There’s no denying it, the tech industry loves acronyms. More so, our company name even has an abbreviation. (If you know what MRW stands for, comment below.)
In recent years, I have found two acronyms that confuse small business owners to no end. The two are the shortenings for managed service provider (MSP) and managed security service provider (MSSP). They are too similar for my liking.
But in reality, an MSP couldn’t be more different than an MSSP. And vice versa.
Today, I’m going to explain the difference and similarities between MSPs and MSSPs. I’ll go over what they both do, and why your small business should have both. But first, let’s take a look at their definitions.
Managed Service Provider
Let’s start with the textbook definition of a managed service provider. An MSP is a company that manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. In most cases, MSPs work with small to mid-sized businesses. They work within a range of industries, too.
Here are 4 main operations that MSPs do for their clients:
- MSPs ensure their client’s IT systems and data are available and up-to-date.
- They work to solve usability and performance issues.
- They assist clients with projects, like migrating content to the cloud.
- MSPs also consult on IT strategy.
At its heart, MRW Systems is a managed service provider–it’s our core business model. If you’re curious about how we do things follow this link.
Managed Security Service Provider
So, what’s a managed security service provider? An MSSP is a type of IT service company that focuses on cybersecurity. The role of an MSSP is to ensure that a client’s employees and systems are safe, secure, and compliant.
An MSSP detects, prevents, and reacts to cyber threats that can endanger a client. So bottom-line, an MSSP isn’t going to fix that broken printer in the back.
On paper, here’s what an MSSP should be doing for their clients:
- MSSPs prevent and detect cyber threats within a client’s network, systems, and applications.
- Once they detect a threat, an MSSP will help a client respond to that threat.
- They help align IT environment with compliance frameworks.
- They help train end-users on security best practices.
- MSSPs provide risk assessments.
Because better security is on our clients’ radar, MRW Systems does offer an MSSP service. It’s called NetGarde. Under our NetGarde umbrella, we are able to offer SMBs enterprise-level cybersecurity solutions. To learn more, check out NetGarde’s website.
Similarities between the two
Before we take a closer look at the differences between MSPs and MSSPs, let’s go over some similarities.
Part of your IT Environment
Both providers need access to your business’s IT systems, network, and applications. Without access, they can’t perform their jobs to the highest standard, if at all. Thus, it’s critical to partner with trusted and verified providers.
There is Overlap
To say your MSP isn’t concerned about security would be an incorrect statement. The last thing an MSP wants is a client to fall victim to a cyber-attack. Yet, due to lack of knowledge and personnel, the type of security measures an MSP can provide is often the bare minimum.
Differences between MSPs & MSSPs
While MSPs and MSSPs cover aspects of security, there are differences between the two. So now, let’s unpack those differences:
An MSP maintains the client’s network. Their goal is to provide uninterrupted services and minimize downtime for their client. In the case of the MSSP, their operation is all about providing real-time analysis of a client’s network and logs.
Different Types of Monitoring
The MSP provides remote monitoring of network health. This type of monitoring checks to make sure all systems and applications are up and running. They also check to make sure all components are up-to-date.
The MSSP’s monitoring is more advanced. The type of monitoring you receive from your MSSP depends on the type of package and services you select. In most cases, MSSPs provide event monitoring. Event monitoring collects and analyzes events within the client’s IT environment. MSSPs may also offer behavioral monitoring, which uses patterns of human behavior to detect anomalies. Another common type of monitoring most MSSPs do is dark web monitoring.
At the heart of an MSP is the help desk. The role of the help desk technician is to support end-users with their hardware and/or software. For an MSSP, security analysts are at its center. A security analyst maintains the security and integrity of the client’s data. They review reports to identify and correct flaws within their clients’ systems.
How They Fix Problems
MSPs often follow the “if it breaks, we fix it” model. So, let’s say a server needs more storage space, it’s up to the MSP to find and carry out the solution. We, MRW Systems, like to follow a more proactive approach. We consult with our clients about potential problems before they become issues.
In contrast, MSSPs operate completely different. If there is a security threat, the MSSP’s security analyst creates an alert for the incident. The analyst then creates a plan for remediation. However, it is often the MSP who carries out that remediation.
How the two providers work together
In the perfect world, MSPs and MSSPs coexist harmoniously together. Both providers work together to fill in the gaps; thus, leaving their clients with safe and secure IT environments. To illustrate this point, I’m going to use a ransomware example.
It’s a normal workday at your company. But Karen, in accounting, clicks on a link. Her entire computer locks down–it’s a ransomware attack.
In this situation, the MSSP would create an alert and create a remediation plan to address the ransomware.
Meanwhile, the MSP checks to make sure the ransomware didn’t spread to other devices and systems. If the backup isn’t compromised, the MSP to restore Karen’s computer with backup data.
The MSSP and MSP work together to fix the ransomware problem. But as you can see, their roles are completely different. The MSSP makes the plan, and the MSP follows through with that plan.
This scenario is starting to become the norm. That’s because MSPs are finding it difficult to keep up with new security demands. And who can blame them! It seems like every day there is a new tool, new knowledge, new breach, and new certification.
Does a Small Business need both?
By now, it should be clear that employing an MSSP will provide your small business with better security. So, if you only work with an MSP, I strongly recommend you consider adding an MSSP to your roster.
If you think your small business is too small for an MSSP. I urge to reconsider your position. I’ll leave you with this:
81% of all cyberattacks are against small and mid-businesses.
Why? Because SMBs lack the resources to tackle security challenges.
That doesn’t have to be the case. One of the most effective ways for an IT team to increase their security is through the efforts of others.
Our MSSP, NetGarde, is here to help get the target off your back. We offer cyber security services to Maryland small business. We help small businesses develop strong security postures through monitoring, policies, and education.
We cannot wait to help you. NetGarde strives to provide the best cyber security services and solutions.