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What Is an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider)? Definition and Key Capabilities

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An MSSP is a third-party company that offers businesses a wide array of security services. From managing intrusion detection systems to conducting vulnerability assessments and responding to incidents, MSSPs take care of your security needs so you can focus on your core business operations. They provide the expertise and resources that most businesses, especially small to medium-sized ones, often lack.

MSSPs offer a cost-effective alternative to setting up an in-house security team. Instead of investing in costly infrastructure and hiring a full security team, you can leverage the expertise of an MSSP to secure your business.

The main benefit of partnering with an MSSP is that they provide a proactive approach to security. They monitor your systems round the clock, anticipate potential threats, and respond immediately to any incidents. By doing so, they mitigate risks and reduce the potential damages of cyber threats to your business.

Explore our articles comparing MSSP vs. MDR and MSSP vs. MSP to determine the right cybersecurity solution for you.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about information security.

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Achieving 24×7 Threat Monitoring and Response

  • Why 24×7 threat monitoring should no longer be considered optional
  • How cybersecurity talent shortages can be overcome
  • How the two-pillar approach helps lean security teams achieve 24×7 threat monitoring

What Can an MSSP Do for Your Company?

Here are a few of the key functions an MSSP can perform on behalf of an organization:


The first step in the MSSP’s process is onboarding. This involves understanding the client’s business model, the nature of their operations, and their specific security requirements. The MSSP will conduct an initial consultation to gather all the necessary information that will help them tailor a security solution that meets the client’s needs.

During onboarding, the MSSP will also conduct an audit of the client’s current security infrastructure. They will identify any existing vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. This comprehensive review forms the basis for the design and implementation of the client’s security solution.

Risk Assessment

After onboarding, the MSSP conducts a thorough risk assessment. They identify the potential threats that the client’s business faces and analyze the impact these threats could have on the business. The risk assessment also involves evaluating the client’s current security measures and determining whether they are sufficient to protect against these threats.

The MSSP uses the information gathered during the risk assessment to develop a risk management plan. This plan outlines the strategies and measures that the MSSP will put in place to manage and mitigate the identified risks.

Security Implementation

Once the risk management plan is in place, the MSSP proceeds to implement the security measures. This involves installing and configuring the necessary security systems, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software. The MSSP also sets up secure network connections and implements access control measures to protect the client’s data and systems.

The MSSP doesn’t just implement security measures; they also educate the client’s staff on security best practices. They provide training on how to recognize and respond to potential security threats, thus enhancing the overall security posture of the client’s business.

Continuous Monitoring

After the security measures are implemented, the MSSP continuously monitors the client’s systems to detect any potential threats or security breaches. This involves analyzing system logs, tracking network traffic, and monitoring user activity.

Continuous monitoring allows the MSSP to identify any unusual activity or potential threats in real-time. They can then take immediate action to prevent these threats from causing any damage.

Get our Complete Guide for

Achieving 24×7 Threat Monitoring and Response

  • Why 24×7 threat monitoring should no longer be considered optional
  • How cybersecurity talent shortages can be overcome
  • How the two-pillar approach helps lean security teams achieve 24×7 threat monitoring

Incident Response

In the event of a security incident, the MSSP is ready to respond. They have an incident response plan in place, which outlines the steps to be taken in case of a security breach. This includes identifying the source of the attack, containing the threat, and recovering the affected systems.

The MSSP also conducts a post-incident analysis to determine the cause of the breach and to prevent similar incidents in the future. They update the client’s security measures based on the findings of this analysis, thus continuously improving the client’s security posture.

Key Capabilities of MSSPs

Here are some of the important security capabilities an MSSP provides:

Network Security Management

Network security management involves protecting the usability, reliability, integrity, and safety of your network. MSSPs use a variety of tools and techniques to manage network security. This includes implementing firewalls and intrusion detection systems, securing wireless networks, and maintaining VPNs (virtual private networks). They also monitor the network for any unusual activity, which could be a sign of a potential cyber attack.

In addition, MSSPs can offer expert advice on how to strengthen your network against cyber threats. This may involve recommending changes to your network architecture or suggesting new security technologies to implement.

Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence involves gathering and analyzing information about potential threats to help businesses understand and mitigate risks. The goal is to provide actionable information that can be used to improve an organization’s security posture.

MSSPs use a variety of sources to gather threat intelligence. This includes public sources, such as news reports and security bulletins, as well as more specialized sources like threat intelligence feeds and proprietary databases. They also use advanced analytics tools to identify patterns and trends that could indicate an emerging threat.


Once the threat intelligence has been gathered and analyzed, the MSSP then provides the business with a detailed report. This report can be used to make informed decisions about how to protect the business from potential threats.

Vulnerability Assessment and Management

One of the key services provided by an MSSP is vulnerability assessment and management. This involves identifying and evaluating the weaknesses in a system or network that could be exploited by a cybercriminal. The MSSP then works with the business to address these vulnerabilities and reduce their risk.

Vulnerability assessment and management is a continuous process. New vulnerabilities can emerge at any time, whether due to changes in the system or network, new threats, failure to apply security updates, or systems entering end of life. The MSSP will regularly scan the system or network for vulnerabilities, assess their severity, and recommend measures to address them.

In addition to identifying vulnerabilities, the MSSP can also help the business develop a vulnerability management plan. This plan outlines how the business will respond to identified vulnerabilities, including who is responsible for addressing them, what measures will be taken, and how the effectiveness of these measures will be monitored.

Endpoint Protection

An endpoint is any device that connects to a network, such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet. These devices can be a potential entry point for cybercriminals, so it’s crucial that they’re properly protected.

MSSPs provide endpoint protection services to help businesses secure their devices. This includes installing and maintaining antivirus software, implementing firewalls, and regularly updating software to patch any vulnerabilities. They also monitor the devices for any unusual activity, which could be a sign of a potential cyber attack.

In addition to protecting the devices themselves, MSSPs can also help businesses develop policies and procedures for endpoint security. This may include guidelines for using personal devices at work, rules for downloading and installing software, and protocols for responding to a suspected security breach.

Compliance Management

With the increasing number of regulations and standards related to data protection and privacy, compliance management has become a major aspect of cybersecurity. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, legal repercussions, and damage to a company’s reputation.

MSSPs can assist businesses in managing their compliance with these regulations and standards. They can conduct audits to assess the current level of compliance, identify areas where improvements are needed, and provide recommendations on how to achieve compliance.

Moreover, MSSPs can help businesses stay up-to-date with changes in regulations and standards. This is particularly important as the regulatory landscape is constantly evolving, and businesses need to ensure that they’re always in compliance.

Evaluating and Selecting an MSSP

Choosing the right MSSP is a critical decision that can significantly impact the security and success of your business. There are several factors you should consider when making this decision:

Technological Expertise

MSSPs should have comprehensive knowledge of both established security technologies and emerging trends. This expertise should cover areas such as intrusion detection, firewall management, endpoint protection, and threat intelligence.

The MSSP you choose should also possess strong skills in the areas of data analytics and machine learning. These tools are critical for identifying and responding to threats in real-time. Additionally, the MSSP should have a deep understanding of your business’s specific technological infrastructure to ensure seamless integration of their services.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are contracts that outline the level of service you can expect from the MSSP. They cover aspects such as response times, availability, and performance metrics.

An effective SLA should be transparent, detailed, and tailored to your business’s specific needs. It should include clear metrics for measuring the MSSP’s performance and penalties if these metrics are not met. Remember, a vague or one-size-fits-all SLA is a red flag.

Industry Experience and Reputation

Another crucial factor to consider when choosing an MSSP is their industry experience and reputation. The MSSP should have a proven track record in providing effective security solutions for businesses in your industry.

Reputation matters, and a good way to evaluate an MSSP’s reputation is through customer testimonials and reviews. These can provide valuable insights into the MSSP’s strengths and weaknesses.

Scalability and Flexibility

The ability to scale and adapt to changing business needs is another essential factor to consider when choosing an MSSP. As your business grows and evolves, so too will your security needs.

The MSSP you select should offer scalable solutions that can accommodate your business’s growth. They should also offer flexible services that can adapt to changes in your business model or the wider threat landscape.

MSSP vs. Similar Services

If you are considering outsourcing security capabilities, there are several alternatives to MSSP. Here are two of the most common: MSP and MDR.


Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are often confused with MSSPs. While MSPs offer a broad range of IT services, including network management and system administration, MSSPs specialize in security services.

MSSPs provide comprehensive security services, including threat monitoring, intrusion detection, and incident response. They also offer strategic security services such as risk assessment and compliance management. In contrast, while MSPs may offer some security services, they are not their primary focus.

Read more about MSSP vs. MSP: 4 Key Differences and How to Choose


MDR (Managed Detection and Response) is a service that combines technology with human expertise to detect and respond to threats. While there is some overlap between MDR and MSSPs, there are also some key differences.

Unlike MSSPs, which offer a wide range of security services, MDR providers focus solely on threat detection and response. They use advanced technologies such as advanced endpoint protection, endpoint detection and response (EDR), and extended detection and response (XDR), to identify and respond to threats in real-time. 

On the other hand, MSSPs provide a more comprehensive suite of security services, including those offered by MDR providers, but also additional services such as vulnerability management and security consulting.

Read more about MSSP vs. MDR: 4 Key Differences and How to Choose

Cynet for MSSPs

As an MSSP, your customers rely on you to keep them safe from the myriad risks they face each day. The process of knowing which tools are the optimal fit for the job can be complex. Cynet 360 offers complete breach protection services, providing a single multi-tenant platform that simplifies the task of delivering holistic security across your entire customer base.

Cynet 360 is the ultimate force multiplier, enabling MSSPs to provide their customers with unmatched security, without the need for multiple products and resources. It provides maximum threat visibility and responsiveness, enhancing security team productivity and increasing ROI. Only Cynet 360 gives the power of proactive 24/7 MDR services, continuously monitoring all alerts across your customers’ environments to keep them protected at all times, even from the most complex threats.

Key benefits of Cynet 360 for MSSPs include:

  • Designed for MSSPs: Cynet 360 offers a scalable multi-tenant platform with true client separation down to the data, a centralized dashboard for alerts, forensics, and remediation, and supports both full-management and end-client management.
  • Enables a highly differentiated service: Cynet 360 is a complete XDR platform including NGAV, EPP, EDR, UBA Rules, Network Detection Rules, and Deception. It offers fully automated threat response workflows and proactive 24/7 MDR services for all clients.
  • Reducing management and delivery costs: Cynet allows extremely rapid deployment, replacing multiple solution providers with a single pre-integrated offering and a lightweight agent that minimizes maintenance requirements.
  • Tailored for your success: Cynet’s partner pricing structure enables higher margins to partners. It offers marketing, sales, and technical support across deployment, management, and maintenance. Partners also get access to the Cynet Academy, which includes sales and technical training, sales videos, and certification.

See Additional Guides on Key Information Security Topics

Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of information security.

Disaster Recovery

Authored by Cloudian

IT Asset Management

Authored by Faddom

Malware Protection

Authored by Cynet

With Cynet, your customers can enjoy proactive protection from dynamic and advanced cyber threats. Become a partner today!

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