Blog > Best Practices What to Look for in an MSSP – Our Top 10 Tips, Plus Free Downloadable Checklist

Thursday, Jan 20, 2022

BY: Team Nuspire

When it comes to navigating the challenges presented by today’s cybersecurity landscape, most businesses need additional support. That’s where a managed security services provider (MSSP) can prove invaluable. MSSPs have their pulse on current and future cybersecurity needs, and can help clients navigate an ever-changing set of threats. But with hundreds of MSSPs out there, how do you choose the right one for your business? Read on to get our top 10 qualities to look for when evaluating an MSSP. As a bonus, we’ve included a free downloadable checklist at the end of this article.

The right MSSP:

  • Operates as an extension of your team.

Regardless of whether you outsource security services fully or partially, your chosen MSSP partner should be just that – a partner. The aim is to operate as if everyone works for the same organization because this provides the greatest value and enhances the partnership. The ideal partnership with an MSSP includes people, processes and technologies that are systematically and rigorously applied.

  • Demonstrates excellent listening skills.

The importance of listening cannot be overstated. An MSSP must fit itself to your environment and not the other way around. And “fit” comes from understanding your priorities, unique risk tolerance and security goals. Active listening is the first step toward developing an effective, customized security program with your MSSP.

  • Delivers a flexible, strong onboarding process.

Onboarding is a methodical, yet flexible process designed to accomplish a client’s desired outcomes. Effective onboarding depends on first identifying gaps and determining what your organization needs to maximize threat visibility and predict potential risk. Ideally, to accomplish this, an MSSP uses analytics-based insights from global threat traffic, a global “neighborhood watch” program and threat intelligence from multiple sources. A custom runbook aligns and documents client and MSSP processes.

  • Provides actionable alerts.

False positives are a persistent issue in the security industry. But false positives combined with a high volume of alerts? That is likely to overwhelm many enterprise security analyst teams. An MSSP should be able to help you bypass the “noise” and identify what is actionable versus what is not. The average time to respond after detection of an actionable threat should be ~5 minutes.

  • Balances human intelligence and technology equally.

Every MSSP makes decisions about how to use cybersecurity analysts and technology. Striking the right balance leads to better results. Automated, integrated technology in areas of ingestion, endpoints, traffic, user entity and behavior analytics, reporting and user portal ensures speed and efficiency. Skilled, experienced people analyze threats, interpret findings and escalate actionable alerts.

  • Specializes in threat intelligence.

What does it mean to specialize in threat intelligence? An MSSP should gather data from multiple sources, correlate it and enrich the data with other insights and findings. Sources of data include threat feeds, forums, code repositories, the dark web, original research, social media and proprietary third-party feeds. Superior threat intelligence produces actionable alerts and shortens time to response.

  • Offers comprehensive endpoint detection, protection and response.

Some organizations use numerous technologies to monitor endpoints, infrastructure and applications, which make it difficult to manage them and keep track of how they are solving business problems. Endpoint monitoring is one of the essential technologies. An endpoint detection and response (EDR) system provides visibility into and enables control of security events across your network, cloud, critical applications and devices.

  • Enables cyber resilience.

Cyber resilience is being ready for anything by anticipating and preparing before, during and after a breach. When your organization is cyber-resilient, you have the necessary people, processes, technologies and governance in place. An MSSP can augment your existing resources or provide a complete solution for business continuity.

  • Delivers 24x7x365 managed security services.

Threat actors don’t take time off. They work around the clock looking for vulnerabilities and even casing prospects before they attack. Your MSSP needs to work around the clock, too, with proactive monitoring, detecting, hunting and mitigating to protect your business. A pre-determined incident escalation process speeds response time and keeps everyone on the same page.

  • Provides fast incident response time.

The longer attackers are active without being stopped, the more damage they cause – a speedy response is critical. Your MSSP’s incident response team should at a minimum include security intelligence and analytics experts; security implementation experts; health, availability, lifecycle and optimization infrastructure and system experts; and security operations center (SOC) staff and analysts.

Building a strong relationship with your MSSP is critical to your security program’s success. By vetting MSSPs using these criteria, you’ll be better equipped to select an MSSP that will effectively partner with you and provide the right solutions your business needs to stay protected.

Download this information plus get questions to ask when evaluating an MSSP in our handy MSSP evaluation checklist.

At Nuspire, our mission is to make clients fanatically happy through a relentless pursuit of excellence. Let’s talk about how we can work together to provide a new, fresh and inspiring approach to closing cybersecurity gaps.