More MSPs are Becoming MSSPs; Which Should You Choose?


Nov 25, 2022

For security leaders, the cybersecurity of your business and the data of your customers is of the utmost importance. You know that it is critical to work with security service providers you can trust. But with MSPs making changes to their service offerings and aligning more closely with MSSPs it can be difficult to know which provider to choose.  

Today, it is harder than ever to understand the difference between MSPs and MSSPs. And with all the options available it is even harder to select the right service provider for you. In this post, we will go through the differences between MSPs and MSSPs, why many MSPs are becoming MSSPs and how to select the right Managed Security Service Partner for you.  

Let’s look at the difference between these two commonly confused service tools. 

What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

Defined by Gartner, a Managed Service Provider or MSP “delivers services, such as network, application, infrastructure and security, via ongoing and regular support and active administration on customers’ premises, in their MSP’s data center, or in a third-party data center.  

Essentially, they are a third-party business that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. Often, businesses outsource their complex, time-consuming or repetitive work involved in the management of IT infrastructure.  

MSPs typically offer the following services: 

  • IT infrastructure management, 
  • Technical support, 
  • Data backup, 
  • Software implementation, 
  • manage user access accounts,  
  • contract management,  
  • Compliance and risk management, 
  • Data analysis and reporting, 
  • Payroll services. 

What is a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)?

An MSP ensures your IT systems are up-to-date and operational, but an MSSP offers end-to-end security as a service. MSSPs align your people, processes and technology to ensure your people and systems are safe, secure and compliant. MSSPs augment your internal security teams’ monitoring and management operations for security devices and systems.

The key differentiator is that MSSPs have a Security Operations Center (SOC). This expert team protects the organization 24/7/365 by proactively monitoring, detecting and analyzing data, and providing incident response and recovery. It ensures the ability of organizations to operate securely, at all times. MSSPs include an arsenal of security solutions to maintain a strong security posture.  

MSSPs typically offer the following services:

When you partner with an MSSP their expertise is now your expertise. You get peace of mind that your business is safe and reduce the burden on your teams with comprehensive security help.

Why many MSPs are becoming MSSPs 

If you are currently working with an MSP or have worked with one in the past, you may have noticed that your provider is changing to an MSSP model. While some companies genuinely put in the effort to complete the security requirements necessary to be an MSSP, many purchase security operations software without fully understanding how to utilize the technology.  

The reason? Since COVID-19, there has been a clear spike in demand for more aggressive security services. MSPs see purchasing security technology as an easy way to scale their business within this new found “green zone.  

Unfortunately, this means that while the MSP now has the tools and technology to support your security operations program, they likely do not that the expertise to use them properly or manage them in a way that can provide useful business information to support individual goals.  

MSPs and MSSPs are fundamentally different services, and it takes more than just purchasing tools and technology to make the change from one to the other. When selecting a security service provider, you want one with tenure and proven outcome-driven services, so you can see success. 

Which Should You Choose?  

Your Security Partner must be able to help you detect and mitigate threats and meet regulatory requirements, while also helping you control costs through consolidation and automation. 

Most vendors will claim to have these capabilities, regardless of their actual level of competence, so how should you differentiate them from other vendors? 

Securing your environment is the first step to consider. Many providers will offer a variety of security services, but vendors will differ in their competencies, certifications, partnership levels, and overall approach.   

Below are three questions you can use to verify the capabilities of your MSSP:  

  1. What industry certifications do you maintain? 

Industry certifications have become mandatory for security service providers but be sure to do your due diligence. Make sure the provider has earned key certifications, such as PCI DSS, SOC 2 Type II, and ISO 27001. The US-based CMMC framework is another certification that service providers should have within their roadmap. 

  1. Are you looking for a dedicated technology vendor such as Microsoft or do you support multiple security technologies? 

Strong Microsoft Security partners will focus their time and energy on the applications, infrastructure, cloud services, and other digital assets within the Microsoft Security environment. This way you get the provide protections designed to fully leverage Microsoft services and your licensing capabilities, from the endpoint to the cloud to IoT and beyond. On the other hand, vendors who support multi-technology services are less likely to support a well-integrated cost-effective delivery model. Look for a partner that is focused on a technology you trust, so that you can take advantage of everything they offer, maximize your investment and properly secure your environment and data. 

  1. What type of reporting do you offer and how much visibility will you have?

Don’t just trust: verify. Effective MSSPs provide customized reports and CMDB so you get the most visibility possible of your security environment. Plus, regular reporting shows you how secure and compliant your security network really is and how well your MSSP is protecting it.

Our Difenda Shield platform is designed to provide customers with a streamlined ‘SecOps-as-a-Service’ experience through highly automated and orchestrated processes based on proprietary integrations with Microsoft 365 services and other supporting industry-leading security technologies. It’s a single pane of glass where you get real-time data from your entire security network.

Want more? Download our Security Service Provider Guides to ensure your pick the best vendor for your business.

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