In a challenging economy, everyone’s looking for new ways to increase their revenueMSSPs and MSPs aren’t any exceptions. Although both managed services fields are different, even though they are frequently confused, they do share one thing – a wealth of opportunity to grow their security business. By taking a look at how the unique capabilities of each business lend themselves to cybersecurity management success, it’s easy to see that adding or enhancing the cybersecurity offerings on their menus is a fast and affordable way to add to their revenue streams.   

What is the difference between MSPs and MSSPs?

It’s important to understand the difference between an MSP and an MSSP. Each business offers something specific and vital to its clients but in slightly different ways. In general, MSPs handle full-spectrum IT for businesses while MSSPs focus solely on cybersecurity. However, that doesn’t mean an MSP can’t sell security or an MSSP can’t sell backup. An in-depth breakdown will give us a closer look at the fundamental differences between these two managed service providers.  

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

MSPs are a full-service IT shop, handling diverse technology needs for their clients. An MSP takes care of the entire IT environment for a companyWhile some MSPs do specialize in certain areas, in general, MSPs have a holistic approach to IT. MSPs typically offer basic security and are often a company’s first line of defense against cybercrime with multipurpose security solutions like secure identity and access management or security awareness training. 

Primary Focus of MSPs 

Traditionally, the primary focus of an MSP is administration and operations, with expertise in big-picture hardware and software decisions. They work to ensure access to information systems and function similarly to a Network Operations Center (NOC). This is accomplished via Network Monitoring, or more specifically, RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management). MSPs generally handle any IT concerns their customers have in the same way an outsourced IT department would.   

Common MSP Offerings

The most common services that MSPs offer are: 

  • On-site technical assistance  This typically includes hardware and software consulting, setups and configurations, patching, maintenance, cloud and SaaS integration, and similar tasks that ensure smooth IT operations for businesses. 

  • 24/7/365 help desk services – When something stops working, from a printer to a cloud application, the help desk is contacted to remedy the issue or schedules a technician to handle it. 

  • Complete IT environment management  This involves everything a business needs to function technologically from soup to nuts, including VoIP, RMM, compliance protocols, emergency response, cyber resilience, future-readiness and essential update or upgrade advice.  

  • Basic security and safety  This can feature multifactor authentication, data storage and backup, security awareness training, secure identity and access managementemail security and more. This is a vast, intense and complex area for MSPs to navigate while running all other aspects of business IT. In fact, the increased demand for security services is what led to the growth of MSSPs. 

Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) 

MSSPs work a bit differently. By concentrating solely on cybersecurity and related areas, MSSPs are able to provide strong, specialized security that fits the unique needs of each client. However, this can be a very complicated proposition. Businesses may choose specialized security services through an MSSP if they handle especially sensitive information, operate in an area that has known security challenges, have experienced a damaging cyberattack or face complex regulatory requirements for information privacy. 

Primary Focus of MSSPs

The primary area of focus for MSSPs is cybersecurityMSSPs work to ensure the security of information systems and data, typically working in the manner of a Security Operations Center (SOC). Much of this work is accomplished through security monitoring and can be connected to the Security Information Event Management (SIEM) system.

Common MSSP Offerings 

The most common services that MSSPs offer include: 

  • Secure identity and access management – This can include endpoint and access point security, secure shared password vaulting, single sign-on, adding and rescinding permissions, and remote access management. 

  • Vulnerability detection – Complex and ever-changing, this can involve a combination of dark web monitoringsecurity planning, security upgradespenetration testing, phishing simulations and security awareness training. 

  • Incident response – Absolutely crucial in today’s threat landscape, incident response is made up of disaster planning and continuity planning, backup and recovery, segmentation, mitigation, investigation, remediation, malware detection and similar tasks to prevent or stop cybersecurity problems that could lead to a data breach. 

  • Compliance support – A very specialized proposition, this can include a broad range of specialized information security and privacy requirements dependent on the industry in order to stay compliant with HIPAA, PCI-DSS, CJIS, FFIECC or similar state or national data privacy standards to avoid huge fines. 

MSPs vs MSSPs 

When considering the scope of each type of managed services provider’s portfolio, think of it like seeking help for a medical issue. Your regular family doctor can handle most illnesses, but if you need very complex care in a certain area, you’ll be referred to a specialist. General MSPs handle the general needs of a company’s IT environment. Organizations might engage an MSP to take care of everyday hardware, software and security. MSSPs, on the other hand, are specialists that focus on a narrow area of expertise. MSSPs are the partners that a company might choose to work with if they handle regulated information or operate in a field where they may experience unique security challenges.  

Where these two types of managed services businesses overlap is that they both offer security. Every company that runs hardware that connects to the internet is in danger of falling victim to cybercrime. Some companies aren’t at high risk or aren’t handling sensitive data, so they don’t need specialized help in securing their systems and data. Those companies can easily have their cybersecurity needs fulfilled by an enterprising MSP who makes sure their clients only need to call on one company for anything IT. 

Other organizations may have more complex cybersecurity needs, which means they may need the specialized skill set of an MSSP. For these companies, it’s important that they can get customized protection and rely on security experts to ensure that they’re protected against short-term and long-term threats. MSSPs are equipped to handle difficult security environments, compliance challenges, incident and response, and other special concerns while using the most innovative technologies in the field like automation 

How MSPs Can Add Value Through Security Offerings

While branching out into cybersecurity can look complex, it doesn’t have to be. Most MSPs handle some security business already, allowing them to expand that menu painlessly with minimal investment in headcount or solutions. MSPs that don’t offer security can ready themselves to enter the field quickly by choosing a strong platform of related solutions that complement their existing business and floating it to customers. Many security solutions have a low upfront cost and offer a significant ROI, making security an easy way to bolster the bottom line 

An estimated 80% of businesses saw an increase in cyberattacks in 2020 and these threats show no signs of slowing down. In fact, a new cyberattack is launched every 39 seconds. Security is something that every customer needs and pairs nicely with other technology services like backup and recovery. The precipitate increase in cybercrime, combined with booming data markets and a volatile threat landscape, opens up a wealth of opportunity for managed service providers of every stripe, leaving plenty of room for enterprising MSPs to open up a new revenue stream and grow.