The Difference Between an MSP and MSSP

August 5, 2021 / by Frederid Palacios

Maintaining your entire company’s IT infrastructure and network is not a small task. Beyond tech support, your IT department is responsible for adopting new technology, troubleshooting, updates and maintenance, and security. This can be overwhelming for an internal IT department and can often result in errors and delays if your IT team is spread too thin or inexperienced. As a result, many businesses are obtaining the services of MSPs or managed service providers. MSPs are third-party IT support teams trained to handle the IT infrastructure of their clients. A similar provider, MSSPs, or managed security service provider, is an equally beneficial resource but offers slightly different services. To ensure that you receive the services you need, you must understand the difference between an MSP and MSSP.

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Managed Service Provider (MSP)

A managed service provider is a third-party provider designed to support your internal IT department. The primary services of an MSP include managing and monitoring the health of your business' technology. Essentially, MSPs ensure that your company has the right equipment and support to run smoothly, both inside and outside your organization. Your provider will review your data to make sure it is available and useful to your customers and employees. As problems arise, MSPs will work with you to resolve them.

MSPs focus mainly on technology administration, alleviating some of the more routine tasks from your internal team. They will be responsible for granting access and permissions to employees based on their roles, onboarding new employees into your network, recording and providing log data, and troubleshooting as necessary. MSPs are highly beneficial in offering optimized IT services, minimizing many of the issues that would otherwise occupy your internal IT department.

Getting into specifics, there are some primary services that MSPs will handle for your organization to optimize your IT environment. An excellent service offered is data backup management. It is crucial for organizations handling data to regularly back up their data. Still, as this is a mundane task, it often goes forgotten or ignored, resulting in data loss. Fortunately, MSPs are trained to run regular backups, ensuring that sensitive information is protected in the case of a breach or breakdown. Beyond backup management, MSPs will manage IT monitoring, help desk solutions, and IT support, ensuring that your network runs smoothly at all times. With the help of an MSP, your IT department will be alleviated of countless routine tasks so that they can focus on more strategic and pressing projects.

While MSPs are instrumental in providing day-to-day needs such as infrastructure, application, and networking security support, they may not fulfill your technology needs completely – this is where MSSPs come in. There is often confusion on the difference between an MSP and MSSP, but there are some crucial differences. MSPs focus on usability and performance, while MSSPs specifically focus on security, both of which are essential for your company's success. As a result, it is vital that you cover all bases of your IT environment – including security. To obtain an elevated level of data safety and security, you may need to implement an MSSP in addition to an MSP.


Cyber Security as a Competitive Advantage


Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)

A managed security service provider focuses specifically on the security of your IT environment. Where MSPs handle the administrative tasks of IT, MSSPs concentrate on the bubble of security surrounding your company – essentially what keeps your data safe. While MSPs are instrumental in ensuring that employees can access and share data easily, MSSPs provide cybersecurity monitoring and management that allows data to be shared safely.

For any business, data sharing is a critical aspect of your operations. Both employees and customers require access to your data, but at very different levels. The individuals that access your data should only be able to access what they are explicitly authorized to. This can be challenging to manage, but it is critical. If sensitive data gets into the wrong hands of your organization, even unintentionally, it is considered a breach and may result in high costs – both financially and to your reputation. As a result, it is critical that you have the most highly advanced security surrounding your information. Fortunately, MSSPs are trained to provide exactly that.

MSSPs can make customizations to the access levels of all employees and customers, ensuring that they only access the data that they are authorized to. No matter the level of complexity for data access levels, MSSPs will work with you to develop a solution that permits access as needed and denies it to those who should not have access. To ensure this, many MSSPs practice zero-trust security. This security concept means that no users will be granted automatic access. Instead, any individual attempting to connect to your network must be verified and authorized before access is granted. This security method significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized users accessing data, thus reducing the risk of breaches.

In addition to determining and deploying access controls, MSSPs are also responsible for preventing, detecting, and responding to threats before they become critical. The key to a high level of security is to be proactive rather than merely reactive. With an MSSP, breaches can be identified and handled before causing significant damage to your company.

Another considerable aspect of information security is compliance. For companies handling particularly sensitive data, there are many regulations that must be followed concerning customer data. Fortunately, MSSPs understand this and are equipped to meet security and privacy regulations to ensure that you do not face legal repercussions. MSSPs will ensure that your organization complies with all regulations, which can significantly alleviate responsibility from your IT and legal teams. With this role delegated, these teams can focus on more strategic tasks that move your business forward.


MSP and MSSP: A Dynamic Duo

MSP and MSSPs are often confused as the same when in reality, they have very different focuses. While MSPs focus primarily on administrative IT tasks such as infrastructure, application, and networking security support, MSSPs focus exclusively on IT security. Even for those that understand the difference between the two, there is a misconception that only one is needed. While it is not necessary to obtain the services of both an MSP and MSSP, utilizing the support of both is highly beneficial. With both an MSP and MSSP, your organization can achieve the highest level of IT strength and support. Both IT infrastructure management and security are critical to maintaining a robust IT environment that can support a company. By only optimizing one of these areas, you are leaving your network short-sided. Instead, your IT environment's administrative and security components should support one another, and this can be achieved with the help of both an MSP and MSSP. By utilizing these providers, you will see improved efficiency, productivity, and security of your IT infrastructure.

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Tags: Cyber Security, Technical Support Services

Frederid Palacios

Written by Frederid Palacios

Fred Palacios is a seasoned software architect with more than 20 years of experience participating in the entire software development cycle across a host of different industries--from automotive and services to petroleum, financial, and supply chain. In that time, his experience working closely with high-level stakeholders has provided him with a strategic vision for developing the right solutions to flexibly meet critical business needs. As CTO of Intertec, he's continuing to focus on the creation of business-critical applications for large enterprise projects, particularly those that handle high concurrency and large datasets. He is passionate about using technology as a tool to solve real-world problems and also mentoring technical teams to achieve their maximum potential and deliver quality software.

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