What Are MSSPs and How Do They Fall Short?

What is an MSSP?

As more and more companies look to outsourced solutions for their security needs, it’s important to be discerning about which ones you choose. They’re not all created equal, although many are useful. Let’s go over a popular option, MSSPs, and dive into what they do and don’t do, along with some alternatives, so that you can make your best choice.

What Is an MSSP?

The definition of “managed security service provider” (MSSP) is pretty straightforward. An MSSP is a third party that helps companies monitor and manage their security environments.

So how do they do it? They use high-availability security operations centers (SOCs). The SOC is the team responsible for monitoring a business’s environment for and responding to cyber threats.

MSSP SOCs can offload your teams’ work, reducing the number of ops folks and other experts you need to train, and give you round-the-clock coverage with experts of their own. Or, they can help you build out and bolster your own security resources.

What Do MSSPs Do?

Now that we’ve got the basics on MSSPs, let’s get into their services. MSSPs can provide:

  • Monitoring support. This can include virus and spam blocking, endpoint monitoring, firewalls, VPN management, and intrusion detection.
  • Detection capabilities. MSSPs provide vulnerability risk assessment, threat intelligence, access control, and more.

As TechTarget states, “MSSPs can also provide security recommendations and some level of continuous security, and they can develop policies to help protect a company’s infrastructure.” In addition, outsourcing these services is a cost-effective way to manage an ever-growing number of security threats, and saves you money on software, training, and an in-house team.

What Don’t MSSPs Do?

MSSPs do have their limitations. While there are obvious benefits to an outsourced SOC, that coverage comes at a price. MSSPs, unfortunately, do not:

  • Support your existing security toolset. MSSPs typically have a set of tools they will integrate with. If your tools fall outside this list, you’re out of luck.
  • Assist with response. An MSSP will send you a digest of alerts but will not provide additional context. It’s up to you to decipher the alerts and then act on them.
  • Help you grow your security posture. An MSSP will help you fill the gaps you might have at a certain point in time, but they can’t help you build a roadmap for improving your security posture over time.
  • Provide transparency. You won’t know what the MSSP team is doing in your environment. And since they don’t know it as well as you, that could lead to trouble.

If these capabilities are important to you, you may want to look for an alternative option.

Alternatives to MSSPs

There are several security outsourcing options besides an MSSP, and many will provide you with more scope and greater actionability across your network. One of those options is a managed detection and response (MDR) solution.

MDR includes “threat intelligence, threat hunting, security monitoring, incident analysis, and incident response.” Here are some key differences between MDR vs. MSSP:

  • Detection and response. While an MSSP will merely alert you when a security event is detected, an MDR service will investigate and respond to threats.
  • Expertise. An MSSP won’t go through the trouble of sorting through your security alerts, leaving your already overburdened IT teams to sift through thousands of instances and false positives. MDR, on the other hand, does the heavy lifting of prioritizing those for you.

While MDR provides more functionality than an MSSP, even MDR has its limitations. It might be more responsive than your general MSSPs, but it still is not agile enough for a shifting network environment that needs to find threats across multiple platforms, solutions, applications, and vendors, and many still suffer from a restrictive toolset. So, if MDR is better, what’s best?

ReliaQuest Security Operations Platform

The ReliaQuest GreyMatter security operations platform is built on an Open XDR architecture, which means it can go further and deeper than other managed service responders. What sets GreyMatter apart?

  • Technology first: We’ll integrate with your existing tools
  • Vendor agnostic: We support multi-vendor security tools to meet your specific needs
  • Faster MTTD and MTTR: We provide faster detection, investigation, and response
  • You see what we see: We are transparent, so you’ll always know what we’re doing
  • Achieve cyber resilience: We’re dedicated to helping you grow your security posture

ReliaQuest, using its GreyMatter platform paired with in-house security expertise, fills in the gaps MSSP and MDR leave behind. With ReliaQuest, you can have the staff-saving efficiency of an MSSP SOC with the platform-agnostic capabilities that can work across all your existing tooling.

Combine technologies – SIEM, EDR, multi-cloud, third-party apps – for transparency, centralized visibility, and faster response environment-wide. If your organization plans to scale at the current rate of change, you need a security solution that’s powerful – and agile – enough to keep up.