What’s the ‘S’ for?
In the last Superman movie Lois Lane asks Superman, “What’s the ‘S’ for?” He replies, “It’s not an, ‘S’. On my world it stands for hope”. A lot of people have been asking the same question about managed service providers who have recently added an ‘S’ to the acronym that describes their online services. They have gone from calling themselves MSPs to MSSPs. What’s the difference?
“Oh, good. Another confusing acronym!
A lot of people would shrug this off. After all it’s taken a long time to educate clients about the benefits of managed service providers, and I’m the first to admit being overwhelmed with acronyms IYKWIM. That said, if you already have an agreement with an MSP or you are actively searching for one it is important to understand what this ‘S’ includes and what it doesn’t include.
What is an MSP?
MSP stands for Managed Service Provider. In short an MSP is an IT services company that assumes a proactive and ongoing management role in the technology infrastructure of a business. MSPs offer a range of services such as monitoring, maintenance, security, and support for IT systems, networks, and applications.
The main benefit of using an MSP is that businesses can outsource their IT needs to a team of experts who can provide ongoing management and support, freeing up their internal resources to focus on core business operations.
MSPs are a valuable partner for businesses of all sizes and industries looking to streamline their IT operations, reduce costs. Because they typically bring with them industry best standards they can also have the added benefit of improving a company’s overall security posture.
What is an MSSP?
MSSP stands for Managed Security Service Provider, which is a specialized type of IT services company that focuses on providing cybersecurity services to businesses. MSSPs are often MSPs that have made a concerted effort evolve their business model so that they can offer and maintain a specific set of services that can anticipate or mitigate security risks.
This is a natural evolution in the industry. As the the threat landscape evolves and speed of business accelerates more and more decisions that impact security services have to be made. Often they fall on the shoulders of people who are overwhelmed, under prepared, and not acquainted with the repercussions of these choices. The company is left unprotected and no one is aware of the impending risks.
What are some examples of Managed IT Security Services?
Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) offer a range of cybersecurity services that are important to small businesses. Here are some examples of the services that MSSPs offer and why they are essential:
- Threat Detection and Response: MSSPs provide threat detection and response services that help businesses identify potential cyber threats and respond quickly and effectively to mitigate them. These services are important to small businesses because they may not have the resources to monitor their systems for potential threats or respond to incidents in a timely manner.
- Network Security Management: MSSPs help businesses manage their network security by implementing and managing firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and other security technologies. Just as important these MSSP’s review the logs and alerts from these security systems to flags the real threats.
- Data Backup and Recovery: MSSPs offer data backup and recovery services that help businesses protect their data in the event of a cyber attack or other data loss event. These services are important to small businesses because they may not have the resources to implement and manage backup and recovery solutions in-house.
- Compliance Management: MSSPs help businesses achieve compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR. Compliance management services are important to small businesses because they may not have the expertise or resources to navigate the complex regulatory landscape.
In the last few years managed security service providers have also been able to provide offensive security services and not only defensive. Some of the proactive tools that an MSSP can use to combat cybersecurity threats are:
- Intrusion detection: Intrusion detection monitors activity on a company network for signs of unauthorized access and possible threats.
- Penetration testing: This involves external tools and probing a client’s network operations center or publicly facing network services with mock attacks to search for potential cybersecurity weaknesses.
- Employee security training: What does a fishing attack look like? How can I tell if the person on the phone, or the site I am visiting is an imposter meant to trick me? Many managed security services providers offer training for client employees to help them avoid some of the critical mistakes that attackers often leverage. In the USA CISA recommends simulated phishing attacks as part of a larger training program can be part of an effective program to combat ransomware attacks.
MSSPs offer a range of essential cybersecurity services that can help small businesses protect their data, systems, and reputation from cyber threats. By partnering with an MSSP, small businesses can benefit from the expertise and resources of a dedicated cybersecurity team without having to invest in expensive security tools and technologies or maintain an in-house security team.
How do I know if my business needs help from an MSP or an MSSP?
An MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider) can help businesses of all sizes to manage their cybersecurity risks by providing expertise and resources that are often beyond the scope of the business’s internal capabilities. However, not all businesses necessarily need the help of an MSSP. Here are some signs that a business might benefit from the services of an MSSP:
- Lack of in-house expertise: If the business lacks an in-house cybersecurity expert, an MSSP can provide specialized knowledge, skills, and tools to manage security risks.
- Limited resources: Smaller businesses may not have the resources to maintain an in-house cybersecurity team. This can make it difficult for SMB’s to keep up with the rapidly changing security landscape. The firs minutes of an attack are crucial in determining how deep it will go. An MSSP can provide access to the latest security technologies, expertise, and support without requiring a large investment in personnel and technology.
- Compliance requirements: Businesses that are subject to regulatory compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR, may need an MSSP to help them navigate complex regulatory requirements and maintain compliance.
- Business growth: As businesses grow, they may need to expand their security capabilities to protect their assets and reputation. During a rapid phase of expansion a business might not be able to hire enough cybersecurity trained resources. This leads to poor security decisions and opens opportunities for attackers. An MSSP can provide scalable and flexible security solutions that can grow with the business.
In general, any business that wants to improve its cybersecurity posture and reduce the risk of cyber attacks can benefit from the services of an MSSP. It’s important to carefully evaluate the potential MSSPs and ensure that they can meet the specific needs and requirements of the business.
Should I really care?
Anyone who has ever lived through the carnage of a cyber attack can tell you it is horrendous. The consequences of such an attack are not measure in dollars, but on the effect that it takes on peoples lives. The lost employment, loss of respect, or self confidence that it levies against the victims is disturbing. Just like MSPs were a natural evolution to combat the increasing complexity of infrastructure management and IT support, MSSPs are a natural evolution to combat the security climate that we exist in today. So the ‘S’ does stand for hope. Hope that we can faced threats in a managed, knowledgeable, and organized fashion. Hope that our business can becomes something other than low hanging fruit for those who seek to do harm. When you consider the impact that and MSSP can make you may concluded that MSPs are simply not enough anymore. You may conclude that managed security services providers are what is required now to face threats that are evolving in frequency and complexity.