Protecting an organization has become an increasingly challenging task for security teams. With the growing number of advanced threats, a shortage of skilled personnel, high turnover rates, and the overwhelming number of alerts to handle daily, it has become nearly impossible to manage it all. As a result, using outsourced expertise has become a vital need for most security operations. Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) are two managed service approaches that cater to security teams today. 

What Is the Difference Between MDR and MSSP? 

An MSSP focuses on providing a wide range of security services across your network, endpoints, web, cloud email, and software. While it does involve monitoring and aggregating threat alerts, an MSSP doesn’t specialize in the threat detection, investigation, and response process like an MDR provider might. 

Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) 

Rather than having an in-house security team, businesses can partner with an MSSP to outsource their security needs. MSSP provides a range of services, including firewall management, intrusion prevention, log monitoring, vulnerability management, and compliance auditing. 

You could choose an MSSP for: 

  • Scalability and flexibility: If your organization has complex and growing security needs or operates across multiple locations, MSSPs can provide the scalability and flexibility required. They can easily adapt their services to accommodate evolving security requirements and provide support across different IT environments.
  • Resource constraints: MSSPs can act as an extended security team, offering expert knowledge and assistance to organizations without the need for extensive internal security resources.
  • Regulatory compliance: If your industry has specific regulatory compliance requirements, MSSPs often have experience in meeting industry-standard security practices and can assist in maintaining compliance by providing continuous monitoring, reporting, and auditing services.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) 

MDR providers primarily focus on threat detection and response. They typically handle 24/7 monitoring and analysis of security events, leveraging advanced detection technologies and threat intelligence to identify and respond to security incidents. MDR still has its limitations with managing alert noise with tuned detections, vendor agnostic tool integrations, and an inability to streamline threat detection and response process with customers. 

You can choose an MDR for:  

  • Advanced threat detection: If your security team needs to focus on advanced threat detection and response, MDRs are specifically designed to provide deep visibility, advanced analytics, and expertise in detecting and responding to sophisticated cyber threats.
  • Endpoint-centric security: If you need specialized endpoint security monitoring and response capabilities, MDR services often excel in comprehensive monitoring, analysis, and incident response for endpoints. This includes protection of critical devices against targeted attacks.
  • Real-time response: MDR services typically offer real-time monitoring and response capabilities, allowing for quicker incident identification, analysis, and mitigation of the impact of cyber threats.
  • Augmenting in-house expertise: If your organization has a capable in-house security team or existing security infrastructure, but you need additional support for threat detection and incident response, an MDR provider can complement your existing capabilities.

How to Evaluate an MDR or MSSP Provider 

When evaluating providers, you should look at their capabilities, expertise, and alignment with your organization’s security needs. Here are some key factors to consider during the evaluation process: 

Service Offerings and Expertise Assess their detection technologies, heterogeneous security tool support, advanced threat hunting, and whether they have experience in your industry. Review the range of services such as firewall management, intrusion detection, vulnerability assessment, log management, compliance monitoring, and incident response.
Security Technologies and Tools Understand if they are capable of integrating with your existing security technologies, such as SIEM platforms, EDR tools, firewalls, and other security infrastructure. Consider the effectiveness of their security controls, monitoring capabilities, and their ability to integrate with your existing security infrastructure.
Incident Response Capabilities Evaluate the provider’s incident response process and speed. Inquire about their incident response SLAs and methodologies, and the expertise of their incident response team. Understand response capabilities if any, such as their incident identification, containment, and eradication procedures, response times, methodologies, and how they handle different types of incidents.
Performance Metrics and Reporting Request performance metrics, such as mean time to detect (MTTD), mean time to resolve (MTTR), MITRE ATT&CK coverage and false-positive rate along with regular reporting on security incidents, vulnerabilities, and trends. See if their reporting provides real-time dashboards, regular security reports, comprehensive analytics all that align with your compliance and regulatory requirements.
Scalability and Flexibility Determine if their services can scale as your organization grows or undergoes IT infrastructure changes adapting to different technologies, cloud environments, merger and acquisition security integrations, or industry-specific needs. Ensure they have capacity to handle your organization's scale and complexity supporting multiple locations, technologies, and diverse IT environments.
Cost and Contractual Considerations Evaluate the cost structures, pricing models, and contractual terms for different services, the flexibility to scale up or down, and align it with your budgetary requirements.

How ReliaQuest Does It Better  

Organizations still struggle with overburdened teams, a lack of bandwidth, the ability to keep pace with the business, and mature their security program while leveraging an MDR or MSSP solution. ReliaQuest moves past MDR and MSSP capabilities to deliver a unified threat detection, investigation and response process across the entire security operations. We do this with GreyMatter, a cloud-native security operations platform delivered as a service, able to integrate with all your current security technologies (SIEM, EDR, Cloud, On-Premise) regardless of vendor. GreyMatter handles alert noise reduction and high-quality detections, centrally managed and continuously tuned. It enriches investigations with automation and allows threat response with your existing tools.