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What is an MSSP?

An MSSP is a managed security services provider. This is a specialised type of managed service provider (MSP) that focuses on numerous aspects of IT security, including vulnerability management to reduce the risk of cyber attacks, SIEM, SOC, compliance and governance, and more.

Where a typical MSP covers a broad range of IT services and may offer certain security services or add-ons, the typical small MSP lacks the scale and deep specialties required for cybersecurity protection.

Conversely, most dedicated MSSPs do not offer a complete range of managed IT services but focus chiefly on the various elements of an organisation’s information security stance.

There is admittedly overlap between these categories. And some large providers, including Canon Business Services ANZ (CBS), have both the breadth and depth to offer one, the other, or both.

Recent Cyber attacks and data breaches

The risks and negative business outcomes associated with cyber attacks and data breaches can hardly be overstated. For most, business simply cannot get done without ongoing, uninterrupted access to systems and data, and the reputational (not to mention regulatory or even legal) harms posed by a significant data breach are substantial.

Depending on the nature of your organisation, lives could even be at stake: a crucial disruption at a hospital or emergency services entity could prevent timely lifesaving care.

But just how common are these events, and do cybercriminals target businesses like yours?

The unfortunate reality is that no business or organisation is immune to being targeted: businesses of all sizes, charities, service organisations, and tech platforms alike suffered breaches of varying severity in 2022.

Large businesses offer outsized “prizes” but are typically more difficult to penetrate, while the opposite is true of smaller businesses, which many threat actors see as soft, easy targets.

Webber Insurance maintains a database of cyber attacks and breaches affecting ANZ businesses. In just the month of December, 2022, Webber noted six significant attacks. One cyber attack against Fire Rescue Victoria crippled the organisation’s response capabilities, knocking out both the computer dispatch system and phone lines. Other attacks run the gamut from banks to government agencies to massive tech firms like Microsoft and Twitter.

What are the different types of MSSPs?

Not every MSSP offers the same services or specialties. As your business seeks the right types of protections, it's important to consider your options when choosing a managed security services provider. Be aware of these areas of focus.

Managed security monitoring

This is the day-to-day monitoring of potential security threats and could be considered the lowest level of MSSP service. Managed security monitoring watches the systems and services you already have in place and looks for anomalies or signs of security incidents. It does not typically include planning or implementation.

Remote/on-site consulting

Security consulting, whether performed remotely or on site, evaluates the organisation’s existing network infrastructure, performing security assessments (including cyber security assessment) and determining vulnerabilities and security holes.

Consulting can be a central pillar of a cybersecurity uplift, where an MSSP brings your organisation’s security standards and policies up to date so that you can succeed in today’s Cloud.

An MSSP that offers consulting services can help your organisation identify what needs to change and assist in building a roadmap for fixing those issues.

Penetration testing and vulnerability assessments

Penetration testing goes a step further, actively probing your network to find a way in. This goes beyond simply evaluating for potential vulnerabilities — penetration testers are ethical hackers who actively find vulnerabilities using the same techniques and tactics used by cybercriminals. Through penetration testing and vulnerability assessments, an MSSP can identify weaknesses and then deliver solutions to resolve them.

Compliance monitoring

The world of data grows more complex every day, with organisations pulling in unimaginably large quantities of data. Cloud services enable businesses to do more with that data. But the combined growing complexity of more data, advancing data regulations, and storing that data in the cloud leads to compliance concerns.

Compliance monitoring continually evaluates whether an organisation is complying with data security policies and procedures, both the business’s own internal policies and any regulatory compliance requirements they may be subject to.

Advantages of using an MSSP

Using an MSSP rather than merely an MSP gives you a greater level of focus on security, helping your business build out a security framework and respond to incidents at a higher level than an “MSP-only” firm can accomplish.

You also gain access to specialists in hard-to-source fields while simultaneously cutting costs.

Additionally, an MSSP can guide further migration to the cloud and evaluate your cloud security, protecting your business wherever it operates.

MSSPs vs MDR: What is right for your company?

MDR, or managed detection and response, shifts the emphasis from detection to detection and response.

One criticism of the MSSP model is that it’s built on the security information and event management (SIEM) model: once the MSSP identifies a threat or anomaly, the client organisation is responsible to fix the problem, not the MSSP. So, how does SIEM work? SIEM, or Security Information and Event Management, involves collecting and analyzing data from various sources across an organization's network to identify potential security threats and breaches. It provides real-time monitoring, correlation, and alerts to help organizations respond to incidents effectively. (Of course, this criticism is not universal, and you’ll undoubtedly find it most from providers seeking to differentiate themselves from lesser competitors.)

Along with the MSSP model and the MDR model, there’s SOCaaS, or Security Operations Centre as a Service.

Ultimately, when you choose a comprehensive provider with the scale and scope to back up their claims, these terms all become distinctions without differences. A firm advertising itself as an MDR is often simply an MSSP that offers deeper, more proactive service than lesser MSSPs.

When you choose an industry leader like CBS, you get an “all of the above” solution that does not force you to choose one service or style over the others.

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When should an organisation use an MSSP?

Many organisations are already using managed IT services in some form, and their current provider may offer some security services. How should you determine whether it’s time to employ a dedicated MSSP

Consider these four scenarios where an MSSP (or a large managed IT services firm that can do both) is the optimal choice.

Faced a recent cybersecurity threat

Organisations that have recently undergone a cybersecurity attack, whether that attack was ultimately successful or a failure, should consider using an MSSP. The fact that you have undergone an attack means that you are seen as a target worth attacking. Future attacks aren’t just possible; they are likely.

If you suffered a breach or successful attack, it’s likely clear that you need more support than your current provider is offering. Even if you successfully fended off the attack, consider how well and how quickly your business was able to move through the attack. If the results were not satisfactory, it could be time for a change.

Wants to prevent any data breaches from happening

The best defence is a good offence. If your business has thus far been safe from data breaches and wants to stay that way, now may be the time to partner with an MSSP. The threat of a data breach is not going away, and your systems are not generally getting less complex.

The more complexity and exposure you have, the greater the risk of a breach — and the greater the consequences. Shoring up your cyber defences now is the savvy move, not waiting until the damage has already been done.

You want to focus on your business and not have to worry about security

Security operations are wide-reaching. They consume time, resources, and — crucially — focus. When your team is forced to focus on security responses or overly consumed with worrying about the consequences of a security breach, they aren’t doing their best work.

Partnering with an MSSP frees your team to focus on moving your business forward with the confidence that experienced specialists are maintaining the systems and data undergirding that work.

Wants to update their technology

As tools and systems grow more interconnected and more and more are cloud-native, the security needs of today are quite different than those from five years ago. If you’re updating your technology, your security policies and tools will need an upgrade as well.

Sometimes the next step forward is unclear. If your organisation realises the need to update elements of its technology infrastructure but lacks the vision to do so in an organised way that follows security best practices, then it’s time to bring in a partner.

Questions for choosing the right provider

How to evaluate a managed security service provider

As you seek the best managed security service provider for your needs, consider these factors.

• What level of service does the MSSP provide? Is it SIEM-based detection only, or does the provider offer proactive response and SOC capabilities? 
• Does this provider have a track record in our industry?
• Does this provider have a proven track record serving clients of our size?
• Does this provider listen to our needs and learn our business rather than apply a one-size-fits-all approach?

How CBS can help with Managed IT services

With over 1700 staff members across ANZ, CBS is more than just a managed IT services provider. CBS offers a wealth of IT services, including managed security services, IT consulting, backup and data recovery, MDR, and much more.

We have the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to provide comprehensive service across your IT estate, plus the specialisations required to dig deeper into your security needs.

CBS is one of Australia’s most highly accredited Cybersecurity services organisations. We’re proud to be among the few Australian MSSPs in the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA), which means we can better defend you against a world of increasing cyber threats. CBS is one of the few MSSP’s holding three Azure Advanced Security Specialisations, across Identity & Access Management, Cloud Security and Threat Protection. We know whats required to safeguard your organisation today.

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