MSSPs: The Future of Security Operations is Here Today

Dan Lamorena
by Dan Lamorena
category MSSP

Even as demand for managed security services rises, an ever-larger number of prospective providers – MDR, MSP, and VAR - have entered the fray competing to fulfill it. Each day, we read of a number of traditional MSPs that are launching new MSSP cyber security businesses to capture a share of the high growth security spend.

In the midst of all this competition, only MSSPs that can differentiate themselves by delivering real value to their customers— validated incidents, cheaper to deliver —stand to win. To achieve this, though, service providers must solve the same problems that are leading so many businesses to seek out security monitoring services from a third-party vendor in the first place.

The obstacles: cybersecurity skills shortage, an explosion of false positive alerts

It’s a fact: skilled and experienced cybersecurity professionals are in short supply. There are predicted to be as many as 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions worldwide by the end of 2021. In no other industry today is there a greater gap between the expertise that’s needed and what’s available in the workforce than in cybersecurity.

Tier 1 security analysts are routinely subjected to an unceasing barrage of alerts from an ever-expanding array of tools and platforms and are expected to spend a majority of their time on repetitive, low-value monitoring activities.

The opportunity: next-generation MSSPs rely on highly skilled personnel to manage automated toolsets that allow them to simplify operations, reduce costs and risks

Today a new breed of MSSP is emerging—one that’s able to provide incident identification and escalation so that analysts can interface with customers and deliver other value-added services that drive revenue.

By employing emerging intelligent decision automation solutions whenever and wherever they can, next-gen MSSPs are able to achieve far more with fewer people, including the ability to take on new business commitments without the need to hire additional resources. And when machines take over the highly repetitive and mundane aspects of the security workflow, SOC analysts are able to focus on higher-level tasks like incident response, threat hunting, and documentation. These activities provide more value for the MSSP—and its customers—of course, but they’re also more fulfilling for the analysts themselves, leading to less turnover and greater job satisfaction.

Even MSSPs with traditional operational models have long relied on software to enhance and complement their employees’ skills. Security information and event management (SIEM) tools are widely used to aggregate log and event data from multiple customer environments. With these tools, however, security analysts must devote enormous amounts of time to writing rules and tailoring content to each customer’s unique risk profile and IT infrastructure. And as more and more businesses move increasingly large portions of their infrastructure to one or more clouds, with workloads now running on a variety of on-premises servers and virtual machines as well as in containers and serverless architectures, the complexity of customers’ IT environments—along with the size of their attack surfaces—is expanding dramatically. Conventional tools simply take too long to configure (and re-configure) in these dynamic and ever-changing environments. Far too often, they’re most useful for case management and after-the-fact forensics rather than real-time detection of malicious activities.

For MSSPs, success depends on being able to identify incidents for customers accurately, consistently, and at speed. That’s the heavy lifting, and it’s where they have the potential to deliver the most value.

Because MSSPs are already operating at scale, the benefits of automating the security incident workflow are inherently greater. The end result is simple: those MSSPs who are able to get on board with the power of software will realize otherwise unattainable efficiencies and the competitive advantage that comes with this; those that do not stand to lose business in the future.

Security operations programs need powerful economies of speed and scale to drive revenue. Learn how Respond Software can enhance your incident identification, escalation and monitoring programs.

How do MSSPs leverage the power of the Respond Analyst to win customers, garner rave reviews, and realize rapid growth? Download our latest MSSP story here.