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A Managed Service Provider (MSP) or a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)? Their names might have a one-word difference, but both deliver very different outcomes.

Even if you already work with an MSP who does some cyber security work, their actions may not protect your organisation from today’s threat landscape. In FY 2023, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) reported nearly 94,000 cybercrime incidents, a 23% increase, with an average of one report every six minutes. Today, protecting your business requires a proactive end-to-end strategy that continuously monitors your environment. MSP vs MSSP? If your cyber security posture needs attention, an MSP is not the best option to help you out.

This blog explores the MSP vs MSSP debate, helping you understand why an MSSP might be the right choice for your organisation’s security needs.

Choosing the right technology for security

Not every business will benefit from the same security technology. Opting for the cheapest solution can leave significant gaps in your security posture. Conversely, the latest and most expensive solutions are not always the best fit. Your business needs a solution that meets specific needs, including costs and functionality.

The strategic approach to technology selection is a key differentiator between MSSPs and MSPs. MSSPs evaluate and implement security technologies tailored to your specific needs. They leverage advanced tools and platforms that provide comprehensive protection, ensuring that all aspects of your IT environment are secure. This approach contrasts with MSPs, which often focus on maintaining the operational status of IT systems rather than integrating security measures.

MSSPs can recommend and deploy effective and efficient technologies by understanding your organisation’s unique requirements. Their expertise ensures that the chosen solutions are scalable and adaptable, providing long-term benefits.

Choosing the right technology for security

Defining policy requirements

Policies further support the cyber security strategy by specifying how the organisation protects data. While MSPs can set up basic rules and simple protections, these often fall short of offering active protection constantly. Policies must be specific and detailed documents that address users’ unique needs and behaviours.

Before defining policies, MSSPs conduct thorough assessments of user behaviour and business processes to create detailed policies that cover all potential security risks. They consider how users interact with the system, ensuring that security measures are practical and effective. 

Furthermore, an MSSP will constantly revisit cyber security policies to ensure they remain updated. Policies may not require large updates, but an MSSP will conduct reviews and tweaks to ensure that your policies align with new and emerging threats. 

Defining policy requirements

Automating and integrating security tools

MSSPs understand that cyber security is a Hydra-like beast that requires multiple solutions and automation to work effectively. An MSSP will integrate security solutions across your IT infrastructure and enable automation for real-time threat detection and response. 

MSPs often focus on single technologies and may lack the integrated approach required for comprehensive threat management. MSSPs’ integration capabilities provide a seamless security environment where different systems and tools work together to manage and mitigate threats.

MSSPs provide continuous monitoring and protection. Automation identifies patterns and anomalies that might indicate potential threats, allowing MSSPs to address any issues proactively using the right security methods. Of course, relying solely on automation can go wrong if the team behind it does not possess the knowledge to investigate the context. An MSSP will have the skills to apply the context and plan their response, giving them an edge over MSPs.

Automating and integrating security tools

Navigating compliance

Compliance with industry regulations or frameworks can be a nuanced aspect of cyber security that requires an expert eye. An MSP may not have the expertise in-house to manage compliance or it may not be within their remit. 

MSSPs understand that compliance is integral to the cyber security strategy and will have the expertise to navigate multiple regulations or frameworks. They will discern what your organisation must comply with, analyse what needs to change in your infrastructure and build a strategy to meet requirements. An MSSP also stays updated with the latest regulatory changes and incorporates compliance management into security strategies.

Additionally, MSSPs provide detailed compliance reporting for audits and regulatory reviews. These reports offer insights into your organisation’s security posture and highlight areas for improvement. MSPs may offer some compliance support, but MSSPs provide a comprehensive approach that aligns all security aspects with regulatory requirements.

Navigating compliance

Developing an incident response plan

A security incident cannot be addressed slowly. You need an immediate and effective response to minimise damage. MSSPs provide dedicated incident response services, leveraging their centralised view of security to act quickly. They monitor your systems for potential threats, contain incidents and resolve them to minimise impact.

The latest Notifiable Data Breaches Report for July to December 2023 found that Australian businesses can still make progress on response times. While 64% of companies identified a breach in less than 10 days, 23% took more than 30 days to identify a breach.

MSSPs maintain dedicated Security Operations Centres (SOCs) that operate 24/7, providing round-the-clock monitoring and rapid response capabilities. Continuous monitoring allows real-time detection and response, reducing attackers’ window of opportunity. In contrast, MSPs are unlikely to have the specialised expertise or resources to handle complex security incidents with the same level of efficiency.

An MSSP will also conduct thorough post-incident reviews to learn from each incident and improve future response strategies. Focusing on improvement enables MSSPs to address cyber security weaknesses and prevent them from reoccurring. 

Time taken to identify breaches

Time taken to identify breaches

Source: OAIC.


MSPs seldom possess the same capabilities as MSSPs. If you plan to work with an external partner on cyber security, then an MSSP will provide far more value. MSPs offer essential IT support services that keep your systems operational, but MSSPs provide the specialised and proactive security measures needed to protect your organisation in today’s threat landscape. 

By working with an MSSP, your organisation benefits from comprehensive security, compliance, and incident response. They proactively manage security end-to-end to strengthen your organisation’s security posture.

Why choose recon as your MSSP?

Do you need a partner to support your cyber security strategy? 

Our managed security services protect your business through continuous and effective security. Rather than hiring an in-house team, you gain access to experts with wide-ranging experience for a fraction of the cost of an in-house team.

Please visit our Services page to take the next step in securing your business.

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