According to the BSI (German Federal Office for Information Security), dealing with vulnerabilities remains one of the biggest challenges in information security. In addition to sophisticated malware, IT security teams must also keep an eye on social engineering attacks, advanced persistent threats and malicious scripts. Long gone are the days when the use of antivirus solutions was enough to provide solid protection for corporate networks.
What are the differences between EDR, XDR and MDR?
Behind the three letters EDR, XDR or MDR and hide “detection and response” models that detect, i.e. recognize, cyber threats and respond to them in different ways. These solutions and services are currently considered to be particularly relevant for effectively protecting a company network against cyber attacks, where classic security measures are no longer effective. This article explains the methods behind the abbreviations, how the solutions and services work, and what you really need for holistic IT security in your company.
What does Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) do?
The term EDR stands for endpoint-based detection and response. So, the focus of EDR solutions is to increase the visibility of anomalies on the endpoint. This is how EDR systems differ from other technical security solutions such as firewalls: protection takes place directly on the endpoints and not at the network boundary. Endpoints – all devices connected to a network – are potential gateways for cyber threats. In the age of the Internet of Things and a sharp increase in the proportion of employees working remotely from their home offices, the number of endpoints on a corporate network has also risen sharply among small and medium-sized enterprises. Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) captures, logs and analyzes endpoint activity in real time to detect potential attacks early. The ability to deploy artifacts centrally provides analysts with a comprehensive view of the organization’s overall security posture. EDR systems also significantly accelerate these responses. Rapid response to security incidents is supported by extensive automation capabilities and the use of an API.
Identified anomalies are reported by EDR solutions to the IT security teams, which can then react to them in a timely manner. EDR is primarily used by IT security administrators and the group of so-called “threat hunters” – specially trained and experienced IT security experts who use threat information to preventively protect networks from attacks. In a nutshell, EDR marks the first steps toward automated threat defense controlled by IT specialists.
In summary, a modern EDR solution does the following:
- Continuous, automated monitoring of endpoints
- Data collection and analysis
- Active threat hunting
- Detection and analysis of anomalies/attack activity
- Provision of measures to combat attacks that take place
What does Extended Detection & Response (XDR) do?
Extended Detection & Response is an extended solution approach that takes the principles of EDR and adds automation approaches and the use of AI. XDR focuses not only on the endpoints in the enterprise, but holistically monitors all traffic as well as deployed applications within a network – this includes email, server, endpoint, network as well as cloud workloads. By incorporating activity data from all levels of IT risk, XDR enables a layered defense strategy from just one consolidated console. The approach: An XDR Security Platform captures all data from the IT infrastructure and stores it in a database. The data is automatically analyzed, sorted and prioritized and made available to IT Security via a central dashboard. The responsible analysts are thus provided with detailed and correlated information on threats in an automated manner. In addition, an XDR solution provides them with automated response recommendations.
However, the analysis of detected attack activities is complex and hardly possible with a purely manual evaluation due to the diverse parameters – this is where AI approaches come into play, among other things. With their support, an XDR system can thus detect IT security threats comprehensively, reliably and, above all, quickly.
What can XDR do better than EDR?
While an EDR solution specializes in detecting and defending against IT threats on endpoints, XDR systems (Extended Detection & Response) are capable of detecting and defending against threats throughout a company’s IT infrastructure. This creates a holistic picture of the threat situation – unlike EDR systems, which view IT security solely from the perspective of the endpoints.
Depending on the IT security requirements within the company, an EDR system can therefore be a good starting point for increasing visibility on the endpoints. With XDR, this approach is extended to the network, email, cloud, container and user levels. As a result, correlations and machine learning can be used to trace attacks back to patient zero. Reliable deployment of XDR solutions usually requires an orchestrated system from a vendor’s portfolio of components.
XDR performs significantly compared to EDR:
- Transparency on multiple security levels
- Collection, correlation and consolidation of data
- Detection of known and unknown threats also on lateral level
- Continuous monitoring
- Automated pre-selection of alerts
What does Managed Detection & Response (MDR) do?
The term MDR stands for managed detection and response of attacks. Here, the focus is not on technology, but on a service provided by specialized IT security service providers. As a managed service, MDR provides companies with round-the-clock, 365-day-a-year security services from professional IT security teams specializing in network monitoring, analysis of detected IT security incidents, and appropriate response. This allows an externally responsible security analyst to take immediate defensive action upon detection and confirmation of a real threat, including the use of an orchestration tool (Security Orchestration Automation and Response, or SOAR). MDR services, which are usually modular, can be called upon as a company needs them and relieve internal IT security teams of routine tasks or the time-consuming processing of false alarms. Another major advantage of Managed Detection & Response is that customers receive high-quality consulting services and a valuable transfer of knowledge.
When does MDR make sense for my company?
The preceding definition of an MDR service already essentially sums up why many companies decide to use it: Hardly any company has the appropriate tools in-house, as well as the necessary manpower of IT security experts, to manage necessary security programs and proactively and comprehensively protect against new cybersecurity threats. Ideally, a service provider is needed to detect, identify and respond to IT security threats, in whole or in part, depending on the customer’s needs – and to do so quickly enough, based on its expertise and manpower, to avert or at least greatly reduce significant damage to the company in question.
The use of MDR service providers to do just this will therefore play an increasingly important role in the IT security industry. For this purpose, MDR experts usually rely on a combination of different host and network security layers. Together, MDR services ensure comprehensive analysis of threat data, forensic data, and provide their human expertise to quickly respond to and remediate threats. Ideally, MDR service providers should ensure 24/7 availability of their services.
In summary, the 3 most important arguments for MDR services according to our cyber defense experts are:
Proactive threat detection and mitigation by expert team
The more data is generated within an organization, the more complex and extensive the detection of current threats becomes. For proactive threat detection and defense to work reliably, attack scenarios and alerts must be understood, and the know-how on how to respond appropriately must also be in place. An MDR service not only manages a company’s multitude of alerts, but also handles their professional review or analysis. After all, not every alarm automatically represents a real threat. The methodical analysis of effective MDR services minimizes false positives: professional and state-of-the-art analysis tools coupled with the cyber defense expertise of the MDR service provider ensure that events are correctly interpreted, evaluated and that an appropriate response is made to real threats. If these prerequisites are not in place in your organization, this is where you should turn to MDR.
Challenging search for specialized professionals eliminated
Organizations are facing the increasing challenge of finding IT security professionals to ensure their cyber resilience. Savvy and experienced IT security professionals have long been in short supply in the job market, and this situation is only going to get worse. With Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services, IT security monitoring is managed by external cyber defense experts, and in-house resources and professionals do not need to be scheduled for this.
Monitoring around the clock
To effectively ensure proactive threat analysis and defense, corporate networks and systems must be continuously monitored around the clock, 365 days a year. Especially in companies with only a small IT security team, this poses the risk of capacity bottlenecks. With MDR, 24/7 monitoring can be outsourced. The service provider’s IT security experts then permanently monitor your IT infrastructure, identify, analyze and process IT security incidents and, in the event of an emergency, take all necessary measures to eliminate the threat. This gives your own IT security team sufficient freedom to respond quickly and efficiently to acute problems.
How do I choose the right MDR provider?
When selecting the right MDR provider for your company, the following aspects, among others, should be included in the decision-making process:
Your own company size
Existing IT security tools and solutions
Manpower and expertise of your own IT security team
Company policies (compliance regulations) that need to be taken into account
Complex threat situations require efficient measures – this also and especially applies to the area of cyber security. Companies around the world are currently being targeted by cyber criminals and have to deal with espionage as well as blackmail attempts or social engineering attacks. Accordingly, companies are now building their cyber defenses in multiple layers – often with several tools deployed in parallel, each covering a specific threat scenario. This generates vast amounts of data that then have to be analyzed, thereby overstretching the capacities of IT security teams. As a managed service, MDR provides companies with round-the-clock security services 365 days a year from professional IT security teams specializing in network monitoring, analysis of detected IT security incidents and appropriate response.
Would you like to learn more about Detection & Response? Contact us and feel free to schedule a consultation with our experts for your individual cyber defense strategy!