January 13, 2023
Today’s security tool stacks have become ridiculous.
Every year, security leaders are faced with a dozen new tools and technologies—each one essential in the fight against cybercrime—and have to figure out for themselves which will add value… and which will simply add complexity.
To make matters harder, most security tools do both. They may provide valuable new capabilities—but they also require more training, more complicated workflows, and sometimes even more personnel just to operate them.
But now and then, something comes along that bucks this trend by adding value while reducing
complexity for security teams. XDR is one of these.
What is XDR?
XDR stands for Extended Detection and Response—a category of cybersecurity solutions evolved from Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools.
Gartner defines XDR as SaaS-based threat detection and incident response tools that combines several security product categories into a single, unified solution. Critically, where EDR tools focus exclusively on threats to endpoint devices like laptops and smartphones, XDR tools monitor telemetry and data sources across the entire business environment.
So, what functionality does an XDR tool have? This is a somewhat tricky question to answer.
In the Market Guide, Gartner notes that an XDR solution should combine the functionality of at least three security solutions on the front end—most commonly a selection of the following:
- Next Generation Firewall (NGFW)
- Network Detection and Response (NDR)
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
- Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP)
- Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
- Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)
- Identity and Access Management (IAM)
- Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
- Secure Email Gateway (SEG)
Each XDR vendor in the space has a slightly different approach based on the types of solutions it was producing before the advent of XDR. However, by combining at least three—often more—solutions, an XDR tool can ensure a comprehensive view of malicious activity across a network environment.
On the back end, Gartner believes an XDR tool should provide:
- A unified policy engine for all of its components.
- A centralised data storage repository (A.K.A. a data lake) for telemetry and activity logs.
- Integrations with other key security and IT technologies, e.g., the ability to ingest threat intelligence feeds.
- Advanced analytics capabilities.
- Improved automation, orchestration, and workflow capabilities for SOC and incident response analysts.
XDR vs EDR: What’s the Difference?
On the face of things, there’s an obvious difference between EDR and XDR. EDR tools focus exclusively on endpoint threats, while XDR tools take a wider view of the entire IT environment—including endpoints, cloud infrastructure, email, and more.
However, there’s more to it.
EDR tools focus exclusively on visibility, threat detection, and response for network endpoints. There are naturally some differences in functionality between EDR tools developed by different vendors—but they essentially perform this single role.
On the other hand, XDR tools have a much wider remit, not just in terms of the assets they protect but also in functionality. XDR tools provide a much wider range of capabilities, including automation and orchestration, data analytics, and a broader range of integrations—all focused on improving efficiency and efficacy for SOC and incident response teams.
XDR aims to deliver integrated visibility and threat management across an organisation’s entire environment—all from within a single solution. This is intended to simplify security architecture, improve efficiency and reduce costs while boosting security outcomes.
XDR: An SME’s Best Friend
The Gartner Market Guide for Extended Detection and Response notes that XDR has particular value for SMEs that may not have SIEM or SOAR tools in place. This is because XDR tools provide log management and automation capabilities tailored to incident detection and response that would usually only be available to larger organisations with dedicated SIEM and SOAR solutions.
It’s worth noting, however, that XDR can’t replace SIEM or SOAR tools for larger organisations because those tools have a much broader remit than pure incident detection and response.
What are the Benefits of XDR?
Today’s security teams are stretched to breaking point—and this is true whether we’re talking about an enterprise-level SOC or a lone security professional in an SME. As the volume and sophistication of cyber threats rise—which they do every year—this challenge only worsens.
As a platform that combines the capabilities of multiple security solutions while centralising the collection and analysis of security data from across the environment, XDR has a lot to offer security teams. Rather than adding more complexity to already-elaborate stacks, XDR poses a rare chance to add important new security capabilities while reducing the burden on security teams.
Some of the top XDR benefits for today’s security teams include:
- Get total visibility of your security data and telemetry from a single platform. Gather and analyse data from every available source to detect, investigate, and respond to cyber threats.
- Detect and prevent known and unknown cyber threats targeting any part of your IT environment—including malware, ransomware, phishing, vulnerability exploits, and more.
- Combat SOC and incident response alert fatigue with integrated threat intelligence and automated triage—slashing the number of false positives your analysts must process.
- Automate detection of known cyber threats and malicious behaviours using a combination of built-in capabilities and custom orchestrated workflows to uncover even advanced attacks.
- Boost SOC and incident response efficiency and efficacy by consolidating threat detection, investigation, and response into a single platform covering your entire IT environment.
- Recover faster from security incidents by automating common procedures such as removing malicious files and registry keys, restoring corrupted files from backups, and reimaging infected or corrupted devices.
- Improve ROI from security tools by combining the functionality of multiple point solutions and vendors into a single platform—reducing costs while boosting efficiency.
Find Out What XDR Could Do for Your Organisation
It’s sometimes hard to get excited about another new security solution (and acronym). However, XDR solutions pose a rare opportunity for today’s organisations—particularly smaller and mid-sized organisations that don’t have the budget for fancy SIEM and SOAR tools.
To discuss how XDR could help your organisation improve efficiency and security ROI while cracking down on cyber risk, get in touch today.