Managed security service provider: Definition and use cases

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Managed security service providers (MSSPs) maintain and monitor your IT security systems and devices. They can dramatically improve your security profile, but only if you know how to use them well.

Here, we’ll explain an MSSP, its benefits, where to use it, and what sets one apart from a managed service provider (MSP.) 

Knowing all that, you’ll be ready to build a security setup that’s up to date, responsive to advanced potential threats, and aware of intrusions as soon as they happen.

What is a managed security service provider?

A managed security service provider (MSSP), or managed security provider, is a specialized organization of cybersecurity experts that helps identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities and respond to security threats. They offer a suite of services that protect organizations from a wide range of advanced threats, including, but not limited to, managing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and securing cloud environments. 

MSSPs are particularly beneficial if you need more in-house expertise or resources to manage your security posture effectively. 

This provider is often used by small to medium-sized businesses, healthcare institutions, financial services, and any organization that deals with sensitive data or operates under stringent regulatory compliance requirements.

By utilizing the expertise and advanced technology offered by MSSPs, you’re more prepared for a world of security threats. No wonder the MSSP industry will be worth almost $55 billion by 2030.

What is a managed security service provider used for?

This industry popularity is down to plenty of organizations finding value in their MSSPs. But what exactly do they provide?

We’ll walk through every service they can offer you, showing why so many companies choose MSSPs rather than using in-house facilities.

Managing your firewall

Firewalls serve as the first line of defense in network security operations, acting as gatekeepers to control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organization's security policies. With the cyber threat space constantly evolving, firewalls need regular updates and continuous security monitoring to counter new potential threats effectively. 

MSSPs play a crucial role here by monitoring firewalls around the clock and updating them as new threat intelligence becomes available. This close observation ensures that unauthorized access is blocked and sensitive data remains protected.

Building a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) offers secure communication, especially for remote workforces. It provides a secure, encrypted connection over a less secure network, like the Internet, ensuring that sensitive data is safely transmitted.

MSSPs set up and manage VPNs, ensuring they have robust encryption and secure access protocols. This service is particularly valuable for organizations prioritizing data security, but they may require more in-house expertise to make a secure VPN.

Vulnerability management

Vulnerability management involves identifying, evaluating, remediating, and reporting security vulnerabilities in systems and software. MSSPs offer these services through vulnerability scanning and penetration testing to discover vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them.

By systematically addressing vulnerabilities, MSSPs help organizations fortify their defenses against a potential security breach.

Intrusion detection

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) are vital for identifying unauthorized or harmful activities within a network. Managed security providers do this through managed detection and response (MDR) services, which detect intrusions and respond to them in real time. This immediate action can mitigate the impact of an attack, making MDR an invaluable service for organizations aiming to maintain high-security standards.

Incident response management

When a security incident happens, a swift and effective response is important to minimize damage and recover quickly. MSSPs offer incident response management services that include the immediate investigation of breaches, threat detection, eradication of the cause, and recovery of systems. With MDR, this response is even more effective, as the provider is already familiar with the organization's infrastructure and can act swiftly to provide security solutions and resolve incidents.

Antiviral protection

Antiviral protection safeguards IT assets from malware, ransomware, and malicious software. MSSPs provide comprehensive antiviral services that include regular updates to defense mechanisms, scanning for and removing malware, and ensuring that all applications are secure against potential threats. This kind of protection often encompasses broader application security measures, verifying that software used by the organization isn’t a weak link in its security posture.

All of those are certainly useful. But why not do them yourself? It turns out that doing these through an MSSP has unique advantages.

What are the benefits of a managed security service provider? 

Working with an MSSP brings many benefits to any organization prioritizing cybersecurity. Managed security providers provide tools and knowledge, access to security teams, rapid response capabilities, and assistance navigating complex compliance landscapes.

Security expertise

One primary advantage of partnering with an MSSP is the immediate access to a deep well of security expertise. MSSPs employ teams of experts who are versed in the latest cybersecurity strategies and experienced in handling a variety of potential threats. 

This level of expertise is invaluable, especially when you need advice on how to establish your security protocols in the first place. It also ensures more consistent and effective security outcomes than what internal training or hiring staff without a specialized background in cybersecurity might achieve. 

Access to specialists

MSSPs have a roster of specialists, each skilled in different facets of cybersecurity, from intrusion detection to vulnerability management. This specialization ensures that no matter the security concerns, there’s an expert ready to address them directly. 

This arrangement is far more effective than relying on a single IT generalist or a small team with broad but shallow expertise.

Rapid response

The nature of cyber threats requires a swift and knowledgeable response, something an MSSP provides. With a team available around the clock, MSSPs can begin addressing security incidents the moment they are detected, regardless of when they occur. This 24/7 response capability significantly mitigates potential damage from breaches or attacks.

Helps verify compliance

Navigating the complex web of data protection laws and regulations, such as the GDPR, can be daunting. MSSPs bring a deep understanding of these regulations and can assist in ensuring that your organization's data-handling practices are compliant. They can conduct compliance scans and implement procedures aligning with legal requirements, reducing the costs of significant violations.

What’s the difference between MSSPs and MSPs?

Managed service providers (MSPs) and managed security service providers (MSSPs) play crucial roles in the IT ecosystem of an organization, but they focus on different service areas. Understanding the differences can help organizations decide which services to use for operational efficiency and security.

Managed service providers

An MSP manages IT infrastructure, oversees software updates and patches, delivers data backup and recovery, and supports cloud services. 

The primary goal of an MSP is to keep an organization’s IT systems running smoothly and efficiently. They’re focused on maintaining operational functionality and addressing a broad spectrum of IT needs — including, but not limited to — site responsiveness, usability, and general IT support. MSPs work to prevent issues before they disrupt business operations, productivity, or security.

Managed security service providers

In contrast, MSSPs (or managed security providers) are specialized service providers focusing on security management. Their services protect organizations from cybersecurity threats, manage risk, and ensure compliance with regulations. Its threat monitoring and risk protection focuses on managing firewalls, running intrusion detection systems, conducting vulnerability scans and penetration testing, and offering incident response solutions. 

MSSPs keep an organization's systems and data secure from unauthorized access or theft. They proactively monitor and manage security devices and systems, respond to security incidents, and provide expert guidance to mitigate risks. Managed detection and response (MDR) services, a subset of MSSP offerings, emphasize detecting and responding to cyber risks in real time.

Next steps for ensuring your network’s security

Organizations recognizing the importance of managed security service providers (MSSPs) are taking a crucial step toward fortifying their cyber defenses. Our partnership with Cloudflare enhances this by offering top-tier protection from malicious traffic. 

Combined with our web application protection, you can be confident in handling your security through us. Want complete server protection? Get started with us today. Alternatively, get in touch with our team of experts for support or other questions.