MSP vs MSSP: What is the Difference?

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MSP and MSSP: what’s the difference between them?  It’s a question that’s been on the minds of many in the world of cybersecurity. At first glance, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) both fall under the umbrella of third-party IT service providers catering to businesses. However, it’s the specific focus and expertise where they diverge.

While their acronyms might sound similar, there is a key difference between an MSP and an MSSP: an MSP provides a broad range of IT services, including security, while an MSSP focuses exclusively on cybersecurity services.

Another way to think about it is that MSPs are like general contractors for IT, while MSSPs are like specialised subcontractors for cybersecurity. MSPs can provide a variety of services, such as network management, help desk support, and cloud computing. MSSPs, on the other hand, have deep security expertise and can help businesses protect themselves from a wide range of cyber threats.

If you are looking for security services for your business, it is important to understand the distinction between MSP and MSSP and which is best suited for your specific needs. This article dives deeper into their differences to help you choose the right option to make your cybersecurity stronger.

MSP vs MSSP: What are the Key Differences?

Focus MSPs concentrate on overall IT management and efficiency. MSSPs specialise in cybersecurity, prioritising threat detection, incident response, and risk mitigation.
Service Range They offer a wide range of IT services and may not have the same level of cybersecurity specialisation as an MSSP. They possess advanced cybersecurity expertise and tools tailored to combat evolving cyber threats.
Operation Centre They operate out of a Network Operations Centre. They operate out of a Security Operations Centre.
Monitoring Solutions They use remote monitoring and management (RMM) solutions to handle computers and networks. They use SIEM technologies to monitor their clients’ cybersecurity posture extensively.
Security Services MSPs help with patch management, bug fixes, and threat detection. MSSPs provide comprehensive security against even the most destructive cyber threats.
Compliance They improve day-to-day business efficiency and productivity. They ensure systems are up-to-date and meet compliance standards.


Core Focus

MSP: MSP’s core focus is on overall IT management and efficiency. Its goal is to improve the general functionality of IT systems and enhance day-to-day business operations. This may include system maintenance, software updates, data protection, and optimising IT infrastructure for operational efficiency.

MSSP: MSSP specialises in cybersecurity, so its core focus is protecting its clients from cyber threats and enhancing their security posture. This involves services related to threat detection, security monitoring, incident response, and risk mitigation. It is also dedicated to safeguarding IT systems against various security threats


Service Range

MSP: MSP offers a wide range of IT management services, including cybersecurity, focusing on maintaining an organisation’s IT infrastructure. These services include network management, data management, endpoint protection, firewall management, and more. It also handles servers, networking, storage, software support, data backups, cloud services, and vendor relationships, tailoring its services to fit clients’ needs and budgets.

MSSP: MSSP provides security tools and advanced knowledge tailored to combat evolving cyber threats. Its services are primarily centred around security and include services such as firewall management, endpoint detection and response intrusion detection, vulnerability assessments, and more. They do not typically handle general IT management beyond what is necessary for security.


Operational Centres

MSP: MSP operates out of a Network Operations Center (NOC). NOCs are responsible for monitoring and managing the broader IT infrastructure, which includes general IT systems and network resources.

MSSP: MSSP operates out of a Security Operations Center (SOC). SOCs are specifically designed for monitoring and responding to security-related events and incidents. Their focus is on cybersecurity threats and breaches.


Monitoring Solutions

MSP: MSP uses Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solutions to handle computers and networks. RMM monitoring aims to ensure that IT systems are operational, up-to-date, and efficient.

MSSP: MSSP uses Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) technologies to monitor its clients’ cybersecurity posture extensively. SIEM solutions focus on identifying and responding to security threats, offering real-time insights into security events.


Security Services

MSP: While an MSP may offer basic security services like patch management and bug fixes, their primary focus is not cybersecurity. Security is just one facet of their broader IT management services.

MSSP: MSSP provides comprehensive security against various cyber threats, including advanced persistent threats, malware, data breaches, and more. It offers services like threat detection, penetration testing, incident response, vulnerability management, maintaining essential security devices like firewalls and intrusion detection systems, and ensuring organisations are well-protected from evolving cybersecurity threats.



MSP: MSP ensures that IT systems are up-to-date and meet general compliance standards related to system functionality and operational efficiency. These standards may include performance, uptime, and basic IT compliance.

MSSP: MSSP ensures that systems meet specific security compliance standards. It focuses on protecting against cyber threats and vulnerabilities, which may include regulatory standards related to data security and privacy.

Also Read: In-House SOC VS. MSSP: Which is the right option for your business?


Choosing between MSPs and MSSPs for your cybersecurity

MSPs and MSSPs are third-party service providers, and you can get confused about which service you should choose for your business. MSPs and MSSPs provide speedy delivery of their respective services to your company, but understanding what they do best is the key to choosing the best service for you.

An MSP is your ideal partner if your company primarily requires basic IT services. They excel in delivering efficient IT solutions that keep your operations running smoothly. Be it managing your network infrastructure or providing technical support, MSPs are geared towards ensuring your technology functions seamlessly, allowing you to focus on your core business objectives.

On the other hand, if your business has in-house IT expertise and resources, but security is your top concern, an MSSP is the way to go. Managed Security Service Providers specialise in safeguarding your digital assets, constantly monitoring potential threats, and responding swiftly to mitigate risks. With an MSSP, you can fortify your defences with advanced security solutions and stay ahead of evolving cybersecurity challenges.

For small businesses with aspirations of growth, a dual approach employing both MSP and MSSP services can be a strategic move. This combination allows you to maximise your financial resources and streamline business operations. While the MSP ensures the smooth functioning of your IT infrastructure, the MSSP keeps your digital fortress secure, enabling your business to expand and thrive while remaining well-protected.

Also Read: How to Choose the Right MSSP for Your Business?



In summary, while MSSPs and MSPs provide valuable services, their specialisation and primary focus distinguish them. MSSPs are cybersecurity experts dedicated to protecting businesses from cyber attacks, offering comprehensive security services. In contrast, MSPs provide a wider range of IT management and support services, helping organisations maintain and optimise their IT infrastructure.

Depending on your organisation’s specific requirements, it may engage with either or both types of service providers to address its IT, IT infrastructure, and security needs effectively. Contact us today to discuss your cybersecurity needs and choose the service provider that aligns with your business objectives.



What is the main difference between MSPs and MSSPs?

MSPs focus on overall IT management and efficiency, while MSSPs provide advanced cybersecurity services, prioritising threat detection, incident response, and risk mitigation.

Can an MSP handle the cybersecurity needs of my business?

While MSPs may offer basic security services, their primary focus is not cybersecurity. If security is a top concern, it’s advisable to outsource an MSSP that specialises in comprehensive cybersecurity services.

How does an MSSP ensure compliance with cybersecurity standards?

MSSPs focus on specific security compliance standards related to data security and privacy, which include a range of regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). They diligently enforce security measures, conduct audits, and offer expert guidance to safeguard sensitive data, which shields your business from potential breaches and cyber threats.

How do MSPs and MSSPs monitor and respond to security events differently?

MSPs use Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solutions to handle computers and networks, while MSSPs use Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) technologies to extensively monitor their clients’ cybersecurity posture. RMM focuses on ensuring IT systems are operational and efficient, whereas SIEM is designed for identifying and responding to security threats.

Is it necessary for my business to have both MSP and MSSP services?

It depends on your specific requirements. If your business primarily needs basic IT services, an MSP can suffice. However, if security is a significant concern, employing an MSSP for specialised cybersecurity services is crucial. Some businesses opt for both to maximise their IT and security coverage.

What are some key indicators or signs a business might need to upgrade from an MSP to an MSSP to enhance its cybersecurity measures?

Key indicators that a business may need to transition from an MSP to an MSSP include experiencing more frequent security incidents, compliance challenges, or a need for advanced threat detection capabilities that go beyond the MSP’s scope.

How does the level of service and response time differ between MSPs and MSSPs in the event of a security incident or data breach?

The level of service and response time can vary depending on the specific service level agreements (SLAs) and contracts with the MSP or MSSP. In the event of a security incident or data breach, MSSPs typically have faster response times due to their specialised focus on cybersecurity.

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