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Kelser

By: Kelser on February 23, 2022

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In-House IT Staff vs. Managed IT vs. MSSP: Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity

In today’s fast-paced world, businesses can’t afford the possibility that their IT infrastructure will let them down. In addition to enhancing productivity, the business network must keep bad actors at bay. But what is the best way to do that? 

Fortunately, there are options. The hard part is deciding which solution is best for your organization. If you don’t know where to start or are wondering if you’ve done enough, this article is for you!

This article will provide the information you need about cybersecurity options so that you can make the right choice for your organization. 

We’ll walk through the pros and cons of in-house staff, managed services providers (MSPs), and managed security service providers (MSSPs). When you are done reading this article, you will have all of the information you need to make this critical decision in the way that is best for the safety and security of your business and your customers for today and for the long term. 

In-House IT Staff Vs. MSP Vs. MSSP:  Definitions

Let’s start by defining each of the three options:

In-House IT Staff

In-house staff refers to a full-time complement of IT professionals who work as dedicated employees of the organization to provide support for its network and users. 

As employees, the in-house staff maintains the network, provides devices and support, and may deliver training for users. 

The in-house staff calls on external resources as needed (typically a break/fix provider) to supplement the skills and time limitations of the internal staff. 

MSP

MSPs are IT support organizations that provide IT services (covering everything from firewalls to access points, devices to networks, and more) for an ongoing monthly fee. These services may include strategic IT advice, guidance, and resource coordination.

MSSP

MSSPs monitor and manage security systems and devices including security incident and event management (SIEM) solutions, as well as intrusion detection and prevention systems including firewalls, anti-virus, vulnerability, and compliance management.  

In-House Staff Vs. MSP Vs. MSSP: Which Is Best For IT Cybersecurity?

Everyone has opinions about which solution is best. The truth is that the best solution is the one that best protects your organization

Depending on the risks you face, the industry you are in, the size of your business, and the complexity of your infrastructure, the best choice for you may be different than the best choice for another organization.  

In-House IT Staff

Pros

1. Loyalty

When you sign an employee’s paycheck, you like to think that buys you a sense of loyalty and, in most cases, that assumption is correct. When your IT staff is on the payroll, they look to protect your organization’s data to the best of their ability.  

2. On-site

If you have a server room on-site, your in-house IT staff can make sure that the right protocols are in place for accessing the on-site server. They can oversee the security guidelines and make sure that employees understand the policies.

3. Knowledge 

An in-house staff likely has the greatest degree of expertise regarding your network. 

Like a homeowner knows which handles need to be jiggled or which floorboards creak, an in-house staff often has undocumented expertise. They just know that if you do X, Y, or Z, your network will respond positively. 

4. Easier To Customize

With an in-house staff, it may be easier and less costly to customize your applications. 

Cons

1. Staffing Cost

Organizations with an in-house IT staff, need to hire, train, develop, and retain the right people to meet their needs. This can be an issue not only in terms of the cost but also in terms of retention. With the IT industry turnover rate at more than 10 percent, retention is a serious consideration. 

2. Security vs. Functionality

For the security of your network, it’s important to have different people on staff to handle IT functionality and security. Functionality and productivity are almost always the priority of an in-house IT staff. 

That’s not all bad, but unfortunately, when the same people are responsible for functionality and security, security often takes a back seat until it becomes a problem. 

Bottom Line

This solution will work best for large organizations with a robust IT staff with a wide range of expertise. Smaller organizations and those without the necessary breadth and depth of skills in-house will likely need to supplement with specialized support. 

MSPs 

Pros

1. Dedicated Experts 

MSPs offer a diverse team of experts who can care for the health and functionality of your entire IT infrastructure

Some MSPs may offer gap analysis and vulnerability scans for security and/or compliance; others don’t. Know what skills you need and the specific capabilities the MSP has to offer. Ask if they are certified to perform the services you seek and what level of experience their experts have.

This team has a depth and breadth that are incomparable. They offer knowledge, strengths, and capabilities at all levels across a broad range of disciplines. 

And, MSPs offer consistency. If one member of the team leaves, another can seamlessly take their place, saving you the cost, time delay, and worry of hiring a replacement.

2. Cost-Sharing

With customers sharing the cost of the IT experts, they receive all of the expertise they need at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full complement of IT staff

3. Greater Availability

Working with an MSP provides customers with a larger pool of IT talent, which means that when something needs attention, there will be a quick response.

Cons

1. Outside Exposure

While there is always some level of risk with letting “outsiders” provide your IT solutions, the risk is small compared to the security benefits you are likely to reap.

Do your homework. If you decide to work with an MSP make sure to check their certifications and ask about their data privacy policies. Ask for references. 

2. Cost 

No matter the size of your business, the cost is always a concern. As we mentioned in the pros section on MSPs, there is a perception that MSPs are an expensive option. 

MSPs might not be for you, but before you decide, consider the true cost of a cyber attack and the value MSPs provide by giving customers access to a broad and deep IT talent pool at a reduced cost. (To answer some commonly asked questions about cost, we’ve put together this article: How Much Does Managed IT Cost? What’s Usually Included?)

Bottom Line: 

MSPs may be a good solution for organizations who are looking for more widespread IT support that also encompasses cybersecurity components. 

There may still be aspects of cybersecurity that MSPs do not handle. For example, many MSPs do not provide employee cybersecurity awareness training for customers. 

MSSP

Pros

1. Specialists

MSSPs focus entirely on cybersecurity. They use this lens to look at every aspect of your IT infrastructure from devices to firewalls. 

2. Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Some MSSPs offer cybersecurity awareness training for your users. Keeping this issue in front of employees regularly will enhance the overall security of your entire infrastructure. 

Expert Insights, an independent business IT comparison website, estimates that almost 75 percent of MSPs offer managed security for your network and devices, but only 60 percent include employee security awareness training.

3. Cost

Hiring an MSSP is typically less expensive than hiring a cybersecurity expert to join your staff full-time. The cost burden is shared among the MSSP’s clients, meaning you pay a portion of the salary, rather than the entire thing. 

4. Staffing

The staffing concerns are borne by the MSSP. No more sleepless nights wondering what happens if your on-staff cybersecurity expert decides to retire or join another organization. With an MSSP, you will always have access to the experts you need

Cons

1. Narrow focus

You’ve likely noticed that we also included specialization in the section listing pros for MSSPs. The fact is that specialization is a double-edged sword.

If you need support with the efficiency of your IT architecture or devices or something other than a cybersecurity issue, an MSSP may not be able to help. Understand what the limits are to the services an MSSP offers.  

2. Risk

While most MSSPs have safeguards in place to mitigate risk, you are sharing your keys to your kingdom with an outside organization. Don’t be afraid to ask how they are prepared to keep your company and customer information safe. 

3. Cost

Similar to specialization, cost also falls on the pro and con list. The con for cost is that you are paying for cybersecurity expertise. 

While you are sharing the cost with other customers of the MSSP, cybersecurity experts are some of the most highly-paid experts in the IT world. This could mean that rates for an MSSP are high. Make sure you shop around and explore all of your cybersecurity options. 

Bottom Line

MSSPs focus entirely on cybersecurity. They may be a good solution for larger organizations that have a diverse staff of IT experts in-house, but need specialized help with cybersecurity. MSSPs would likely not be a good solution for small organizations that are looking for broad-based IT support. 

In-House, MSP, or MSSP? Which IT Security Solution Is Right For You?

Armed with your new understanding of the pros and cons of three cybersecurity options, you are better prepared to decide which approach is right for your organization. 

If you have access to unlimited financial resources and are part of a large organization, you may decide that adding to your staff to fortify your network is the best solution. If your organization has a high risk for cybersecurity issues, you may decide to enlist the help of an MSSP. 

Whatever choice you make, the important thing is to be realistic about your cybersecurity risk and make sure your solution is sized appropriately to your organization as well as to the associated risks. 

Now that you know a little more about the possible solutions, you may be wondering about the current state of your infrastructure. 

Kelser has been helping companies like yours with IT solutions for more than 40 years. While we know an MSP isn’t the right answer for every organization or every situation, we can answer any questions you might have about working with an MSP. We’ve put together this article, Managed Services: Top Questions From Customers, as a starting point. 

If you have other questions or are ready to talk about how an MSP can specifically help meet your organization’s IT needs, fill out this form and one of our talented IT experts will contact you. 

Schedule A Call

About Kelser

By actively listening to the client, Kelser has consistently met the needs of its client base for over 30 years. Through attentive observation of the changing industry, Kelser is able to react quickly to provide the best service and solutions available. Thanks to the dedication of our professional staff, this agility has advanced us as leaders in our industry.

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