MDR vs. EDR vs. XDR: What’s the Difference?
There are a range of platforms that can help organizations be proactive with their cybersecurity. Choose the best tool to protect your business.
An organization’s cybersecurity strategy needs to stay a step ahead of attackers, detecting and responding to threats that could arise at any given moment.
There are a range of platforms that can help organizations be proactive with their cybersecurity, including Managed Detection and Response (MDR), Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), and Extended Detection and Response (XDR). While each of these services offers overlapping capabilities, it’s crucial to understand their differences to determine the best fit for your organization’s unique operations and needs.
Managed Detection and Response, often referred to as MDR, is a managed security service that combines software and human monitoring to provide threat detection, response, and round-the-clock support.
Typically, managed detection and response software collects real-time data for cybersecurity professionals to monitor, manage, and investigate. It may include a blend of other tools, such as:
- A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platform to collect and analyze security events
- An Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) platform to granularly watch endpoints, which are physical devices that connect to/exchange information with a network (such as desktop computers, mobile devices, and servers)
- A Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) platform to identify threats, automate defensive actions, and streamline incident response
One of the key benefits of MDR is its continuous monitoring and response regardless of the customer’s time zone or work hours. MDR offers access to a team of cybersecurity professionals who provide incident response, threat hunting, forensics, and vulnerability assessments. MDR can offer vital protection for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that don’t have a 24/7 in-house security team.
Endpoint Detection and Response, better known as EDR, is a category of security software that focuses on detecting, investigating, and mitigating suspicious activities on hosts and endpoints.
This typically involves collecting and storing endpoint data, looking for malicious patterns or activities, and reacting to eliminate threats. EDR is instrumental for organizations with a large number of endpoints that can fall prey to malware and other cybersecurity threats.
The main strength of EDR solutions is their far-reaching visibility into endpoint data, their sophisticated detection capabilities, and their real-time threat alerts. However, successful EDR implementation requires dedicated and skilled security analysts capable of interpreting EDR data and responding appropriately.
A typical Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service pairs an EDR platform with access to security professionals who know the best way to use the platform.
Extended Detection and Response, or XDR, is considered an evolution of EDR. Like its predecessor, XDR focuses on detection and response, but it does this across the network rather than focusing solely on endpoints. XDR combines and correlates data from various sources, including network traffic and cloud workloads, to create comprehensive, contextual views of an organization’s security posture.
XDR platforms integrate multiple security products into a unified security incident detection and response platform. It can rely on similar managed detection and response tools — like SIEM, EDR, and SOAR — while also integrating Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) and User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) tools.
- NTA software monitors network behavior and identifies suspicious activity beyond the capabilities of an EDR.
- UEBA software provides further threat detection by observing and detecting unusual patterns in user behavior.
Some but not all XDR solutions offer access to on-staff security experts in a similar fashion to MDR solutions. While costs vary widely, XDR tends to be more expensive than EDR or MDR.
XDR’s strength lies in its holistic, coordinated approach to threat detection and response across an organization’s entire digital environment. This can provide a more potent response to cyber threats, allowing quicker identification and remediation of security incidents, if the connected security team has the capacity to handle the high volume of threat data provided.
While MDR, EDR, and XDR all aim to safeguard an organization’s digital assets, they offer different levels of insight, integration, and protection. Here’s the bottom line on each:
- MDR works in addition to an EDR, providing outsourced, 24/7 threat detection and response services. MDR offers a practical, cost-effective option that’s well-suited for SMBs without in-house security teams who want to protect their network and data.
- EDR offers detailed visibility into endpoints and is centered on preventing intrusions at those points. However, technically skilled in-house teams or outsourced MDR experts are essential to manage and interpret EDR’s findings and act on them.
- XDR examines threats across your organization from multiple data points and sometimes includes an accompanying security team. XDR is best suited for larger organizations with larger security budgets and more complex IT environments.
What’s Right for Your Business?
While MDR, EDR, and XDR all strive to protect organizations from cyber threats, their differences lie largely in their scope, depth, capabilities, and targeted users. As such, each option must be evaluated within context, taking into account the specific needs, resources, and objectives of your organization. By selecting the right detection and response tool, SMBs can take a more proactive approach to cybersecurity threats.