MCP Insights

Cyber Tip of the Week: EDR, XDR, and MDR

Posted on June 15, 2022 by Jason Franks

The cybersecurity landscape constantly is evolving – and navigating it is a challenge for information technology (IT) teams large and small. Three endpoint security approaches are designed to deliver threat detection and response for public-sector organizations. When building a cybersecurity program, agencies should plan to deploy at least one of these solutions on their endpoints, preferably a combination.

Let's dive into the differences between EDR, XDR, and MDR and discuss each approach's pros and cons. These terms are related; however, they are somewhat different in their respective approaches to detecting and responding to threats.

The acronyms stand for:

  • EDR – Endpoint detection and response
  • XDR – Extended detection and response
  • MDR – Managed detection and response

What is EDR? 

EDR is an evolution of traditional endpoint protection, similar to a next-generation antivirus solution. EDR focuses on security endpoint devices – laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets. These solutions rely on classification-based detection that identifies known threats. This is done by querying a database to compare detected activities with known threats and taking automated action if the detection is deemed an actual threat. There are several benefits to utilizing an EDR solution.

  • It provides visibility into the state of your endpoints.
  • It can detect threats that evade legacy endpoint-protection solutions, such as fileless malware attacks.
  • It can integrate with other solutions, such as a security information and event management (SIEM) system.

The downside of EDR is its narrow focus on endpoint telemetry, limiting the amount of data available for analysis. When abnormal activity is siloed from other sources, without context, an incomplete picture is painted regarding what is happening on the network or in the cloud. Consequently, it is more challenging to determine what is a genuine threat versus a false positive.

What is XDR?

XDR originated because of EDR’s narrow focus. Because EDR has several limitations, it cannot cover the entire threat landscape alone. An XDR solution is a direct response to those limitations. These tools gather information from endpoints, networks, and cloud services, into a single platform.

There are several benefits:

  • Improved detection and response because of its broader focus on the entire threat landscape, which helps identify and address threats.
  • A centralized platform – because the solution gathers information from multiple sources into a single dashboard, a security team's response can be prioritized.
  • Automated analytics – having a solution that can identify, triage, and prioritize threats on your behalf while sifting through large amounts of data can be highly beneficial to security teams.  

An XDR solution provides significant insight into the environment. However, there are some drawbacks. These solutions often are developed in a disparate fashion – meaning that each component doesn't work seamlessly. This leads to each element providing a subset of a broader picture. The footprint and resource utilization can be significant as well. Also, many XDR tools are developed from the ground up to enable different components to work together seamlessly, which may cause a lot of noise – you may get multiple alerts for the same activity.

What is MDR?

XDR and EDR solutions will generate critical data for analysis, which will require additional cybersecurity expertise, time, and investment, often delivered by a managed services provider like Mission Critical Partners. This is particularly helpful for organizations lacking cybersecurity expertise in-house, which is becoming more prevalent given today's widening IT and cybersecurity workforce shortage.

This data-analysis opportunity is what an MDR solution will address. An MDR solution is a managed service that brings the benefits of XDR and EDR solutions into an offering. This approach can be beneficial to organizations by offloading the challenges and costs of having in-house cybersecurity professionals who are responsible for the workload of analyzing and responding to threats within your environment.

There are many benefits to using an MDR, including:

  • Event analysis – experts who can handle the heavy lifting of analyzing troves of data to determine actual threats from false positives
  • Alert triage – This enables prioritized activities and enhanced focus.
  • Threat hunting – MDR providers can monitor a network, actively look for threats, and respond accordingly.

An MDR solution can provide many benefits, but there are some drawbacks. Not all MDR solutions will provide the monitoring capabilities your environment may need or the same depth of compliance requirements you need.

How MCP Can Help

MCP's Mission-Critical NetPulse® Secure is a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that helps public-sector organizations stand up to modern, advanced cyberthreats. Many organizations have already implemented an EDR solution and are looking for added cybersecurity protection. Our MDR services will help you increase your overall threat-management process and step up your game against advanced threats, which constantly are evolving.

If you are looking for guidance, please reach out. Contact us today to learn more.

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