Many companies that provide Internet and networking functions are pulling double duty these days. It's no longer enough just to provide access; more and more, companies are demanding certain other services along with Internet and network access. Among the services demanded most is security, the specialty of the MSSP.
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) will out of necessity provide certain security measures, such as virus protection software, spam blockers, firewalls, and even Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). In this way, an ISP becomes an MSSP, or managed security service provider. The idea is that the responsibility for protecting the Internet and network access lies with the provider, not with the user. Users usually have virus or spam protection of their own, of course, but they routinely demand such basic services from the MSSP.
One interesting twist on this idea is that some companies that previously offered only security services have now begun to offer ISP services as well. In other words, your company might previously have used Joe's Internet Services for Internet and network access and Jane's Security Services for security needs. In the same way that Joe's Internet Services, formerly only an ISP, has now become an MSSP by providing security services along with the Internet access, Jane's Security Services now offers Internet access, migrating from a security service provider into the realm of MSSP.
Companies demand security services from their ISP and MSSP as a way of cutting costs. If you don't have to buy a copy of Norton SystemWorks for every PC in your company, then you have potentially saved yourself a pile of money. You still might wish to purchase Norton SystemWorks or a similar program in order to protect against viruses and phishing on both ends, but you will in all likelihood have Internet and network access from an MSSP that already provides that security as a matter of course. In this scenario, the responsibility for keeping up with the latest versions and upgrades of security software lies with the MSSP.