MDR vs. MSSP – Which Is Best for Your Organization?

Image of a shield with a lock surrounded by the words MSSP and MDR.
MDR vs. MSSP, which will it be?

Your company can handle its cybersecurity in many different ways.  However, the best way is to delegate the matter to external professionals. Dedicated cybersecurity services are better equipped to handle the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. They usually have the latest security tools and resources. They also follow industry best practices. Even their skills could be more advanced. Your in-house IT team may not have all that! 

Some companies opt for managed security service providers (MSSP). Others also choose Managed Detection and Response (MDR) providers. Both are undoubtedly popular solutions for efficient cybersecurity management. Before we settle the MDR vs. MSSP debate, let’s take a look at each separately.

What Is MDR?

Managed detection and response (MDR) is a third-party cybersecurity service. It combines human expertise with technology to monitor, identify, and respond to threats. MDR teams remotely monitor endpoints in your IT systems. In case of an attack, the software alerts the team. It gives them relevant threat intelligence, forensic data, and advanced analytics. Then, the MDR team uses its cybersecurity expertise. They perform triage on alerts. This way, they determine the best response to reduce attack impact. They remove or contain the threat. Finally, they restore the affected endpoint. Basically, an MDR helps you identify threats early. Then, it also limits its impact. The best part? You don’t need any additional staffing. 

Next, let’s find out what an MSSP is.

What Is MSSP?

MSSP is also a third party that provides network security services. These include managed firewalls, intrusion detection, VPN security, and vulnerability scanning. An MSSP continuously monitors your network traffic. Then, it sends alerts if it notices any anomalies. MSSPs also manage network access. This means only authorized individuals can access your network, IT systems, and data. 

An MSSP also provides you with expert security professionals. They’ll reduce your IT team’s workload. In turn, you can free up time to expand and support your operations. These third parties also protect your organization’s security network. They’ll collect information and deploy preventive solutions. As a result, they reduce the chances of all types of cyber-attacks. You’ll be safe from DDoS attacks, malware, ransomware, etc.

Now, we can directly compare MDR and MSSP services.

MDR vs. MSSP: What Is The Difference? 

Chart of the different features of MSSP and MDR.
Different services at different depths!

Clearly, both MDR and MSSP can provide you some cybersecurity protection. But what are the differences between them? This table below will help you settle the MDR vs. MSSP debate: 

MDRMSSP
ScopeFocuses on active threat detectionFocuses on system security overview
PurposeIdentify and contain active threats or attacksPrevent future cyber attacks
Suitable forDeep response requirements, high cybersecurity risk, and regulatory requirementsLight response requirements, low cybersecurity risk
TechnologyUse of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence and forensic tools for threat responseUse of technology for security risk identification
CostMore expensive as advanced 24/7 protectionLess expensive as limited protection
MDR vs. MSSP, which will it be?

Now that you know the differences between MDR and MSSP, I can show you which is best for your business specifically.

MDR vs. MSSP: Which Is Best for You?

Your choice between MDR and MSSP will depend on the type of response you need from the provider. Response covers different activities. It mainly depends on how you divide your duties between your company and the provider. Specifically, you can opt for one of 3 types of responses:

1. Light Response

If you have a light response, third parties will only alert your internal IT team. Generally, companies with strict privacy policies opt for light responses. You could also choose this type if you have the internal resources to tackle cyber threats. Here are some pros and cons of light response:

Pros

  • Has a quick response
  • Can automate many tasks
  • Has a shallow impact on the company’s privacy

Cons

  • Offers only minimal coverage, often tied to a small group of cybersecurity tasks
  • Needs in-house security to authorize/perform any actions

2. Deep Response

Comparatively, deep response services are more hands-on in their approach. These services actively search for threats. They also verify alerts and reports. Then, they disconnect some parts in the infrastructure until they get cleaned up. Let’s also consider some pros and cons:

Pros

  • Doesn’t need authorization for future attack prevention and threat searching 
  • Offers adequate threat detection speed. In turn, you have time for making an adequate response strategy
  • Allows for more frequent and thorough pen-testing collaborations with in-house security

Cons

  • Can be detrimental to business operation speeds due to blocks on compromised infrastructure
  • Increases the chances of exposing customer data

3. All-in Response

Finally, an all-in managed cybersecurity response envelops your entire infrastructure. It actively pursues and eliminates any threats. To do that, the service deploys advanced technologies and tools. An all-in response is also good for big corporations and businesses. Additionally, it helps protect those most vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Let’s consider the pros and cons of this approach:

 Pros

  • Offers all-encompassing responsiveness, proactively hunting for the broadest range of cyber threats
  • Provide maximal security level
  • Reduces the need for in-house cybersecurity talent

Cons

  • Needs extensive infrastructure access 
  • Increases data exposure risk 
  • Can interrupt business operations due to any poor decisions on the provider’s end

Now, you should be able to identify your response requirements. Once you’ve done that, you can select a cybersecurity approach. At that, let’s look at use cases where MDR is better than MSSP. 

When to Choose MDR

MDR is surely more comprehensive than MSSP. As a result, you can use it if you need an all-in or deep response. MDR services also typically offer round-the-clock support. They can also identify and contain any cyber threats ahead of time. Additionally, an MDR can augment in-house teams with more qualified experts. Consequently, this will improve your internal staff capabilities. 

Use MDR if you:

  • Need to follow cybersecurity regulations, such as NYDFS, GDPR, or FERPA
  • Have a limited security budget
  • Need data protection for your sensitive information
  • Have specialized requirements. That includes continuous endpoint visibility, integrated threat intelligence, or proactive threat hunting
  • Don’t have much time to build internal capacity
  • Want to include intelligent response and 24/7 monitoring

Now, let’s consider some MSSP use cases.

When to Choose MSSP

Conversely, an MSSP provider is best suited if you want a light response. Generally, an MSSP is also good if you have limited cybersecurity requirements. They’re also useful to augment relatively mature in-house teams. MSSPs will help you keep up with an evolving threat landscape. They’ll also help retain and attract cybersecurity talent. 

Use MSSP if you:

  • Lack internal security monitoring systems and patching programs
  • Don’t have the knowledge on how to use security tools efficiently
  • Have broad general protection requirements that don’t require deep security expertise

MDR vs. MSSP in Marketing!
MDRs are becoming increasingly popular. As a result, some MSSPs are falsely representing their services as MDR. They’re also applying MDR language to their marketing content. In turn, you must scrutinize your requirements carefully. This way, you’ll ensure your security needs are adequately met.

By now, you should have a clear idea of where you stand in the MDR vs. MSSP debate. No matter your choice, you need to know where to get these services. In this next section, I’ll show you some top MDR and MSSP vendors. 

Top 5 MDR and MSSP Vendors

If you’re looking for an MSSP or MDR vendor, take a look at the list below. These providers all offer both services. However, note that pricing will vary based on your company’s size, requirements, and complexity. Without further ado, here are the top 5 MSSP and MDR vendors on the market today: 

1. GFI Exinda

image of the GFI Exinda logo.
GFI Exinda software specifically caters to your needs!

MDR Service: Network Orchestrator

MSSP Service: Languard

GFI Exinda is a particularly reputable cybersecurity brand that offers rapid threat response solutions. The company’s dedicated rescue lines are also supported by competent operators. Exinda also has a sophisticated online ticketing system and remote troubleshooting assistance. Finally, GFI’s MDR service offers 24/7 support with a 30-minute response time.

It actively analyzes applications, devices, and users. In turn, it can provide a clear overview of the system’s performance. GFI Exinda will also resolve your security issues via regular ticketing. Alternatively, you could have a remote assistance session with an expert Exinda professional. Key features include:

  • Patent-pending Recommendation Engine that absorbs information from the connected network. The engine also analyzes patterns. Then, it delivers intelligent solutions to network errors and issues 
  • Performance-focused application monitoring 
  • Real-time threat detection 

2. Check Point

Image of the checkpoint logo.
Checkpoint for your cybersecurity!

MDR Service: Infinity Vision

MSSP Service: Harmony

Check Point is among the leading cybersecurity brands. The company caters to the needs of governments and enterprises worldwide. The platform specifically offers incident response services and managed security services. Checkpoint also provides several network, user-end, and cloud-based security solutions. That includes cloud compliance, AWS and Azure security, and cloud threat hunting. Additionally, Checkpoint Infinity MDR presents an AI-based platform with a dedicated MDR system. Key features of Check Point products and services include:

  • Unified cloud-native security platform that automates security at scale
  • Real-time threat prevention for IoT devices, like smart sensors
  • Extensive security services that meet any requirement 

3. Trustwave

Image of the trustwave logo.
Trust Trustwave with your cybersecurity!

MDR Services: Trustwave MDR

MSSP Services: Trustwave managed security services

Trustwave is one of the longest-standing MSSPs. The company has catered to the needs of hundreds of brands over three decades. Presently, it offers premium threat, vulnerability, and compliance management solutions. Their core offering  also includes email security and incident response & readiness. They also offer managed two-factor authentication. Finally, they provide SSL service lifecycle management services. Key features for Trustwave cybersecurity offerings include:

  • Strong focus on threat detection and response
  • Unique security research team. This team has also contributed to innovative security research and major threat discoveries
  • Cloud-based cybersecurity platform to meet enterprise security needs for digital transformation

4. IBM

Image of the IBM logo.
Trust the tech giant with your cybersecurity!

MDR Services: IBM Security MDR

MSSP Services: IBM MSSP Program

IBM is a truly eclectic platform. It offers a broad range of consulting and IT-based services. IBM’s cybersecurity products are also well-designed and comprehensive. They give you vulnerability testing, cloud log management, and endpoint security. You could even get unified threat management solutions. Additionally, IBM security services features include:

  • Broad solutions portfolio with support for leading network security and endpoint security technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence solutions that can automatically investigate security incidents
  • Standard processes for a speedy response to threat incidents

5. Verizon

Image of the verizon logo.
Detect threats proactively!

MDR Services: Rapid Response Retainer 

MSSP Services: Verizon Managed SIEM

Verizon offers premium managed services at highly affordable prices. They also provide data analysis, 24/7 security monitoring, and proactive threat detection. Additionally, Verizon also gives you detailed incident reports. Features of Verizon security services include:

  • Pre-planned agreements, technologies, and processes to reduce reaction time
  • Strong team of investigators, analysts, and forensics lab technicians. This also supports your incident response
  • Adequate cybersecurity solutions for businesses of all sizes

Final Words

Whether you choose ​​MSSP or MDR, your choice should meet your particular requirements. Firstly, you need to establish your cybersecurity goals and evaluate your current defensive capabilities. Then, you can approach a vendor. Additionally, you need to consider your priorities. Will you generally look for pre-attack protection? Or would you opt for post-attack response? Then, you can decide accordingly.

To sum up, MSSPs are generally better to reduce the likelihood of attacks. They offer vulnerability detection, configuration management, and similar services.  Conversely, MDRs reduce an attack’s impact. Basically, they offer rapid detection, notification, and response guidance.

Do you have more questions about MDRs and MSSPs? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

Is MDR a SOC?

No. Security Operations Center (SOC) is a dedicated security team that’s available 24/7. This team analyzes data, assesses, and confirms threats. SOC is also a component of an MDR. However, MDR also uses additional advanced technologies that support the SOC. In turn, the cybersecurity team becomes more effective.

What is the difference between EDR and MDR?

MDR services use EDR for complete protection. EDR stands for endpoint detection and response. Basically, it’s a tool you can deploy to protect a particular endpoint. MDR, on the other hand, provides threat detection and response management. It also covers your organization’s entire IT environment. 

What is the difference between XDR and MDR?

Modern MDR services use XDR for advanced threat detection. Extended Threat Detection (XDR) products collect and correlate data from the entire infrastructure. This also reduces the time required to respond to attacks. XDR prioritizes, analyzes, and delivers security data. After that, MDR teams can take action.

What is the difference between MSP and MSSP?

MSP refers to any IT service provider. Comparatively, MSSP is an IT security services provider. An MSP can provide any remote IT service, such as database, application, network, or infrastructure. Generally, you don’t have the in-house capabilities for all that. However, MSSPs only specialize in network security services. They also offer managed firewall, intrusion detection, VPN security, and vulnerability scanning.

What advantages does the use of an MSSP offer a small retailer?

In general, MSSPs are efficient and cost-effective. Small business owners typically don’t have enough resources. They also can’t develop in-house capabilities for cybersecurity. At the same time, their attack risk is low. Hence, they can use the expertise of MSSPs to protect their IT infrastructure. They can also stay on top of current security trends.

Resources

TechGenix: Newsletters

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TechGenix: Article on MSSPs

Learn more about the benefits of MSSPs for small business owners.

TechGenix: Article on Intrusion Detection

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TechGenix: Article on InfoSec Technologies

Discover different IT security solutions that every organization requires.

TechGenix: Article on Disaster Recovery 

Plan ahead with our disaster recovery plan template.

TechGenix: Article on Application Security Tools

Discover 5 latest application security tools to protect against cyberattacks.

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