No More Cyber Solution Alphabet Soup

One of the top drivers impacting the infosec community is how dynamic the cyber threat landscape continues to be. A key way to stay ahead of its changing nature is to invest in security solutions that are agile enough to evolve alongside new threat groups and their attack methods. This means focusing your attention on D&R capabilities – namely, solutions that provide advanced threat detection and response.

However, even when we’ve narrowed down the focus to detection and response-centric solutions, organizations are still met with an abundance of similar-sounding acronyms. MDR, EDR, XDR – it’s alphabet soup! What’s more, you’re expected to figure out which security technologies would best fit your specific business needs as they all offer differing services and approaches to managing, detecting, and responding to cyber threats. This is as much a challenge as staving off your attackers.

IT leaders need a clear breakdown of these solutions to understand what they need to defend themselves and their clients. This blog post will cover what you need to know about MDR, EDR, XDR, SIEM, and SOAR and, most importantly, their role in providing the services you need.

Managed Detection & Response (MDR)

When you hear “MDR”, think: 

  • 24/7 continuous monitoring by highly specialized security analysts
  • Immediate, active response before lateral spread – a crucial phase of the hacker timeline
  • Eliminating long-term alert fatigue and time spent on false positives
  • Fully managed security service built to be agile and responsive to advanced threats

MDRs provide great value to businesses that require a fully managed approach to their security. MDR services are defined by achieving specific security goals and outcomes on your behalf. They are unique in that they leverage a streamlined technology stack and expertise to continuously monitor your environment and provide effective, active response to cyber threats.

Increasingly, businesses are investing in MDR to tackle a widening IT skill/talent gap, long-term alert fatigue, and lack of coverage outside of regular business hours. MDRs ensure you have 24/7 access to security specialists that provide deep visibility and granular protection. By partnering with an MDR provider, organizations see significant cost savings returned when compared to maintaining an equivalent in-house SOC.

Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)

When you hear “EDR”, think: 

  • Monitoring activity on endpoint devices rather than the network
  • Providing alerts and information needed to protect endpoints
  • Isolating threats and understanding their behavior for future, similar events
  • Storing data for use during investigative efforts and root-cause analyses

An endpoint is a point on the network that grants access to authorized users. EDRs are dedicated to securing your endpoints through a predictive cyber strategy that combines threat intelligence, machine-learning capabilities, and file analysis to identify threats. They also record and store behaviors, security events, and queries allowing IT teams to detect and analyze malicious activity over time.

Having an EDR ensures protection on your endpoint devices (e.g., laptops, desktops, tablets, etc.) rather than the network itself. EDRs execute automated and manual actions to contain a developing threat on an endpoint, such as isolating it from the network or reimaging the device.

Extended Detection & Response (XDR)

When you hear “XDR”, think: 

  • Unified, single-pane-of-glass visibility across multiple tools, attack vectors, and network components
  • Behavior-based detection engine, customizable rules and suppressions
  • Cross-platform approach that seeks to provide context-rich alerts to security teams
  • Combination of endpoint, network, and cloud environment activity monitoring for correlated results

XDR is a next-generation solution that leverages unified visibility across multiple network layers to protect you from cyber threats. It is a cross-platform and holistic evolution to EDR solutions. While EDRs focus on defending endpoint devices, XDRs expand the scope by also monitoring and analyzing data across servers, networks, cloud workspaces, and more.

In this comprehensive approach to defending your infrastructure, XDRs work by aggregating and correlating telemetry from various security controls of your choosing and incorporating machine learning and alert suppression capabilities. XDRs will require businesses to strategically select the right controls and suppression rules required for your security profile(s). Implementing XDR solutions also requires working within a specific cluster of compatible tools to ensure that it can support an organization’s security architecture in a single dashboard.

Security Information Event Management (SIEM)

When you hear “SIEM”, think: 

  • Logging, aggregating, and storing large amounts of event data from across your integrated software
  • Identifying threat intelligence through patterns and behaviors over time
  • Custom, manual alert management through machine learning and expert tuning
  • Providing a centralized source of truth for post-event security investigations and achieving regulatory compliance requirements

SIEMs are powerful tools used to collect, aggregate, and examine security data sourced from across all your integrated platforms, firewalls, network appliances, and systems. A SIEM focuses on examining logged data to identify potentially malicious activity before issuing an alert.

While alerts are all based on advanced analytical techniques and machine learning, SIEMs require a continuous and manual effort by a security team to evaluate, tune, and re-tune before it can learn to differentiate between normal and anomalous activity. Typically, a dedicated team would manage event logs as well as parse log data and reports, update rules, and respond to/triage incoming alerts.

Security Orchestration, Automation & Response (SOAR)

When you hear “SOAR”, think: 

  • Taking alerts from a SIEM and acting as the remediation and response
  • Automation of investigative workflows by gathering alerts and cases to reduce alert fatigue
  • Integrating extensive amounts of sources to collect more data and data types
  • Allowing users to research, assess, and perform needed investigations from within a single case

SOARs, like SIEMs, are used by security professionals to optimize their process in managing and responding to alerts. A SOAR solution, however, goes a step further than SIEMs by combining comprehensive data collection, case management, standardization, and workflow application to provide a defense strategy that requires much less human intervention.

SOARs are designed to integrate all your tools, systems, and applications so your security team can automate the response process by gathering alerts, managing cases, and responding to the endless alerts generated by SIEM. This means your team can better prioritize threats and deliver faster results. SOAR solutions will require deep integrations with other security tools for full threat detection and analytic capabilities.

The Importance of Flexibility in the Threat Landscape

In Gartner’s Top 8 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2021-2022, they write that organizations adopting a flexible cyber solution will reduce their financial impact from security incidents by an average of 90% – the key word being “flexible”. In all of the solutions explored within this blog post, we learned the following:

  • SIEMs and SOARs focus on extensive data logging, analysis, and correlation across extensive sources of truth to provide alerts. Alerts are context-rich and based on continuous, manual configuration, tuning, and log parsing. Businesses investing in either of these solutions need to consider vendor and software compatibility as well as dedicating resources to managing incoming alerts and notifications. 
  • EDRs and XDRs focus on securing endpoints and networks to craft a predictive cyber strategy based on machine learning and data collection. Businesses investing in either of these solutions need to strategically select the right controls and suppression rules.
  • MDRs focus on providing proactive, agile response to cyber threats through real-time human analysis. Businesses investing in MDR solutions are protected by a fully managed security team that is dedicated to monitoring their environments around the clock. 

Quickly pivot around approaching cyber threats when you invest in a fully managed MDR service. Since an MDR team is monitoring your environment 24/7, there is no time wasted between the initial detection of suspicious behavior and the active response provided. Think of MDR as the first responder that immediately isolates endpoints, terminates malicious processes, deletes bad files, and stops the threat from moving laterally into other systems. Time is the most crucial factor when it comes to protecting your and your client’s data.

Learn More: Blackpoint Cyber’s Ecosystem powered by 24/7 MDR

To protect your interests, we created the Blackpoint ecosystem – a fully managed, integrated platform of services with our powerful nation state-grade MDR technology at its core. Blackpoint keeps you ahead of cyber threats by navigating the landscape for you and taking out your adversaries before they have an opportunity to strike.

Blackpoint Cyber’s purpose-built MDR technology combines network visualization, tradecraft detection, and endpoint security to rapidly detect and neutralize lateral movement in its earliest stages. Faster than any other solution on the market, we harness metadata around suspicious events, hacker tradecraft, and remote privileged activity to stop advanced attacks immediately. Our partners trust Blackpoint for high-performance cybersecurity that can protect against today’s and tomorrow’s threats. Contact us today for a demo!

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