Managed IT vs. Managed Security vs. Compliance: What are the differences, and where do they overlap?


Let’s be honest: understanding Information Technology can feel like wading through a quagmire. There are so many industry terms, buzzwords, and new industries specializing in all things cybersecurity and compliance. For some of us, it’s a whole new world, and to be honest, sometimes it feels a little intimidating.

And that’s why we wanted to create an article breaking down the differences between these services. They are:

  • IT support & management
  • IT security (cybersecurity)
  • IT compliance

WEBIT Services has served hundreds of clients for over 25 years in IT support & management and cybersecurity.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to identify the different services, see how they intersect, understand why and how they evolved, and learn how IT providers use them.

Three types of IT specialties

An IT provider will generally offer one, two, or all three of the specialties listed below. Of course, each IT provider may have its own definitions, but we’ve summarized generally accepted definitions of each branch below.

1. IT Support & Management

IT services are described as “support, proactive maintenance, and strategy.”

IT Support & Management includes help desk access and on-site technician visits when escalations are necessary if things cannot be fixed remotely. They help resolve questions about access issues, program errors, etc.

Field technicians are typically reserved for proactive maintenance and IT project work.

The provider’s vCIOs (Virtual Chief Information Officers) handle IT strategy. They help clients achieve their IT goals and address various planned IT projects by bridging the gap between business and technology. IT projects may include new or upgraded hardware or software, procurement, and more.

Both sections of IT support & management focus on creating a positive user experience.

2. IT Security

IT Security is the ongoing task of assisting a business with risk management.

They should follow recognized and proven security frameworks such as CIS controls or the NIST framework. These guidelines help IT Security providers deliver security practices that help reduce client risks.

At a foundational level, the IT security provider will be familiar with a client’s current systems and perform regular risk assessments, ideally every quarter or any time there is a significant change in the IT environment. They also utilize IT security tools like firewalls and endpoint protection systems that align with security framework requirements.

3. IT Compliance

Depending on the industry, a company may have regulatory or compliance requirements. They could face auditing or legal action if compliance standards are not met.

IT compliance is determined first by a client’s industry. Certain regulatory bodies create compliance standards for different industries (i.e., banking, healthcare, etc.).

Many of these compliance regulations have an IT element focusing on policy, documentation, and security.

A provider offering IT compliance services must be familiar with relevant compliance standards. This specialized knowledge is necessary to help clients apply and maintain compliance.

How they connect


As you can see in the image above, these different services have overlap. Some tools, strategies, or practices carry over into all three services. However, while sharing some similarities, they are still separate services.

For instance, IT support & management has cybersecurity aspects in ensuring systems are appropriately installed and configured. IT support & management also has elements of compliance by helping to create and maintain network policies and documentation.

In the same way, IT security requires some compliance knowledge to ensure proper security systems are in place that align with those requirements. The Center for Internet Security provides a great tool to see how security and compliance intersect.

And, of course, compliance requires the knowledge and cooperation of the two other services.

Each service is unique and has its own experts to deliver results to clients.

How the different services evolved

Once upon a time, a single IT technician or specialist could perform tasks for all three services. However, the need for specialization has grown as the industries and threats have changed.

The internet and technology, in general, have exploded in the last two decades. Today, internet connections move at lightning speed. We carry more information and power in our tiny mobile phones than on our computers just a decade ago.

Unfortunately, as technology advanced, so did the opportunity for cybercrime, which is no longer an element of science fiction novels or spy films.

To keep up with the rising threats, IT security has had to become more advanced to keep pace with the cybercriminals. More complicated systems require specialized experts to manage them. As a result, managed IT services could no longer afford to do just the basics when it came to security.

How IT providers use the three services

Quality IT providers understand the three different services and the need for specialists in each. They know that, while all three share certain aspects, they are not interchangeable. Experts are hired specifically for the services a provider offers

Understanding all services and their specializations allows providers to be honest about their service limitations.

For instance, a provider offers IT support & management services but does not have the resources for IT security or compliance support. In this case, the provider may partner with or recommend a company that can provide these other services.

Other providers may offer IT support & management and security services but do not cover compliance.

Compliance is an industry of its own, offering aid within specialized vertical markets such as CMMC for manufacturing and HIPAA for healthcare providers.

Steps to learn more about IT support & management, cybersecurity, and compliance services

IT providers generally offer one to three of the following services: IT support & management, IT security (cybersecurity), and IT compliance. While these three services share similarities, they have each become very specialized as technology advances.

IT support & management focuses on customer experience, resolving customer concerns, IT strategy, and proactively monitoring and updating client technology.

IT security uses recognized cybersecurity frameworks and programs to reduce risk to clients from cyber threats.

IT compliance helps clients whose businesses are regulated and must meet certain compliance standards.

WEBIT Services specializes in IT support, management, strategy, and cybersecurity. We are passionate about educating our clients. This has allowed us to help clients reach their IT goals and reduce their risks for over 25 years.

If you’d like to learn more, you can speak with your IT provider and ask how they view IT support & management services, IT security, and IT compliance.

If you are looking for a new IT provider or want to learn more about the service branches, you can read about WEBIT Services solutions or contact us for a consultation.

If you’d like to learn more about IT provider services, the following articles will provide additional information: