<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1703665079923990&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

MSP vs MSSP and the Changing Role of IT Security

MSP vs MSSP and the Changing Role of IT Security

Posted by TEAM ASCEND on 1/22/20 12:00 AM

<< Back to Blog

Security of connected devices has been the driving motivation for digital trends in the 21st century. As people, companies, communities and even nations seek greater security, the need for strong cybersecurity is critical to success and stability for both professional and personal lives.

Today, businesses of all types are pressured to provide continuous business functionality while also ensuring the security of their customers’ digital assets. In the past, many companies relied on outsourced managed service providers to mitigate cyber risks. However, this has typically not been the primary focus of a traditional MSP, hence the rise of the MSSP (managed security services provider). More recently, the line between the two is blurring.

To keep up with the demands of clients, many MSPs have shifted their portfolios to include security services as part of their services such as antivirus, encryption and backup offerings.

To help distinguish the changing roles of third-party service providers, let’s explore the managed services landscape and assess security trends to clarify which service your business may need now as well as in the future.

Adding Security to the MSP Experience

Traditionally, MSPs focus on operations. Their role has been to take care of production systems and help with projects like migrating content to the cloud or overseeing email. On a daily basis, this partnership includes monitoring technology systems and making sure everything is up-to-date and functioning through remote monitoring.

Some MSPs also consult on IT strategy, helping you plan out your technology systems, equipment and software for business growth, while others specialize in specific services. As technology has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, so has the need for security. Naturally, MSPs have evolved to assist their clients. Today, many will also help with security concerns such as recommending, installing and updating firewalls and antivirus software.

As the demand for security protocols has escalated, MSSPs were born to offer true security as a service. Their primary role is to ensure your people and systems are safe, secure and compliant.


Operating Procedures

MSPs sell IT services to clients in a fixed-fee model that is either based on per device, per user or some sort of combination. These services are typically dominated by tools such as remote monitoring and management and ticketing systems that drive business, monitor clients’ systems and keep users happy.

When we get into providing security services, however, the focus then shifts to providing more consulting services. Instead of simply executing a firmware update or patching a server, MSSPs are also looking at the data and making decisions around policy, procedure and evaluating risks to their clients’ environments.

They must be able to answer questions about the latest malware and malicious activities of cyber criminals. They must understand how to protect their clients from data loss due to phishing attacks, ransomware, fraud, USB attacks, vishing attacks and more. 

Deciding which partnership makes sense for your business depends on your current level of security, your business needs and your budget. It may be useful for you to invest in an MSP now and consider adding an MSSP relationship in the future. If you can find a partner who provides both MSP and MSSP services, that may also be a good option.  


Security Value

An MSSP’s role in your IT ecosystem is highly specialized and can be critical to protecting your data and your brand.

For most, this sort of informed oversight begins with a deep understanding of current policies and regulatory compliance issues that might affect your company. For instance, if your company is in the medical industry, your MSSP should have a solid understanding of current HIPAA privacy rules so it can make recommendations for protecting your data and instituting appropriate practices.

The goal is to look at the security of your overall environment and bolster it with proactive solutions and reactive remedies. An MSSP’s job is providing a security solution based on what is happening in your IT ecosystem and how data flows in and out of the network. The key piece here is the ability to provide the insight needed to make changes to policies and procedures in order to prevent security incidents that might result in negative outcomes.


Fully Utilized Resources

The final component of an MSSP is how they define themselves and communicate the value of their security services to clients and prospects. Essentially, what makes them different? For MSPs, this is typically based on factors like price or the number of features that are rolled up into their offering.

While this is no less important for MSSPs, the one key difference is in how they utilize their resources. Cybersecurity today is not only about the power of technology but mainly the power of the people behind it.

As we begin to see more MSSPs emerge, the focus will shift to how effectively these businesses can use their resources — including their own staff or partnerships. Essentially, the major differentiator for MSSPs is the extent to which they provide clients with the information, analysis and risk assessment needed to make educated decisions around risk tolerance and how to bolster IT security company-wide.


As an MSP that was also named one of the top 200 MSSPs in the world, Ascend offers both traditional managed services and those with more advanced security services. To learn more about which may be right for your business, contact us.

<< Back to Blog

Posted in Cybersecurity