Cyber Security encompasses so many different facets. It’s complex and can be expensive if not done right. So where do you begin? Most business owners want two things:

  1. Better security and compliance, and...
  2. Cost savings

How can you achieve these goals?

First, please, understand that Cyber Security should not be treated in isolation or as a tick-box exercise. Cyber Security needs to be integrated from the bottom to the top of your organisation for it to be effective.

Next, you need to understand your options. The fact is, most small to medium sized businesses do not have in-house Cyber Security expertise. Many do not have in-house IT expertise either. In this case, most businesses will opt to use a third-party or outsourced service to tackle their IT and Cyber Security needs. Who can you turn to, to take advantage of these outsourced services?

You will have seen the acronyms MSP and MSSP. These guys can help take the worry and cost out of cyber security. But what specifically do they do, and which is the best choice? Let’s discuss the difference between an MSP and an MSSP?

What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

An MSP is a company who specialise in handling some of your business operations, in this context, operations linked to, or related to your IT systems. A Managed IT Service provider effectively acts as your IT department, complete with a manager, technicians, analysts and consultants or specialists.

The individual services an MSP can offer to your business are almost limitless, but to help, here’s a really short list of some of the operational tasks they should be able to deal with:

  • Manage your network and devices
  • Perform software updates and upgrades
  • Look after your cloud applications, such as Microsoft 365 or Google WorkSpace
  • Provide an IT help desk service, perhaps combined with on-site engineering when needed
  • Help with HR related tasks such as user onboarding and offboarding
  • Help with finance related tasks such as working with your CFO to create IT budgets for the next few years
  • Provide and support a telephone system (Unified Communications, UC and VoIP)
  • Providing and managing your internet connections, both fixed and mobile
  • And MOST IMPORTANTLY, a mature MSP can provide a solid cyber security service, and help you with compliance

A mature MSP can provide you with operationally-effective and cost-effective Cyber Security.

Let’s now discuss what an MSSP is:

What is a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)?

A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) is a company that specialises in supplying and managing  cyber security services to other organisations. They are a dedicated outsourced cyber security team, highly skilled with a sharp focus on security.

What an MSSP does not do, is look after your broader IT operations.

We discuss the individual services they may offer shortly.

What is the Difference Between an MSP and an MSSP?

While researching cyber security solutions, you will come across the two terms we have just defined: Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). It's essential to understand the distinction between the two and how they relate to each other.

  • Managed Service Providers (MSPs): MSPs offer a range of IT services, including network management, data backup, and IT support. Mature MSP’s also offer a range of Cyber Security services. Why do they offer both services? Because, Good IT is a key ingredient of good Cyber Security. And vice versa, you can’t call your Cyber Security service a great service, if you don’t have control over the IT.
  • Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs): MSSPs only offer Cyber Security services. This may include specialised security services such as a security operations centre (SOC), ethical hacking, rapid incident response, and forensic analysis of incidents.

In essence, all MSSPs are not MSPs, but some MSPs provide similar services to MSSPs.

Both MSPs and MSSPs offer managed Cyber Security services. What does that mean?

What Cyber Security Services do I need?

Cyber Security is a huge topic, with many facets. Mature MSP’s and MSSP’s both offer managed cyber security as a service. This means they look after important tasks such as:

  • Endpoint Protection: Protecting devices like laptops, smartphones, and servers from malware and other threats. This may include an endpoint detect and respond (EDR) service for more accurate detection of potential treats.
  • Vulnerability Management: Regular scans and assessments to identify and address security weaknesses in your network and systems.
  • Threat Intelligence: Continuous monitoring and analysis of potential threats to provide proactive protection.
  • Incident Response: Rapid response and remediation services to contain and eliminate threats if a security breach occurs.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): Collection and analysis of security data to detect suspicious activities and support compliance requirements.
  • Security awareness training: Training for your staff. Helping them to play a key part in your Cyber Security strategy
  • Phishing simulations: Fake phishing emails sent to your employees to test their training and reporting.
  • Penetration Testing: Regular tests of your network, cloud infrastructure and web-based applications, looking for weaknesses than can be exploited. This is more intrusive than Vulnerability Management on its own.
  • Compliance Management: Ensuring that your business meets industry regulations and standards, such as GDPR, Cyber Essentials, NIS2, ISO27001, HIPAA and more.

The Cyber Security landscape is complex and continuously evolving. The list above is not an exhaustive list. The question is, do you have the capability in-house to handle essential tasks such as these?

Should I choose an MSP or MSSP?

The answer to this question boils down to your needs.

If you do not have the in-house capability to manage your own IT or Cyber Security, then choosing to go down the MSP route will be the most effective choice. The broader capabilities and services (including Cyber Security) that an MSP has over an MSSP means it will be a more cost-effective option. You also get a full-range of services from a single trusted supplier.

If you do have in-house capability to look after your own IT, then an MSSP may be a good option. As they are more focused on JUST Cyber Security, then having a partnership with an MSSP will ensure you have the essential cyber security in-place, while your in-house IT looks after the day to day.

There is a second option if you already have in-house IT. Choose an MSP over an MSSP. Why would you consider that? Here’s a few reasons:

  1. MSPs can complement your existing in-house team, providing additional resource when there is sickness, holiday, or a project requiring more expertise or resource.
  2. MSPs are used to partnering with in-house IT teams, providing a co-managed IT service to your organisation.
  3. MSPs can extend the capabilities of your in-house team with additional services where you may have skills gaps
  4. Mature MSPs offer a range of Cyber Security services that match even the best of the MSSPs.

It may be more cost effective, even when you have an in-house team, to bring an MSP onboard to assist your in-house team. Identify where your gaps are, then talk to a mature MSP like PS Tech to see how they can assist in filling them. The MSP will be able to help you with the gap analysis too, if you don’t know where to start.

How to Choose the Right MSP or MSSP

Selecting the right MSP or MSSP for your business is crucial. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Reputation and Experience: Look for an MSP with a proven track record and positive reviews from other businesses. Experience in your specific industry can be a significant advantage.
  • Range of Services: Ensure the MSP offers a comprehensive range of services that meet your specific security needs. Customisable service packages can be beneficial.
  • Compliance Expertise: If your business needs to adhere to specific regulations, choose an MSP with experience in managing compliance requirements.
  • Response Time: Quick response times are essential in mitigating security breaches. Ask potential MSPs about their incident response times and protocols.
  • Cost and Contract Flexibility: Compare pricing models and contract terms. Some MSPs offer flexible contracts that can grow with your business.

To help you further we can provide you with an online quote today. Click here to compare our cyber security plans and get an instant quote.

By carefully selecting an MSP, you can enhance your cyber security posture in a cost-effective manner, ensuring robust protection against ever-evolving cyber threats.

Cyber security doesn't have to be overwhelming or prohibitively expensive. With the right MSP or MSSP, your business can achieve comprehensive protection, allowing you to focus on growth and innovation with peace of mind.

July 09, 2024 — Paul Stanyer