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Infographic: MSP vs. MSSP – The Key Differences

Take a look at this infographic to get an understanding of the differences between a managed service provider (MSP) and a managed security service provider (MSSP).

Then, read on to get a clearer view of the differences, why MSSPs have emerged, and why an organization might consider recruiting a dedicated MSSP for their cybersecurity needs.

What is the difference between an MSSP and an MSP?


The question of MSP vs. MSSP has been one of curiosity for businesses in the last few years.

Managed service providers (MSPs) have played an increasingly prominent role in business operations in recent years and organizations have come to rely on them more than ever.

In a similar vein, managed security service providers (MSSPs) are highly sought-after in today’s volatile cybersecurity climate.

MSPs provide a range of services as varied as IT and cloud solutions to print equipment replenishment.

MSSPs are dedicated cybersecurity providers and focus only on business security and its associated solutions.

Why Are MSSPs Necessary?

The simple reason for the existence of MSSPs is that cybersecurity has become such a concern to modern businesses that providers deem it necessary to offer security as a dedicated managed service.

Cyberattacks have increased in their volume and sophistication over the last few years, leaving many companies scrambling to respond.

The COVID pandemic prompted a greater number of attacks, many of them specifically targeted at remote workers operating without the quality protections necessary to avoid being breached.

When you further consider that cybercriminals are actively targeting SMBs more than ever before, and the majority of these organizations lack the solutions and protocols to defend themselves, you have a perfect storm where businesses find themselves especially vulnerable to cybercrime.

What Do MSSPs Have that MSPs Do Not?

One of the key reasons cybersecurity providers often operate as their own entities outside of umbrella of managed service providers is because they need to be able to operate independently from a security operations center (SOC).

IT MSPs will typically operate from a network operations center (NOC), which is purpose-built to ensure that the provider can keep a business network running with as little downtime as possible.

In previous years, it was common for cybersecurity providers to work from NOCs—and many still do—but the demand for cybersecurity, in addition to the environment necessary to provide security services, has prompted MSSPs to adopt SOCs and work independently of IT providers.

What Is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

A security operations center is a centralized facility that houses cybersecurity experts who oversee, through monitoring and analysis, the security of their clients.

These experts use a combination of solutions and protocols to ensure that threats are headed off and incidents are dealt with quickly—often without the client knowing anything happened at all—keeping the client informed and up to date while managing their security risk.

SOCs are critical to modern security programs because they deliver the infrastructure and means to proactively monitor and detect threats on an around-the-clock basis. 

What If Your IT Provider Is Offering Cybersecurity Services Already?

There is of course nothing wrong with having a cybersecurity program with an MSP, and we at Impact offered our own managed cybersecurity service before switching to offer it through our affiliate partner, DOT Security.

As far as the customer is concerned, the main question with regard to this is whether they are receiving the services and expertise they need to defend themselves.

An MSP may have a security program, but is it as comprehensive and layered as it needs to be?

In a typical cybersecurity setup today, businesses can expect to find solutions like perimeter and endpoint security, backup and disaster recovery (BDR), authentication protocols, real-time monitoring and threat hunting, and employee awareness solutions.

Related Post: Why You Need Layered Security

What Should Businesses Do About Their Cybersecurity?

If an organization receives some level security support from their IT service provider but is unsure of where they stand, they should ask to have a risk assessment conducted and see what their vulnerabilities are and whether they have the appropriate solutions and expertise in place in order to combat them.

If their current managed service provider is not in a position to implement a strategy that covers all the necessary areas of security—of particular note is compliance for modern companies—then businesses should consider hiring a dedicated MSSP with a security operations center to meet their needs.

In light of recent events, many organizations have found themselves playing catchup with their cybersecurity, trying to implement makeshift solutions to make up lost ground while their workforces are working remotely for the immediate future.

To find out more about how you can ensure your business’ cybersecurity is in good shape for now and for the future, download our eBook, “What Makes a Good Cybersecurity Defense for a Modern SMB?”.