What is XDR?

Learn the distinctions between XDR and alternative security solutions, the expectations associated with it, and determine if XDR is the right fit for your organization.

As the severity and prevalence of cyber threats continue to increase, more defense options are emerging to confront them. However, managing multiple threat detection and prevention tools poses its own challenge for organizations. The landscape for countering risks to networks has never been more diverse, and this diversity is expected to grow exponentially, presenting a significant challenge for many businesses. Moreover, if your data, teams, and security techniques are isolated in silos, a lack of unified protection may leave crucial aspects of your operations vulnerable.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) security has gained widespread popularity as a way to provide organizations with a unified perspective into their cyber risks, streamlining security tools, and prioritizing them when alerted to malicious behavior. It promises to enhance the efficiency of security operations center (SOC) teams by accelerating investigation and response times. However, there’s some confusion as to what is XDR. Learn the distinctions between XDR and alternative security solutions, the expectations associated with it, and determine if XDR is the right fit for your organization.

Understanding &
Defining XDR

XDR is a multi-faceted threat detection and response technology. It functions by gathering and correlating data from diverse telemetry sources including endpoints, servers, apps, clouds, and networks. This broad spectrum of coverage enhances an organization’s visibility into its cyberattack surface. The primary objective of XDR is to empower organizations to augment visibility, expand coverage, enhance operational efficiency, and ultimately fortify their overall security posture. XDR solutions enable cybersecurity professionals and SOC teams with advanced technology to more effectively interpret data being ingested from point sources and provides insights to respond to potential threats.

While the definition of XDR has evolved in recent years, the commonly accepted core elements of an XDR solution include:

Is XDR right for you?

Learn if your organization could benefit from XDR by requesting a demo.

Broad Coverage | Ability to ingest from multiple telemetry and data sources including:

  • Endpoint and/or EDR technologies
  • Network
  • Intrusion detection systems (IDS)
  • Security information and event management (SIEM)

Centralized Analytics | Ability to analyze and correlate data. This can be done via machine learning (ML), AI, and in-house/proprietary analytics tools

Automation | Ability to utilize playbooks and workflows to automate repetitive and/or common actions

The confusion regarding the definition of XDR stems from the various ways in which it is achieved. Early on, EDR vendors broadened their scope of telemetry ingest to one additional source and proclaimed XDR capabilities. Conversely, others embraced XDR by combining SIEM technology with response automation. Today, the ways to achieve XDR are plentiful. Until the industry settles on a standardized definition, XDR security solutions will continue to evolve in an effort to address the ever-changing and increasingly complex threat landscape.

How Does XDR Work?

XDR is designed to ingest data from diverse sources, including endpoints, SIEM, analytics, logs, IDS, and third-party feeds. It systematically analyzes the data by establishing correlations between the sources, identifies behaviors based on known threats, and may give visibility to unknown activity. Harnessing threat intelligence, XDR prioritizes and informs on what activities poses the greatest risk. Security analysts enhance this information by triaging high-risk activities, providing valuable insights, and offering remediation guidance to customers.

To maximize the benefits of implementing an XDR solution, a high level of security expertise and resources is essential to achieve the desired outcomes of this strategy. This can be accomplished utilizing in-house dedicated security resources or by leveraging a managed XDR service.

Core Capabilities of an Effective XDR Solution

A robust XDR solution requires a core set of capabilities outlined below. While the delivery methods for these capabilities may significantly differ among vendors, they collectively represent the essential elements needed for a solid foundation.

Broad Coverage

  • Unified console for visibility across the environment
  • Visibility and coverage extended via integration with network, endpoint, applications, servers, and end user devices
  • Integration with existing third-party EDR, network and identity tools
  • Logs ingest and data collection from a wide range of sources

Centralized Analytics

  • Behavioral and anomaly-based analysis
  • Rule/signature-based analysis
  • Machine learning
  • Incident correlation
  • Threat scoring and prioritization
  • Unified threat console


  • Wizard-based workflow templates and playbooks
  • Broad response coverage – endpoints, firewall, network, and identity
  • Support for third-party network and identity tools


Although not available from many XDR vendors, a managed option is a core requirement for organizations lacking the internal resource and/or expertise to effectively manage their XDR solution. Managed XDR should include the following:

  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Designated security analyst
  • Threat hunting (including emerging threats)
  • Incident Validation
  • Security investigation
  • Analysis, triage, and investigation
  • Financially backed SLA


Learn more: Is a managed XDR solution right for my organization?

Benefits of XDR Security

XDR provides the ability to achieve comprehensive, centralized visibility and coverage across various products and telemetry sources. XDR security brings numerous advantages to the table, aiming to enhance organizational efficiency and scalability, essential for fortifying your security posture.

Greater visibility and context

XDR provides a holistic view of potential threat activities that may have infiltrated your environment without detection. By leveraging a diverse set of telemetry sources and employing thorough threat monitoring and analysis, security analysts gain a more comprehensive understanding of potentially hazardous activities within the environment. This enhanced perspective allows for better-informed decision-making regarding security measures.

Response automation

Organizations looking to enhance operational efficiency and minimize the necessity for manual review in response actions can harness the power of response automation. This capability is ideally integrated into any XDR solution, allowing organizations to utilize streamlined response workflows and playbooks for automating actions across network, endpoint, and cloud environments. The result is a notable reduction in time-to-resolution, enabling swift responses to emerging threats. This efficiency is further bolstered by the collaboration with a global Security Operations Center (SOC), providing expert-guided insights to support security teams facing resource constraints.

Risk prioritization

Security teams analysts frequently are confronted with an overwhelming number of alerts, limited context, and inability to prioritize the riskiest activity. With XDR security’s automated analysis and correlation, risks are identified, prioritized based on known threat behaviors, and summarized by risk priority. This approach enables swift attention and resolution to the most critical threats.

Reduced Mean-Time-to-Detection

Advanced cyber tactics, including phishing attempts, cloud hacks, and compromised application access, can result in compromising activity going undetected in your environment. The dwell time of a compromise, referring to the period between the compromise and its detection, exposes you to potential substantial financial and brand-related consequences. XDR security enables a deeper, faster response, by consistently monitoring a wide range of telemetry sources that straddle both prevention and detection technologies. This proactive approach ensures attacks are quickly identified to reduce the amount of time and impact of the attack.

Enhanced security posture

Establishing and maintaining a robust security posture requires organizations to consistently stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape. Key components, such as comprehensive visibility, extensive coverage, continuous 24/7 monitoring, regularly updated threat intelligence, and proficient security expertise, are crucial to ensure successful management. XDR reduces the burden of organizations having to address these elements on their own.

XDR vs. EDR, MDR, SIEM, SOAR and More


Endpoint Detection & Response ​(EDR) is a commonly utilized prevention tool with visibility limited to endpoint telemetry sources. It is commonly used alongside antivirus (AV) tools, though achieving comprehensive coverage and desired security outcomes may necessitate its conjunction with additional security tools. It can be delivered as a tool or managed service, and may include investigations, threat hunting and response capabilities when part of a managed service.

EDR is a great starting point and should be considered in any security strategy. Organizations may prioritize prevention technologies in their strategy, and EDR can address that requirement. However, as long as the threat landscape continues to become more complex and threat actors become more sophisticated, prevention-alone will not suffice. Organizations would be remiss if they did not prioritize prevention and detection in their security strategies. The prevention side of a security strategy addresses the need to minimize an attack. Detection side of the strategy ensures you can more quickly identify, analyze and respond to threats to reduce the impact of the threat when it occurs.


XDR comes in many flavors and can range from a tool with coverage limited to 2-3 telemetry sources up to a fully managed XDR service that provides the technology, coverage and security expertise.

If your team is comprised of highly skilled dedicated security experts, you have the resources and the time to manage, analyze, triage and address the volume of incidents and threats observed in your environment, an unmanaged XDR solution may work well for your organization. The success of this approach will be dependent on selecting the technology that best integrates with your existing security tool stack and that can correlate and provide actionable insights from the disparate tools.

While unmanaged extended detection and response works for some businesses, it might not be right for your organization due to lack of core resources mentioned previously. 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. In this case, a managed XDR solution may be the best option. Objectively assessing the capabilities and limitations of your team against the desired security outcomes will help you make an informed decision if unmanaged or managed XDR is best for your organization.

If you’re considering MDR as an option, it’s most effective as a complement to XDR. MDR is part of the evolution of detection and response technologies, with its capabilities fully included into the XDR solution.

Key things to consider:

  • What do you need to protect? Whether you choose MDR or XDR, ensure the coverage extends across a wide range of telemetry sources. Keep in mind that some tool vendors will provide a limited range of telemetry visibility.
  • Do you have the resources and expertise to effectively manage the technology and get actionable insights from it? If not, a managed service is recommended. Many detection and response vendors only offer tools. Without the security expertise to make sense of the data, you will be hard pressed to get the security outcomes you seek.
  • What does your long-term security strategy look like? If you are leveraging existing security tools and technology (e.g., EDR, SIEM, SOAR), you’ll want to ensure that the selected detection and response platform can seamlessly integrate with your existing investments and provide the flexibility and scale to adapt as your business grows.

A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system functions as a data collection tool, extracting information from diverse sources like workstations, application logs, servers, network devices, firewalls, and IDS. While effective in handling extensive data volumes, its capacity to identify and rank risk activities necessitates augmenting it with complementary security tools. It does require additional security technology to prioritize and analyze the massive data logs. A SIEM requires significant human resources to decipher the data​, a challenge most organizations are trying to overcome. Organizations looking to gain contextual awareness and/or real-time analysis of activity of their environment will not get those outcomes with a SIEM.


SOAR provides an effective way for organizations to streamline processes and automate tasks required when observing and detecting security incidents. To get the best outcomes from a SOAR tool, it is crucial to integrate it with other security tools. In general, SOAR and automated response capabilities should be a core element of an XDR solution. As highlighted earlier, the ability to automate response actions is an essential criterion for getting security value from XDR. The response actions within XDR should address common use cases such as host isolation.

Fortra XDR, Delivered by Alert Logic

Fortra XDR seamlessly integrates industry-leading managed detection and response capabilities with a lightweight Fortra agent uniquely designed to target endpoint telemetry. This groundbreaking solution extends visibility across the entire IT estate including end user devices, network and cloud environments, as well as integration with third-party identity and EDR sources. The benefits of incorporating Fortra XDR into your cybersecurity strategy are numerous, including:

  • 24/7 threat management and security expertise delivered by a global SOC team
  • Services cover all your networks, applications, and endpoints, whether they’re in hybrid, on-premises, or cloud environments.
  • 15-minute escalation SLA (critical and high incidents)
  • Security Operations Center threat hunting of known and unknown threats
  • SOC-deployed response actions performed for the customer
  • Automated response (SOAR) for core use cases (such as host isolation)
  • Threat intelligence leveraging insights from Fortra Threat Brain

Fortra XDR empowers organizations to leverage a diverse array of detection and response sources, feeds, and tools. This enables them to efficiently identify, analyze, correlate, and promptly address potential risks. By integrating advanced analytics and threat intelligence, Fortra XDR provides organizations with peace of mind that they are always prepared for emerging challenges in the ever-evolving cyber landscape.


Ready to explore how Fortra XDR can secure your IT estate?

Common XDR Questions

Is a managed XDR solution right for my organization?

There are two things to consider when exploring a managed XDR option:

  • Evaluate if XDR provides the right detection and response solution to address your organization’s desired outcomes.
  • Objectively assess if you have the internal resources and expertise to effectively manage and create actionable insights from the tools and technology you currently have in place.

Evaluating XDR involves a comprehensive examination of the current market offerings in detection and response solutions, including SIEM, EDR, and MDR. Familiarize yourself with their capabilities, advantages, and drawbacks to make an informed decision. Subsequently, align these insights with your overarching security strategy and objectives. Check out the Understanding XDR, EDR, MDR blog for a quick summary on how each of these can address your security outcomes.

Managed vs Unmanaged: To determine if you need managed or unmanaged XDR, objectively evaluate what your team and organization can realistically handle. Consider the following:

  • Where are you from a security maturity perspective?
  • How important is owning security controls to you?​
  • What level of security controls do you need/want to own?​
  • Do you have dedicated security resources?
  • Are you able to effectively manage the tools and processes in house?​
  • Do the team have the knowledge, bandwidth and time to monitor your environment 24/7?
If I choose XDR, how much of my existing security stack can I leverage?

XDR is optimized to integrate with your existing IT investments. For example, if you currently utilize a third-party EDR solution, the XDR solution should be seamlessly integrated into the platform. XDR’s goal is to help organizations achieve efficient, scalable, and comprehensive coverage. The ability to do so requires the flexibility to leverage existing investments and get more value of them.

Is there a Gartner XDR Magic Quadrant?

As of March 2024, Gartner has not published an XDR Magic Quadrant. Gartner Peer Insights does include “Extended Detection and Response” as one of their Enterprise Software Categories, which may suggest that an XDR Magic Quadrant will surface in the future. Today, XDR capabilities are discussed as “emerging capabilities” within the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms.

Ready to Protect Your Company with Fortra XDR?