Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) Explained

Nick Hayes - April 20, 2023

What is a MSSP?

A managed security service provider (MSSP) is an external party that provides cybersecurity services to its customers. Because of the complexity, ever-evolving threats, and niche expertise required to run an effective security program, many organizations choose to outsource their security to a MSSP instead of going through the effort to hire, train, and maintain their own cybersecurity program. MSSP’s services are broad and can range from baseline system monitoring to comprehensive offerings that fully manage a customer’s security.

Common Offerings from MSSPs

Security event monitoring: Depending on the MSSP, this service can range from basic event monitoring to comprehensive management and observation. Top MSSPs will offer 24/7 monitoring from a security operations center (SOC), threat intelligence to amplify context, proactive threat hunting, and other auxiliary services to ensure precise threat detection.

Managed detection and response (MDR): Some MSSPs will not only monitor and detect threats, but also respond and remediate in the event of an intrusion or an alert. MDR combines advanced technology and human expertise to perform threat hunting, monitoring, and incident response. The MSSPs will work with their customers in the event of a breach to resolve the issue and recover from the event.

Penetration testing (Pentests): A simulated cyber attack run by the MSSP against a customer’s environment to identify vulnerabilities and test security effectiveness. Pentests can be a great way to prepare, train, and plan improvements to a customer’s cybersecurity program and defense.

Threat hunting: A proactive approach to identifying adversaries and ongoing threats within a customer’s environment. MSSPs use threat hunting to find attackers that have sneaked past initial endpoint security defenses.

Managed firewall: MSSPs can manage, maintain, and establish clear firewall policy rules to ensure secure outgoing and incoming traffic on a customer’s network. As part of this service, MSSPs will conduct monitoring and auditing of the firewall and will apply patches to the system as needed.

Virtual private network (VPN): Another effective service a MSSP can provide is establishing a private VPN for a customer. This can help enclose and protect an organization’s day-to-day operations through strict control over network access. For a large and growing organization, a private VPN can be an effective way to protect a large swath of the customer’s network and devices.

Vulnerability management: The ongoing, regular process of identifying, assessing, reporting on, managing and remediating cyber vulnerabilities across endpoints, workloads, and systems. Typically, a MSSP will leverage a vulnerability management tool to detect vulnerabilities and utilize different processes to patch or remediate them.

6 Benefits of Working with a MSSP

  1. Comprehensive protection: As a business grows, so does its digital footprint and the strain of protecting IT systems and data. An effective MSSP partner can provide comprehensive protection over this growth and eliminate the hassle and expense of running a security program internally.
  2. Expertise: Professionals with cybersecurity skills are in high demand and often warrant big salaries. Recruiting such talent can be both time intensive and costly. Partnering with an MSSP can provide immediate access to trained and knowledgeable security experts.
  3. Cost savings: In addition to recruiting and retaining talent, building a cybersecurity program involves investing in the software and tools needed to protect an organization’s digital assets. An MSSP can help consolidate and reduce this overall cost. Hybrid service models also exist where an MSSP handles only certain aspects of an organization’s security to optimize investments.
  4. Frees up IT teams: Using a MSSP can help an organization free up their IT teams to focus on what they do best: infrastructure management and day-to-day business operations. This can create a powerful collaboration where efficient security management fuels efficient IT management and vice versa.
  5. Tools and technology: Just as adversaries and threats evolve, so does cybersecurity technology. MSSPs often provide their own suite of tools and related expertise to protect an organization with recommendations for the best and latest software to invest in based on a customer’s unique needs.
  6. Peace of mind: Effective cybersecurity is both a critical requirement and difficult to execute. One cyberattack can do significant damage to an organization’s revenue and reputation and the stress of preventing such consequences can be significant. Working with a trusted MSSP can alleviate this burden and ensure security evolves with the customer’s business.


Typically, Managed Service Providers (MSP) deliver IT services and are primarily focused on administration and business efficiency. While they can provide security services, their primary focus is on the management of an organization’s infrastructure and IT systems for day-to-day business operations.

While both MSPs and MSSPs are outsourced services, a MSSP is exclusively focused on security. They operate out of a SOC to provide around the clock monitoring, and detection of cybersecurity threats. Due to the growing business opportunities in cybersecurity, many MSP vendors have expanded their services to include MSSP offerings.

Learn More

Read this post to learn more in detail the differences between MSP and MSSP. MSP vs MSSP

How CrowdStrike Empowers MSSPs

The CrowdStrike Falcon® platform gives MSSPs an endpoint, cloud, identity, and data security platform that is easy to deploy and manage at scale while providing the highest level of security for their customers. Our platform is built for the way MSSPs do business with a self-service portal, custom deployment groups, and MSSP-specific bundles to provide tailored security for unique customer needs.

Key benefits of our platform for MSSP partners include:

  • Reduces the burden of operationalizing, maintaining, and configuring endpoint, cloud, identity, and data security.
  • Protects endpoints across all leading OS platforms and against all types of attacks.
  • Provides cloud protection across three major cloud providers: AWS, Google, and Red Hat.
  • Enables immediate and effective prevention and detection of threats.
  • Takes quick action to triage and respond to threats.
  • Optimal performance with fast time-to-value from our cloud-native architecture and single, lightweight agent.

See how we empower MSSPs


Nick Hayes is the Senior Manager of Product Marketing for CrowdStrike’s managed detection and response (MDR) and proactive threat hunting solutions, Falcon Complete and Falcon OverWatch. Prior to joining CrowdStrike, Nick led product and content marketing at cybersecurity and threat intelligence startups. He also spent 10 years at Forrester as a security industry analyst and thought leader focused on digital risk, threat intelligence, and security analytics technology markets. He’s spoken at industry conferences worldwide, including RSA Conference, Black Hat, and Infosecurity Europe.