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What is MSSP?

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By: Nihad Hassan

July 9, 2021

As the world moves steadily to become fully digital, organizations of all sizes and across all business sectors utilize digital technology to facilitate work operations and communicate with customers and other business partners. Cybercriminals have ridden the digital wave and shifted most of their criminal activities to cyberspace. According to Cyber Security Ventures, cybercrime's global damage is projected to reach $10.05 trillion annually by 2025. Another worrying survey from CyberEdge found that 81% of surveyed organizations were affected by a successful cyberattack in 2020.

Since the 2020 onset of COVID19, the number of cyberattacks and data lost due to breaches has intensified to an unexpected rate. Most organizations worldwide were obligated to adopt the work-from-home model to stay operational during a long time of lockdown. The change of the workforce to become remote has resulted in a huge increase in cyberattacks. An IBM report found that the average global cost of a data breach in 2020 was around USD 3.86 million.

As digital transformation accelerates, organizations are now trying to deploy the best security solutions to protect their IT assets from the different types of cyberattacks. However, not all organizations can cope with the increased number and sophistication of cyberattacks; thus, many opt to outsource managing their security defenses to an external party. The third-party provider is known as a managed security service provider (MSSP).

What is a managed security service provider (MSSP)?

It is a specialized company for managing and monitoring client organization's security solutions and appliances to protect their IT infrastructure and data.

The MSSP service dates back to 1990; however, at that time, its functions were not precise as today. It began with Internet Service Providers (ISP) managing customer firewalls, then moved gradually, due to the increased volume of cyberattacks, to include more security services till reaching today.

MSSP provides complete outsourced security service for an organization. MSSP core work manages security defenses and monitors an organization's networks and endpoint devices to detect malicious behavior. MSSP also provides incident response if a successful cyberattack is taking place. As cloud technology adoption increased worldwide, many MSSP is now offering security services to protect cloud assets.

What is the difference between MSP and MSSP?

Both Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and MSSPs are third-party providers; the main difference lay in the services offered. An MSP provides network management and IT support functions; MSPs commonly work from a network operations center (NOC) to monitor and manage their client's networks. MSSP, on the other hand, focuses solely on providing security services for clients and operates from a security operations center (SOC) where they provide 24/24 hours security monitoring and incident response to their clients.

What are the advantages of utilizing MSSPs services?

The primary purpose of using an MSSP is to replace the in-house security team services. MSSPs provides the following benefits for their clients:

Professional staff

Most organizations cannot compete with the MSSP staff when talking about cybersecurity expertise. For example, most organizations have an internal team to manage their networks, offer IT support, and manage and deploy security solutions to protect their IT infrastructure. However, most internal IT team's work is focused on managing daily work operations. They do not have the time to follow the latest cybersecurity trends and know about the latest cyber threats. The situation is different with MSSP staff who are solely dedicated to offering security services and have deep experience monitoring, managing, and handling cyber risks.


Outsourcing security services to an external provider will significantly reduce the cybersecurity budget. For instance, small and medium organizations may not have the necessary funding to hire internal security teams to protect their data and assets from cyberattacks. Suppose we know the average cost of a data breach (in the healthcare sector, this amounted to 7.13 million U.S. dollars in 2020, according to Statista). In that case, hiring an MSSP is considered a winning deal for any organization.

Cybersecurity skill gap

The cybersecurity skill gap is still increasing; vacant cybersecurity positions sometimes remain unfilled for months. According to PRweb, the cybersecurity skills shortage and the lack of proper training of non-technical employees are the most significant data breaches.

Using services from MSSP allows an organization to fill vacant cybersecurity positions quickly and even replace its entire security team.

Using mature cybersecurity solutions

Most small and medium-sized organizations are not mature enough in the cybersecurity domain. Partnering with an MSSP gives such organizations the ability to deploy mature cybersecurity solutions, which enhance security defenses.

Compliance support

Regulatory compliance frameworks are increasing in requirements and complexity. Compliance standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS require complaint entities to offer them auditing reports periodically to measure and check their adherence to the regulatory standards. An MSSP can help organizations to collect data and prepare reports to submit to various compliance entities.


As digital transformation is accelerating rapidly, the need to protect IT systems has become the top priority of all organizations. Partnering with an MSSP provider can offer many advantages to client organizations, especially in offering matured cybersecurity solutions and cutting off the cyber defense budget while maintaining high preparation status. In the foreseeable future, MSSP work will increase. According to Frost & Sullivan, the MSSP market will reach $18.81 billion by 2024, up from $12.01 billion in 2020. The rising demand for cybersecurity services will undoubtedly lead to an equal increase in MSSP services demand.

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