The Essential Guide to Understanding the Differences Between Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs)

The Essential Guide to Understanding the Differences Between Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs)

In today’s digital landscape, businesses are increasingly reliant on technology to drive their operations, improve efficiency, and gain a competitive edge. However, this dependence on technology also exposes businesses to a myriad of cyber threats and operational challenges. To navigate these complexities, organisations often turn to external experts for support. Two key players in this space are Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). While these terms might sound similar, they serve distinct roles and bring unique strengths to your business. This blog will delve into what MSPs and MSSPs do, the strengths of each, how they support your business, and why you might need both.

What Do Managed Service Providers (MSPs) Do?

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are external companies that remotely manage a business’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. MSPs offer a wide range of services designed to ensure that your IT systems run smoothly and efficiently. Here are some of the primary services provided by MSPs:

  • IT Infrastructure Management: MSPs handle the day-to-day management of your IT infrastructure, including servers, networks, and storage systems. They ensure that all components are operating optimally and address any issues that arise.
  • Network Monitoring and Maintenance: MSPs monitor your network to identify and resolve potential issues before they cause downtime. They also perform routine maintenance to keep your network in peak condition.
  • Help Desk and Support Services: MSPs provide technical support to your employees, assisting with troubleshooting and resolving IT-related issues. This support can be offered 24/7, ensuring that your team always has access to the help they need.
  • Software Management: MSPs manage the installation, updating, and licensing of software applications used by your business. This ensures that all software is up-to-date and compliant with licensing requirements.
  • Data Backup and Recovery: MSPs implement data backup solutions to protect your business’s critical data. In the event of data loss, they can restore your data quickly to minimise disruption.
  • Cloud Services Management: MSPs help businesses migrate to and manage cloud services, ensuring that cloud-based applications and data are secure and accessible.

What Do Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) Do?

Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) specialise in providing cybersecurity services to protect your business from cyber threats. While MSPs focus on overall IT management, MSSPs are dedicated to safeguarding your IT environment. Here are some of the key services offered by MSSPs:

  • Threat Monitoring and Detection: MSSPs monitor your IT environment for signs of cyber threats, such as malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks. They use advanced tools and techniques to detect and respond to threats in real-time.
  • Incident Response and Recovery: In the event of a cyber incident, MSSPs provide immediate response services to mitigate the impact and recover from the attack. This includes identifying the source of the attack, containing the threat, and restoring affected systems.
  • Vulnerability Management: MSSPs conduct regular vulnerability assessments to identify weaknesses in your IT infrastructure. They provide recommendations for addressing these vulnerabilities to prevent exploitation by cybercriminals.
  • Security Awareness Training: MSSPs offer training programs to educate your employees about cybersecurity best practices and how to recognise and respond to potential threats.
  • Compliance Management: MSSPs help businesses comply with industry regulations and standards, such as the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They ensure that your security practices meet regulatory requirements.
  • Security Policy Development: MSSPs assist in developing and implementing security policies and procedures tailored to your business’s needs. These policies provide a framework for maintaining a secure IT environment.

Strengths of Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

Managed Service Providers bring several strengths to your business:

  • Comprehensive IT Management: MSPs provide end-to-end management of your IT systems, ensuring that all aspects of your IT environment are covered. This holistic approach helps streamline operations and reduce the burden on your internal IT team.
  • Proactive Maintenance: By monitoring your IT infrastructure continuously, MSPs can identify and address potential issues before they escalate into major problems. This proactive approach helps prevent downtime and ensures that your systems are always running smoothly.
  • Cost Efficiency: Outsourcing IT management to an MSP can be more cost-effective than maintaining an in-house IT team. MSPs offer predictable pricing models, allowing you to budget for IT expenses more accurately.
  • Scalability: MSPs can scale their services to meet the changing needs of your business. Whether you are expanding your operations or need to downsize, MSPs can adjust their support accordingly.

Strengths of Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs)

Managed Security Service Providers offer distinct advantages in the realm of cybersecurity:

  • Specialised Expertise: MSSPs are cybersecurity experts with deep knowledge of the latest threats and security technologies. Their specialised expertise enables them to provide more effective protection against cyber attacks.
  • 24/7 Threat Monitoring: MSSPs provide round-the-clock monitoring of your IT environment, ensuring that threats are detected and addressed promptly, regardless of when they occur.
  • Advanced Security Tools: MSSPs use sophisticated security tools and technologies that may be beyond the reach of many businesses. These tools enhance their ability to detect and respond to threats effectively.
  • Regulatory Compliance: MSSPs are well-versed in industry regulations and can help ensure that your security practices comply with relevant standards. This reduces the risk of regulatory penalties and enhances your business’s reputation.

How MSPs and MSSPs Support Your Business

Both MSPs and MSSPs play crucial roles in supporting your business, albeit in different ways. Here’s how they contribute to your success:

MSPs Support Your Business by:

  • Ensuring IT Reliability: MSPs keep your IT systems running smoothly, minimising downtime and ensuring that your employees have the tools they need to be productive.
  • Providing Technical Support: With access to a help desk, your employees can quickly resolve IT issues, reducing disruptions to their work.
  • Optimising IT Performance: MSPs continuously monitor and maintain your IT infrastructure, ensuring that it operates at peak performance.
  • Managing IT Costs: By offering predictable pricing models, MSPs help you manage IT expenses more effectively.

MSSPs Support Your Business by:

  • Protecting Against Cyber Threats: MSSPs provide robust cybersecurity services to protect your business from a wide range of cyber threats.
  • Ensuring Compliance: MSSPs help you comply with industry regulations, reducing the risk of penalties and enhancing your business’s credibility.
  • Enhancing Security Posture: MSSPs conduct regular assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities, strengthening your overall security posture.
  • Educating Employees: Through security awareness training, MSSPs equip your employees with the knowledge they need to recognise and respond to cyber threats.

Why You Need Both MSPs and MSSPs

While MSPs and MSSPs offer distinct services, they complement each other and together provide comprehensive support for your business’s IT and security needs. Here’s why you need both:

Holistic IT Management and Security

MSPs provide a broad range of IT management services that keep your IT systems running efficiently. However, their focus is not primarily on cybersecurity. On the other hand, MSSPs specialise in protecting your IT environment from cyber threats but may not cover all aspects of IT management. By engaging both an MSP and an MSSP, you ensure that all your IT and security needs are met comprehensively.

Proactive and Reactive Support

MSPs focus on proactive maintenance and support, ensuring that your IT systems are always in good condition. MSSPs, while also proactive in their approach to threat detection, are critical for reactive support during a security incident. Having both ensures that you have the necessary support to prevent issues and respond effectively when they occur.

Enhanced Security Posture

Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and the expertise of an MSSP is crucial in staying ahead of these threats. Meanwhile, the operational efficiency provided by an MSP ensures that your business can operate smoothly. Together, they enhance your overall security posture and operational resilience.

Cost-Effective Solutions

Outsourcing both IT management and cybersecurity to specialised providers can be more cost-effective than building and maintaining these capabilities in-house. MSPs and MSSPs offer scalable solutions that can grow with your business, providing flexibility and cost savings.

Regulatory Compliance

Both MSPs and MSSPs play a role in ensuring that your business complies with industry regulations. MSPs can help with IT-related compliance requirements, while MSSPs focus on security-specific regulations. Together, they provide a comprehensive approach to compliance management.


In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, businesses need robust IT management and cybersecurity solutions to stay competitive and secure. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) offer complementary services that together provide comprehensive support for your business’s IT and security needs. MSPs ensure that your IT systems run smoothly and efficiently, while MSSPs protect your IT environment from cyber threats. By leveraging the strengths of both, you can enhance your operational efficiency, strengthen your security posture, and ensure regulatory compliance.

At Aegis Cybersecurity, we specialise in cybersecurity audit, advisory, and governance, helping businesses navigate the complexities of the digital age. If you’re looking to bolster your IT management and cybersecurity strategies, reach out to us today to learn how we can support your business.

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