Analyst using KPI dashboard technology showing managed security services provider

Finding the Right Managed Security Services Provider

The drumbeat of cyberattack news continues unabated, requiring organizations to allocate resources to cybersecurity sooner or later. Managed security service providers (MSSPs) are in great demand as enterprises worldwide strive to improve their security postures. Analysts with IDC expect managed security services to be the fastest growing segment of global security spending by 2024 – driven in part by the increased frequency, sophistication and scale of cyberattacks that have grown substantially during the COVID pandemic.

Bolstering security with a managed service provider is an attractive option for many enterprises, particularly as most don’t have the time or funds to build and staff a proper security operations center (SOC) to combat the increasingly dire threat. Indeed, as SiliconANGLE recently reported, new survey data from Enterprise Technology Research shows that while enterprise technology spending is tracking with projected U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 6% to 7% this year, “skills shortages are blocking progress at some companies, which bodes well for an increased reliance on external IT services.”

Unfortunately, identifying a provider with the right mix of services and capabilities for your company can be a lengthy process. The MSSP space has become crowded with over-hyped startups and legacy vendors moving from selling products to offering services. Their slide decks may have all the right bullet points and they certainly know what to say, but “talking the talk” does not guarantee they can do the job. That’s why your organization needs a managed service provider with proven expertise and processes.

Here are some key cybersecurity matters to consider and tips on what to look for in an MSSP.

Responding quickly

Cutting edge tools certainly have advantages in identifying a breach. But these tools are of little use if the professionals at the managed security provider do not act promptly to contain threats.

Too often, a breach expands as a provider’s staff dutifully alerts its enterprise customer and then awaits approval of the proposed containment plan. But veteran security service providers know to avoid this waiting game by working with clients upfront, during onboarding, to agree on the time-sensitive situations they are authorized to immediately act upon.

Early detection coupled with a prompt response can contain a breach to a few – even a single – machine and stop the malware from spreading like wildfire throughout the enterprise. This is vital because the longer that a threat lives on a network, the more damage it does to an enterprise.

Maturity matters

All managed services providers understand the need for well-defined processes and procedures. But this doesn’t guarantee that newly-minted providers know how to craft or execute these processes properly – or whether they will work as promised.

Incumbents clearly have the edge here. They have experienced more and learned valuable lessons along the way. For example, proven managed service providers understand the importance of continually updating, refining and optimizing their SOC’s playbooks, incident response plans, policies, procedures, staffing and other aspects of their operations.

Of course, new cybersecurity players can follow this model as well. But it takes years for cybersecurity service providers to reach comparable levels of maturity. They simply don’t know what they don’t know.

Experience extends to a provider’s staff

Some enterprises attempt to take a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to cybersecurity. But few organizations have the continued commitment, know-how and resources to build and manage the integrated technologies and expert teams they need to ensure a high-level security posture.

The knowledge, insights and “sixth sense” of battle-hardened security experts are key reasons why enterprises choose the managed services model versus the DIY approach.

While experienced MSSPs have built veteran teams of experts over the years, startups often have the same talent challenges that enterprises themselves do. New entrants to the cybersecurity services arena may have trouble hiring and retaining experts in this competitive field due to the ongoing global shortage of experienced security professionals.

The 2020 Cybersecurity Perception Study by (ISC)² indicated that there is a global shortage of 4.07 million skilled cybersecurity professionals. The International Information System Security Certification Consortium offered a similar assessment, suggesting that the cybersecurity workforce must grow by 145% to meet global demand and that the 2019 cybersecurity talent shortfall amounted to about 4 million people.

Identify and embrace a trusted partner

The relationship that you have – or don’t have – with your MSSP is key. When it comes to ensuring your organization’s security, the value of a trusted partner cannot be understated.

Many MSSPs are so focused on delivering services with optimal efficiency that their relationships with customers are mechanical and strictly transactional. But most customers realize they need more. Enterprises like yours need true partners to guide them through the twists and turns of digital transformation – ensure your ongoing security along the way.

MSSPs that perform contracted services and nothing else cannot provide such guidance and support. Choose a service provider that can deliver the best of both cybersecurity technology, and the experience, support and talent, to provide the strategic guidance and day-to-day monitoring, management, enforcement and pre-authorized containment that you want and need. Look for a managed service provider that delivers a complete, tightly integrated, zero trust cybersecurity solution that addresses the vulnerabilities that today’s cloud-based business applications and extended enterprise edge – in which applications, devices and users are anywhere and everywhere – represents. And seek out a managed security provider that is not only proven, but that delivers beyond expectations. You will be able to discern whether the provider is proven and offers crazy good cybersecurity if many other enterprises are willing to recommend the managed security provider.

Seek out a MSSP whose #cybersecurity experts act as extensions on your own team to dramatically lower your risk, and reduce the complication and costs of escalating network and security demands. #respectdataClick to Tweet

When you put your organization’s systems into the hands of a managed service provider, good just isn’t good enough. That’s why you want to seek out a managed service provider that delivers obsessive levels of care; has taken the time and effort to hone and perfect its technology; pairs experienced engineers with advanced AI-driven detection and insights; and whose cybersecurity experts act as extensions on your own team to dramatically lower your risk, and reduce the complication and costs of escalating network and security demands.


Vice President of Extended Detection and Response at Open Systems