AWS launches MSSP security competency

Amazon Web Services is launching a new partner competency for managed security service providers (MSSPs) and will make their cloud software solutions and services available in the AWS Marketplace.

The AWS Level 1 MSSP Competency, which AWS has been piloting for a year, creates a baseline for managed security services that protect, monitor and respond to security events of essential AWS resources and are delivered as a fully managed service.

AWS channel chief Doug Yeum called the new competency an “industry first”.

AWS will validate AWS Partner Network members in 10 security service areas defined by AWS security experts, who will work with partners to develop offerings that leverage native AWS security services such as Amazon GuardDuty and AWS Security Hub and third-party solutions from AWS Security Competency ISV Partners.

“We have laid out 10 areas that are important for our customers, and we’ve come up with … a baseline standard for quality around these 10 areas,” said Yeum, AWS’ head of worldwide channels and alliances. “For us to go and define these areas, come up with the right criteria and work with the partners to get them validated against these criteria—these are all industry firsts.”

The new competency launches Tuesday in conjunction with AWS re:Inforce 2021, the cloud provider’s security, identity and compliance conference, and with 27 partners/sellers already vetted and earned the new designation.

“Security has always been the most important thing for AWS, but it’s also the most important thing for our customers when they make that transition from on-prem to the cloud,” Yeum told CRN US.

“They’ve had relationships with managed security service providers for the on-prem world, but when they make that transition to the cloud, now they’re looking for MSSPs who have that cloud security expertise. What we want to do is help the customers make that decision and do it in an informed way and do it with some support from AWS. We believe the competency is an important way to do that.”

The new competency is open to AWS Advanced or Premier Tier APN Consulting Partners and AWS ISV Partner Path members.

Qualifying partners must meet the technical and operational requirements of the 10 security service areas: AWS infrastructure vulnerability scanning, AWS resource inventory visibility, AWS security best practices monitoring, AWS compliance monitoring, monitoring and triaging of security events, 24×7 incident alerting and response, distributed denial of service (DDoS) mitigation, managed intrusion prevention systems, managed detection and response (MDR) for AWS-based endpoints and managed web application firewall (WAF) service.

Partners have to be validated every year, according to Ryan Orsi, AWS worldwide security/MSSP practice lead.

“They’re going to be kept to a very high bar, and that bar – the technical requirements – they’ll be evolving as well,” Orsi said. “Security experts all over the company are helping contribute to what the requirements should be for MSSPs for 2023, 2024 and so on.”

The new AWS competency comes on the heels of a report last week from Huntress, an Ellicott City, Md.-based MDR provider, that attackers are actively scanning and abusing vulnerable on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities that were patched earlier this year.

AWS’ decision to launch its new MSSP competency is “purely based on the requirements that were coming from our customers and some of the observations that we had around demand signals from customers and also just with our discussions with the partners,” according to Yeum.

“This is not a response to anything our competitors are doing,” he said. “This is just purely us saying this is an important competency that we need to add into the portfolio competency that we have for our partners.”

AWS operates under a shared responsibility model for security and compliance. AWS is responsible for the “security of the cloud” and protection of the infrastructure – the hardware, software, networking and facilities that run AWS cloud services. Customers are responsible for “security in the cloud,” with the required configuration work determined by the AWS cloud services that they use.

In developing the new initiative, AWS listened to customers about the security challenges they’re facing, according to Yeum.

“Broadly speaking, they have big challenges around the fact that they’re using multiple-point solutions, and they’re looking for partners who understand those point solutions and are able to bring all that together and … manage those solutions on behalf of the customer,” Yeum said.

“The other [challenge] is making that transition and having the right security controls in the cloud. It’s not easy, and operationalizing these things aren’t easy. You’re talking about deploying the cloud security solutions, configuring them and then responding to alerts that are generated by these solutions. Some companies have that in-house expertise, but many don’t, and that’s why they rely on third-party partners to help them.”

AWS Marketplace listings

AWS Level 1 MSSP Competency partners’ solutions and fully managed services are available directly from the partners or under the MSSP category in the AWS Marketplace, the online store where customers can buy or sell software that runs on AWS.

Competency partners will be showcased on a solution page that highlights specific use cases for MSSPs, and customers can filter listings by MSSP category type.

“It provides customers more of a guided buying experience,” said Mona Chadha, director of category management for AWS Marketplace. “While the Marketplace has over 10,000 solutions, and a lot of them are solutions within security—for example, a web application firewall or threat management detection solution—now they’re able to find a holistic solution in the Marketplace to actually procure. They’re able to find that in a consumption-based model that they like, and that’s very similar to how they procure AWS services.”

Sophos, an Abingdon, England-based cybersecurity company, has earned the competency and is offering a threat protection, monitoring and response package in AWS Marketplace.

“The AWS Level 1 MSSP Competency is something that is absolutely needed out there in the industry, and AWS is certainly first to market with a program like this,” said Scott Barlow, vice president of global MSP and cloud alliances for the AWS Advanced Technology Partner.

“The fact that it recognizes that we’ve met all of the AWS requirements for a baseline of managed security services to protect and monitor AWS resources 24 x 7 is fantastic and a great validation of our technology and the company.”

Sophos’ threat protection, monitoring and response package combines cloud security, posture management and compliance through its Cloud Optix product with Sophos Firewall and its service security for cloud workload protection, as well as endpoint protection.

“You’re able to leverage our Cloud Optix product to reach in and pull the telemetry from Amazon GuardDuty, AWS Security Hub, as well as AWS CloudTrail, so that now we have that telemetry that we can actively respond to and remove any of the manual work that’s required to analyze and triage security events,” Barlow said.

Sophos will leverage its global channel of about 60,000 channel partners and 15,000 managed service and cloud service providers to deliver and implement the security service to small and midsize businesses.

“Partners have responded to the offering very enthusiastically,” Barlow said. “One partner that I was in a conversation with last week said that the offering is exactly what they’ve been looking for through a next-generation security provider.”

IBM, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, has earned the new competency. IBM Security Services is offering IBM Security X-Force Incident Response Retainer Services, an annual subscription for planning, preparation and responding to security incidents, through the AWS Marketplace.

A cybersecurity skills shortage is impacting everyone, and when it‘s compounded with the growing complexity of security systems, managed security services are only growing in importance with clients, according to Michael Sanders, director of cloud security strategy for IBM Security Services.

“Certifications like the AWS Level 1 MSSP Competency program help CISOs justify the need for help from third parties, accelerating access to the skills and expertise,” Sanders said. ”IBM Security has been securing AWS and other cloud workloads for years. The AWS competency is an important affirmation of our investment and will open the door for IBM Security to fulfill customers’ critical requirement for advisory consulting, threat management consulting and managed security services.”

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