What is a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)

It’s no secret that business as we know it is wrought with cyber threats: the news headlines and stacks of stats speak volumes. Today, security services are becoming a must-have, causing organizations of all sizes to increasingly seek out and lean on trusted security partners to manage vulnerabilities. What’s more, this new shift is opening a huge opportunity for managed IT service providers (MSPs).

At this point, many MSPs are throwing around the term “MSSP,” squeezing an extra “S” into their title to represent their clients’ elevated need for security services. The big issue at hand, however, is that this role is sometimes misunderstood. 

Properly defining “MSSP” is crucial because this directly informs how managed security services are strategized and executed. This post will serve as the ultimate definition of what a fully equipped MSSP looks like, and include key tips to provide your clients the next-level protection their business future now requires.

What Does the Shift to MSSP Entail?

The opportunity to transition your managed services model to MSSP is enticing, but pinpointing the best place to start can be overwhelming. In order to build a thoughtful and effective security offering, your first line of defense should be: knowledge. 

As it stands, 42 percent of employees in small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) would not know what to do if their business experienced a cyber attack, which stems from the fact that 47 percent do not have employee security awareness and training programs in place. This definite gap in cybersecurity knowledge among SMBs leaves businesses vulnerable to cyber threats because they don’t understand how the threat landscape is evolving, what types of threats are out there and, most importantly, how to combat them.

The opportunity to step in as an MSSP who can protect this group with extensive threat knowledge and a pulse on cybersecurity trends is immense. Especially with ransomware rampantly on the rise and virtually every device now hackable, a lack of security education and support will leave businesses dangerously vulnerable—unless they have a trusted security partner to keep business afloat.

As MSPs integrate security into their services portfolio, they will not only significantly decrease the margin of error for their clients’ information security, but they will be one step closer to cementing their status as that go-to provider. However, this can only be achieved after setting a detail-oriented, forward-thinking plan of action for solidifying your position as a successful MSSP—much like training to run a marathon. It is necessary to grow your approach from the bottom up and perform due diligence along the way. So, what exactly should you keep in mind when baking true security into your business?

Steps to Becoming a Real MSSP

When working to build a robust cybersecurity offering, there are various components to consider. It is vital that you practice what you preach as an MSSP and offer security services as a secure provider. Aside from establishing strong service level agreements (SLAs) and insurance to remain cautious about being liable if a client is breached, you will want to research the best Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to provide an overall data view of IT security, as well as threat intelligence capable of effectively interpreting the data. Considering automation capabilities is important, too, as this will reduce the labor required to run reports and identify security risks.

It might be the case that you already consider yourself an MSSP, as you offer a handful of security solutions from different vendors. However, there are specific capabilities and requirements that warrant a true MSSP today. According to Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant for MSSPs, these requirements include:

  • Monitored or managed firewalls and multifunction firewalls, or unified threat management (UTM) technology
  • Monitored or managed intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems (IDPSs)
  • Managed or monitored security gateways for web and email traffic
  • Monitoring and/or management of advanced threat defense technologies, or the provision of those capabilities as a service
  • Security analysis and reporting of events collected from IT infrastructure logs
  • Reporting associated with monitored/managed devices and incident response
  • Managed vulnerability scanning of networks, servers, databases or applications
  • Monitoring or management of customer-deployed SIEM technologies
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) mitigation via a remotely managed service

Most MSPs entering the security space have a basic understanding of why these functionalities are important, but implementing and maintaining a high level of security is easier said than done. There are certain challenges that stand in the way, such as acquiring the right talent or managing all pathways for clients, but don’t let that discourage you. Becoming an MSSP and fully managing your clients’ cybersecurity is feasible—and well worth it.

A recent study released by Forrester on behalf of Masergy Communications revealed that 57 percent of enterprise companies are seeking outside help for IT systems monitoring and 45 percent are outsourcing threat detection and intelligence. By offering a multi-layered vulnerability management solution as well as effective training and support, MSSPs will have the ability to ensure all devices across clients’ networks are secured, 24/7.

With a better understanding of how to properly transition to an MSSP, you are one step closer to implementing cybersecurity that your clients can rely on. Leverage this post as your guide to develop and deploy your detailed security plan.

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