The Alphabet Soup of Cybersecurity Jargon: EDR, MDR, XDR services

If you came to this moment, most likely, there is no need to explain the value of cybersecurity and emphasize protecting your business from cyber-attacks. And most likely, you have heard about (or even tried) security operations services (SOC services) and want to know about their “evolution”. We can imagine that even the biggest desire to choose the most suitable protection might be ruined by the repeating alphabet the vendors insist on. 

Let’s move by small steps to have more chances to reach the realness.

What is EDR?

What is EDR

You probably know the most about EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) service because, from this service, the era of “DR” services began.

EDR is a solution that provides customers with real-time continuous monitoring and collection of endpoint data with an automated response based on the established rules and analysis capabilities.

To understand better what is EDR, it is worth asking the right question.

The right one, in this case, is “What is the difference between EDR vs. antivirus?”

The main antivirus software work principle is comparing files against the signature database (a known database of “bad” files). EDR was invited as a new view on cybersecurity. Endpoint detection and response analyze the behavior on the endpoint. For example, if a file executes an unknown script, it will be flagged and quarantined. Not relying heavily on signature files allows the EDR software to react to new and advanced threats better.

The main components of Endpoint Detection and Response are:

  • Data collection (gathers data on traffic, authentication, and process executions);
  • Detection engine (analyzes data to identify potential threats and anomalous activity);
  • Data analysis engine (detects the movement of threats across a system).

Mostly, EDR solutions can detect only a quarter of exhausting threats. More than half of these threats are passed over because of the high volume of sent alerts.

What is MDR?

MDR (Managed Detection and Response) was developed as the next stage of EDR-managed EDR. The essential characteristic for understanding MDR is that it works with both: automated rules and human inspection to distinguish benign events and false positives from actual threats. The results are enriched with additional context and distilled into checked alerts.

Mostly, Managed Detection and Response includes:

  • EDR;
  • perimeter telemetry (firewalls, web application firewalls, network infrastructure tools, intrusion detection, and prevention systems (IDS/IPS);
  • incident management and response (the benefit is that MDR teams can employ higher-level experts than the customer who can then get that expertise);
  • threat intelligence (to ensure that the broadest range of threats are detected and prevented).

So, MDR performs threat hunting, monitoring, and response. The main idea of adding people is that security experts might notice the elements that no automated detection system can provide, identifying the most evasive threats to catch what the layers of automated defenses missed.

What is XDR?

What is XDR

According to Microsoft, eXtended Detection and Response is “designed to deliver intelligent, automated, and integrated security across domains to help defenders connect seemingly disparate alerts and get ahead of attackers”.

It provides cross-layered threat detection and response. XDR goes beyond individual layers of protection, including multiple layers, and extends beyond endpoint devices to include your systems as a whole.

This means that XDR collects and correlates detections and deep activity data across email, endpoint, server, cloud workloads, and network. The automated analysis here means threats are detected faster, and security analysts can do more thorough investigations and take quick, subsequent action.

Extended Detection and Response allows to:

  • Identify advanced and hidden threats more quickly;
  • Track activity across the system;
  • Reduce technological management tasks;
  • Perform and complete more efficient investigations.

What is the difference between EDR vs. MDR vs. XDR?

To be short, XDR is as MDR but with extended visibility into networks, systems, and cloud logfiles, activities, or metadata.

The type of solution you choose should depend on what you already have in place of your security architecture, how satisfied you are with your solutions, and what security team sources you have in-house. Here are the main features and capabilities of comparing services for you to understand which solution might be the most suitable for your business:

EDR1. Mostly includes behavior analysis engines for detection of unknown threats.

2. Cloud-based or local.

3. Centralized reporting for all endpoints.
1. Alerts to threats.

2. Focuses exclusively on endpoints and endpoint connections.

3. Can be used to perform kill chain analyses, quarantine threats, implement traffic filtering, and automate response.
MDR1. Enables you to outsource security tasks to reduce manual work and ensure 24\7 coverage.

2. Can be applied to any supported system.

3. Contractual services to avoid technical debt.
1. Can provide system-wide or targeted coverage.

2. Can provide manual threat hunting to detect advanced threats and vulnerabilities.

3. Capabilities depend on the solutions that the vendor implements or supports.
XDR1. Typically includes device controls, disk encryption, rule and behavior-based detection engines, and firewalls.

2. Analysis of internal and external traffic with machine learning-based detection.

3. Centralized correlation of results.
1. Offers all the capabilities of EDR.

2. Provides endpoint security that extends to broader systems for end-to-end tracing.

3. Enables orchestrate security across the environment and scale solutions to meet the specific needs.

Both MDR and XDR include endpoint monitoring. So, if you start from the very beginning, there is no need for you to implement the EDR approach.

It is worth noting that vendors may deviate from the traditional description of the service. Therefore, even if you decide that you need an MDR, for example, you should ask the vendor what this service includes and provides.

This is important because some vendors offer a service that requires hiring additional staff, or an MDR product may offer detection and response across specific items but not across the entire enterprise, while another offers complete coverage.

Contact UnderDefence to get more detailed information and to choose the most suitable approach to protect your business.

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