As cyber threats grow in severity and prevalence, more defense options are rising to meet them. But keeping track of multiple threat detection and prevention tools can be a challenge of its own for organizations. There have never been more ways to counter a risk to your network, and these solutions will only become exponentially diverse, which poses a problem for many businesses. Plus, if your data, teams, and security techniques are siloed, you’ll lack unified protection for everything you depend on.

Extended detection and response (XDR) security has grown in popularity as a way to give organizations a single view into their cyber risks, consolidating security tools, and prioritizing them when they’re alerted to malicious behavior. It promises to rapidly improve security operations center (SOC) teams’ investigation and response times. Yet, as with anything new, there’s confusion as to what XDR security actually is. In this article, we’ll discuss how XDR security differs from alternative security solutions, what you can expect from it, and whether you’re ready for this type of cybersecurity.

What is XDR Security?

XDR security is a cross-layered threat detection and response tool. It gathers and correlates data from endpoints, emails, servers, apps, clouds, and networks for better visibility across your cyberattack surface. XDR security produces a data dashboard that shows any potential threats, even if they’re highly sophisticated or disguised as harmless traffic. XDR security enables you to make sense of the data being ingested from point sources and provides insights to respond to potential threats.

There isn’t one shape to XDR. It can encompass multiple sources of cybersecurity, including:

  • Endpoint protection
  • Network coverage
  • Intrusion detection systems (IDS)
  • Security information and event management (SIEM)

Initially, XDR was developed in light of a more traditional toolbox: endpoint detection and response (EDR). The effectiveness of EDR solutions is limited to threats that come through the endpoint. Common attack vectors extend well beyond the endpoint, exposing an organization to potential vulnerabilities via email, cloud, etc. As a result, security solutions have evolved to address the ever changing and increased complexity of the threat landscape.

How Does XDR Security Work?

XDR security is a SaaS-based tool that synchronizes with your current security products. The system ingests data from various sources, such as endpoints, SIEM, analytics, logs, IDS, and third-party feeds. It then performs automated analysis and correlation to hunt and bring visibility to sophisticated threats. Ideally, XDR should prioritize the threats that pose the greatest threat to the environment so security analysts can triage and resolve issues.

When adopting an XDR solution, organizations must have internal talent with the knowledge and time to manage it in order to achieve the desired outcomes of this strategy.

What are the Benefits of XDR Security?

As it has a complete, centralized view of network infrastructure, XDR security brings many benefits to the table, including greater visibility and context, tailored threat responses, event prioritization and improved detection and response.

Greater visibility and context

XDR provides a comprehensive perspective on that which can hide, deter, or block a cyber threat. This eliminates security silos and improves incident response, leading to rapid action at the right time. More context allows a security analyst to see the exact nature of the threat they’re fighting for an ultra-targeted response.

Tailored threat responses

XDR’s extended detection allows it to customize threat responses based on the affected asset, leveraging other control points to minimize harm or data leaks.

Event prioritization

Security teams analysts are frequently confronted with an overwhelming number of alerts, and little context to treat one before the other. With XDR security’s automated analysis and correlation, they can receive group alerts, prioritize them, and surface the most critical threats.

Improved detection and response

Stealthy cyberattacks can mask themselves in seemingly legitimate data packets, mimicking safe server protocols to catch you unaware. You also have to deal with the risk of phishing attempts, cloud hacks, and compromised application access. XDR security enables a deeper, faster response, learning from every incident.


How MDR Fills in the Gaps

While extended detection and response works for some businesses, it might not be right for your organization. Most often, this is due to time, scale, and resources. To get the desired value out of an XDR solution requires a level of security knowledge and/or expertise. Most organizations don’t have these in-house resources. Keeping an eye on XDR and countering the threats it raises can be expensive and complex. You still need to hire security specialists who can act on potential threats.

Managed detection and response (MDR), on the other hand, bridges the gap for resource- or knowledge-gapped organizations who need to leverage technology plus human expertise to get the desired outcomes from their security stack.  With MDR, you receive a high level of human expertise around alert data, a managed component that XDR doesn’t include. XDR is best viewed as complementary to MDR, rather than an alternative to it, and may even be included as part of a managed detection and response service.

Threat Detection Solutions

Fortra’s Alert Logic MDR is the first SaaS managed threat detection and response provider, designed for the cloud with 24/7 protection. Advantages of the Alert Logic MDR solution for your cybersecurity strategy include:

  • Purpose-built technology and a SaaS-based platform for easy integration into your environment
  • 24/7 monitoring by our global SOC detects attacks in real-time and empowers you to prevent user error, understand changes as they happen, and benefit from full visibility into your security posture.
  • MDR platform and expert services collect network traffic and more than 140 billion log messages every day, giving you outcome-based security coverage against all vulnerabilities and threats.
  • Services cover all your networks, applications, and endpoints, whether they’re in hybrid, on-premises, or cloud environments.
  • Alert Logic’s MDR platform provides a dashboard view of all alert information and analysis providing access to real-time information on risk, vulnerabilities, investigations, remediation activities, configuration exposures, and compliance status.
  • Proactively escalate threats to you within 15-minute.

MDR takes many of the strengths of XDR but makes them much more convenient for any organization looking for peace of mind and activities based on the latest cyber research. It could be the single fix for any security gaps you have now or in the future. Ready to see learn more about how MDR can secure your IT estate?

Additional XDR Security Resources


Angelica Torres-Corral
About the Author
Angelica Torres-Corral
Angelica Torres-Corral is a product marketing expert at Fortra’s Alert Logic. She brings over 15 years’ experience in security, with expertise in cloud, MDR/XDR, data protection, and IT infrastructure.

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