MSP vs MDR: Which Solution is Best for Your Organization?

Cybercrime is escalating, and as businesses become more aware of the risks of doing nothing, many are looking to make smart, cost-effective cybersecurity purchases. For business leaders who are not familiar with the cybersecurity industry, the options can be daunting. Many IT service providers claim that they offer effective cybersecurity solutions, and that their firewalls and anti-virus software will prevent cyber-attacks. These Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are by far the most common security solution for mid-sized businesses, but it does not mean they are the most effective. The types of attacks that make headlines will not be stopped by MSPs. In fact, MSPs are so bad at preventing advanced threats that an entirely new class of security solution has developed to fill the gaping holes left by MSPs. Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is quickly becoming the go-to cybersecurity solution for organizations that understand the importance of adequately protecting their network.  


What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)? 

MDR combines people, technology and automation to give your organization the most advanced data defenses available.  Network sensors proactively identify potential threats and eliminate false-positives, allowing expert analysts to focus only on the threats that matter. This approach saves you time and money while accurately detecting advanced threats that bypass other security tools. Though the exact services can vary with providers, at Bluestone Analytics, our MDR solution includes: 

  • Real-time investigations 

  • Collaboration with existing IT 

  • Immediate Endpoint Response 

  • Forensics + Recovery 

  • Proactive defense 

  • 24/7 Threat Hunting 

  • Expert  human analysts 

  • AI-powered network sensors 

  • Threat intelligence feeds 

  • Full packet capture 

The main differences between MSSP and MDR:


MSPs are notorious for using outdated tech. Though some MSPs do have hardware from the current decade, their overall approach is no longer a good solution for the techniques that advanced threat actors are using today. MSPs focus heavily on perimeter protection, such as firewalls and anti-virus software. While these are important components of an effective cybersecurity strategy, they do not offer complete protection against advanced threats or visibility into the network. MDR services offer continuous network monitoring and endpoint threat detection, which provides a more complete picture of your organization’s security posture. High-level log ingestion and data aggregation give thorough, context-specific awareness of network activity. AI- powered network sensors eliminate false positives, allowing analysts to focus on the anomalies most likely to be real threats. If an incident occurs, full-packet capture offers insight into how threats penetrated the network, and allows analysts to constantly improve detection and response.  

Passive vs active detection 

MSPs rely primarily on rules to detect threats. Typically, these rules are developed based on known threats, meaning MSP coverage only protects against threats that have already been discovered and documented. However, hackers know this, and are always looking to tweak their attacks to evade anti-virus software and other perimeter-based solutions. MDRs, on the other hand, use proactive threat-hunting technology to seek out potential threats and prevent lateral network movement.  


MSPs typically offer very little (if any) human security analyst support with their services, while MDR solutions generally utilize experienced cybersecurity analysts to identify and remove potential network threats in real-time. Because MSPs focus so heavily on automated perimeter protection and rules, they often rely on mostly Tier-1 SOC analysts. While these analysts can identify some threats, MSPs typically do not investigate the anomalies to eliminate false positives, nor do they respond to threats. Instead, abnormalities in network usage are forwarded to your IT personnel who must then dig through the data to determine if there is a real threat and figure out how to respond. In contrast, MDR services include 24/7 expert analytical support to recognize potential threats and defend your network from threats as they occur. 

Attacker-based solutions 

MSPs usually provide a one-size-fits-all approach to security, without consideration of your industry or network. In reality, different organizations will be more susceptible to different types of threats. Cybersecurity is all about risk management, and an effective MDR solution will give you the tools to help mitigate the threats most relevant to your business and industry.  

Incident response 

With MSPs, your protection ends after incident discovery. Some MSPs do offer limited response services as a pricey add-on, but in the event of a massive breach, these services will not suffice. This leaves your company scrambling to develop a response. When threat actors are in your network, time is crucial. MDR services specialize in pivoting quickly from detection to response and remediation. Should your company experience an incident, we work closely with legal counsel and your executive team to develop an appropriate response strategy. This can range from a simple endpoint quarantine to a full-scale forensic investigation and PR consulting. Using an MDR not only offers more advanced protection than an MSP, but also ensures that your incident response team is familiar with your company and your network, providing a seamless transition from detection to response.  


At Bluestone, we have extensive knowledge of the finance, biotech, health, and legal industries. We offer customized MDR solutions that fit your organization, and our comprehensive approach is often less expensive than layering MSPs and lots of additional tools. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your organization defend its data, subscribe to our newsletter or contact us.