What’s The Difference Between An MSP And MSSP ?

Difference Between An MSP and MSSP

Business operations backed by technology have become the need of the day. With IT services, you can achieve transparency in your operations, optimize work models and identify opportunities for improvement and growth. Efficient business operations will help you serve your customers better.

On the other hand, you need to ensure that your digital assets are well-protected from cyber threats. What is alarming is that many executives said they are not prepared in the face of security threats. A global study of 1,000 CIOs found that 82% of companies are vulnerable to supply chain cyberattacks.

So, how do you use technology to strengthen your internal business operations and safeguard from external threats? A dedicated IT team can support the smooth functioning of your IT infrastructure while ensuring security. This is, though, not a solution that most organizations can afford.

The answer thus lies with Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP).

Let us understand what MSP and MSSP can do for your business by exploring their key differences.

7 Key Differences Between an MSP & MSSP

MSP and MSSP are third-party services offered by IT providers from remote locations. Here is how they differ.

1. Focal Point

MSPs first came into existence in the early 2000s to help businesses with IT issues that their internal teams could not fix. However, MSPs have evolved into service providers focusing on managing an organization’s IT operations.

For example, you could leverage MSPs to handle issues like network patching, installation, or upgrades or outsource your IT needs for cost-efficiency.

On the other hand, MSSP focuses on IT security. Its job is to protect your data and IT infrastructure from cyber security issues like data breaches, malware, ransomware, phishing, and denial-of-service attacks, among others.

2. Purpose

This difference is an extension of the above point. The purpose of an MSP is to meet your internal business objectives. For example, these objectives could be improving customer experience, employee retention, or meeting monetary goals.

The purpose of MSSP is to meet the organization’s security goals. For example, these goals can be ensuring a safe IT infrastructure, preventing unauthorized access, or meeting compliance requirements.

3. Services Offered

With a focus on business operations, some services offered by MSP are:

  • IT Administration
  • Data Storage and Backup
  • Database Management
  • Managed Cloud Services
  • Business VoIP
  • Managed Networks and Firewalls
  • Service Desk Management
  • Application Management

With a focus on security, some services offered by MSSP are:

  • Incident Monitoring and Management
  • Endpoint Protection
  • Risk Assessment
  • Data Security
  • Email Security
  • Network Monitoring
  • Threat Detection
  • Regulatory Compliance

4. Network Features

MSPs use Network Operation Center (NOC) to provide efficient network support to organizations. They handle network incidents and reduce downtime by offering services like network optimization, hardware and software management, and maintenance.

Security Operation Center (SOC) is the equivalent of NOC in MSSP. The role of SOC is to be available, monitor, and manage systems to provide continued security. 24/7 network security, response management, and analysis of current threats to provide better protection in the future are some network services offered by MSSP.

5. Type of Support Offered

MSPs provide technological support for day-to-day operations so businesses can focus on meeting deliverables without worrying about system bottlenecks or downtimes. The provider ensures system and data are readily available for employees and customers.

MSSPs provide support by proactively protecting an organization’s IT space so business assets like data do not fall into the wrong hands. It involves the study of the current IT architecture, risks, threats, and application of industry best practices to ensure business continuity.

MSSPs also ensure that systems and data are available but only to authorized personnel.

6. Scope

With MSPs, you are looking to enlist IT services that are agreed upon and defined. For example, you can outsource your IT help desk management, hire technicians for scheduled maintenance or simplify the billing process.

These are routine tasks for almost every business out there. Both the MSP and the business know what to expect. MSPs can use industry-standard practices and their expertise to efficiently complete these tasks.

The cybersecurity space is more complex than offering a defined list of services. According to a report by ThoughtLab – Cybersecurity Solutions for a Riskier World, there was a 20.5% increase in material breach respondents from 2020 to 2021. This is because cyberattacks are also evolving.

So, when you enlist the services of an MSSP, you aim to safeguard your assets from the unknown. The scope of services involves protection against evolving threats.

7. Benefits Offered

If you are unsure between an in-house IT team or a third-party service provider, these benefits could help you decide.

Here are some benefits offered by MSP:

  • Access to technical expertise
  • Minimize training costs
  • Flexible IT infrastructure
  • Reduced downtime
  • Access to current technology

Here are some benefits offered by MSSP:

  • Access to specialized security skill sets
  • Improved incident response and management
  • Improved cybersecurity posture
  • 24/7 network monitoring and threat detection
  • Reliable support with cost savings

What Factors to Consider When Choosing an MSP or MSSP?

No two businesses are the same; thus, a service provider must offer customized IT solutions to meet unique business challenges. For example, this could be scalable infrastructure or offering after-hours customer support.

Accreditations provide proof that an MSP/MSSP offers high-quality services and continuously works towards improving its business services. ISO 27001 accreditation is important for MSSPs as it outlines best practices of information security while maintaining confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Other factors include:

  • Service ecosystems partnerships
  • Proven experience
  • Expertise
  • Response time
  • Transparent costing

These factors are not exhaustive, but you can use them as a starting point while vetting service providers.


MSPs provide a range of IT solutions that make day-to-day management easier. For small and mid-sized companies, they can be a cost-efficient, expert, and flexible working model.

MSSPs provide a range of specialized security solutions. Their goal is to protect organizations from current and future cyberattacks.

Hiring services from an MSP or MSSP solely depends on your organization’s needs and priorities.

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