New ConnectWise AI Security Tools Aim To Fight Fire with Fire

With AI adding an extra layer of menace to the cyberthreat landscape, cyber defenders are looking to fight fire with fire. This week, ConnectWise released two AI-powered tools designed to make MSPs and MSSPs more effective in detecting and responding to threats against their clients.

The announcements came during the vendor’s IT Nation Secure conference in Orlando, which brought together MSPs, MSSPs, vendors, analysts and other industry participants to discuss and learn about cybersecurity. The conference caters specifically to the needs of the service providers responsible for managing their customers’ security environments.

One of ConnectWise’s new offerings, ConnectWise Security360, leverages AI to provide a unified overview of attack surfaces by aggregating and standardizing data from disparate security tools. MSPs and MSSPs have long grappled with the challenge of managing an assortment of tools to protect customer environments. ConnectWise expects it to be available to partners later this summer.

ConnectWise Security360, “is a game-changer for MSPs as it allows them to make better real-time, risk-based decisions by transforming their security data into meaningful insights, reducing alert fatigue, improving efficiency, and minimizing the risk of errors,” said Ameer Karim (pictured above), executive vice president and general manager of Cybersecurity and Data Protection at ConnectWise, in a press statement.

The second offering, ConnectWise Sidekick for Security, employs generative AI and natural language processing to give providers a quick assessment of a customer’s security posture. Using a digital assistant, the tool helps “identify high-priority security areas on which to focus their next actions,” according to the vendor. Sidekick was originally available across ConnectWise’s PSA and RMM solutions, and with Sidekick for Security now extends across the Asio Platform.

“This could be huge,” says Lawrence Cruciana, founder and president of Corporate Information Technologies, an MSP in Charlotte, North Carolina. “From the announcement, it sounds more like a panopticon for endpoint security posture—and the security posture of an MSP’s clients. I’ve heard similar things before but this is the first time that all of the inputs—the signals and sources of truth—actually are available right now for inclusion in such a model. I am extremely optimistic about this announcement and look forward to playing with it. I also look forward to attempting to abuse it (in the context of security research) to attempt to escalate privilege, escape information constraints, and attempt to derive sensitive security-related information about other organizations. I’m both cautious and optimistic about the acceleration Sidekick for Security can bring into the MSP market.”

He is less enthused about Security360. “I was underwhelmed by this announcement, sadly. I have come to expect more from the current-day ConnectWise. They have always been innovators in the space and this announcement struck me as a direct (and strangely similarly named) competitor to Kaseya 365. Maybe one of the big players will come up with another product name that doesn’t include the indirect reference to a unit circle or Julian calendar in 2024!”

AI Intersects With Cybersecurity.

AI loomed large during the conference, with speakers taking the opportunity to discuss how it intersects with cybersecurity.

“AI is making its way through our business bloodstream. It is here to stay and it is an accelerant, one that will also complicate and compromise our ability to stay secure amongst the chaos,” ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee said during the welcome keynote.

Still, he cautioned against treating AI only as a threat, even though threat actors use it to refine their attack methods. AI is also part of the solution, helping to fill the ever-present cybersecurity talent gap and powering tools like Sidekick, Magee said.

AI—particularly generative IA—has been capturing the attention of an increasing number of businesses. Nearly one third (32%) of organizations polled for ConnectWise’s State of SMB Cybersecurity in 2024 report, unveiled at the conference, say they want to use AI to enhance operational efficiency and competitiveness.

“I think that 32% is low,” says Ed Correia, president of CEO ConnectWise partner Sagacent Technologies. “Still, most businesses don’t really know what they would even do with AI yet. I have yet to meet a customer that even had an inkling that they need to secure their data in order to use AI correctly.”

For MSPs and MSSPs, AI is both friend and foe. With tools such as the new ConnectWise offerings, it becomes more of an ally that helps fend off threats against clients, which for most MSPs consist primarily of SMBs. According to the ConnectWise report, just about every SMB—95.5%—has felt repercussions of cyberattacks.

The report also found that 78% of SMBs fear an attack could force them to close up shop, and 76% lack in-house skills to properly tackle security issues. This creates demand for cybersecurity services from MSPs and MSSPs.

MSPs Experience Strong Growth From Cybersecurity

No doubt cybersecurity services are contributing to MSP profitability. In a report from ConnectWise’s Service Leadership solution, released on the last day of IT Nation Secure, ConnectWise reported strong growth for MSPs—13.3% with a 27.8% adjusted EBITDA growth.

IT service providers experienced unprecedented profit growth for the fourth consecutive year, according to the 2024 Annual IT Solution Provider Industry Profitability Report. Best-in-class providers reported adjusted EBITDA profitability of 20% or more.

In addition, the report found, providers have reached the “highest approximate company valuations” since 1999 and experienced a 22% jump since 2022.

Expect to hear more on ConnectWise’s road map at IT Nation Connect in Orlando on November 6-8.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pedro Pereira is a freelance writer in New Hampshire who has covered the IT channel for two decades. 

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