VioPoint: Case Study of an MSSP Using AlienVault USM

February 1, 2016 | James Fritz
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VioPoint's Story viopoint, an alienvault mssp

Based out of Auburn Hills, Michigan, VioPoint is an AlienVault™ Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). The company has been in business for nearly nine years and originally started out as a product and sales organization. As the company grew their business, it also began offering security-training services. Today, VioPoint’s core business model revolves around consulting and security product deployment for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprise sized organizations.

For SMBs, VioPoint has teamed up with AlienVault to create what they term “Active Defense.” Active Defense is a completely managed service that brings expert and knowledgeable security professionals to client’s environments to implement, deploy and manage a best-in-class security program.

Mark Murphy is VioPoint’s COO. He said that the partnership with AlienVault is what has empowered his company to move into the mid-market. “Our offering with AlienVault and our mid-market clients is a broader offer than we can deliver with standalone tools at our enterprise-level clients. We tell potential clients that they’re probably getting more bang for their buck because vulnerability management in an enterprise-level client is a standalone program, a standalone process, and a standalone team. For our clients, the standalone approach is not an option. However, by combining practices into one program, it provides the advantage of knowledge sharing across each of the practices in the Active Defense powered by AlienVault program,” said Murphy.

Murphy explained that in VioPoint’s earlier days they would acquire a lot of SMB-sized clients through their penetration testing. Most of these clients couldn’t afford an upfront security investment from a product like IBM or HP. At the time, VioPoint really didn’t have a security solution for this sized client. That is when the company began searching for a security product and discovered AlienVault Unified Security Management™ (USM)

Stumbling Blocks

When VioPoint first started researching AlienVault USM, they realized that by combining USM’s capabilities with VioPoint’s security expertise, they were able to provide a security offering that previously would only be available to enterprise clients due to the cost.

For about a year, VioPoint solely focused on selling AlienVault USM to SMB customers but found that there were some difficult challenges to overcome in that approach.

“We stumbled for quite a little while. We did not sell our expertise. We did not sell our reputation,” said Murphy. “We would get a lot of our existing clients and new clients engaged but we reached a point where we found it difficult to explain what we were going to do for them.” In order to overcome these challenges, VioPoint brought on Aaron Moffett as their Senior Security Consultant.

Active Defense Powered by AlienVault

“When I first started I wanted to understand where our team needed to standardize things, develop some processes, and figure out where our sweet spot was in the market. I wanted to help us to be able to clearly define how we provide value to potential clients and then build our offering from there,” said Moffett. Soon after he started, Moffett and his team realized that although they were selling a world-class tool in AlienVault USM, they also needed to market what VioPoint could do with the tool and how that could really benefit SMBs.

“The selling point for our clients is security, and developing a security program is extremely difficult. Does the client have enough time to set up their own security program? How long will that take? Do they have the expertise? Do they have the resources? Do they have a security operations center? Do they have staff? They need a solution. Active Defense powered by AlienVault USM is that solution,” said Murphy.

As part of their mission with Active Defense, VioPoint strives to provide the most value and security to their clients. “We really try our best to be the trusted security partner with our clients. Many times the CIS Critical Security Controls helps us get our foot in the door. We then explain how important and difficult it is to develop and mature a security practice,” said Murphy. The AlienVault USM features are also instrumental in helping VioPoint develop great relationships with their clients as soon as it is deployed.

The AlienVault USM platform gives a high level of visibility and many times right when we deploy it we begin seeing network errors in our clients configuration from server-to-server and Internet routing. This is the stuff that the engine sees as nefarious, but it takes some expertise to realize that this is often
just missed configurations. If you have a good relationship with your client, you can then begin helping them remove those issues and kick off their security plan,” said Murphy.

To help clients implement, deploy and mature their overall security posture VioPoint has created a process called VioPoint Security Intelligence. This strategy involves leveraging AlienVault USM for client security training, network asset discovery, vulnerability assessments, behavioral monitoring and threat detection.

Focus on the ROI

Murphy explains that, when MSSPs are selling to management, it’s really important to focus on the ROI and remind the team that it takes around 200 days for an average breach to be detected. He also stresses the need to explain to clients what you as an MSSP are going to do to scan the client’s environment—how you’re going to deploy vulnerability scans to understand the core assets being monitored. Then once you’ve identified vulnerabilities you explain how you are going to mitigate those risks by putting rules in place. Finally, Murphy recommends, describe how you will be managing the client’s environment so that security incidents can be detected.

“You can’t sell silence. Silence in a security environment hopefully means you are doing everything correctly and diligently, and that’s great,” said Murphy. “It means you’re not being breached. But how can you tell a client all that you are doing to keep everything silent and secure in their network? That’s where VioPoint’s Active Defense powered by AlienVault approach works. We are proactively communicating to our clients on a monthly basis what we are doing and how we are detecting threats and protecting their environment. We explain how we combine our security expertise with AlienVault USM to keep the client safe and minimize financial and reputational damage caused by breaches.”

James Fritz

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