Managed Security Service Provider - A complete Guide

On November 4, 2022

What is a managed security service provider (MSSP)?

An MSSP is a third-party service provider that acts as an adjunct to the existing IT security of an organization. It helps the organization to monitor and manage their cybersecurity with a team of experts well-versed in handling all matters pertaining to cyber-attacks, threats, and hacks. Organizations feel the need to outsource their cyber security requirements to vendors who use sophisticated tools and have the expertise and experience in handling cyber security challenges on a regular basis. Security monitoring and incident response form the core of an MSSP.

Why are organizations choosing MSSP over DIY cyber security?

A recent survey conducted by Gartner concluded that nearly 95% of security leaders expected an increase in cyber security attacks that would negatively impact their organization. A DIY cybersecurity poses a number of challenges to the enterprises thus they choose to hire an MSSP. Some circumstances that are unforeseen in DIY cyber security are:

  • Increase in complexity and expenses of the in-house cyber security solutions
  • The existing IT staff are burdened with the additional responsibility of overseeing security apart from their own support responsibilities. This could leave them taxed and stressed
  • Skill sets required to tackle cyber security attacks and hacks are completely different from the skills possessed by the IT staff which can leave them short changed and disillusioned
  • With the sudden rise in demand for skilled cyber security experts there is a shortage of supply resulting in high labor costs to recruit experts

All the above reasons are forcing CIOs and CISOs to rethink setting up their own DIY cyber security. An MSSP allows the organization’s in-house IT staff to focus on their own responsibilities of ensuring the smooth running of the IT network, taking care of the infrastructure capabilities, and other IT related services.

Does your organization need an MSSP?

The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’! Simply because all businesses have an online presence now, irrespective of the size of the business. Time and financial restraints are what usually prompts the organization to look around for an outside vendor to meet their cybersecurity needs.

  • An MSSP helps in effective cost management, as the organization can now focus on their core competencies without having to divert their time and resources on cybersecurity.
  • An MSSP works hand-in-hand with the existing in-house IT team freeing up the IT team to look after important projects of the company.
  • An MSSP can effortlessly thwart cyber-attacks by keeping track of the rapid developments and advanced threats threatening the security of organizations across the globe.


How to find the right managed security services?

Consider the following factors before hiring an MSSP.

  1. Identify your needs - Determine the need for a managed security service, what you expect from it? Make a list of reasons how you will benefit from hiring an MSSP.

  1. Do a comparison - Identify the top managed security service providers and do a comparison of their features. Match it with your requirements.

  1. Check out the pricing - MSSPs will offer a number of benefits in the form of different packages and will accordingly price them. Don’t just go for the cheapest option, weigh out the cost against the risk and then decide.

  1. Check reviews - Contact other people and get their opinion about the different managed security service providers.

  1. Opt for a demo session - Once you have narrowed down the list of MSSPs, ask them for a demo session. A live session will help you identify and finalize the MSSP that suits your needs best.

What are the different services managed security services offer?

A few common services offered by most MSSPs are listed below:

  1. Continuous security monitoring and management Security is a full-time job that requires constant and continuous monitoring. An MSSP ensures real time visibility into the security of the organization while making sure all security devices are functioning well and showing no threats, either existing or imminent.

  1. Vulnerability management MSSPs identify loopholes and vulnerabilities and work towards prioritizing them in order of threat they pose, and taking remedial measures. Remediating often occurs using patch management through automation and system reconfiguration.

  1. Intrusion management As the name indicates, networks are continually monitored for any kind of intrusion. Intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems are deployed by the MSSP to look for any anomaly in the network traffic.

  1. Security technology management An MSSP monitors and handles the daily management of all endpoints, firewalls, VPNs, security gateways, infrastructure logs, network traffic etc.

  1. Threat hunting An MSSP proactively weeds out threats and eradicates them using cyber forensic tools, cyber threat intelligence and analysis of the malware.

  1. Security compliance monitoring and management An MSSP also makes sure that the compliance standards and regulations of the organization are at par with those set up by the government and industry regulations committee such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) What are the four main categories of managed security services that a MSSP would offer?

The four main categories are:

  • Infrastructure - Infrastructure as a service would offer monitoring of networks and devices for security threats as well as responding to threats

  • Data security - MSSP would protect a company’s data by providing backup and recovery services. It would also scan the data for any malware or embedded threats

  • Risk and vulnerability management - MSSP would identify the client’s security threats and vulnerabilities and use tools such as penetration testing, intrusion detection, and vulnerability scanning.

  • Identity and access management - MSSP would manage accounts, user access and authentication and verification.

What are the different features offered by managed security service providers?

An MSSP offers feature packed benefits some of which are listed below:

  • Protection and management of firewalls
  • Monitoring of network security and IT infrastructure
  • Defense against hacks and attacks
  • Blocking of spam and unwanted emails
  • Identify and eliminate vulnerabilities
  • Conduct security checks and penetration tests of various systems
  • Check emails and web for security
  • Manages intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems
  • Monitors compliance related requirements
  • Manages virtual private network (VPN)
  • Provides requisite security training for IT personnel
  • Checks hardware for security
  • Operates security operation center (SOC)
  • Develops and establishes policies and procedures with respect to security processes
  • Applies patches wherever applicable and regularly updates the system
  • Updates antivirus software and provides protection against virus
  • Provides inputs on all matters pertaining to IT security

What are the benefits of managed security services?

While the organization’s in-house IT staff take care of strategic security projects, the MSSP will look after regular monitoring and management of security. Some of the benefits of a hiring an MSSP are:

  • Cost effective - Hiring experts for the internal IT team with the right experience can be expensive and challenging especially for small businesses. An MSSP, on the other hand, can provide top-notch services at par with the big competitors with advanced technology, expertise, and resources to level the playing field.
  • Scalable solutions - Scaling up and down to accommodate growth in business is easy with the trained and knowledgeable staff of an MSSP.
  • Affordable labor costs - By hiring a managed security services provider, an organization enjoys the benefits of employing highly skilled and competent labor force at affordable costs without having 100% of their time.
  • Access to the latest tech and know-how - Cyber security tools get reinvented all the time becoming more efficient and cost-effective. This means either the organization spends more on new tools or compromises on efficacy. But, through using services of a managed security service provider, it can get the best security tools at effective prices. An MSSP works in the best interest of the organization by providing these services at low prices.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. DIY cybersecurity versus an MSSP - which is better?

DIY cybersecurity entails building your own security operations center (SOC) and recruiting experts in cyber security. This can be time consuming, expensive and often difficult to achieve as there are relatively less security experts today in comparison to the demand. This could also lead to high labor costs as well. On the other hand, it makes a lot of business sense to outsource the security work to experts such as MSSPs who are already in the business of cyber security and are well equipped to handle crises pertaining to any cyber security challenges.

2. How do managed security services work?

MSSPs also have the option of being able to work remotely thus offering flexibility to the organizations. An MSSP may follow a set of guidelines such as:

  • Conduct an initial assessment of the organization’s security framework and provide a report with recommendations to address any concerns with regards to software changes
  • Chalk out a plan for the management and administration
  • Do a patch management on any vulnerabilities and loopholes found
  • Develop an incident response strategy to quickly respond to threats and incidents

3. Why are managed security services important?

MSSPs are sought after by a number of organizations today due to the minimum complexity it ensures while maintaining cyber security. Due to the advancements and increased sophistication of attacks, protecting sensitive data has become increasingly complex. A delicate balance is sought between the enterprises’ objectives, their budget constraints, and productivity demands. A dedicated security team is required to address the needs that cybersecurity poses. Managed security services provide the necessary resources in terms of expertise and know-how. This allows the IT personnel to focus on their own jobs rather than worrying about security as well.

4. How is a managed services provider (MSP) different from a managed security services provider (MSSP)?

As the name suggests an MSSP specializes in providing security services unlike an MSP which provides network connectivity, help with the IT team etc. which are all services pertaining to IT but not security. MSSP focuses solely on providing out-sourced network services, cyber security monitoring and management.

5. Who should use managed security services?

All organizations face threats from cyber-attacks be it big or small. Some choose to train their in-house staff to take care of their cyber security needs whereas others choose to hire an MSSP to take care of it. So, who uses an MSSP?

  1. Regulated industries - Healthcare, financial and banking, and insurance companies have to follow a lot of regulations in order to maintain a certain level of security. MSSPs offer solutions that take care of the industry’s compliance requirements and meet the security standards at the same time.

  1. Small and midsize businesses - Organizations typically with a staff of 500 or less may not have the expertise to handle the advanced security threats or may not have the budget to do so, they hire MSSPs. Even if they do have an expert IT security specialist on their staff, they might take the help of an MSSP for specific services which might prove more cost-effective in the long run.

  1. Companies that can’t take the risk - The risk is tangible and can be measured in case of a cyber-attack. Thus, in order to minimize risk, organizations choose to weigh the cost of an MSSP against the risk involved and the consequential costs involved in remediating a breach or a ransomware attack.

  1. Companies in need of 24x7 security - The in-house IT team can only work for so many hours and can’t provide round-the-clock services unlike MSSP. Other IT priorities and limited staff can be a deterrent when it comes to providing security all the time. An MSSP, on the other hand, has the people, resources, and technology to monitor an organization’s security 24x7.


Digitization has come a long way and has revolutionized the way businesses are being conducted. Whether the business is small or big, the threats it faces remain the same. Cyber-attacks, threats, and hacks loom large over organizations forcing them to take up preemptive measures to successfully thwart the attacks.

A managed security services provider provides exclusive services that look after all your cyber security needs leaving you free to focus on the core business. It offers round-the-clock service with an easy-to-use access control module and identity management process. An MSSP uses experts specially trained in cyber security who make use of advanced and sophisticated tools to effectively counter the increasing complexity of threats.