The Top 11 Benefits of MSSPs

By Ron Samson Jr

A Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) is an external organization that handles some or all of an organization’s cybersecurity.  Partnering with an MSSP allows an organization to take advantage of a number of different advantages compared to managing security in-house.

Top Benefits of MSSPs

An in-house security program is often more complicated, insecure, and expensive than an outsourced one.  Partnering with an MSSP provides an organization with a number of additional capabilities and other benefits.

1. 24/7 Threat Detection and Response

A 24/7 SOC is essential to an organization’s cybersecurity and risk management.  Cyberattacks can occur at any time, and the longer that an attacker has access to an organization’s systems, the greater the cost and potential impacts to the organization.  24/7 threat detection and response capabilities ensure that an organization can minimize attackers’ “dwell time” on its network.

However, many organizations lack the resources necessary to maintain an effective 24/7 SOC in-house.  Partnering with an MSSP enables these organizations to take advantage of a mature, effective SOC at a fraction of the cost of maintaining it internally.

2. Expanded Security Team

The cybersecurity industry is experiencing a significant skills gap.  Currently, millions of cybersecurity positions are left vacant worldwide because there are not enough skilled applicants to fill them.  As a result, many organizations are struggling to attract and retain the cybersecurity talent that they require to protect themselves against cyber threats.

Partnering with an MSSP enables an organization to dramatically expand its security team.  An MSSP’s ability to distribute costs over its customer base enables it to attract and retain the cybersecurity personnel that it needs more easily.  These personnel are then available to its customers as needed at a much lower price than retaining them in-house.

3. Access to Specialized Skill Sets

Beyond the general cybersecurity skills shortage, organizations commonly have trouble attracting and retaining cybersecurity professionals with specialized skill sets.  For example, cloud security is of vital importance to many organizations as they move critical data storage and processing functionality to cloud infrastructure.  However, nearly three-quarters of cybersecurity professionals struggle with understanding the shared responsibility model, a fundamental cloud security concept.  Without access to these specialized skill sets, organizations are vulnerable to attack.

An MSSP, on the other hand, has the resources required to attract and retain cybersecurity professionals with the skill sets that they require.  This makes it possible for an organization to gain access to a cloud security expert (or other specialist) on as “as needed” basis without budgeting to retain them full-time.

4. Rapid Incident Response

A rapid response to cybersecurity incidents is essential to minimizing the damage and expense caused to the organization.  The longer that an attacker has access to an organization’s network, the more opportunity they have to steal sensitive information, embed persistence mechanisms, or trigger an attack that causes irreversible damage (like ransomware or wiper malware).

However, incident response activities often require professionals with specialized skill sets.  For example, an incident response team may require a digital forensics expert to determine the scope of the attack or a malware analyst to identify the capabilities of malicious code to determine the scope of an attack and remediate it effectively.  Retaining skilled specialists full-time to ensure that they are immediately available when needed can be difficult and expensive.

Partnering with an MSSP provides an organization with access to their dedicated incident response teams.  Since the MSSP is likely to handle many more incidents than the average organization – due to its coverage of a large client base – it has the ability to attract and retain one or more fully staffed incident response teams and the specialists that they require.

5. Optimized Security Stack

Deploying an effective cybersecurity stack can be complex.  Protecting against all the cyber threats that an organization may face requires an array of security solutions, and the investment in purchasing, configuring, and maintaining them can be significant.

When partnering with an MSSP, an organization can take advantage of the MSSP’s existing security investment.  An MSSP will have already selected and acquired the necessary security solutions to protect their clients and can rapidly deploy them within a new client’s environment.  This enables an organization to quickly implement a mature security stack and removes the need to maintain and update it in-house.

6. Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Cyber defense is expensive.  In addition to the need to attract and retain a security team made up of skilled cybersecurity professionals, an organization also needs to acquire the necessary cybersecurity solutions, licenses, etc.  With an array of niche solutions designed to protect certain environments and platforms against specific attack vectors, the cost of security can rapidly add up.

With an MSSP, the cost of security is distributed over the MSSP’s entire client base.  Many cybersecurity solutions are designed for multitenancy, enabling the MSSP to independently support each client in isolation with a single appliance.  By distributing costs across its customers, an MSSP can offer each of them a higher level of security protection than they could independently achieve at a fraction of the price of maintaining it in-house.

7. Tool Configuration and Management

Purchasing and deploying a cybersecurity tool is only the first step in the process of using it.  Cybersecurity tools must be configured and maintained by an expert.  Otherwise, they may operate less effectively and could even introduce new cybersecurity risks to an organization, as occurred in the case of the recent Capitol One breach.

When working with an MSSP, an organization doesn’t need to maintain in-house expertise to gain the full benefit of their cybersecurity solutions.  An MSSP will configure and maintain the cybersecurity solutions that they deploy in customer environments, ensuring that they are optimally protecting their customers.

8. Access to Threat Intelligence

The cyber threat landscape evolves rapidly, and organizations need access to the latest information to protect against new threats.  To do so, many organizations subscribe to threat intelligence feeds that provide this data.

However, a threat intelligence feed subscription only provides the raw data that an organization needs to identify new threats.  The organization also needs to have the data analytics capabilities and cybersecurity expertise to maximize their use of this data.

An MSSP will have these tools and expertise and can optimally integrate their threat intelligence feeds into their cybersecurity infrastructure.  This ensures that they can defend their customers against the latest cyber threats.

9. Threat Hunting Capabilities

Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated, and cybercriminals are designing their attacks to evade the detection capabilities of many traditional cybersecurity solutions.  This means that an organization may have cybersecurity infections that are present but undetected within their networks.

Detecting these resident threats requires proactive threat hunting capabilities where skilled cybersecurity professionals look for indications of an attacker’s presence on an organization’s network.  Effective threat hunting requires a robust cybersecurity solution stack and threat hunters with deep cybersecurity expertise.  Both can be difficult or expensive for an organization to acquire.

Partnering with an MSSP gives an organization access to an experienced threat hunting team.  This enables the organization to identify and remediate threats that are lurking undetected in their network even if they lack the experience and tools necessary to do so internally.

10. Compliance Management

Most organizations are subject to a wide range of regulations.  New data protection laws like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have joined existing laws like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA).

As the regulatory landscape grows more complex, organizations are increasingly struggling to meet their compliance requirements.  These include implementing the required security controls, maintaining visibility into sensitive and protected within the network, and reporting data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents to regulators.

An MSSP will provide support to an organization’s compliance management program.  This can include implementing required security controls, automating collection of data required for compliance reporting, and assisting with audits and reports to regulatory authorities.

11. Minimizing Your Organization’s Cyber Risk

Maintaining an effective cybersecurity program can be difficult and expensive for an organization.  Partnering with an MSSP enables an organization to take advantage of several different benefits that provide stronger, simplified security with a lower total cost of ownership.