The coming year is a big year for managed service providers (MSPs). According to recent research conducted by Mordor Intelligence, the global managed services market is expected to reach $311.32 billion by 2027. To take advantage of this boom in managed services, MSPs must be able to keep up with constantly shifting trends in technology, specifically security and the landscape of evolving threats and providers.
In December 2023, OpenVPN asked our partner network to complete a survey to share insights about the work they do with clients. Using this information along with industry research, we have created five cybersecurity trends and predictions for the new year to keep on your radar.
Trends for MSPs to watch in 2024
Trend #1: Expected 10% CAGR for MSPs through 2025
The first trend is good news. Researchers agree that there is incremental growth on the way for MSPs. This is likely due to a host of reasons, including economical impacts that have forced IT teams to downsize and outsource efforts, an increase in the demand for technological advancements in nearly every industry, and a push for better cybersecurity as threat actors use new methods of attack. This has led to a massive 25% increase in the global workforce skill gap relative to the cybersecurity training needed to fill open cybersecurity positions.
In other words, customers are looking to their MSPs to go above and beyond to fill those gaps and protect them from cyber risks with the right security solutions.
All of this means that you’ll have to work smarter, not harder, to keep ahead of your competitors while still providing excellent service to your clients. This is a primary goal for many MSPs who partner with OpenVPN: to reduce the number of technical support calls from customers while protecting their margins.
Recommended Reading: Hear how one of our MSP partners uses OpenVPN to reduce support calls.
To capitalize on all of the predicted growth, you need to fill the growing skill gap of your customers. But, you’ll need to do so without negative financial impact to your business, which means your team will need to work as quickly and efficiently as possible while simultaneously focusing on and building profitable partnerships. Essentially, you’ll turn your networking and security services into a driver of growth by reducing your number of support calls.
By partnering with best-of-breed solutions that have a flexible pricing model, you can take advantage of both simplifying your workflow and increasing your margins. For example, with OpenVPN’s CloudConnexa, you can manage multiple clients at the same time through multiple wide-area private clouds– without risking shared access or lateral movement for bad actors while keeping a cost effective model. This also allows you to configure client connections in less than 20 minutes, bypassing the need to build overly complicated access policies with the intention of keeping your client's traffic separate.
“We design our products to be powerful and flexible at the same time,” says Kyryl Tumanov, Director of Product Management at OpenVPN. “Supporting multiple Wide-area Private Clouds is a crucial feature for our MSPs. With this feature, MSPs can scale their business without introducing extra complexity in managing their end customers.”
This flexibility of OpenVPN, combined with fast time-to-value, is what stands out to Joe Kerrigan, CEO of NetworkinGuys. "OpenVPN allowed us to present a product that was flexible, but actually worked very well,” says Kerrigan. “[The OpenVPN] product works. The bottom line is we get fewer calls. That's what we care about.”
Get 50% margins on your first three customers.
Trend #2: Increased demand for zero trust network access (ZTNA) through 2024
In recent research from Enterprise Strategy Group, 47% of surveyed IT professionals are looking to apply ZTNA to their end-user experience, and soon.
ZTNA isn’t new – in fact it has been around for nearly a decade. What is new is the increase in demand from small and midsize businesses as they learn more about the benefits of zero trust – benefits like improved security posture, real-time visibility, and accelerated digital transformation, to name a few. And relative to more interest in zero trust comes the rise in businesses claiming to sell a “Zero Trust Platform.”
Ironically, there is no such thing as a single “Zero Trust Platform.”
In fact, according to Forrester: “You can’t buy Zero Trust. There is no product called Zero Trust. Zero Trust is not a miracle cure that will eradicate all breaches. It requires a concerted effort with significant change management across security, IT, and business teams.”
You can expect that you (and your clients) will see a lot of ads and misinformation surrounding zero trust. But as an MSP, you know better than to fall for these marketing tactics. And by keeping ZTNA from becoming an administrative nightmare, you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from competitors.
Opt to partner with a secure remote access solution that understands that zero trust is not a switch you can flip. Your clients exist on a spectrum with their security postures ranging in maturity – you’ll need to help them gradually transition to ZTNA depending on where they are in their journey without ripping and replacing existing IP and legacy-based solutions.
For example, OpenVPN’s CloudConnexa can help organizations transition from legacy and perimeter-based remote access tools to modern, Zero Trust means of secure network and resource access, such as SSE (Security Service Edge) and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), improving their overall security posture. Additionally, through the use of Device Identity Verification & Enforcement (DIVE) you can give Admins the option to manually add authorized device identities (UUID) as well as automatically lock digital certificates to specific devices, effectively blocking application access from unauthorized devices.
Become an OpenVPN partner to get ZTNA essentials for your clients.
Trend #3: Increased use of AI & automation
Artificial intelligence and automation can’t be ignored – and that’s not just because generative AI (gen AI) is in the news on a daily basis. Our survey of MSPs found that 60% report plans to increase their use of AI and automation in 2024, while 40% remain unsure.
MSPs are looking to automate everything from workflows to customer support. This mirrors the overall trend identified in a survey by Statista, which found that 93% of organizations intend (or expect) to leverage automation to enhance the customer experience.
By the same token, the increase in AI creates a wider attack surface for your clients and an increase in shadow IT practices that unintentionally put businesses and clients at risk.
With the increased use in AI, minimizing the attack surface both for you as the MSP and for your client is critical. This will not only help your clients, but will give you a competitive advantage against your competitors who may be less inclined to embrace or learn about automation and AI.
If you’re combatting your clients’ shadow IT practices thanks to AI, you’ll need to ensure your clients have solid network security with logical network segmentation in place to limit lateral movement and contain potential breaches.
As you deploy more automated SaaS technologies, you can put additional security measures into place, such as limiting access and deploying ZTNA essentials for web applications and all TCP/IP application protocols. You’ll also need to ensure proper cloaking of apps, keeping services private and isolated from the internet to reduce attack surface.
Going a step further, you can look to OpenVPN’s Cyber Shield Content Filtering to block sites that may encourage shadow IT practices or raise the risk of a data breach (like ChatGPT). Cyber shield is a built-in DNS-based Content Filtering feature that protects against threats without tunneling internet traffic.
Work smarter, not harder. Become an OpenVPN MSP partner today.
Trend #4: Greater support for hybrid workforces & complex IT infrastructures
The future of work is no longer fully remote – but that doesn’t mean it’s fully onsite either.
In our survey, 80% of respondents reported that their clients will have a hybrid workforce in 2024. This tracks with Forbes report that 81% of workers will be hybrid in 2024.
What does that mean for you as an MSP? It means that your clients will need to make sure their network and infrastructure is set up to be safely accessible from anywhere.
Addressing the challenge of a client who is in a hybrid work environment is slightly different from the approach you’d take for fully remote work. You’ll need to consider the internet of things (IoT) in a hybrid environment, which presents a massive challenge as the number of active IoT devices is projected to surpass 25.4 billion by 2030.
MSPs are turning to network security software, like OpenVPN, to act as the backbone to secure remote and hybrid clients. This makes it simpler to prevent lateral movement without increased latency. But, as we previously mentioned, managing all of your customer licenses, whether the client is remote, hybrid, or onsite, should not add more work to your plate.
This stood out to Mark Lea, CEO of Richweb, an MSP that specializes in Cloud, Managed Services, and Web. “We used other VPN products, some commercial off-the-shelf, some open-source,” says Lea. “We really like OpenVPN because it works really well and is easy to use. And it also gives us the licensing opportunity to deploy to users — let our customers try it — and then we can move them up to the right-sized licensing for them.”
See why over 20,000 businesses and 200 partners choose OpenVPN.
Trend #5: Increase in phishing and DoS attacks among cyber threats and network security challenges
The cybersecurity landscape is getting more complex by the year. Malware is no longer the single biggest threat to businesses. In the last 12 months, 80% of OpenVPN partners reported that their customers faced DoS or packet dropping attacks, and 60% of our partners reported that their customers faced phishing or spear phishing cyberattacks.
Our survey also found that in the next 12 months:
- 80% of OpenVPN partners surveyed reported that phishing will present one of the largest risks to their clients.
- 60% of OpenVPN partners surveyed reported that both network security and DoS attacks pose a great risk to their clients.
- 20% of OpenVPN partners surveyed reported that ransomware poses the greatest risk to their clients.
Additionally, the total number of data breaches more than tripled between 2013 and 2022 — exposing 2.6 billion personal records in the past two years alone, according to recent independent research published by Apple.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest concerns regarding the threat landscape for our partners in 2024 include network security (60%), breaches (40%), and AI/automation security (20%).
The ability to address these security risks and trends will build trust with your clients and ultimately, lead to stable revenue as both you and your clients are no longer in “firefighting” mode.
These trends point to the need for stringent security measures, starting with secure network access (the foundation for the rest of your cybersecurity measures). Secure remote access can help with:
- Implementing the tenets of zero trust to help thwart ransomware attacks, enforcing multi-factor authentication and limiting access to internal systems.
- Intrusion Detection Systems and Intrusion Prevention Systems, or IDS/IPS, which are invaluable, readily available network security tools for mitigating malicious traffic and suspicious activity.
- Thwarting bad actors by preventing DoS attacks by using network segmentation to limit the spread of an attack.
- Deployment of secure remote access with SSO, empowering your clients to better recognize when a phishing attack is underway.
All together, these efforts work together to minimize your attack surface and prevent breaches of your, your clients’, and their clients’ data.
You will also need to ensure that any SaaS vendor you work with has stringent security measures in place as well. For an extra edge on your competitors, partner with vendors who are routinely audited for their security measures and vulnerabilities.
Partner with OpenVPN to prevent attacks for your clients.
Become an OpenVPN partner
Interested in partnering with us to tackle some of these trends for your clients while strengthening your cybersecurity strategy? Check out our partner resources and sign up to speak with a member of our partnership team.