From AV to EPP to EDR and now XDR (extended detection response), these changing technologies reflect an ever-present truth: cyber threat actors are always evolving, and defenders should stay one – or more – steps ahead.
Today, the dynamic threat landscape coupled with fast-paced business innovations has prompted most organizations to move from an on-prem world bound by a manageable network perimeter to a distributed cloud-powered infrastructure.
Further complicated by remote working environments and nearly 5 billion monthly teleconferences, ensuring business continuity and operational security has arguably never been more complex. The number of threat actors, successful cyberattacks, and offensive toolsets is increasing exponentially.
The security technologies of the past were not built to cope with today’s complex, fast-moving threatscape: rising ransomware attacks, newsworthy data breaches and IP theft, strained security operations center teams dealing with alert fatigue and staffing shortages, and the proliferation of successful attacks despite the presence of traditional security tools.
Organizations are looking for a new, more holistic approach to detection and response – one that encompasses traditional endpoints and expands to protect the ever-growing attack surface, including networks and the cloud.
Fortunately, these are just some of the problems XDR was designed to solve. This post explains what XDR is and how it empowers enterprise security teams.
What is XDR (Extended Detection and Response)?
XDR, or Extended Detection and Response, is the next step in the evolution of Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): a group of tools or capabilities focusing on the detection of suspicious activities on endpoints.
Unlike earlier security solutions, EDR tools were designed to identify anomalous activities and alert security teams to trigger further investigation, rather than simply identifying and quarantining files suspected of malware.
However, most EDR solutions aren’t scalable because they’re too resource intensive. Waiting for a response from the cloud or for an analyst to take action isn’t always feasible in the modern threat landscape. Today, networks have far too many endpoints for traditional EDRs to be effective, from mobile phones and IoT devices to cloud-native applications and containers.
Sometimes referred to as “Cross-Layered” or “Any Data Source” detection and response, XDR solutions extend beyond these endpoints and make decisions based on data from a variety of sources. They take action across an organization’s entire stack, including email, network, identity, and beyond and optimize threat detection, investigation, response, and hunting in real-time.
XDR solutions unify security-relevant endpoint detection with telemetry from security and business tools such as network analysis and visibility (NAV), email security, identity and access management, cloud security, and more.
How Does XDR Work?
XDR solutions deliver detection and response capabilities across all data sources by breaking down traditional security silos.
Typically, these security platforms:
- Analyze and identify all internal and external data to find potential vulnerabilities
- Track threats detected in the system
- Correlate and confirm alerts automatically
- Utilize a centralized user interface to investigate and respond to events
- Perform comprehensive analytics across all threat sources
- Use machine learning and automated threat detection
Most XDR platforms offer proactive approaches to new threats, respond without human intervention and with multi-site and multi-tenacy flexibility, and provide visibility from a unified standpoint.
With a single pool of raw data comprising information from across the entire ecosystem, XDR allows faster, deeper and more effective threat detection and response, collecting and collating data from a wider range of sources.
What is XDR Used For?
Primarily intended for threat detection and response, XDR collects and correlates detection and deep activity data across multiple security layers, enabling faster automated analysis for rich supersets of data.
As a result, XDR significantly reduces the response times when threats are detected, which can also improve the roles of security analysts and mitigate many of the problems experienced in security operations centers.
The primary benefits of XDR include:
- A more in-depth view and understanding of threats
- All-around automation
- Better operational efficiency
- Greater prioritization
- Faster detection and response
- More effective responses
Regardless of an organization’s size or threat volume, implementing an XDR solution is likely to yield profound, tangible results.
Before organizations begin using an XDR platform, it’s important to understand the requirements for optimal functionality. In most cases, XDR solutions come with a vendor that delivers both a product portfolio and comprehensive partner ecosystem that seamlessly interconnects and correlates detection across multiple threat vectors.
Once data is contextualized, risk is prioritized and a mitigation response is orchestrated across the organization.
For the best results, extended detection and response activities should extend across as many layers and endpoints as possible. After XDR feeds activity data from its multiple layers, all the information is made available for effective correlation and analysis.
Pulling from a single vendor’s native security stack, XDR solutions provide unmatched depth for integration and interaction between detection, investigation, and response capabilities, resulting in maximum optimization.
XDR vs Other Solutions
XDR addresses many of the underlying issues plaguing IT and security teams. However, it’s important to note that XDR does not render existing tools and methods obsolete.
In fact, XDR may work in tandem with many of the solutions already employed by an organization and its teams.
Examining the similarities and differences between XDR and some of the most popular cyber security software solutions may help distinguish opportunities for integration rather than replacement. Which route is best often depends on the particular context in which organizations seek cyber security protection.
XDR vs EDR
XDR solutions are the next evolution of EDR, allowing for faster, deeper, and more effective threat detection and response by collecting and collating data from a wider range of sources.
Like XDR, EDR provides proactive endpoint security for gaps and blindspots. By increasing visibility into attack surfaces, EDR solutions provide a vast amount of data for analysis.
Most EDR solutions aren’t scalable for this very reason: the amount of resources required to analyze enormous amounts of data means more time, money, bandwidth, and skilled workers. Plus, most EDR solutions are hosted on the cloud rather than being on the endpoints themselves, which can result in delayed response times for protection.
Take, for example, a ransomware attack. After traversing the network and landing in the target’s email inbox, ransomware typically attacks the endpoint directly before spreading. While an EDR addresses security by examining each endpoint independently (and slowly), it doesn’t provide full visibility into the system and puts organizations at a disadvantage.
XDR, however, fully integrates security and enables blocking, allowing, removing access, and more, all via custom rules written by the user or by logic built into the engine.
Through automated, comprehensive visibility, XDR solutions create several benefits for the organizations using them, including:
- Increased ability to detect stealthy attacks
- Reduced dwell time
- Increased speed of mitigation
Moreover, with the help of AI and automation, XDR helps reduce the burden on security analysts. By proactively and rapidly detecting sophisticated threats, XDRs often increase the productivity of security or SOC teams, and may even yield a massive boost in ROI.
Of course, EDR is still important. The right EDR solution works in tandem with an XDR solution to stop attacks as they start. For instance, consider SentinelOne’s ActiveEDR – an automated response that uses artificial intelligence to remove the burden of tedious tasks from security teams.
By autonomously attributing each event on an endpoint to its root cause without reliance on cloud resources, solutions such as ActiveEDR are both powerful and effective tools to automatically remediate threats and defend against advanced attacks, for businesses of any size and regardless of resources – from advanced SOC analysts to novice security teams.
XDR vs SIEM
Although both XDR and SIEM tools collect data from multiple sources, they have little else in common. Unlike an XDR platform, SIEMs lack the ability to identify meaningful trends and don’t provide automated detection or response capabilities. SIEMs often require a great deal of manual investigation and analysis, putting additional pressure on security teams.
For organizations already invested in SIEM tools, there’s good news: an XDR platform won’t render them redundant. In fact, most SIEM tools can be fed directly into an XDR platform’s data lake to create a complete attack story.
Armed with both software solutions, security analysts can avoid manual entry into endpoint security systems and cloud systems, allowing them to immediately understand the full scope of the threat under investigation.
XDR vs MDR
Managed Detection and Response (MDR) solutions provide an alternative to an in-house SOC (security operations center). MDR serves to supplement the internal security team by offering SOC as a service. In many cases, MDR providers use an XDR solution as part of their toolkit, operating everything themselves.
Rather than replacing a security analyst altogether, XDR solutions automate security tasks with the aim to improve productivity. For organizations that want to maintain their in-house SOC, XDR can improve the effectiveness of detection and response to threats. Some XDR software may have MDR capabilities built-in, which has the added benefits of reducing time and cost investments for additional analysts to combat additional threats.
XDR Solutions & Security Software
An effective XDR solution has the following capabilities:
Ideally, an XDR platform should work seamlessly across an organization’s security stack, utilizing native tools with rich APIs that provide real-time, automated, machine-built context. It should also integrate with leading security tools to streamline SOC workflows.
Before investing in an XDR solution, organizations can determine the extent to which the engine offers out-of-the-box cross-stack correlation, prevention, and remediation. Then they should review its ability to build on that engine by enabling users to write their own cross-stack custom rules for detection and response.
Beware immature or rushed solutions – they may be nothing more than old tools bolted together. The best XDR solutions provide a single platform that makes it easy to rapidly build a comprehensive view of the entire enterprise.
Automation in XDR
Automation backed by advanced AI and proven machine learning algorithms is essential for XDR. Before investing, ask the following: Does the vendor have a rich history in developing state-of-the-art AI models? Or are they known for legacy technologies and now they’re trying to change their spots?
The best XDR solutions come from vendors with deep experience in AI and ML to reduce workloads and minimize the time it takes to contain threats.
Learning the XDR System
Organizations need to know how easy an XDR solution is to learn, maintain, configure, and update before they commit to a vendor. Otherwise, they risk simply redirecting the work staff must do to manage or navigate a complicated system.
The best XDR solutions create more productivity for security teams – not more time spent understanding how to use and maintain systems.
SentinelOne’s XDR Tools
Cybersecurity is often seen as an arms race between attackers and defenders. Today, that race extends beyond the single layer of the endpoint into the far reaches of the ever-expanding attack surface. As businesses increasingly embrace remote work and cloud infrastructure, integrated platforms can provide the necessary visibility and automated defenses required to protect all their assets.
When it comes to cybersecurity, XDR is the best option for immediate improvement in detection and response times. Leading the industry in XDR, SentinelOne’s AI-Powered Singularity XDR Platform has all the benefits of a complete solution: deep visibility, automated detection and response, rich integration, and operational simplicity.
With a single codebase and deployment model, SentinelOne’s Singularity Platform is the first solution to incorporate IoT and CWPP into a centralized XDR platform.
Learn more about how SentinelOne’s Singularity Platform is revolutionizing XDR by scheduling a free demo today.
Cybersecurity is often likened to an arms race between attackers and defenders, and that race is now extending beyond the single layer of the endpoint. As businesses embrace remote working and cloud infrastructure, introducing an increasing attack surface, only an integrated platform can provide the visibility and automated defenses required across all assets. By combining endpoint, network, and application telemetry, XDR can provide security analytics to win that race through enhanced detection, triage, and response. If you’d like to know more about SentinelOne’s Singularity Platform, contact us or request a demo.
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