Security / Compliance

Deepen Your Customer Partnerships with Cybersecurity

By Denise Sarazin / December 13, 2023

Cybersecurity Blog

For advisors who have yet to incorporate security into their customer conversations, consider this: A gap exists in your portfolio, and there's a significant revenue and customer confidence-building opportunity waiting for you to tap into.

The good news is that addressing this challenge is straightforward with help from AppDirect. We’ve developed a full process to support you with expertise, training, resources, and—starting today—a security sales certificate program that you can enroll in that will equip you with a solid framework for evaluating your customers’ needs and articulating security options.

In this blog you’ll learn:

  • The scope, risks, and costs of the cybersecurity problem for you and your customers
  • Why advisors should build security into their offer—for strategic, reputational, and financial reasons
  • How you can fast-track your journey to becoming a well-versed cybersecurity advisor, enriching your role as a trusted expert, fostering lasting stickiness with your customers, and opening the door to new revenue streams.

How has security become an important revenue play for advisors?

Integrating security into your portfolio isn’t only a strategic move, it's a direct response to what customers want, as they seek external assistance in safeguarding their businesses against cyber threats.

According to the 2023 Canalys worldwide cybersecurity report, over 90% of business cybersecurity spending is channeled through partners like managed services providers, advisors, and VARs.

So if your customers are investing in security solutions without your involvement, seizing this opportunity could position you to capture a substantial portion of that business.

As a technology advisor, your customers have always turned to you for sound advice in sourcing the best solutions for their technology stack. Today, ensuring that they’re protected from cyber crime should be an essential part of your offer, and there are big gains to be made if you’re willing to embrace this shift.

Before going into the details of how you can start capitalizing on this opportunity, we’ll dive into the risks and costs associated with cyber crime.

Scoping the impacts of cyber crime

Cybersecurity threats abound, and their sources are constantly evolving

In today's business landscape, companies are up against an entirely new level of security risk, with a complexity that was hard to fathom just a few years ago. These threats are not only sophisticated but they keep changing, targeting weak spots within organizations.

From phishing attacks, zero-day exploits, and ransomware, to grappling with data breaches, supply chain vulnerabilities, and insider threats, grasping the ins and outs of this security maze and making the right risk prevention choices can be overwhelming for most businesses. Given the critical nature of these risks, It's no wonder nine out of ten companies are turning to channel partners for help.

Security anxiety has become so pervasive that fully 50% of IT leaders say they're so concerned about their security posture that it keeps them up at night. This revelation comes from the AppDirect-sponsored survey of IT business leaders, highlighting the urgent need for practical security solutions and collaborative strategies.

The human factor

Although most cyber crime originates externally, employees have unwittingly become a large part of the problem, as external perpetrators exploit employee trust using deceitful, increasingly credible methods to gain access to company data and systems.

Human error and intent account for the largest percentage of cyber attacks. The following statistics bear witness to that.

  • 74% of breaches and attacks on organizations involve a human through error, misuse of access privileges, use of stolen credentials, or social engineering attacks that exploit employee-related vulnerabilities (Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2023)
  • 49% of the respondents in the AppDirect-sponsored survey of IT business leaders 2024 Outlook report cited employee and human errors among their top security concerns. In fact, every other concern they identified—malware, stolen data, phishing, ransomware, and misconfiguration of cloud services—includes an element of human and employee error and/or malice.

Impacts of the cloud and AI on cybersecurity

With more than 60% of business infrastructure and data now stored in the cloud, the traditional model of controlling data in fortress-like data centers has given way to software apps, virtual machines, and instances that are replicated globally in cloud environments. The result? A more extensive threat surface, more endpoints to protect, and a multitude of new and ever-expanding threat factors.

This change in architecture brings both challenges and opportunities, especially for advisors who play a crucial role in supporting businesses against cybersecurity threats.

This has escalated the level of apprehension for IT leaders, with 95% of the organizations surveyed in the Fortinet 2023 Cloud Security Report saying they’re concerned about their security posture in public cloud environments, and 59% of those citing misconfiguration as their biggest cloud security risk.

As for AI, this technology that was once used primarily to detect anomalies and algorithms has become a significant source of worry for customers and a crucial aspect of any cybersecurity conversation. Open AI and other AI entities are driving toward a future where AI has the ability to conduct cyber attacks similar to those initiated by human threat actors. Here are just some of the causes for concern that require a concerted risk mitigation effort:

Unprecedented scale of attacks using AI—Businesses are expected tol face double—and possibly triple—the number of daily AI bot-generated cyber attacks in the next 12 months, making it crucial to stay ahead of this threat landscape. This figure already doubled between 2022 and 2023, and quadrupled since 2021, according to Barracuda research.

Rapid AI evolution—AI is evolving so quickly that it’s difficult to predict the speed at which new attack methods and tools will emerge. This Is why staying informed and having access to cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions is paramount.

Voice recognition threats—The alarming ability of AI to replicate voices with just 5 seconds of audio raises concerns about potential misuse. Social engineering attacks, such as using replicated voices to trick employees into fraudulent activities like making wire transfers to illegitimate recipients, highlight the need for robust cybersecurity measures.

AppDirect gives you access to all the leading cybersecurity providers offering advanced solutions and defense mechanisms, including providers who have access to databases containing information about known AI bots. This enables proactive defense measures and reduces the risk of falling victim to emerging threats.

The heavy costs of cyber crime

The number of cyber crime attacks is accelerating at a staggering pace, with increasing impacts:

  • 74%—The percentage of companies who reported that in 2022, sensitive data was potentially compromised or breached, according to the April 2023 Forrester article Top Security Threats in 2023

The impacts of cyber crime extend well beyond financial costs and losses.

  • Financial losses resulting from the theft of corporate and financial data can also lead to breach of contract issues, affecting future revenues.
  • Reputational impacts through compromised customer trust can lead to customer churn, lost revenue, and impacts on partner and supplier relations.
  • Legal impacts resulting from non-compliance with data protection laws that safeguard personal data can lead to huge financial penalties.

The rise of personal liability

The consequences of cybersecurity incidents are no longer confined to company liability and business losses. Individuals in IT roles, including CTOs and CIOs in publicly-traded firms, can now face personal fines. In the private sector, neglecting cybersecurity measures can lead to job loss.

This shift has turned IT security skills into a standard job requirement, with the C-suite holding more personal liability—a liability that’s increasingly trickling down to individual employees.

With such high stakes, it’s no surprise that IT leaders are looking for partners to help them mitigate these risks at all costs.

How do these threats translate into an opportunity for advisors?

Adding cybersecurity to your portfolio makes business sense. With a growing market for threat mitigation and recovery services, you can deepen your relationships with your clients, grow your business, and bolster your position as their essential partner.

The rise in cybersecurity spending is a strong indicator of companies’ commitment to managing this issue.

The SMB security spend is projected to reach $109 billion by 2026, a 30% increase over 2022 (Analysis Mason, June 2023). In the AppDirect IT Business Leaders 2024 Outlook Report, 79% of IT business leaders ranked security as their top overall priority, and 74% said they plan to purchase cyber security solutions in the next 12 months—more than any other spending category.

You can capitalize on this growing market by:

  • Providing valuable support and services to customers, helping them adopt robust cybersecurity practices.

  • Expanding the breadth of solutions you offer

AppDirect makes it easy to get started on this journey. Through workshops, training, resources, access to experts, and a security sales certificate program, you can gain the knowledge you need to guide your clients through this complex landscape.

You can also grow your business and earn more commissions by sourcing security solutions for your customers from the vast AppDirect catalog on a robust marketplace platform, supported by best-in-class back office tools and expertise.

For in-depth information about AppDirect security solutions, expert support, and resources, read our ebook The cybersecurity opportunity for technology advisors—Why now is the right time to add a security practice to your portfolio—And tools to get you started.

But the fastest route to leveling up your cybersecurity skills is to sign up for the AppDirect Security Sales Certificate, available now.

Fast track your journey—Enroll in the AppDirect Security Sales Certificate program

Learn cybersecurity essentials and bring newfound knowledge to your customer discussions by completing the AppDirect Security Sales Certificate, available in the Advisor Training Center.

Completing this course will enable you to build the confidence and skills you need to identify and seize opportunities in the evolving cybersecurity field. It will also help you change the perception your customers have of you, as you demonstrate your ability to adapt to market demands and support them with expertise, solutions, and resources.

The program at a glance

Rooted in the esteemed National Institute of Standards in Technology (NIST) framework and designed specifically for advisors and managed service providers, the program will equip you with an unbiased understanding of security solutions, based on technology rather than touting specific vendors.

You’ll gain a solid understanding of the crucial stages of cybersecurity risk identification and mitigation, and the knowledge you need to help your customers stay ahead of threats.

You'll master the art of articulating security solutions and generating quotes for security solutions by confidently navigating the NIST process.

What’s included

The curriculum is grouped into pillars that cover the five elements of the NIST framework:

  1. Identify—Tools to develop an organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, people, assets, data, and capabilities

  2. Protect—Solutions to provide appropriate safeguards to ensure delivery of critical services

  3. Detect—Technologies to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event

  4. Respond—Implementation of activities to take action regarding a detectedcybersecurity event

  5. Recover—Restoration of capabilities and services that were impaired due to a cybersecurity event

What’s unique about the AppDirect Security Sales Certificate program

Pillar-based learning plans—The course is organized meticulously into pillars that mirror the NIST framework's structure, providing focused and structured learning experiences.

Engaging, bite-sized learning—The course uses a microlearning approach, with 60 concise, video-based lessons, each under 5 minutes. This enables you to learn at your own pace and seamlessly fit your training into your own schedule. 

Vendor-agnostic learning—You won’t get any sales pitches about specific solutions, and there’s no marketing content. You’ll gain in-depth knowledge about every technology available to solve cybersecurity problems.

Interactive knowledge checks—After each lesson, you’ll reinforce your learning with an interactive knowledge check to ensure you’ve gained a solid grasp of crucial cybersecurity concepts.

Practical scenario-based assessments—You’ll have the opportunity to work through sales scenarios targeted to cyber security prospecting so you can cement your understanding and apply key concepts in real-world situations. These assessments will be reviewed by our team of security experts.

Certification of completion—When you complete the course and assessments, you’ll receive a digital certificate that you can display in communications, marketing, and on your LinkedIn profile to demonstrate your commitment to staying at the forefront of the cybersecurity landscape.

Expert support and insights—Throughout the course, you’ll benefit from insights and guidance from our experienced team, ensuring a high-quality learning experience that translates into real-world cybersecurity proficiency.

Exclusive access to resources

During and after the course, you’ll have access to a well-curated library of resources to aid your learning and support your customer discussions, including:

Comprehensive resource toolkit—Access downloadable resources, including a detailed Security Provider Comparison Guide. Evaluate and choose the right security solutions tailored to your needs and those of your clients.

Cybersecurity eBook—Deepen your understanding with an exclusive cybersecurity ebook, a valuable resource for key security concepts and strategies. This ebook serves as a handy reference for both learning and practical application in your day-to-day work.

Practical security data sheets—Enhance your learning with practical security data sheets, providing concise, crucial information for quick reference and application in real-world scenarios. Stay prepared and informed at all times. You can also co-brand these to share with your customers.

Sign up now for the AppDirect Security Sales Certificate

If you’re an AppDirect advisor, log in to enroll in The AppDirect Security Sales Certificate. If you’re not an advisor, sign up now to get started.

Complete your learning bundle with the ebook The cybersecurity opportunity for technology advisors

Download the The cybersecurity opportunity for technology advisors ebook for a deep dive into the threats your customers face and how you can seamlessly integrate cybersecurity into your portfolio.