As businesses have become more acquainted with cybersecurity demands, they’ve developed teams to address cybersecurity from a few different vantage points, all vitally important to system security. One commonly misunderstood distinction exists between managed detection and response (MDR) vs. managed security services providers (MSSPs).
Both are critical to network security, yet each is unique and functions differently.
What is the Difference Between Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)?
When comparing MDR vs. MSSP, the main difference is that managed detection and response is a more offensive approach to cybersecurity and can be a subset of managed security services. And when referring to managed security services providers (MSSPs), most cybersecurity experts understand that a company has outsourced the bulk of their cybersecurity efforts to a third-party.
Still, some MSSPs haven’t employed the latest MDR techniques. The result is that some MSSPs lack the manpower and expertise to help their clients respond to security threats in a timely manner. Organizations that depend upon MSSPs for their system integrity can benefit from understanding what MDR entails and whether or not an MSSP includes MDR.
What is Included in Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?
Managed detection and response is concerned with detecting cyber threats and responding as quickly as possible. As a fairly recent addition to the cybersecurity field, MDR is crucial to achieving data management compliance in most industries in the 21st Century.
The complexity and effectiveness of cyber attacks have grown considerably over the last few years. As more businesses digitally transform, hackers and malware have more targets and points of entry to choose from.
MDR teams focus on where threats emerge, how those threats try to exploit a network, and the best way to deal with threats in both the short and long-term. Additionally, MDR recognizes that not every attack vector is a true threat. But because MDR teams are employing threat detection in a proactive manner, they are experts at identifying those threats when and if they emerge.
One important thing to understand about cybersecurity is that an organization will never be able to avoid threats or security breaches. What they can do is build security layers and then employ managed detection and response teams to spot breaches as they occur.
Managed detection and response typically signals advanced system monitoring and incident response. Today’s MDR teams use more robust tools and pay close attention to the outermost perimeter of an organization’s network. This approach aims to identify and address breaches immediately.
MDR teams respond to breaches and neutralize the threat before they can penetrate another security layer. Incident response ensures that security contingencies work and protect the network from lost or stolen data.
What Does a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) Do?
Technically speaking, managed security services providers handle most cybersecurity tasks required to keep an organization compliant and secure. Among the duties of an MSSP are:
- Infrastructure Management
- Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
- System Monitoring
- Risk and Vulnerability Assessments
- Security Audits
- Compliance Management and Reporting
- Technical Documentation
- Employee Cybersecurity Training
- Antivirus Management
- Penetration Testing
- Patch Management
MSSPs may even help decision-makers create a full cybersecurity strategy from scratch. Once completed, MSSPs are responsible for carrying out that strategy and protecting the integrity of the client’s network.
One key difference between MSSPs and MDR is that MSSPs focus slightly more on compliance. Overall, this assumes more of a defensive posture toward cybersecurity than does MDR. Though modern MSSPs may include MDR in their repertoire, the overarching goal is establishing process, procedures, policies, and principles for building a sustainable cybersecurity strategy.
Because MSSPs are contractors, they allow small and medium-sized companies to scale their cybersecurity program according to their budget and threat level. These third-party experts also have the benefit of functioning as objective outsiders with a keen awareness for how cyber threats have developed across multiple industries.
That said, it’s not uncommon for large corporations to employ MSSPs on a full time basis to save money on payroll. Most larger organizations maintain a few employees whose job it is to carry out certain security tasks. In doing so, those organizations outsource specific cybersecurity tasks and use their own team members to oversee all cybersecurity efforts.
It’s also important to distinguish between MSSPs and CISOs. MSSPs represent an entire operation, and CISOs are security executives that provide cybersecurity leadership for an organization. Because an increasing number of businesses are outsourcing CISOs as fractional or virtual CISOs, some MSSPs actually include vCISO services as part of their managed security services.
MDR and the Traditional Role of MSSPs
While some MSSPs include MDR as part of their menu of managed security services, the reality is that the traditional role of MSSPs is less hands-on when it comes to dealing with an incident. For many years, MSSPs have customarily monitored system threats and reported those threats to decision-makers.
This traditional approach to MSSPs leaves much of the detection and incident response to the organization that hired MSSPs in the first place. And if that organization does not have an MDR team of its own, it may not be able to act fast enough to prevent a security breach.
For this reason, managed detection and response has become synonymous with outsourcing detection and incident response to MDR experts. These cybersecurity specialists not only monitor and report, but they also take appropriate measures without waiting to be told. Businesses that partner with MDR firms can depend upon those agencies to address the threat directly in real-time.
MSSP Vs. MDR – Which is More Important?
The MSSP vs. MDR discussion depends upon a few key factors. First, every organization is different. Not every company will have the same number or level of cyber threats.
Also, certain industries have stricter compliance standards than others. The healthcare industry, for example, has some of the most stringent security standards of any other industry. Healthcare organizations will naturally have far more work to do on the cybersecurity front than will a local window washer managing a small client portfolio on a CRM platform.
Lastly, businesses have several options when it comes to digital tools. Cybersecurity efforts of organizations that manage servers and hard drives on site, will look different from companies that manage data over the cloud.
As these organizations assess their risk and organize existing personnel to address security threats, some will choose to outsource all or most of their cybersecurity, while others will “piecemeal” their critical security needs to subject matter experts.
Because of the efficiency and scope of managed detection and response, the service is growing in demand. MDR stands as the most proactive approach to cybersecurity today. It significantly lowers an organization’s risk and outsources detection and response tasks to the experts.
When Does an Organization Need Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?
An organization needs managed detection and response if the cost of data loss is greater than the cost of addressing security threats. For example, if your firm manages consumer personally identifiable information (PII), loss of that data could result in agency fines and/or civil lawsuits. To recover from a security breach, you would need to undergo security audits and penance project investments to regain customer trust.
Without managed detection and response, your network is susceptible to threats whether or not you realize it. IT personnel are not equipped to handle MDR tasks since their main purpose is to maintain and troubleshoot digital tools that keep the organization in operation. These individuals might spot security breaches, but if they do, they’ve likely discovered them too late.
MDR teams function proactively in an effort to spot threats before they happen or in real-time. This level of system monitoring ensures that incidents remain minimal and low-risk.
An often overlooked reason why an organization needs managed detection and response is because not all threats are real. Additionally, overspending on cybersecurity doesn’t necessarily make your network any more secure than if you’d invested modestly according to your business’s needs. MDR teams specialize in threat verification and lowering cybersecurity costs.
When Does an Organization Need a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)?
While most every organization needs some level of managed detection and response, fewer businesses will need to outsource the bulk of their cybersecurity initiatives to a managed security services provider. MSSPs generally perform more exhaustive duties for organizations that are unwilling or unable to build a cybersecurity team in-house.
That said, an organization needs an MSSP if their internal cybersecurity team cannot manage security tasks on their own, or without the help of staff augmentation. Before deciding whether or not an MSSP is a good fit for your business, it’s critical that you examine your own cybersecurity needs closely.
Assessing an Organization’s Cybersecurity Needs
When assessing your cybersecurity needs, it can be helpful to perform an audit of your network and its current cybersecurity protocols. Updating your network diagram, identifying attack vectors, and understanding industry compliance standards are your first steps to knowing whether or not you need assistance from an MSSP.
After performing an audit of your security measures, you can determine where you need help achieving compliance and a reliable cybersecurity strategy. If you find that you are able to manage certain security tasks easily with your current resources, you may not need to outsource your cybersecurity to an MSSP. Any areas where you are lacking, can be supplemented with augmentation or by expanding your cybersecurity team internally.
However, organizations that have little to no active security process or qualified personnel to manage cybersecurity should seriously consider partnering with an MSSP. The risk of network intrusion is greater than ever before, especially as entire industries become more dependent upon digital tools.
Why Should an Organization Outsource Its MDR or Managed Security Services?
If an organization’s cybersecurity needs extend beyond what employees can manage, that organization must consider the best course of action for closing the gap in their cybersecurity.
While it’s rare that a business manages its own MDR team, some organizations have done so. However, most rely on MDR as a service outsourced to firms with the analytics, security event management, and automation tools to get the job done well.
And even though MDR uses the latest in cybersecurity technology, it doesn’t work without human beings monitoring those tools and making critical judgement calls in the moment of a security breach or possible threat. These experts not only administer nuanced decision-making at the height of a breach attempt, but they also update processes and systems with the new data gathered in the wake of the incident.
The point is that MDR as an outsourced service allows multiple organizations to share the cost of cutting edge technology and key personnel. More importantly, MDR teams can focus on what they do best as a part of a cybersecurity firm rather than a department within a company that may or may not appreciate everything the cybersecurity department does.
Few businesses have the budgets of large corporations. Adding cybersecurity experts on payroll is an enormous – and often unnecessary – expense. Outsourcing managed detection and response or managed security services allows businesses of all sizes to pay only for what they need and scale their cybersecurity as their business grows.
Another factor to keep in mind is that internal cybersecurity teams often struggle with tunnel vision. In contrast, outsourced cybersecurity professionals manage portfolios of clients from a variety of industries. These demands force cybersecurity firms to use the most up-to-date tools and top talent. Their outsider perspective can help decision-makers be more objective about security threats.
In Conclusion: MSSP Vs. MDR
Much about weighing managed detection and response vs MSSP comes down to the needs of your organization and the provider you choose. If you lack most of what you need to achieve security compliance and address incidents as they arise, you may need an MSSP that also offers MDR.
But if you already have a cybersecurity strategy and need to boost your company’s ability to address cyber threats in real-time, MDR is proving to be the most effective approach. Not only will you receive the latest in threat detection and incident response, but you will also lower your security costs by improving the efficiency of your cybersecurity program.
RSI Security is a leading provider in both managed detection and response and managed security services. Our team of experts can customize detection and response to your business and offer the best in MDR technology.
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