Remote management and monitoring (RMM) vendors often offer an integrated security solution with their core product. But how does the security offered by these integrated options compare? Below are the questions to ask your RMM vendor to make sure you get the full picture of the security being offered.
RMM vendors and security solution vendors are for-profit businesses and are not going to make money by giving something away for free. While the security solution may be advertised as free, the most likely scenario is that the cost is baked into the total price of the RMM platform – and you are paying for it, whether you use it or not. Don’t be surprised if your RMM vendor gives you a lower price for the RMM platform if you ask them to remove the security solution from your license.
Contrary to popular opinion, security solutions integrated in to an RMM platform are not the same as the product you could buy directly from the security solution vendor. In most cases, the “integration” is a complex set of scripts combined with some HTML/CSS that acts as a wrapper around the security solution that leverages limited command-line functionality built into the core product.
What this means is that you are either managing a solution with stripped-down functionality (because they don’t make every single option available via the command-line), or the security solution vendor had to purpose-build a different version/product specifically for the integration, which means it won’t have all the same features as the standalone product because that’s too much work for them.
This also means that it probably won’t have the same priority for patches/hotfixes/upgrades as the standalone version, since a lot more customers use the standalone products than the ones integrated in to your RMM platform.
With five new threats discovered every second of every day, make sure you know if your security solution may make you wait days, weeks, or months for an integrated solution fix/update/upgrade to provide the same timely coverage as the standalone product.
Some security solutions that integrate with RMM platforms may lack the broad platform support provided by more robust security solutions. There have been instances in the past where an integrated security solution only worked on workstations/laptops and not on servers. This meant you went without coverage (bad idea) or you had to use a separate security solution, thus completely negating the “single pane of glass” benefit you signed up for in the first place!
Additionally, the technology landscape is changing quickly. You need a security solution that can protect all the devices your customers are allowing their employees to bring into their work environment (aka BYOD), such as Mac laptops and Android devices, along with traditional Windows servers and workstations. It’s important to make sure the integrated security solution can protect all of these devices, or else you once again lose the “single pane of glass” benefit.
It may surprise you to learn that when security solutions were originally integrated in to RMM platforms, they were usually the free options available on the market at the time. Financially speaking, this makes sense in a low-margin, fixed-fee business model where it is important to find every way to save that you can to maximize profit. However, RMM vendors and MSPs quickly realized the truth in the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” Soon they moved away from integrating the free options towards the low-cost options.
Today, the integrated security solutions in RMM platforms are a broad spectrum of the low-cost options on the market. This generally means they lack the features found in the industry-leading products. It is important to understand:
It is no longer good enough to just offer basic antivirus. Does the integrated solution offer advanced reputation-based protection? And do they provide additional integrated features like URL Filtering, Behavior Monitoring, POP3 scanning, Firewall, Mac, and Android protection?
A number of RMM vendors have been forced to add secondary security solutions to their platform because the primary one may be lacking in some way or another. These products are generally divided between antivirus functionality and anti-malware/antispyware functionality. Don’t expect to get both of these for the same low price you were originally quoted, and make sure you ask how much it will cost you for both solutions.
If two solutions are offered, there is a reason for it (read: the first solution isn’t good enough on its own). So consider it a warning that your costs will go up or your security coverage will suffer.
If you don’t buy that second solution, expect to be rolling trucks to your customer sites to clean up those nasty infections that can’t be cleaned remotely because you have to boot in to Safe Mode to clean them up. Expect to lose some customers too when they are either crippled to the point that they go out of business, or they get tired of your technicians coming onsite to clean up what the first security solution missed.
What are your concerns with integrated security in RMM solutions? Let us know in the comments!