What Is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)? Features, Benefits, and Beyond
Overloaded security teams, poor visibility, and threat alert overload have quite an impact when it comes to detecting and effectively responding to cyber threats. Since today’s cyberattacks are extremely tricky and complex, to the point of hiding throughout different layers within an organization, it is important to understand, as the old saying goes, that modern problems require modern solutions.
As cyber attackers become shrewder in taking advance of the available technology, the need for robust cybersecurity solutions increases. Here is where XDR steps in.
But what is XDR? How does it work and what does it bring to the table? Is it the best option out there? Keep reading to find out!
What is XDR?
The acronym stands for extended detection and response, embodying a type of cybersecurity solution that both monitors and mitigates incidents. As for a proper definition, we can describe XDR as a cross-layered detection and response tool. Simply put, this technology collects and then correlates data over a variety of security layers, such as endpoints, emails, servers, clouds, and networks. This means that XDR can enable your security team to detect, investigate, and respond to threats across multiple layers of security, and not just focus on the end-point detection.
XDR makes room for improved security, awareness, and response capacity as well as enhanced productivity, all while reducing costs.
How Does XDR Work?
XDR helps detect malicious threats by conducting an in-depth analysis of both internal and external traffic to identify potential attacks. In addition, it applies integrated threat intelligence, which includes details on known attack strategies, sources, and tools across a wide variety of vectors, and therefore has the capacity to prevent similar attacks in the future and detect zero-day vulnerabilities.
It offers an efficient graphical timeline that can shed some light on the questions you are seeking an answer for:
- How did I get infected?
- Which was the entry point?
- What is the origin of the attack?
- Were there other parts involved?
- How did the threat spread throughout the system?
- Were other users exposed to the threat?
Now that we’ve established what XDR is, let’s continue the discussion by seeing what it does. Designed to improve an organization’s cybersecurity, it has several functions that you can add to your digital defense strategy. Here are the main features of an XDR solution:
- cyberattack detection and response,
- comprehensive behavior analysis,
- shared threat intelligence (both internal and external),
- automatic alert confirmation,
- complete data integration,
- all in a unified interface.
But what is XDR good for? What are the advantages it brings to your enterprise, should you choose to opt for this cybersecurity approach? Enhanced endpoint detection and response capabilities improved operational productivity, and reduced costs slash resource usage.
Enhanced EDR Capabilities
As the acronym suggests, XDR is one step above traditional endpoint detection and response. It beneficially impacts four areas of EDR that are specific to your company’s Security Operations Center (SOC): detection, hunting, investigation, and recommendation.
Through endpoint telemetry and an AI-driven list of cybersecurity threats to compare traffic against, XDR has the aptitude to identify not only more threats but advanced ones as well.
An XDR solution does more than just detect known threats. It actively hunts and analyzes suspicious online behaviors to discover previously unknown malicious domains and cyberattacks.
Pairing XDR with a dedicated information security team within your company creates a strong human-machine correlation that will result in expert incident investigations.
Finally, the data gathered by XDR can also provide your IT team with proactive recommendations that will greatly minimize the risks of future attacks.
The easiest way to understand the benefits of Extended Detection and Response, is to think of it as an AI-based security system. The main goal of XDR is to provide you with the full set of visibility that is connected throughout all of the endpoints of a network’s infrastructure. This leads to conjoined remediation, improved attack understanding, and unified threat hunting.
Improved Operational Productivity
One of the main points of interest presented by XDR is represented by the fact that it unites multiple solutions under one accessible interface. This means that your SOC will be able to handle every step in the cybersecurity process in one place, which is advantageous towards the overall productivity index of the enterprise. Not only will this benefit your information security team, but other employees working on the company endpoints as well.
Reduced Costs and Resource Usage
Another plus of unifying all the moving parts of your digital defense in one dashboard is the reduction in operational costs and resource usage. Not only will you save your employees a lot of time, but you will also save the company money as well. What is more, XDR is usually lighter on the system than separate solutions that operate out of independent platforms, so there’s that as well.
XDR vs. EDR
Before concluding this article, there is one more important question I want to raise: what is XDR’s value in the context of today’s cybersecurity landscape? Is it the optimal solution in 2021 and beyond? The short answer here is (unfortunately) no. Let’s see why.
Although the query of what is XDR can be easily answered by saying it is the more advanced version of traditional EDR, that doesn’t mean it’s the most cutting-edge one out there.
The current golden standard is EPDR, which stands for endpoint prevention, detection, and response. EPDR refers to a new generation of EDR software, enhanced with threat prevention capabilities. As a result, EPDR takes a proactive approach to cyberattacks, whereas normal EDR has a reactive one.
EPDR is the industry’s natural response to the technological advancements taking place behind enemy lines. As hackers become more cunning and the inner workings of cyberattacks progress, so must we. Prevention is more efficient than detection and response these days, and that’s exactly what EPDR brings new to the table.
Heimdal™ Security XDR vs. EDR
From hunter (EDR) to overseer (XDR), Heimdal™ covers all attack venues regardless of surface, approach, or severity. EDR and XDR are two sides of the same coin – while the former acts as a central hub for security intelligence and unlocks an entire arsenal of threat-hunting and attack mitigation tools, the latter will constantly monitor your communicational infrastructure, servers, endpoints, and attached devices for signs pointing to an impending cyberattack.
With EDR you can hunt, prevent, detect, and respond to threats when and where they happen. XDR retains the overseer role – gathers data from across your environment to predict cyberattacks, monitors all devices connected to your networks, and plots courses of action based on factual, real-time gathered information.
If you’re willing to find out more about how to select the perfect XDR solution for your business and what are the key elements that any good XDR software on the market must have, feel free to check Help Net Security’s XDR report here. The paper includes a directory of notable players in the XDR market segment, including Heimdal™’s CEO, Morten Kjærsgaard.
To sum things up, it’s important to acknowledge that Extended Detection and Response enables an organization to reveal cybersecurity risks, monitor them, and estimate how much exposure they result in. It gives an organization the necessary defense for dealing with advanced threats and provides security teams with the tools they require to deal with these threats.
XDR is a more modern take on traditional EDR, as it extends your company’s detection and response capabilities, thus offering a higher degree of protection as well. However, its defensive qualities fall short in the face of robust solutions such as EPDR, which focuses on it as the primary step of a cybersecurity strategy.