EDR vs MDR vs XDR

December 22, 2021

Cyberattacks have become more common, more advanced and more costly, which is driving the need for a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Central to every security strategy is a detection and response capability which catches threats that have circumvented traditional security measures. Here we explore three main detection and response tools:

  1. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
  2. Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
  3. Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

What is endpoint detection and response (EDR)?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is a cybersecurity solution that captures all endpoint activity and leverages advanced analytics to provide real-time visibility into the health of all endpoints; detect anomalous activity; alert the information security (Infosec) team to events; and provide remediation suggestions and capabilities to respond, stop an attack in progress or limit its spread.

Endpoint detection and response solutions have the following capabilities:

  • Endpoint monitoring and event recording
  • Data search, investigation and threat hunting
  • Alert triage or suspicious activity validation
  • Suspicious activity detection
  • Data analysis
  • Actionable intelligence to support response
  • Remediation

Learn More

Forrester has named CrowdStrike a “Leader” in The Forrester Wave™ for Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). Download the report to learn why CrowdStrike scored higher than other EDR providers.Download Report

What is managed detection and response (MDR)?

Managed detection and response (MDR) is endpoint security “as a service.” This  service manages endpoint security technologies for organizations which includes EDR. Service capabilities typically include: :

  • Continuous monitoring
  • Threat hunting
  • Prioritization of threats and alerts
  • Managed investigation services
  • Guided response
  • Managed remediation

The main benefit of MDR is that it helps rapidly identify and limit the impact of threats without the need for additional staffing. This is especially important given the global shortage of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals and the related skills gap, particularly as it relates to protection of cloud-based systems and assets.

What is extended detection and response (XDR)

Extended detection and response (XDR) streamlines security data ingestion, analysis and workflows across an organization’s entire security stack, enhancing visibility around hidden and advanced security threats and unifying the response.

An XDR platform collects and correlates data from across the infrastructure so it can improve threat visibility across the enterprise, accelerate security operations and reduce risk. XDR analyzes, prioritizes and streamlines this data, so it can be delivered to security teams in a normalized format through a single, consolidated console.

XDR platforms typically offer the following capabilities:

  • Diverse, multi-domain security telemetry
  • Threat-focused event analysis
  • Threat detection and prioritization of data fidelity
  • Data search, investigation and threat hunting across multi-domain telemetry
  • Response to mitigate and remediate the threat

Learn More

XDR is more than an industry buzzword. It’s a strategic approach to cyber security that brings together disjointed products, data and processes to help security teams improve their detection and response capabilities for sophisticated threats.Download: Exactly What is XDR infographic

Why do organizations need XDR?

Previous incarnations of threat detection solutions focus on one layer of the security architecture at a time. For example, EDR solutions monitor endpoints while network traffic analysis solutions are dedicated solely to network traffic. Data from these tools are rarely integrated or unified, which prevents the organization from having complete and accurate visibility across the enterprise.  

Organizations that buy several individual security products to build a multilayered security architecture may inadvertently create a complex security stack that delivers many alerts without the proper context. As more tools become involved, conducting investigations becomes more difficult, which is one reason why the length of time required to identify a breach has increased in step with the adoption of the multilayered security model.

Further, relying on individual security tools often create silos and gaps within the security architecture. The more complicated the security silos, the greater the likelihood that a security gap will be created and go unnoticed until there’s a breach.

XDR addresses these issues and others commonly associated with a multilayered defense strategy. XDR coordinates and extends the value of siloed security tools, unifying and streamlining security analysis, investigation and remediation into one consolidated console. As a result, XDR dramatically improves threat visibility, accelerates security operations, reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) and eases the ever-present security staffing burden.

EDR vs. XDR vs. MDR  

EDR is the baseline monitoring and threat detection tool for endpoints and the foundation for every cybersecurity strategy. This solution relies on software agents or sensors installed on endpoints to capture data, which it sends to a centralized repository for analysis.

MDR is essentially EDR purchased as a service. This service  manages endpoint security and focuses on mitigating, eliminating and remediating threats with  a dedicated, experienced security team.

XDR extends EDR capabilities to protect more than endpoints. The XDR solution “extends” across the infrastructure, streamlining security data ingestion, analysis and workflows across an organization’s entire security stack to enhance visibility around hidden and advanced threats, and to unify the response. When purchased as a managed solution, XDR will also provide access to experienced experts in threat hunting, threat intelligence and analytics.

 EDRMDRXDR
CapabilitiesMonitors endpoints for threats that have circumvented antivirus solutions and other preventative techniques.EDR “as a service.”

Provides the same capabilities as EDR, plus 24/7 managed services to monitor, mitigate, eliminate and remediate threats.
Full-spectrum, threat-centric security solution that integrates data from various existing security tools to improve visibility and reduce risk.
Components
  • Real-time endpoint monitoring

  • Behavioral analysis (IOCs and IOAs)

  • Threat database and graphing

  • Network containment

  • Remediation recommendations
EDR capabilities + 24/7 managed services including:

  • Human threat hunting

  • Managed investigation services

  • Guided response

  • Managed remediation

  • Prioritization of threats and alerts

  • Central communication and coordination hub for managed service and in-house teams
EDR capabilities +:

  • Autonomous analysis, response and threat hunting

  • Cloud-based ingestion

  • Automatic investigation and scoring

  • Cross-domain correlation

  • Actionable threat summaries

  • Advanced detection, incident response and threat hunting
Methods, Tools and TechnologiesSoftware-based EDR solutionEndpoint protection platform (EPP)
Threat VisibilityEndpointsEndpointsAll endpoints, users, network assets, cloud workloads, email, data and other assets
Protection+
EDR tools are a core component of every cybersecurity strategy and the foundation for all advanced cyber solutions and capabilities.
++
MDR combines the real-time monitoring and response capabilities of an EDR solution with highly skilled cybersecurity professionals to conduct proactive security actions such as threat hunting, threat intelligence and managed response.
+++
The next frontier in threat-centric security prevention, XDR provides the highest level of protection through EDR and sound integration of tools and systems across the network architecture to eliminate silos and gaps that put the organization at risk.

Which solution is ideal for my organization?

Every organization’s needs are different. While security is imperative, it is important to select a security tool that provides the right level of coverage based on the risk profile of the business.

Choose EDR if your organization:

  • Wants to improve its endpoint security posture and capabilities beyond NGAV
  • Has a Infosec team that can act on alerts and recommendations produced by the EDR solution
  • Is at the early stages of building a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy and wants to establish the foundation for a scalable security architecture

Choose MDR if your organization:

  • Does not have a mature detection and response program that can rapidly remediate advanced threats through existing tools or resources
  • Wants to introduce new skills and build maturity without hiring additional staff
  • Is struggling to fill skills gaps within the IT team or attract highly skilled, specialized talent
  • Wants protection to stay current on the latest threats targeting organizations

Choose XDR if your organization:

  • Wants to enhance advanced threat detection
  • Accelerate multi-domain threat analysis, investigation and hunting from a single console
  • Is suffering from alert fatigue across a disconnected or siloed security architecture
  • Wants to improve response time
  • Wants to improve ROI across all security tools

Expert Tip

In a new Wave report, Forrester evaluated the 14 most significant XDR providers, scoring each one based on a set of criteria spanning across the strength of current offering, strategy, and market presence. Download The Forrester New Wave™ for Extended Detection and Response (XDR).