Cutting Through the Acronyms: MSP, MSSP, and MDR – Which Is Best?

Written by
Published on
July 20, 2023

Cybersecurity needs to be a part of every corporate strategy.

Without taking measures to protect your systems, your business will be vulnerable to malware, data breaches, unauthorized access, and other malicious attacks that can cost your company. In fact, 20 percent of organizations lose customers during a cyberattack, and 30 percent lose revenue.1

Ideally, every organization should hire an in-house network security team. The reality is, most companies need to outsource their cybersecurity efforts using one of the following:

  • A managed services provider (MSP)
  • A managed security service provider (MSSP)
  • A managed threat detection and response (MDR)

Each managed security solution offers something unique and provides different technology, price points, and levels of security. And even though MSP, MSSP, and MDR can be effective on their own, sometimes they are best used together. Tyler Hardison, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at STN, says “all network security providers should offer MDR as an add-on service to MSSP. It’s the most effective managed security solution available today.”

Breaking down the differences

It can be difficult to know which managed security solution is right for your business. Even worse, choosing the wrong one can be detrimental to your continued success. To help you better understand the different types of managed security solutions, we’ve outlined the key differences below:


MSPs are the most generic of the managed network security options. They offer basic IT support services such as software installation, data recovery, systems management, and network monitoring. However, their technology is often considered outdated, and they don’t always provide the level of security required to prevent breaches in today’s digital environment.


With MSSP, you get more comprehensive network security. Although it doesn’t help with robust threat detection or remediation, MSSPs typically perform endpoint management, remote device management, compliance reporting, and more. They also use technology like firewalls to help manage networks and servers.


MDR is a next-generation solution that offers the greatest level of security. It uses sophisticated technology to detect issues, report anomalies, and immediately activate a response. This helps to ensure that any issues are found quickly and remediated efficiently. Plus, MDR provides backing from real, live network security professionals who will work closely with you to resolve issues in real-time.

The full-service solution

The most secure networks combine MSSP and MDR. MSSP detects threats and provides alerts and then MDR remediates them—providing an effective multi-layered solution. But that doesn’t mean you should use multiple service providers. Tyler Hardison said, “try to avoid creating a vendor soup. Instead, focus on using one vendor that can tie all your solutions into the same security fabric.” By doing so, you can make it easier for your organization to manage multiple security systems at once, analyze data, and harness its value.

It is not surprising that the MSSP and MDR spaces are beginning to merge. It’s a natural evolution of services. Instead of just helping organizations identify threats as an MSSP does, companies are taking their services a step further and providing next-generation MDR to help with remediation.

Consider your personal needs

While a combination of MDR and MSSP is the gold standard of managed security, not every organization will require such a comprehensive approach. For example, financial services companies fall victim to cybersecurity attacks 300 times more frequently than businesses in other industries.2 Because they are highly targeted, they require more extensive security protocols than less-targeted companies like those in the energy industry. Not to mention, using an MSP or MSSP without an MDR comes at a lower price point.

It’s important not to cut corners too much though. Some organizations turn to the “grey market” for managed security solutions. They purchase services without support contracts from websites like eBay. This helps them save money, but there can be consequences. Tyler Hardison says, “we had a client who turned to the grey market and was breached because they didn’t have the support they needed to control their network.” Fortunately, they were able to get back to a secure place.

Build your defenses with managed services

It’s estimated that cybercrimes will cost the global economy eight trillion by 2022.3 To have the best defense against the cybercrimes of the digital age, organizations need to outsource managed security services to either an MSP or MSSP, ideally with MDR as an additional service. It can provide you with data feeds, meaningful detection alerts, fast-acting response systems, and more—helping to keep your organization and assets protected in an increasingly threatening digital environment.

Stay in the cloud

Sign up with your name and email address below to receive our newsletter!

By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.