Explaining the Differences Between MSPs, MSSPs, and MDRs

Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), and Managed Detection and Response Providers (MDR) offer essential services to businesses to protect their sensitive data and networks from the threats posed by cybercriminals.

However, organizations may need help understanding the differences between these three types of providers.

This guide will discuss each provider in greater detail so that you can better understand what sets them apart. We will elaborate on security monitoring, threat hunting, incident response support, endpoint protection, and vulnerability management, so you can make informed decisions when selecting a service provider for your organization’s cybersecurity needs.

Key Differences Between MSPs, MSSPs, and MDRs

MSP (Managed Service Provider), MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider), and MDR (Managed Detection and Response) are all types of managed IT services that provide support and protection to organizations. However, there are some critical differences between these three types of service providers:

Scope of Services

MSPs are invaluable to businesses looking for comprehensive IT solutions. Through a wide variety of services like cloud computing, networking, and technical support, they provide the necessary tools for companies hoping to stay ahead.

On the other hand, MSSPs focus on protecting businesses from cyber threats by offering monitoring, threat detection, and response services. MDRs further this focus by actively responding to detected threats and keeping businesses safe from harm in real-time.

Level of Involvement

MSPs take a more passive role when working with an organization, providing support and guidance but leaving the bulk of the IT management in the hands of the company itself. Whereas MSSPs and MDRs are far more involved in an organization’s security systems, offering a variety of roles ranging from proactive monitoring of threats to active incident management.

As such, MSSPs and MDRs have become increasingly popular partners for businesses that seek comprehensive security solutions.

Level of Expertise

MSSPs and MDR providers have highly trained security experts specializing in proactive threat detection and response. With their deep understanding of the anatomy of an attack and risk-mitigating strategies, these security experts equip their clients with enterprise-level protection.

Alternatively, MSPs often offer general IT support services, such as data backup, patch management, help desk support, and device monitoring. However, they may not be equipped to provide specific specialized security. Therefore, if your organization requires expertise on any security-related issue, it is crucial to ensure you find a provider that has certified personnel experienced in securing networks and systems.

Regarding cybersecurity, there are different players with different scope and focus on services. They continuously monitor for threats, respond quickly to attacks, and manage incidents before they cause too much damage. Each of these players offers varying levels of service regarding information security depending on their scope and focus.

What is MSP?

MSP stands for Managed Service Provider and is a type of IT outsourcing focusing on providing proactive support for maintaining and managing business IT infrastructure. With an MSP, businesses can access best-in-class technology products and services from experts with experience with various specific systems and applications.

This allows companies to focus their time and energy on other strategic initiatives, such as expanding their customer base or launching new products and services. MSPs also provide businesses with regular reports about network performance so that they can make informed decisions about their next steps.

What is MSSP?

Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) are a vital resource for organizations that must protect their networks from cyber threats. MSSPs provide around-the-clock monitoring and analysis of an organization’s data, keeping them safe from malicious actors. They can also offer advice on the best security practices that an organization should employ, such as two-factor authentication, encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.

With their expertise in physical and digital security measures, MSSPs are invaluable resources for companies looking to stay secure in today’s increasingly complex digital landscape. Additionally, working with an MSSP ensures that businesses remain compliant with industry regulations regarding data protection and privacy.

What is MDR?

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) providers are a relatively new service that provides businesses with an extra layer of security. These services offer proactive monitoring, detection, and response capabilities to identify threats that other security measures may have missed. Their goal is to help protect businesses from malicious actors before any data breaches or further damage occurs.

MDR providers use advanced technology, such as endpoint protection, threat intelligence, user behavior analytics, and automated incident response tools to monitor systems in real-time and quickly identify potential threats. For businesses looking for an added level of protection against cyberattacks, Managed Detection and Response providers can be extremely helpful.

Difference between MSSP vs. MDR

When it comes to managed security services, MSSPs (Managed Security Service Providers) and MDRs (Managed Detection and Response) are two distinct approaches. Here’s how they differ:

MSSPs offer a broad security service portfolio, including auditing and assessments, threat intelligence, vulnerability scanning, SIEM management, and more. They provide round-the-clock monitoring of security systems and often alert customers when suspicious activities arise or the system has identified an issue. The customer is then responsible for handling any threats that may exist.

On the other hand, an MDR provides incident detection capabilities along with response measures. These providers go beyond traditional preventative cybersecurity tools, such as firewalls, antivirus, and intrusion detection systems. They actively monitor for threats, identify them quickly and take immediate action to remediate the issue. This helps organizations stay one step ahead of cyber criminals by providing a more proactive approach to security.

Industries that can use MSSP & MDR

MSSPs and MDR services offer organizations a range of proactive security solutions that can be tailored to the needs of specific industries. This makes them especially valuable to those in highly regulated sectors, such as healthcare, finance, and manufacturing.


For healthcare organizations, MSSPs can provide comprehensive monitoring and real-time threat detection capabilities that meet HIPAA compliance standards. They can also offer managed identity and access management services, enabling healthcare providers to authenticate user identities while protecting confidential patient data securely.


In finance, MSSPs help prevents fraud by continuously monitoring network activity to detect suspicious behavior. MDR solutions are particularly useful here, as they can detect and respond to threats quickly, reducing the risk of costly data breaches.


Manufacturing companies must protect their production lines from cyber-attacks, which can have serious financial repercussions if not properly secured. MSSPs and MDRs offer services to ensure industrial control systems (ICS), such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). This includes vulnerability assessments, patch management, and intrusion detection.

When Should You Choose MSSP?

When choosing an MSSP, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons of using an outside service. They provide various services, including security monitoring, threat intelligence and analysis, compliance reporting, and more. Here are some pointers to consider when looking for an MSSP:


– Quicker response times to security threats, as MSSPs have the resources and expertise to address potential issues.

– Access to best practices and procedures regularly updated with cybersecurity needs.

– Increased visibility into your organization’s security posture and data flows throughout the company.

Cost savings over hiring in-house teams for managed security services.

– Flexibility to scale up or down depending on an organization’s security needs.


– Dependency on third-party providers for IT operations, which may disrupt operations if there is a problem with the service provider or their service offering.

– Lack of control over security operations and processes, as the service provider will manage them.

– Risk of data loss or theft due to third-party access to sensitive information.

– Potentially higher costs than hiring an in-house team if the organization has a high volume of security threats that must be monitored constantly.

– Unclear service levels and contracts can lead to misunderstanding between both parties.

When Should You Choose MDR

MDR provides real-time threat detection, response, and investigation capabilities without hiring in-house resources or building security operations centers. Here are some pros and cons to consider when looking into MDR:


– Comprehensive view of cyber threats across the entire organization’s IT infrastructure.

– Advanced analytics provide better visibility into potential malicious activity before it causes harm.

– Immediate response times for fast remediation of issues.

– Increased scalability due to the flexibility of managed services.


– Potentially higher costs than hiring an in-house team if the organization has a high volume of security threats that must be monitored constantly.

– Dependency on third-party providers for IT operations, which may disrupt service if there is a problem with the service provider or their service offering.

– Lack of control over security operations and processes, as the service provider will manage them.

– Risk of data loss or theft due to third-party access to sensitive information.

– Unclear service levels and contracts can lead to confusion and misunderstandings between both parties.


MSPs, MSSPs, and MDRs can be contrasted in various ways. For example, MSPs manage networks and IT operations on a single platform. They provide ongoing support but do not centralize security operations into a single dashboard as an MSSP does. An MSSP monitors your network environment for threats 24/7 to protect your systems from attacks. Meanwhile, MDRs go beyond prevention and detection by providing response and remediation when incidents happen.

These three services are essential for keeping business operations safe from malicious actors. Still, you will need to consider your organization’s specific needs when selecting the one best for you. Understanding the differences between these services is essential to ensure that your company has access to the best protection possible. Protecting your systems with one or all of these services can help you stay ahead of the curve and secure against any potential attack.