MSSP stands for Managed Security Service Provider – outsourced security experts that offer management and monitoring of a company’s network security infrastructure.
MSSPs can provide a valuable service before, during and after a cyber attack. Before an attack, their focus is on hardening IT infrastructure and enforcing solid security policies. Building up defenses does not guarantee to prevent online criminals from attempting to penetrate your systems, so MSSPs can help to prevent an attack in real time by detecting vulnerabilities in targeted systems.
MSSPs can work either on-site or remotely, and their range of services include virus blocking, intrusion detection, firewalls and VPN management, and can also handle system changes, updates and upgrades, including modifications to existing systems or software.
MSSPs serving multiple clients may see many attacks over the course of a single year, and is in the best position to understand and contain any damage caused, as well as use their knowledge to further harden your network.
A typical MSSP can provide a number of services relating to your system security and infrastructure, which include:
- An analysis of your current security to identify gaps and vulnerabilities, taking the necessary action required to rectify these.
- The implementation and monitoring of intrusion detection systems (IDS) and firewalls. This should typically be on a full time, 24/7 basis, since attacks can happen at any hour.
- The collection and analysis of event monitoring data, in order to detect, identify and prevent possible intrusion attempts.
- The rapid and effective response to any threats identified.
- Backup and recovery options in the event of an attack.
For a small to medium-sized business, a good MSSP should function as a seamless extension of the firm’s own IT employees.
Why use an MSSP?
One of the primary reason for businesses to utilize the services of an MSSP is to minimize the time your IT department spends dealing with security issues. Just as an MSP can take care of much of the day-to-day legwork that comes with managing an IT infrastructure, an MSSP will tackle the majority of the workload associated with securing and defending it.
Maintaining a good security posture can be an incredibly time-consuming task and having an MSSP to take care of it can free up your in-house IT team to focus on other jobs that will deliver business benefits, such as network performance projects.
Cyber security is a complex and ever-changing field, and it can be very difficult indeed for a small IT team to keep up with – especially one that has to worry about support services, upgrades, infrastructure and other IT issues at the same time as security. MSSPs, by contrast, specialize in security, and therefore often have a great deal more experience and expertise in the area.
Service providers in this category usually offer comprehensive security services delivered remotely, and fees are typically highly affordable to reflect financial constraints. Most fees are charged monthly on a flat rate basis, enabling businesses to ensure predictability of costs.
MSSPs can work in-house or remotely, but when working in-house, are able to integrate well within a company’s existing IT teams. It also means your IT staff are free to work on other projects rather than being bothered with security tasks.
The criteria for engaging an MSSP are much the same as outsourcing any other service – factors include whether it is more cost-effective to outsource compared to a comparable in-house solution, if you’ve focused on core competencies, whether it will be easy to remain up-to-date on what has been going on. The client of an MSSP is still responsible, ultimately, for its own security.
A managed service provider (MSP) delivers a service which is slightly more restrictive than that of an MSSP. They deliver network, application, system and e-management solutions across a network to multiple businesses, usually on a pay-as-you-go basis. As such, management services are its core offering and are fairly limited. MSSPs often incorporate a range of 24/7 services designed to protect against intrusions and other security related attacks.