Know What is right for your Business: MSSPs or MDR

Mounika Raghavarapu   

For seamless cyber-protection, organizations must understand the distinction between an MSSP (Managed Security Services Provider) and MDR (Managed Detection and Response) provider.

Both MSSPS and MDR aim at a higher level of security for organizations, however, the approach towards cybersecurity is different. Therefore, Organizations must identify and compare specific competencies of providers as per their business needs.

Continuous security monitoring, risk assessments, threat intelligence, and intrusion management are the major aspects of security services that organizations look for from MSSPs.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) on the other hand is often considered as an advanced managed security service that provides high-end protection on endpoints. MDR offers advanced and deeper detection of malware and can stop it before it attacks. For deeper security analysis, MDR uses AI and machine learning.

So, let’s look at the overarching Differences between MSSPs and MDR:

As per Gartner, in the coming years both these specialties will not have any differences and maybe merged as a new solution that holds both the capabilities. But for now, they differ in three aspects - Technology, Expertise, and Relationship.


Organizations must be cautious of claims from MSSPs on their capability to provide MDR-like services. Delivering MDR like services requires specific technical expertise and skillset, which are not in scope for most of the MSSPs.

MDR approach provides an extremely sophisticated detection using technologies such as endpoint threat detection/response, network behavior analysis, and forensic tools. MDR allows security professionals to monitor, detect, and respond to threats effectively. 

MSSP solution also helps organizations to maintain security at a basic level by 24/7 threat monitoring and notifications. But in the wake of advanced cyber-attacks, relying on just MSSP will not suffice. Advanced forensic tools that MDR offers are the need of the hour to dig deeper into the network and catch the threats.


Technology is nothing without expertise. MSSPs offer a passive approach to detection and majorly focus on automated perimeter protection, for which they rely on Tier 1 SOC analysts, this approach needs very little human security analyst support. MDR services on the other hand offer a large team of technology experts such as Security engineers, Threat hunters, Forensic analysts, and incident responders, these teams will proactively detect the threats and maintain a secure network.


Based on the difference in service levels and workflow ownerships MSSPs are significantly cheaper than MDR services. The relationship difference refers to the communication between the service provider and the client. MSSPs and MDR hold a different relationship with the organization's security teams.

In case if abnormalities are found in the network, MSSPs simply throw an alert to the organization's internal IT team, without determining how to respond to the threat. Here the IT team will take over and determine whether the threat is real and will respond to it if it actually exists. However, the MDR team notifies only verified threat information with the IT teams to take action over it. MDR even resolves the issue if the organization's IT teams ask to do so. MDR works hand in hand with IT Teams to proactively detect and resolve threats.

MDR team not only provides 24/7 support, it just acts as an extension to the internal IT teams. Most of the organizations refer to MDR experts as a consultative value to their existing security model. MDR doesn’t intervene in the day to day activities of the organization's IT team but assures to identify, notify, and remediate or provide guidelines for threat remediation when needed. The ultimate aim of MDR is to support the organization to evolve their security posture in such a way to keep pace with the changing threat landscape.