Managed service providers (MSPs) are businesses that deliver ongoing services to other companies. With the technological industry constantly advancing, keeping on top of all IT related processes can be difficult - especially for small businesses without extensive IT departments.
MSPs offer a wide range of services. Some can be very limited, while others are extremely broad and can manage most, if not all, of your network and security needs.
Managed security service providers (MSSPs) specialize in providing security-as-a-services offerings to their customers. Their common services focused on outsourced monitoring and management of security devices and systems include: managed firewall, virtual private network, intrusion detection, etc.
What are the different types of Managed Service Providers?
MSPs can be categorized in several ways depending on the criteria. The two most common systems are grouping the MSPs based on their scope and the type of service they’re offering.
MSP types based on scope
MSPs can be broken up into three broad categories: lower-level, mid-level, and high-level MSPs. These categories are defined by the extent of the services the provider offers to its clients.
These MSPs manage all their clients’ IT services and provide support without being involved in the business’ needs or IT planning. They monitor the company’s system, install and integrate new software, and track the functionality and security of the software. If they find any problems or threats, the MSP notifies the client and advises them on what precautionary actions or counter-measures to take.
Mid-level, or value-added, managed service providers offer their clients a wider range of technological services, in addition to IT support and maintenance. These managed services include monitoring software and taking immediate action when threats or problems are detected, as well as disaster recovery services.
They also keep all the software updated and offer more scalability than lower-level MSPs so that they can meet the needs of the company.
High-level MSPs offer the full spectrum of managed IT services - usually from their own facilities. With this type of MSP, you would get all of the IT support and management as with a mid-level MSP, as well as additional communications services, analytics, wireless network support, and much more.
Types of MSPs based on service
Managed Service Providers offer numerous different types of IT services to help keep your business running smoothly. Here are some examples of managed services:
One of the top services that MSPs provide is security management. They ensure that a company’s system is safe and secure by implementing certain threat-prevention services, including anti-malware software, patching and maintenance, and application compatibility.
Installing anti-malware software on the company’s computers protects the network from viruses. Patching and maintenance ensure that all software is up to date and running the latest versions. This helps to prevent hackers or viruses from getting into the network.
Lastly, application compatibility is the process of checking that all hardware and software components are integrated and compatible so that everything runs smoothly and works together to keep the network secure.
Managed services usually include providing round-the-clock IT support. This is an important part of any provider's service offering as customers need to be able to contact support at any time to fix problems that they come across.
If they do not offer support 24/7, they should include guidelines for guaranteed response times so that customers can know when to expect help.
Networking and Infrastructure
MSPs help companies to set up their networks and the infrastructure of their systems. This includes services such as on-site hardware or software setup, mobile networking, managed cloud services, storage backup systems, and remote printing services that allow authorized employees to print through the company network when they aren’t physically there.
Managed Services sometimes include some sort of communications system so that employees can easily transfer data, documents, images, and information to company computers from any location. Communications services may also include setting up voice or video calls for multiple people, no matter where they are so that companies can hold conferences or meetings remotely.
If you’re not well versed in IT, analyzing data can be very confusing. MSPs offer data analytics services to help companies investigate how various processes are performing within the business. They help to make that information more accessible so that the company can plan for trends more strategically.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
An integral service that MSPs offer is backup and disaster recovery. Putting backup measures in place helps to protect and restore company data should the system fail and crash for some reason.
Managed Service Providers could also offer SaaS programs, which they would maintain and update remotely. They could either develop a program themselves to suit the specific needs of a company or they could integrate a third-party program within the company’s existing system.
What is MSSP (managed security service provider)?
Managed security service providers (MSSPs) are IT service providers that sell security services to companies. An MSSP's main role is to protect businesses from security threats. They do this proactively by providing software and services that keep company data safe or reactively by building a network of security experts who respond to attacks in real time.
While MSPs tend to cover more basic security services, MSSPs offer a greater security scope, reinforcing their security specialization. MSSPs deliver a plethora of security services, like access control, video surveillance, continuous security monitoring, vulnerability risk assessment, intrusion management, threat intelligence, and assessments. Businesses can outsource part or their whole IT security functions to MSSPs.
Why do companies hire MSSPs?
Employing a highly technical in-house IT team, for instance, a cybersecurity one, is often more expensive and demanding than working with an MSSP. They reduce the complexity of the whole process and can also lessen their client's costs on equipment and software tools.
Security threats are no longer a source of fear only to enterprises. As they evolve and become more common and frequent, companies of all sizes should consider working with MSSPs.
Types of MSSP
Over the years, MSSPs have developed and differentiated in various ways. Some focus mainly on managed security, some solely on cybersecurity, while others resell vendors' cloud-based security services.
Still, we can identify 6 managed security services categories.
Network perimeter management
Most MSSPs work on securing their clients' network perimeter to ensure the protection of all devices within it.
What is a perimeter? It's the conceptual line that separates the company’s internal and public assets. The perimeter's objective is to limit access to sensitive data. This is achieved by controlling who and what can get into the network.
In cases where companies use a single enterprise network for security, the MSSPs aim to protect its perimeter from outside attacks.
Managed security monitoring
Usually the first step in the incident response process – managed security monitoring is continuous network monitoring for threats. It includes the day-to-day monitoring and interpretation of important network system events, like unauthorized behavior, malicious hacks, and trend analysis.
Penetration testing and vulnerability assessments
These valuable MSSP services are integral components of a Threat and Vulnerability Management process and support any information security program.
Let's make a clear distinction between these often interchangeably used terms.
A vulnerability assessment is a surface-level evaluation of a company's information security posture. It indicates the weaknesses and provides the strategies to eliminate or reduce them to an acceptable risk level. Simply put, it's the process of identifying and quantifying known security vulnerabilities in an environment.
Simulating the actions of an external or internal cyber attack is a penetration test. The tester tries to exploit critical systems and gain access to sensitive data potentially exposed during an information security breach.
Reviewing the company's compliance with data security policies and procedures, compliance monitoring typically involves regular security device and infrastructure scans by the MSSP. Based on the scan results, the MSSP determines if its client should make any security software or infrastructure changes. Businesses are generally required to prove that they comply with various rules and regulations governing electronic data storage and transmission to ensure compliance.
Some MSSPs offer highly-customized help in developing security policies and processes and assessing business risks and key business security requirements. These on-site assessments can focus on security architecture and design.
The MSSPs can also offer their consulting services reactively. For instance, they can provide mitigation support with emergency incident response and forensic analysis after an intrusion occurred.
Resale of products
Many MSSPs generate revenue by reselling software, hardware, and services, even though that's technically not a managed service.
For instance, an MSSP might offer a plethora of security devices, like access control, for clients to choose from.
Technical support for the resold devices, penetration testing, and security audits are some additional services some MSSPs resellers offer.
Choosing a managed security service provider
The cost-effectiveness of hiring an MSSP compared to keeping things in-house, the need for 24/7 service, the comfort of staying up-to-date, and the prospect of focusing on the company's core activities are the most common reasons for choosing an MSSP.
How to choose from the various MSSPs? Take your time, do the research, and focus on the following 5 segments:
- Security: One of the crucial elements to consider, given you'll be delegating your company's security. For instance, learn how the potential MSSP will manage and maintain your company's sensitive data.
- Services: Every company has unique security needs, and not all services a particular MSSP offers will be the best match. Choose the type of MSSP that works best for your business by establishing the services you need that they can provide and fulfill.
- Expertise: You're likely considering an MSSP because you don't have the in-house expertise. Explore whether the MSSP you're considering has successful industry experts on board, like engineers and cybersecurity specialists.
- Capacity: It's time to also consider the quantity of the MSSP's employees. Since they'll be dealing with round-the-clock requests and potential threats, it's essential they have an adequate number of trained employees.
- Cost: Even when you've found the perfect MSSP match, you must consider the dedicated budget. You can easily evaluate if the MSSP is the right fit based on their pricing and your budget.
Managed Service Providers offer a wide range of IT services for small and large businesses alike. From general IT support to data analytics, having a good MSP on hand is essential to keep your company network running smoothly.
Managed security service providers (MSSPs) act as MSPs specialized in security. Beside product reselling, MSSPs offer the following services: network perimeter management, penetration testing and vulnerability assessments, on-site consulting, managed security, and compliance monitoring. Consider hiring an MSSP if you want to minimize security gaps, support your IT and security staff, and have 24/7 expertise to assure prompt detection and response.