Managed Security Services, Security Program Controls/Technologies

Cybersecurity Frameworks: A Guide for MSSPs

Organizations are facing a tougher cybersecurity threat landscape than ever before, whether its ransomware, phishing, insider threats, nation-state attacks, ransomware as a service, or any number of other threats and threat actors.

Managed security service providers are positioned to help organizations protect their assets and data from these threats.

Among the tools that MSSPs can leverage to protect client organizations effectively are an array of different cybersecurity frameworks.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most important frameworks, how MSSPs can utilize them, the associated business opportunities, and considerations for choosing the right framework or frameworks.

Understanding Different Cybersecurity Frameworks

1. NIST Cybersecurity Framework:

  • Description: Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), this framework provides a comprehensive approach to managing and improving cybersecurity. It is divided into five functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.
  • MSSP Opportunity: MSSPs can use the NIST framework to offer services like cybersecurity assessments, policy development, and incident response planning. The business opportunity lies in providing tailored solutions for clients, aligning their security posture with NIST's best practices.

2. ISO 27001:

  • Description: ISO 27001 is an internationally recognized standard for information security management systems (ISMS). It focuses on systematically managing risks to information security.
  • MSSP Opportunity: MSSPs can help clients achieve ISO 27001 certification by conducting risk assessments, implementing controls, and maintaining compliance. The business opportunity here includes ongoing ISMS maintenance and audit support.

3. CIS Critical Security Controls:

  • Description: The Center for Internet Security (CIS) offers a set of 20 Critical Security Controls, providing a prioritized approach to cybersecurity. These controls address known attack vectors.
  • MSSP Opportunity: MSSPs can use the CIS Controls to offer vulnerability assessments, security awareness training, and continuous monitoring services. The business opportunity is in helping clients prioritize and implement controls based on their specific risks.


  • Description: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act are critical for healthcare organizations, focusing on protecting patient data.
  • MSSP Opportunity: MSSPs can assist healthcare clients with HIPAA compliance, conducting risk assessments, implementing technical safeguards, and developing data security strategies. The business opportunity involves ongoing compliance support and data protection services.

5. Zero Trust:

  • Description: The Zero Trust framework emphasizes a "never trust, always verify" approach to network security, reducing the attack surface.
  • MSSP Opportunity: MSSPs can implement Zero Trust principles by deploying identity and access management solutions, micro-segmenting networks, and continuous monitoring. The business opportunity lies in providing clients with advanced network security solutions.

How MSSPs Can Evaluate Cybersecurity Frameworks

MSSPs should consider several factors when choosing which framework or frameworks to use:

1. Client Needs: Assess the specific requirements and compliance obligations of your clients. Tailor your framework selection to align with their industry and risk profile.

2. Expertise: Consider your team's expertise and capabilities. Choose frameworks that match your strengths and where you can deliver value effectively.

3. Market Demand: Research the demand for cybersecurity services associated with each framework. Invest in areas with growing demand to maximize business opportunities.

4. Flexibility: Some MSSPs use multiple frameworks simultaneously to provide comprehensive cybersecurity services. Be prepared to adapt and integrate various frameworks as needed.

Using Multiple Frameworks:

The decision to use multiple frameworks depends on the complexity and diversity of your clients' needs. Combining frameworks can offer a more comprehensive solution. However, it's essential to manage this complexity efficiently. MSSPs should consider the following:

  • Integration: Ensure that the chosen frameworks can work harmoniously without creating conflicts or redundancies.
  • Resource Allocation: Allocate resources and expertise effectively to manage multiple frameworks.
  • Client Education: Help clients understand the benefits of using multiple frameworks and how it enhances their cybersecurity posture.

In conclusion, cybersecurity frameworks provide a structured approach for MSSPs to deliver effective services to clients. By selecting the right framework(s) and tailoring their offerings, MSSPs can seize business opportunities while assisting organizations in achieving robust cybersecurity. Whether focusing on a single framework or combining multiple, MSSPs have the potential to play a crucial role in enhancing cybersecurity across various industries.