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What is XDR? A comprehensive guide 



Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is a relatively new term in the cybersecurity world, but it’s already creating quite a buzz. 

This holistic approach to threat detection and response, using extended detection and response (XDR) technology, is designed to tackle the long-standing problem of siloed security. 

While many businesses are considering adopting this approach, they must understand the key aspects to focus on, while researching different supplier services and solutions. 

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, so does the need for effective security measures. Extended Detection and Response (XDR) uses various technologies to collect, correlate, and centralise network, endpoint, and cloud data from across the entire organisation’s attack surface.  

In this blog, we will discuss what XDR is, how it handles threat analytics, and the benefits of using it to protect your business from cyberattacks. 

XDR: What it is and why it matters 

XDR (Extended Detection and Response) addresses the long-standing problem of siloed security. It tackles the increasing complexities in security and business operations, caused by edge computing, hybrid architectures, the growing remote or hybrid workforce, and the accelerated adoption of cloud computing in the past few years.  

XDR provides organisations with the expanded visibility, advanced security analytics, continually updated threat intelligence, and automated detection and response capabilities needed to detect and respond to threats and potential breaches in real-time. 

XDR extends the capabilities of any Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platform by improving how data is collected and correlated, and by providing context to the data. 

In essence, XDR is a convergence of the capabilities of different security products. This convergence has been driven by the need for increased telemetry from multiple sources and better centralised visibility across an increasingly diverse and distributed attack surface. 

How XDR handles threat analytics 

XDR systems perform the actual behavioural threat analysis using methods ranging from simple pattern matching to machine learning and natural language analysis to spot threats and risks.  

XDR systems work on data streams from server platforms, applications, cloud services, and physical or virtual network devices.  

With the addition of Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), XDR platforms also pull data from endpoints. The “extended” part of the XDR service can be interpreted as extending the analysis to more streams of data, especially from EDR systems, but it does not indicate a change in fundamental function, or purpose. 

EDR, XDR, or both? And what about MDR? 

Simply put, EDR without XDR is useful and XDR without EDR is useful.  

But in an ideal XDR deployment, EDR feeds into and is directed by an overall XDR system. Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services can be an extension of an existing Security Operations Centre (SOC) outsourcing contract or undertaken as a more focused offering bought in addition to or instead of a SOC service.  

In general, small to mid-sized organisations don’t have the in-house resources to properly staff and fund a SOC. These sorts of businesses would be well-advised to fold MDR into any SOC outsourcing provider that they explore.  

Larger organisations are more likely to be able to manage threat detection and response in-house if they already run their own SOC. 

Why XDR matters 

Effective threat detection and response requires visibility across the IT infrastructure, as our security analysts always say, “You can’t protect what you can’t see.”  

Security practitioners need to monitor their entire attack surface, including endpoints, network infrastructure, cloud workloads, web/mobile applications, and many more, to be able to connect the dots and understand when an attack is occurring in their infrastructure.  

Without context, ongoing attacks can be missed. XDR provides expanded visibility, advanced security analytics, continually updated threat intelligence, and automated or orchestrated detection and response capabilities needed to detect and respond to threats in real-time. 

XDR benefits 

XDR drives more efficient IT operations and the ability to identify, hunt, and remediate threats, before they become security incidents. This keeps businesses one step ahead in the fight against cybercriminals. 

Some of the outcomes of XDR include: 

  • Better visibility and more context 
  • Automate and orchestrate workflows 
  • Accelerate response speed and recovery time 
  • Boost threat intelligence and improve security analytics 
  • Improve time to detect and the accuracy of detections  
  • Expand telemetry from multiple sources 

XDR is a critical tool for any security practitioner to detect and respond to threats effectively, in real-time, in today’s increasingly complex IT environments. 

In-house build vs. managed XDR security services 

The implementation and management of XDR can be a complex and challenging process, requiring a highly skilled team of security professionals. 

Many organisations may be hesitant to outsource XDR, believing that in-house capabilities are sufficient for deploying and managing the technology. However, it is essential to understand the expertise and experience available in-house before making this decision.  

Any XDR solution will require highly skilled security professionals to research, deploy, and manage complex tooling. This can be challenging to roll out, requiring staff to perform integration during deployment, fine-tune the platform, and handle day-to-day management and security alerts that follow. 

For organisations that do not have an in-house Security Operations Centre (SOC), outsourcing XDR may be the only option. However, building and staffing a full-time SOC is not a trivial task. It can cost more than $1 million a year when you take into account staffing and tooling. It can take up to 8-12 months to build an XDR solution, according to a report from Forrester Research. 

Working with a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) or Managed Detection and Response (MDR) provider can provide significant value for organisations lacking in-house expertise and experience.  

These providers can help you to identify gaps in current detection and response capabilities, guide you on how to roadmap from your existing security posture to a vastly reduced risk profile and better protected business, and help ask the right questions to ensure a successful deployment. 

Why XDR? 

The world is increasingly reliant on data, making it more critical than ever for organisations to safeguard their networks and systems from cyber threats.  

This is only set to increase, with the industry predicting a 15% annual growth in global cybercrime costs, resulting in an estimated $10.5 trillion in losses by 2025.  

This surge in cybercrime underscores the need for powerful cybersecurity measures, including robust threat detection and response solutions like XDR. 

XDR is a vital component of modern cybersecurity, helping organisations to protect their businesses from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.  

When selecting an XDR service, it’s important to consider organisational objectives and current technology capabilities and seek the support of an MSSP or MDR provider.  

By investing in the right XDR solution and support services, organisations can fortify their defences and protect their valuable data from cybercriminals. 

If you’re interested in a fully managed XDR service to provide your business with complete protection from attacks 24/7/365, then get in contact with one of our experts who can guide you on your specific requirements.

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