Business leaders that have explored working with an external IT support provider have probably encountered two often-used terms, managed IT service provider (MSP) and managed security service provider (MSSP). Because the difference between the two is so subtle, it’s easy to get confused about exactly what each of them can do for your company and which one you should hire.
This article will provide an overview of what to expect from each type of company, how they interact with each other, and a brief overview of how the managed service field is evolving.
The MSP’s job is to take responsibility for IT administration and strategy. While this may include some processes that are related to security, most of their work is geared toward improving the uptime of your network and providing a satisfying, efficient user experience for your staff.
MSPs take responsibility for network management tasks
The Complete Network team has written several articles exploring each of the major aspects of a managed IT solution, including what goes into a high-quality help desk solution, how to create an IT policy, what defines quality MSP support, and many others.
If the MSP is the government in your town, the MSSP is the police force. They’re not interested in network performance or staff productivity metrics. Instead, they’re focused on keeping malicious actors – both internal and external – from stealing data or otherwise doing cyber-harm to your business.
Some of the tasks an MSSP performs as part of their support include:
These terms are often used when discussing MSP and MSSP services. Adding another layer of complexity; they also provide another way that we can understand the difference between the two service offerings.
MSPs have a network operations center (NOC), which is a centralized collection of people, tools, and processes that they use resolve technology management problems. By gathering data about how your company’s technology operates, NOC engineers can remediate problems – often remotely – and keep devices and applications running smoothly.
By contrast, a security operations center (SOC) houses a team of security specialists who provide 24/7 security monitoring of your critical systems and data. To do this specialized work, SOC engineers use a set of tools that go beyond basic network firewalls and VPN systems.
One of the important tools in the MSSPs arsenal is the Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) platform. SIEM platforms are a centralized location for collecting and analyzing data and logfiles from your network, allowing the SOC team to quickly interpret important information, provide accurate security alerts, and minimize the time your team spends responding to false positives.
In response to the continued and dramatic increase in cybersecurity attacks at small and midsized businesses, many MSPs have come out with security solutions that approximate what an MSSP might offer.
This is both an opportunity and a risk. While some MSPs have put in the effort to build a robust security solution, others are just capitalizing on the need for more security and haven’t put in the considerable effort it takes to provide strong security.
A security solution may look comprehensive on paper, but if it hasn’t been planned and implemented with a close attention to best practices, it will provide your business only a false sense of security. How can you tell if your MSP is capable of offering security? Here are a few good indicators:
We’re passionate about helping companies face their complex security challenge with confidence. If you’re an organization in Albany, New York or Charlotte, North Carolina that wants to learn more about improving your security posture, we encourage you to reach out and get some advice from our experts. Contact us at 877.877.1840 or [email protected]. We look forward to speaking with you!
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