MSP vs MSSP: What’s the Difference?

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From payroll and accounting to maintenance and marketing, there are plenty of ways savvy business leaders can reduce headaches, save money, and get better outcomes through outsourcing. When it comes to technology, this often means partnering with the right team. While you may already be working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP), it is increasingly important to ensure the safety of your business’s data and digital assets by working with a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP). Here’s what business leaders should know when it comes to MSP vs MSSP and how to build the best team.

What is a Managed Services Provider (MSP)?

A Managed Service Provider, or MSP, is there to manage and monitor the health of your business’s technology. This provider ensures that your company has what it needs to run smoothly. The work of an MSP affects both those inside and outside of the company. Your Managed Service Provider looks over your data and makes sure that it’s available and useful to both employees and customers who need it. When you have a problem accessing your data, or other technological issues, your MSP can work with you to make it right.

Your Managed Service Provider is focused mainly on technology administration. An MSP grants permissions to employees based on their roles and responsibilities, onboards new employees in your tech system, records and provides log data, and troubleshoots when there is an incident. They can also work closely with your company’s database manager to supply the training and support that they need to do their job well.

When a company implements a new application, an effective MSP can help minimize onboarding issues. When there are tech performance issues or usability problems, your MSP can step in and take care of the issue. In many companies, working with an MSP can reduce or eliminate the need for in-house IT staff making it a cost-effective option for small businesses.

Your MSP is an important part of your IT solutions. They can provide infrastructure, application, and network security support. But they aren’t the end-all-be-all for your technological needs. To keep your data safe and secure, you need to implement an MSSP as well.

What is a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)?

A Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) is a company focused on the security of your technology. This laser-focus means that they have the right tools and people in place to protect, detect, and respond quickly to any data breaches or suspicious activity. MSSPs use a variety of tools and evaluations including penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, network security monitoring, and more to help proactively defend your business against data breaches and other cyber-attacks.

An MSSP also understands that there are many security and privacy regulations that companies must follow. MSSPs are experts at ensuring a company is doing all that it needs to do to follow regulations. Many companies are required to follow compliance frameworks such as CMMC, NIST CSF, or HIPAA that have data protection and cybersecurity components. A qualified MSSP will have the personnel in place to offer comprehensive compliance consulting. This can be a huge weight off your company and free up your legal and IT teams to focus on other activities to move your business forward.


While the job of an MSP is to make sure your company has all the IT assets, access, and services you need to succeed, an MSSP offers the protection around those assets. Another way to think of it is like a house. The MSP helps you build and maintain the house while the MSSP provides the fences, door locks, and security cameras to protect it.

An MSP can go a long way in making sure your employees can share data, use tech systems easily, and can get the data they need, an MSSP provides cybersecurity monitoring and management.

While an MSP is focused on usability and performance, an MSSP is focused on security. Your MSSP handles preventing, detecting, and responding to threats before they wreak havoc on your data. Sadly, data breaches are common today. According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware attacks increased 13% over the past year — a jump greater than the last 5 years combined. A breach can ruin a customer’s trust and a company’s reputation. It’s key for the success of your business that you keep your data protected from outside eyes.

For many businesses, it’s often not a case of choosing an MSP vs MSSP, but rather leveraging both types of providers to get the technical solutions and services needed with the least amount of friction.


One of the main jobs of an MSSP is to detect and respond to cyberthreats and one of the biggest assets in their toolbelt is Managed Detection and Response (MDR) software. MDR programs can analyze networks and detect suspicious activity, but they are only one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. Without insightful AI and Machine Learning software (like that available in ProVision) and human expertise, an MDR program is just another piece of software and not a practical replacement for an MSSP.

Does My Business Need an MSP and MSSP?

The easiest way to decide if your business needs an MSP vs MSSP, or if it would benefit from both, is to consider what your current capabilities are and how much risk you’re willing to accept.

Consider an MSP if:

  • You don’t have in-house IT ability
  • You need help setting up computers, networks, servers, or purchasing equipment
  • You want “do it for me” ease when it comes to your IT

Consider an MSSP if:

  • You can handle the basics of IT, but need help with protecting data/networks
  • You have an IT staff and/or security programs like firewalls or EDR, but not expertise in how to manage them
  • You need to align to a cybersecurity framework like NIST CFC or ISO 27001

Consider both an MSP and MSSP if:

  • You have little to no internal IT staff
  • You want to free up your IT staff to do other work
  • You need guidance in select areas of IT/Cybersecurity
At Foresite, we’re here to work with you as your Managed IT Security Service Provider, meeting your technology infrastructure and security needs every step of the way. We know that keeping your customer and company data safe can be a challenge, and we’re happy to take the burden off your hands. We’re constantly working to ensure that we stay on top of the latest security industry trends so that we can keep you safe in an ever-evolving field.

When you’re searching for the most effective service to handle the security of your business, there can be many factors to consider. Deciding between the two services can be tough, but we’re here to help you understand the difference between MSSPs and MSPs so that you can decide which makes the most sense for your business security needs.
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Can an MSP be a Security Services Provider?

If you’re currently working with an MSP, you may have heard your provider mention that they offer security services. While some companies legitimately put in the work to complete the security requirements necessary to be a trustworthy MSSP, many purchase MSSP software without fully understanding how to utilize the technology. This is akin to buying gym equipment but never using it to work out. You may have the tools you need to get the job done, but if you aren’t using them properly, nothing will change.

MSPs and MSSPs are different services, and it takes more than purchasing software or hardware to make the change from one to the other. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for all your information technology and security needs, it’s a good idea to consider an MSP that partners with an MSSP. This will give you a single point of contact with the deep knowledge of security that you need.

Information Technology (IT) Security Services

We understand that no two companies are alike. Foresite works with your IT staff to create a solution that fits your needs. We can co-manage or fully manage your business’s security with our managed security services, which are designed to help businesses secure their critical assets while saving money and freeing up resources so that you can focus on the core of your business. Contact us today!
Tristin Zeman

Tristin Zeman is the Digital Marketing Manager at Foresite. For the past 10 years, she has helped organizations of all sizes create and scale marketing programs through digital and traditional marketing channels and efficient marketing operations.

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