We all recognize the importance of keeping tabs on what’s on our endpoints. After all, that’s a known place that threat actors invade – and endpoint threats are highly visible, as we all use desktops or laptops daily. However, we also know that any threat actor worth their salt will also try every other door, window, and secret entrance (probably first). That’s why organizations are choosing to extend their Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) coverage with additional Extended Detection and Response (XDR) coverage as well.

Initially conceived out of the success of EDR platforms, XDR essentially functions as a control center for identity detection and response (DR), network DR, cloud DR endpoint DR, and more. Find out how to know when your company is ready to make the change.


What’s the difference?


XDR sits on top of your current security stack and ingests data from a multitude of sources — endpoints, servers, cloud, logs, IDS, and external threat feeds. It then compiles it all, analyzes it, establishes baselines, and then checks all actions against the baselines to spot anything beyond the norm. XDR then facilitates response actions to contain active threats while full remediation can be applied.

XDR is touted as “comprehensive coverage,” and it is. Extended Detection and Response is both signature-based and behavioral-based, meaning that it isn’t restricted to just catching known bad. As cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to evade traditional tools – firewalls, IDS, and IPS, and yes, even EDR – they obfuscate their code or use polymorphic malware that changes its features as it winds its way through the network. Behavioral-based detection is needed to spot those anomalies and stop low-and-slow attacks in progress. XDR does just that, catching both emerging threats and embedded threat actors, and providing a level of network visibility that EDR alone simply can’t.

Key XDR differentiators include:

  • Comprehensive visibility across the enterprise
  • Analytics across a broad attack surface
  • Correlation of disparate data from multiple solutions and sources
  • All available telemetry in a single pane of glass
  • Rapid and accurate response, by connecting relevant triggers to relevant response technologies

Connecting disparate response and detection technologies improves the detections and responses of all technologies involved.


EDR sits on your endpoints, ingests local data, and creates its own telemetry by monitoring the device kernel and processes. It also performs both signature and behavioral-based detection, but only across the end-user devices.

Endpoint Detection and Response protects the devices that connect to (and therefore contribute towards risk) company networks. The SANS Endpoint Protection and Response Survey reveals that nearly half of all IT teams manage between 5,000 and 50,000 endpoints. That represents a considerable attack surface in and of itself. However, it does not represent the whole of it. While EDR covers what’s on the endpoint, there’s a whole lot more on your network that deserves attention – everything between and beyond the endpoints.

The difference

XDR is about having EDR-level visibility and analytics across all threat telemetry. Then, you can correlate alerts and identify hidden threats that, when viewed in isolation, may be missed, or simply caught by another tool that isn’t EDR. XDR takes the “idea” of EDR and spreads it across the enterprise – not just the endpoint.

XDR Features

A proper XDR solution will offer the following features:

Extensive coverage

  • Unified console
  • All telemetry sources in one place – network, endpoints, applications, servers, cloud, SaaS, identity
  • Integrates with third-party tools like EDR and IDS

Centralized analytics

  • Behavioral/anomaly-based analysis
  • Threat prioritization
  • Incident correlation


  • Wizard-based response playbooks
  • Support for third-party tools
  • Wide range of response actions across endpoints, firewall, identity, and network

XDR Benefits

The unmatched visibility and reach of XDR positions it to offer some unique benefits:

Unmatched visibility and context

XDR provides actionable insights from every available telemetry source, offering comprehensive coverage over a multi-vector attack surface. EDR provides coverage at the endpoint, but attackers infiltrate in so many other ways that endpoint-only protection is only a first step.

Response automation

When you have near complete visibility over your network, you catch a lot more incidents in your net. That can put a lean team in a difficult position, but XDR automatically responds to security events using streamlined security workflows and playbooks. This reduces time-to-resolution and limits further spread to assets across network, endpoints, and cloud environments.

Risk prioritization

XDR’s automated analysis and coordination weeds out false positives and lets busy teams know which alerts are the most urgent. XDR organizes risks based on known threat behaviors and groups them by severity.

Reduced mean-time-to-detection

Because it draws from a multitude of sources that encompass both prevention and detection technologies, XDR can reduce the time between the compromise and its detection (dwell time) so teams can dramatically reduce the impact of an attack.

And more.

How Do You Know if You’re Ready for XDR?

Since XDR is a comprehensive technology platform that ties together all your existing security technologies, it works best with organizations that have achieved a certain level of cybersecurity maturity and are looking to now make things simpler, more efficient, and more optimized. Some tell-tale signs that you’re ready include:

You’re looking to get the most out of your EDR solution, or other existing security solutions in your environment. These are organizations that are looking to automate some of the day-to-day workflow and processes they already have in place and increase their productivity and efficiency within that.

You’re looking at the long-term view of your organization. XDR is right for those seeking to invest in efficiencies that will build and compound over the next two to three years. “XDR is picked up by prospects who are not only looking at serving the needs of their investments today but far into the future,” notes Josh Davies, Principal Technical Marketing Manager at Fortra’s Alert Logic. “When they look two to three years down the road, they have a vision of where they want to be from a security maturity standpoint, and good XDR has the agility and scalability to fit their goals.”

When Do You Need Managed XDR?

Although XDR alone is useful, it often requires a team of security engineers, analysts, and researchers to really “make it sing.” Because not every company has those resources on hand, many end up not getting the full value out of their XDR solution. “Organizations will go out and invest in an XDR tool, but at the end of the day, they’re still not getting what they expected out of it because they don’t have the internal resources or the expertise to create some sort of actionable insights from it,” notes Davies. For that reason, companies are increasingly turning to a managed XDR solution.

Managed XDR provides predictable pricing, maximum visibility, optimized coverage, and the means to address a multitude of attack vectors that plague historically underserviced companies. It isn’t only for those who already have an XDR solution, although many organizations might; managed XDR is effective for organizations that are resource-constrained and outcome-gapped, regardless of the technologies they already have. They could be in the same place as an organization that’s ready for XDR in general, as outlined above, but they could also be lacking the resources, expertise, or outcomes needed to instill confidence that their XDR solution will really be put to best use.

As Davies sums up, “If you don’t have a team of people and you’ve already got 50 to 60 tools in your arsenal and you’re not seeing outcomes, an XDR tool isn’t going to solve that for you unless you invest in a lot of internal resources or get that managed piece.”

Ready to Expand from EDR to XDR?

There are several ways to tell if your organization is ready to enhance coverage from EDR to an XDR or managed XDR solution. Here are some points to consider:

  • Can you stay ahead of emerging threats? It’s not just about addressing the known threats, it’s also about being able to detect the new ones that are emerging with the latest threat intelligence and proactive threat hunting.
  • Can you respond quickly in an emergency? Tooling aside, do you have the resources, the knowledge, and the expertise to respond quickly when compromise strikes? It is one thing to detect, and another thing entirely to spring into action with a well-honed incident response plan: disrupting, containing, and remediating threats before they take a toll on your organization. It’s all about being resilient.
  • Can you afford the downtime? On average, an organization faces 24 days of downtime after a ransomware attack. Considering just a single hour of downtime can cost small businesses $10,000 (and larger companies up to $5 million) it is likely that many companies won’t weather that storm. Figures indicate that 60% of SMBs close after a successful cyberattack. How quickly can your organization recover from that using its current technologies and resources? Davies notes, “When companies start to see the gap between resources and need, XDR starts to become a business proposition.”

Switching from EDR to an XDR solution signifies a deepening cyber maturity within your organization. It not only extends coverage far beyond the endpoint, but it brings together all your existing security technologies and helps you make the most of them – no more wasted investments. Organizations that are ready to make the switch can leverage XDR to gather system-wide intelligence, detect suspicious anomalies, and prioritize threats, and lean on Fortra XDR to provide not only the tooling, but the support and expertise needed to optimize those security outcomes.

Fortra XDR helps organizations reach the next level in their cybersecurity maturity journey. To get started, connect with one of our SMEs today.

Katrina Thompson
About the Author
Katrina Thompson
An ardent believer in personal data privacy and the technology behind it, Katrina Thompson is a freelance writer leaning into encryption, data privacy legislation and the intersection of information technology and human rights. She has written for Bora, Venafi, Tripwire and many other sites.

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