additionally, 32% of attacks started with an unpatched vulnerability, highlighting the critical need for regular system updates and patch management. Symantec’s threat landscape analysis report also emphasizes the growing use of legitimate software by attackers to carry out their operations, making it essential for your SMB to have comprehensive security monitoring in place to detect and respond to such threats.

It’s understandable as a small business that you may not have the internal resources to manage security patching, software monitoring and constant threat analysis, which is where managed IT partners come in. By leveraging managed IT services, you can more easily ensure continuous monitoring, rapid incident response, and effective recovery strategies, minimizing the risk of prolonged downtime and its associated costs while also leveraging flexible, cost-friendly support packages.

3 major risks managed IT helps mitigate: Next steps

Understanding the major IT risks – ransomware attacks, data breaches, and system downtime – is crucial for every SMB. By reading this article, you’ve taken the first step towards recognizing the value of managed IT services, and how they help you mitigate these significant risks.

But what about other important factors, such as support costs, service tiers, and other considerations? If you are interested in pursuing a managed IT partner to enhance your operations, speak to SparkNav’s team today and learn how we can build a customized, tailor-made support package for you that not only helps mitigate the aforementioned risks, but aligns with your business requirements and budget today.

Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin
As COO, Robert Griffin plays an instrumental role in aligning operational excellence with strategic goals by leveraging his decades of experience in enterprise leadership. With deep knowledge and expertise in security, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), and AI, his insights are often shared through thought leadership channels, including LinkedIn and blogs. → Follow Robert on LinkedIn.