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Choosing the best security solution for your company is always a complex task. In this blog, I`ll draw a comparison between two widely used solutions, SOAR and XDR. They both offer notable benefits, of course, but since one size never fits all, it`s important to evaluate your company`s needs, industry-wise specifics, and resources. In order to make the best choice possible, let’s focus on the differences, strengths, weaknesses, and functionalities of SOAR vs. XDR tools.

What Are the Benefits of SOAR

Before deep diving into the SOAR vs. XDR foundations, let`s go over the basics.

SOAR (Security Orchestration and Response) is the apex of security automation. It covers data ingestion, reporting, and threat response while reducing the volume of repetitive jobs through a playbook system.

SOAR may be used as a standalone product, but its efficiency increases tenfold when associated with an SIEM solution. Through SIEM you can gain the necessary insight into what’s happening inside your digital environment by capturing data from multiple sources: endpoints, network, cloud, etc.

Additionally, SIEM can help you meet your compliance objectives, whether you’re conducting an internal audit or simply looking to obtain an industry-mandatory certification.

What Are the Benefits of XDR

XDR (Extended Security and Response) is a holistic approach to D&R (Detection and Response) that balances event detection and mitigation. Similar to SIEM, XDR can pull data from numerous sources, including emails. This is a major trump card considering that, according to Verizon`s DBIR, the email is the main action vector for ransomware.

Traffic monitoring over the entire network, automated response, collecting data from all across the system, improved visibility due to using one-unifying dashboard are highlights of this solution.
Heimdal XDR software demo


So, if XDR is just as good as SIEM and SOAR put together, why don`t we all resume to using XDR?

SOAR is great for:

  • Threat Intelligence. All SOAR solutions, especially the ones integrated with SIEMs, are capable of sifting through large amounts of data and creating logical correlations between events and effects.
  • Incident Management. A SOAR playbook can dictate the outcome of a cybersecurity event. Take ransomware for instance, where time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the more damage it does. IM playbooks can help you quickly sever the kill chain and contain the incident.
  • Data processing. SOAR is great on handling data, no matter where they come from. It becomes even more powerful when coupled with a SIEM.

However, SOAR falls short when it comes to:

  • High-level incidents. This solution is able to prevent & mitigate the aftereffects of an incident. However, it won’t be of much use in a high-level incident that leverages multiple attack vectors and/or surfaces.
  • Need for human input. Despite it falling into the automatic IM&R (Incident Management and Response), SOAR isn’t a set-and-forget solution. All of its outputs must be gauged by a human team and adjusted, where necessary.
  • Setup. Forget about plug-and-play when it comes to SOAR. Implementation and deployment take up a lot of time, resources, and manpower. On top of that, this type of automation can only be set up by veteran tech wizards.

XDR is perfect for:

  • Doing more with less. SOAR and SIEMS and SOC, the human counterpart, tend to take a great toll on your organization’s resources. If you’re looking for a solution that balances security and cost, XDR is the choice for you.
  • Fewer false positives and (attack) insights. Despite not falling under the automation spectrum, having a human crew onboard analyzing all those subtle signs associated with events can help you discover even high-profile attacks.

But XDR falls short when it comes to:

  • Learning curve. XDR may be challenging even for those with a strong tech/security background.
  • Data gathering. This solution is capable of probing all sorts of environments for data (cloud, endpoint, network) but it does tend to fall short when it comes to log management or other types of data formats covered by SIEM solutions.
  • Integrations. XDR typically requires a lot of integrations in order to work properly: support modules, intelligence exchange, structured information, vulnerability scanners, etc.

So, it`s go for the SIEM-SOAR dynamic duo, with all their (costly) quirks and quarks, or settle for a solution that touches upon human intuition, at the cost of a steep learning curve.

Since scalability is an extremely important feature these days, I would recommend the XDR software solution. There are many ways that XDR helps security teams. Being able to see everything that`s going on across your digital environment is an amazing experience. It improves and facilitates the management process, takes the pressure of the manpower by automating repetitive tasks, including some response patterns, and reduces alert fatigue.

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Wrap-up and Additional Tips

This concludes my article on SOAR vs XDR. Hope it was more cheerful and enjoyable than the weather outside. Before I scoot, here are some more things you can try out to boost your global security score.

  • Keep your playbooks updated. Whether you’re running a SOAR or an XDR, keeping all your playbooks up to speed means you’ll know how to approach every type of situation.
  • Should I XDR? As mentioned, XDR is pretty challenging to learn. Now, if you’re unsure about whether or not to take the leap of faith, a demo is just the thing you need. Heimdal®’s eXtended Detection and Response (XDR) employs a swift response to attacks, by providing you with extended, systemized reports on potential risks, online threats, and vulnerabilities. Get in touch now for a demo.
  • Historical data storage. Eventually, you’ll be out of log space. Plan ahead and buy extra storage for your data. Historical logs are important because they help you measure any deviation from the security baseline.

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Author Profile

Vladimir Unterfingher

Senior PR & Communications Officer

Experienced blogger with a strong focus on technology, currently advancing towards a career in IT Security Analysis. I possess a keen interest in exploring and understanding the intricacies of malware, Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), and various cybersecurity challenges. My dedication to continuous learning fuels my passion for delving into the complexities of the cyber world.

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