Understanding the Lines Between XDR and MDR

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Pareto Cyber

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Cybersecurity is constantly changing as new technologies appear to respond to new challenges and emerging threats.

Given this rapid pace, you may be overwhelmed with new acronyms propping up across the industry. In this guide, we will help you understand the difference between two popular solutions:

  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR)
  • Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?

How it works

XDR consolidates tools and data sources into one threat detection and response system.

This methodology expands on endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions by incorporating networks, cloud services, identity, and any other devices and tools within your organization’s technology stack. All of that information is then compiled with some kind of security analytics to help you respond to emerging threats quickly and efficiently.

In short, an XDR system helps you:

  • Add context to alerts from other parts of your IT infrastructure
  • View all relevant data logs while investigating a potential threat
  • Reduce false positives and focus on most important incidents
  • Automate threat detection and response workflows

Benefits of XDR

XDR is increasingly being adopted by organizations for its comprehensive security approach.

Businesses are facing more and more threats each year, with attackers adopting sophisticated tactics to breach digital systems. As cyber threats become more complex, the  need to adopt more robust solutions has become critical. Gartner recommends that your incident response playbook should include analysis of all potential indicators of compromise (IoC), including network traffic, user account changes, DNS requests, and file activity.

It’s clear that modern threats, such as ransomware, cannot be handled with endpoint data alone. XDR allows you to keep track of every potential attack vector and take necessary actions to prevent damage to your organization.

What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

How it works

While XDR is a threat detection and response methodology, MDR is more of a security operations arrangement.

MDR is an outsourced security service. It gives you the power of a full Security Operations Center (SOC) without the prohibitive costs of maintaining those operations in-house. Your MDR partner will assign dedicated security engineers to manage those capabilities, who will monitor security alerts and handle any remediation tasks on your behalf 24/7.

As opposed to other kinds of managed security services, with MDR you can offload not only detection but also general improvements in security posture. Your MDR partner will regularly assess your organization for potential vulnerabilities and help you reduce your attack surface by addressing those risks.

Benefits of MDR

Outsourcing your security operations lets you stay ahead of potential threats without handling all of those tasks internally.

This way, you no longer have to hire, train, and keep a full in-house security team. Your MDR partner will staff those professionals instead. With their help, you can still receive custom security support configured to match your company’s risk profile and technology stack.

Staying ahead of emerging trends is extremely important to protect your organization. Gartner predicts that in the next three years, half of cybersecurity executives will try and fail to align security and business risks. An MDR partner, on the other hand, can provide you with the necessary specialized expertise and make targeted recommendations to help you reduce overall business risk with a better cybersecurity program.

Which solution is best for you?

Evaluating detection and response capability

Given the importance of business considerations in improving your security posture, you should assess all relevant factors. Consider the following questions while evaluating enterprise cybersecurity solutions:

  • How much capacity does your organization have to maintain an in-house security program?
  • What compliance requirements do you need to follow?
  • What kinds of cyber threats could your business face based on your industry, size, and other factors?
  • How much customization should your threat detection and response solution include to meet your cybersecurity goals?

How XDR and MDR can work together (Managed XDR)

MDR can adapt to a variety of cybersecurity models. For example, many providers actually work with an XDR methodology or a more traditional incident response solution.

If you want to benefit from full visibility into your IT infrastructure while outsourcing your security operations, a managed XDR solution might be best for your business.