A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) is a specialised third-party organisation that provides outsourced monitoring and management of security systems and devices for businesses. These services are typically delivered via the cloud from a security operations centre (SOC) and are designed to help organisations improve their security, achieve compliance goals, and reduce the burden on in-house IT staff.
There are many services that an MSSP can provide, and the exact offering can vary from provider to provider. Services MSSPs offer include:
Managed Firewall – Protecting a business network by controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.
Intrusion Detection System (IDS) & Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) – Monitor network traffic for suspicious activity and issue alerts when such activity is discovered, while preventing those activities from causing harm to the network.
MDR (Managed Detection and Response) – Responds to threats once they are identified, often using advanced analytics and machine learning to detect threats.
SOC (Security Operations Centre) – A centralised unit that deals with security issues on an organisational and technical level, providing real-time monitoring, assessment and response to cybersecurity incidents.
SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) – Real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware.
Vulnerability Scanning – Inspects the potential points of exploit on a computer or network to identify security weaknesses.
Penetration Testing – Simulates a cyber attack against your computer system to check for exploitable vulnerabilities.
Email Security – Protects email accounts and content from phishing, spam, malware and other email-based threats.
Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) offer a level of expertise and range of resources that most businesses would find difficult to achieve in-house. They have the ability to stay up-to-date with the latest security threats, technologies and industry developments and can provide a superior level of security monitoring and incident response.
A Security Operations Centre (SOC) is a specialised facility where a team of cybersecurity experts oversee and safeguard an organisation’s IT framework and confidential data from cyber threats. The general duties of the team include monitoring network activity, security notifications, and other data streams to detect and react to security breaches.
While a SOC relates to the infrastructure and processes used to monitor and protect data, an MSSP is the service provider that can manage these processes.
A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) plays a critical role in enhancing an organisation’s cybersecurity posture. Here’s how an MSSP typically works:
● An MSSP begins by assessing the client’s security needs, risk profile, and compliance requirements.
● Based on the initial assessment, the MSSP creates a customised security strategy that outlines necessary measures and services to protect the client’s digital infrastructure.
● The MSSP deploys advanced security tools and technologies to monitor the client’s IT environment in real time.
● One of the key functions of an MSSP is providing 24/7 security monitoring and promptly identifying any anomalies or potential threats.
● In the event of a security incident, the MSSP follows predefined incident response procedures to minimise impact and prevent recurrence.
● For organisations under specific regulations or standards, the MSSP manages compliance through ongoing assessments, documentation, and reporting to regulatory authorities.
● The MSSP provides regular updates on security status, incident reports, and recommendations for improvements, often through a real-time security dashboard.
● MSSPs offer scalability and flexibility, adapting their services as the client’s needs change due to scaling up, new threats, or geographic expansion.
Effective communication and collaboration are crucial between the MSSP and client, as the MSSP serves as an extension of the organisation’s security team.
An MSSP handles security incidents and breaches through a structured and systematic approach. Initially, the MSSP identifies and validates the security incident or breach by monitoring and analysing the client’s network and system activities round-the-clock. Once a potential threat is detected, it is assessed in terms of its severity and potential impact on the business.
The MSSP then responds to the incident by isolating affected systems to prevent further damage and implementing mitigation strategies to counteract the threat. Post-incident, the MSSP conducts a thorough investigation to understand the root cause of the breach and provides recommendations to prevent similar occurrences in the future. They also ensure compliance with regulatory requirements by documenting the incident and the response actions taken. This comprehensive approach ensures that the client’s business operations are minimally affected, and that their data and systems remain secure.
Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) offer essential services to businesses, but they differ in their areas of expertise.
An MSP provides a broad range of IT services that can include network management, system updates, data backup, and cloud services. They are an outsourced IT department that helps businesses manage and maintain their IT infrastructure.
On the other hand, an MSSP specialises in security services. They provide comprehensive security solutions to protect businesses from cyber threats, including firewall and intrusion detection, virus and spam blocking, encryption services, and regulatory compliance guidance. While MSPs offer some level of security, MSSPs have more focused expertise and advanced tools to handle complex and evolving security threats.
An MSSP differs from an internal IT security team in several ways. Primarily, an MSSP is an external entity providing specialised security services to businesses, while an internal IT security team is part of the company’s staff.
The advantage of an MSSP is its dedicated focus on security, often offering a more comprehensive range of services such as:
● 24/7 monitoring,
● threat intelligence,
● incident response, and
● compliance management.
MSSPs have access to the latest technology and industry knowledge, which may be challenging for an internal team to maintain.
On the other hand, an internal IT security team may have a more intimate understanding of the company’s infrastructure and specific needs. However, they may lack the resources and breadth of expertise needed to handle complex and evolving security threats.
Both have their roles in a comprehensive security strategy, and many businesses opt for a hybrid approach, leveraging the strengths of both internal teams and MSSPs.
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) are both integral components of a comprehensive security strategy, but they serve different functions.
SIEM is a tool that offers instant analysis of security notifications originating from network hardware and applications. By gathering and correlating security information from various sources, such as firewalls, antivirus tools, and intrusion detection and prevention systems, SIEM effectively manages this data. It then consolidates and analyses this information to recognise and react to security incidents, such as potential cyber risks and malevolent activities.
On the other hand, an MSSP is a service provider that manages and monitors the security mechanisms of an organisation. This includes managing the SIEM, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems (IDS) and conducting vulnerability scanning and remediation.
Therefore, while SIEM is a tool used in cybersecurity management, an MSSP provides the services to utilise these tools effectively.
A Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service is a cybersecurity service that integrates advanced threat detection technology with specialist security analysts to proactively monitor a business’s IT environment for cyber threats.
MDR services utilise advanced tools such as Security Information And Event Management (SIEM) and User And Entity Behaviour Analytics (UEBA) to diagnose suspicious activity on a network. If a threat is found, security analysts investigate it and take the necessary steps to respond and mitigate the issue.
Why Does A Business Need An MSSP?
In today’s digital landscape, businesses are increasingly vulnerable to many sophisticated cyber threats, making cybersecurity a top priority. Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) play a crucial role in defending a business’ network by providing comprehensive security solutions to protect sensitive data and IT infrastructure. They offer expert knowledge, advanced technologies, and round-the-clock monitoring to detect and respond to any potential threats swiftly.
By outsourcing security management to an MSSP, businesses can focus on their core operations without maintaining an in-house cybersecurity team, which can be costly. Moreover, MSSPs stay up-to-date with the latest security trends and regulations, ensuring a business remains compliant and secure.
Thus, the need for an MSSP is driven by the increasing complexity of cybersecurity threats, the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing, and the assurance of continuous, expert protection.
What Are The Advantages Of An MSSP?
Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) provide numerous advantages to businesses, including:
● Comprehensive and proactive security management
● Freeing up internal IT staff for core business functions
● Access to dedicated cybersecurity experts
● 24/7 monitoring, management, and incident response
● Enhanced security posture
● Scalability and flexibility
● Cost-effective solutions
● Regulatory compliance assurance
● Clear insight into security status through regular reporting and analytics
A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) offers security services that are designed to protect an organisation’s digital assets and data while also ensuring that their security infrastructure adheres to industry regulations and standards. These services include risk assessments, policy creation and enforcement, security monitoring, incident response, penetration testing, and more.
These tasks not only align with regulatory compliance requirements but also provide documentation and evidence of the organisation’s proactive efforts towards maintaining secure systems. MSSPs also stay up-to-date on changes in the regulatory landscape, ensuring an organisation is always prepared for new compliance obligations. Partnering with an MSSP can relieve the burden of managing these complex processes internally, allowing an organisation to focus on its core business functions.
What Should A Firm Look For When Selecting An MSSP?
When selecting a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP), a firm should choose an MSSP:
● With a proven track record and expertise in addressing the industry’s security challenges.
● That offers a wide range of services, including 24/7 monitoring, incident response, and compliance management.
● That has extensive knowledge of the regulatory and compliance requirements relevant to the industry and location.
● That can scale its services to meet growing or changing security needs.
● Who maintains transparent communication, offering regular updates, reporting, and dashboard access.
The cost of a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) can vary significantly depending on the size of the organisation, the complexity of the IT environment, the specific services required, and the level of expertise of the MSSP. However, as a general guideline, one can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per user per month.
For businesses with more complex needs or larger networks, it’s not uncommon for costs to exceed these estimates. It’s important to remember that the cost of an MSSP should always be balanced against the potential cost of a security breach, which can be financially catastrophic for a business.
MSSPs typically provide a high degree of transparency and communication to inform clients and enable them to make educated decisions regarding their cybersecurity. Here’s some key communication and reporting you can expect:
● Regular Updates: An MSSP may provide regular updates on your security status. This can include information about any security incidents, ongoing monitoring, and the overall health of your security infrastructure.
● Incident Reports: When security incidents occur, MSSPs will likely provide detailed incident reports. These reports outline the nature of the incident, its impact, the steps taken for containment and resolution, and recommendations to prevent future incidents.
● Security Dashboards: Many MSSPs offer clients access to a security dashboard. This dashboard provides real-time insights into your security posture, allowing you to monitor and understand the current state of your cybersecurity.
● Security Analytics: MSSPs often provide security analytics and insights derived from the data collected during monitoring. These analytics help you understand trends, emerging threats, and areas requiring additional attention.
● Compliance Reporting: If your organisation is subject to specific regulatory requirements, the MSSP can assist you in maintaining compliance. This includes providing the necessary documentation and reporting to regulatory authorities.