How A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) Enables Effective Cyber Defense

By Frank Smith | April 20, 2021
Frank is Manager of Ntiva's cybersecurity and consulting practice, has deep expertise in the government contracting space, and boasts multiple security certificates including CISSP and CMMC-AB practioner.

A managed security service provider (MSSP) has the potential to be one of your best business investments. Why? The most obvious reason is the escalation of cyber incidents that threaten your business on a daily basis. Keep reading to learn how an MSSP can help better protect your organization!

Why Does My Business Need an MSSP?

We hear about big breaches in the news almost every day. For starters, there’s the glaring cybersecurity example of T-Mobile’s breach that occurred over the course of 2023. As a result of the attack, hackers were able to access the confidential information of both customers and employees, leaving millions of users vulnerable and costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars. T-Mobile has been the victim of 9 significant breaches since 2018, 3 of which occurred in 2023 alone.

In the same year, the U.K. Electoral Commission notified the public of a “complex cyberattack” that exposed the personal information of an estimated 40,000,000 voters. Media outlets and security experts attribute the large-scale attack to a failed Cyber Essentials audit.

All that to say, there’s no shortage of cybersecurity threats facing businesses in 2024, and many of these intrusions start with email. Unfortunately, humans are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, and hackers are all too aware of this!

Did you know that sophisticated email phishing surged 600% during the COVID-19 pandemic? The business world saw a 62% rise in the number of malware and virus variants since 2020.

Additional 2020 data compared to the years following consistently show a significant rise in reported malware activity. Mimecasts’s 2020 State of Email Security (SOES) report revealed that 61% of organizations experienced malware activity that spread from one employee to another. The following year, that rate rose to 74%. In 2022, it increased (albeit slightly) to 75%, marking the highest rate of infection since the SOES study was undertaken in 2017.

In other words, a cybersecurity tsunami is upon us.

What Does It Cost to Remediate and Recover from a Ransomware Attack?

Although it’s difficult to pin down a specific amount due to the inevitable ongoing implications of a breach, it was estimated that the average cost of a ransomware attack in 2019 was $141,000, a more than 200% increase over what it cost organizations in 2018. However, that amount increased exponentially last year—the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was over $4,000,000, with some estimates reaching almost $10,000,000 for the previous year 2022.

That’s certainly more than enough to destroy a business on its own, and that’s without factoring in the cost of reputation damage or other ongoing implications. Yet half of surveyed security professionals say their companies lack the resources to fend off such attacks due to layoffs, budget constraints, and other restrictions.

For many leaders, this confession from the people in charge of cybersecurity is worrisome, and justifiably so. If this is a concern for your business, it could be time to hand over some (or all) of your security needs to a managed security service provider that excels in cybersecurity protection.

What Is the Role of a Managed Security Service Provider?

First of all, let's be clear about what these are and what they do: An MSSP specializes in offering a wide range of security products and services to businesses, offering true "security as a service" to ensure all organizational data is safe, secure, and compliant around the clock.

As companies grow, they often look to hire people internally who specialize in cyberdefense, but this can be an expensive option for smaller outfits, particularly because demand continues to outstrip the supply of skilled cybersecurity practitioners.

Effective security operations today require not only expertise but also the use and adoption of ever-evolving automated tools and processes. These can include a 24/7 Security Operations Center (SOC), which is something that many businesses neglect to consider building and maintaining due to the expense.

What is an SOC?

Trellix (formerly known as McAfee) provides a great description of an SOC: 

“[A] Security Operation Center (SOC) is a centralized function within an organization employing people, processes, and technology to continuously monitor and improve an organization's security posture while preventing, detecting, analyzing, and responding to cybersecurity incidents.”

Needless to say, cyberattacks can occur at any time, not just during an organization’s standard business hours. A reputable MSSP should offer a 24/7 SOC, providing continuous detection and response to potential cyberattacks. This commitment becomes even more important for companies in heavily regulated industries like finance, healthcare, and law firms, who need to comply with varying regulations surrounding cybersecurity.

Despite a clear difference between compliance and security, a managed security service provider can play a key role in ensuring that both security and compliance requirements are met—regardless of your industry.

How Many MSSPs Exist?

There are thousands of IT service providers, but few have the resources to invest in the latest software tools and automation required for effective cyberthreat defense. That availability alone is typically what separates a Managed Service Provider (MSP) from an MSSP.

An MSP can help ensure your IT infrastructure is operational as well as provide a help desk, onsite support, and many other technology services. Meanwhile, an MSSP offers all of that plus enhanced security services. As hackers get more sophisticated with improving technology, it’s imperative to stay one step ahead by continually upgrading the cyberdefense tech stack. This has become increasingly difficult for most organizations to tackle by themselves.

What Do Managed Security Service Providers Actually Provide?

Once again, an MSSP offers true cybersecurity as a service. This means that an MSSP covers a whole host of disciplines, which typically include the following:

  1. Firewall management
  2. Protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
  3. Patch management
  4. Dark web monitoring
  5. Identity and access management
  6. Vulnerability scanning
  7. Encryption
  8. Content filtering
  9. Multi-factor authentication
  10. Intrusion detection and response
  11. Cybersecurity risk assessment
  12. Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO)
  13. Endpoint detection and response
  14. Phishing prevention training
  15. IT governance, risk, and compliance
  16. AI consulting and strategy


The above list offers a handful of examples of what your chosen MSSP can help you achieve through advanced IT and digital transformation services.

What Else Should I Know About Specific Managed Security Services?

The following listings give explanations of some of the more important services that are commonly offered by a standard MSSP:

1. Firewall Management

A firewall is a virtual perimeter that’s put up around your business network and the devices connected to it. It’s governed by rules that can allow or exclude different traffic sources. Managing these rules along with monitoring alerts and logs is something that you can outsource to a managed security service provider. Doing so can help free up time for your staff to concentrate on other things, which could be better for your bottom line.

2. Anti-DDoS Protection

DDoS attacks flood servers and firewalls with a tidal wave of fake requests until they eventually keel over and your website goes down. Anti-DDoS protection detects bad traffic and filters it out so that only genuine traffic gets through and your business can carry on unaffected.

3. Patch Management

Statistics show 60% of breaches happen because of patches that weren’t applied. A patch is an essential update to software that improves its functionality by detecting and fixing any security vulnerabilities. But this task is challenging—if you have 250 machines running different software simultaneously, making sure that they’re all patched and up-to-date looks more like a full-time job. That’s why it’s often more cost-effective to outsource this service.

4. Dark Web Monitoring

The dark web is a part of the Internet, but it’s hidden from search engines and can only be accessed with particular software and authorizations. It isn’t illegal in itself, but criminals routinely use it to share or sell hacking tools and stolen data. Dark web monitoring can alert you if leaked data from any of your customers finds its way there. Admittedly, this may be a case of reactive as opposed to proactive response, but it’s better to know as soon as possible.

5. Identity and Access Management

This service involves controlling who gets access to what systems and information within the organization. Naturally, not everyone needs access to everything all of the time. From a security perspective, it’s far better to limit viewing and sharing access to individuals on a need-to-know basis.

6. Vulnerability Scanning

This is performed by scanning your network and alleviating the loopholes that attackers look for, including overlooked security patches, non-secure settings, and any unnecessary services.

7. Encryption

Data goes further and further these days—across networks, borders, and Internet-of-Things devices such as connected cameras—so one of the best ways of keeping data under lock and key is encryption. This task turns sensitive data into unreadable text that’s useless to anyone who intercepts it.

8. Content Filtering

Automated filters effectively weed out dangerous web content so that it can’t find its way onto any of your company’s devices.

9. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA puts extra obstacles in the way of attackers. For instance, even if they’ve stolen your system password, they’ll remain locked out if they don’t have the unique verification code that’s sent to your phone or security device.

10. Intrusion Detection and Response (IDR)

IDR (a.k.a. security information and event management) permanently monitors a network, constantly looking for signs that may point to an imminent attack. It employs a combination of automated threat detection and expert human response in response to any positives, shutting them down swiftly—often before you even realize there is a problem.

11. Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

This service provides the perfect starting point for maintaining reliable protection by assessing your business’s current state and identifying which of your assets may be most vulnerable to attack. MSSPs like Ntiva can lay out the risks associated with each one, and help you to identify where your priorities for protection lie. We can then use this information to better secure your enterprise.

12. Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) 

Whatever the endeavor, there’s nothing quite like knowing that an experienced hand is at the wheel. Experience is something that is earned over time, and often it’s not something you can just buy. MSSPs like Ntiva can equip you with a vCISO. This means that you get access to a high-level security expert loaded with invaluable knowledge where and when you need them. This advanced level of expertise can be otherwise hard to source, hard to recruit, and sometimes hard to justify if your organization is on the smaller side. By employing an outsourced vCISO and using them only when you need them, your company always has affordable expertise waiting in the wings.

13. Endpoint Detection and Response

Modern hacking techniques need quick, modern responses. Ntiva’s Endpoint Detection and Response, for example, pairs AI with a 24/7 security operations center to defend all your business devices—even when they’re outside the company firewall. With so many devices in use these days, it’s a relief to know that they're reliably protected.

14. Phishing Prevention Training

Research by Deloitte indicates that 91% of cyberattacks are initiated with a phishing email. Because prevention is better than cure (and cheaper too in this case,) having a managed security provider oversee your staff’s cybersecurity training is a worthwhile investment. After all, you’re effectively turning your staff into another line of defense.

15. IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC)

This discipline covers your strategy for handling overall governance, enterprise risk management, and compliance with regulations. An MSSP like Ntiva can help you put this together, giving you a clear framework that fits with your business goals.

16. AI Consulting and Strategy

This modern specialty encompasses a wide range of expert services that help your business tap into the power of AI while remaining secure. Today’s businesses are more tech-driven than ever, so more and more MSPs are offering formal AI consulting services:

  • Strategy development
  • Data analysis and management
  • Custom AI solution design
  • Implementation and integration
  • Ethical AI and compliance

Ntiva understands that these services aren’t just about keeping up with the trends; they're about pushing the boundaries of innovation and efficiency.

What Is the Pricing Structure for MSSPs?

In your research, you’ll likely find that there are as many fee structures as there are managed security service providers. In some cases, you could find yourself paying an upfront fee followed by an ongoing subscription, or you might pay by the number of security events, the number of incidents detected and dealt with, the amount of data throughput, the number of users, or the number of assets being protected.

Your ideal MSSP will offer a pricing structure that aligns with your diverse business needs. Ntiva service offerings are part of a competitive pricing model with different options for security protection that are customized to fit your needs.

Where Can I Connect with a Reliable MSSP?

Online threats are evolving all the time, but recruiting a reliable managed security services provider like Ntiva can help keep your business and its data safe for the foreseeable future. If you'd like more information, take a look at our Cybersecurity Solutions page for additional details on our security offers, or reach out to book a consultation with one of our cybersecurity experts.

Ntiva Cyber Security Solutions Overview 

Tags: Cybersecurity