What is XDR?

Anne Aarness - February 28, 2022

Extended detection and response (XDR) collects threat data from previously siloed security tools across an organization’s technology stack for easier and faster investigation, threat hunting, and response. An XDR platform can collect security telemetry from endpoints, cloud workloads, network email, and more.

With all of this enriched threat data filtered and condensed into a single console, XDR enables security teams to rapidly and efficiently hunt and eliminate security threats across multiple domains from one unified solution.

Why Organizations Need XDR: 3 Benefits of XDR Security

XDR coordinates and extends the value of siloed security tools, unifying and streamlining security analysis, investigation and remediation. As a result, XDR provides the following benefits:

  1. Consolidated threat visibility: XDR delivers granular visibility by working across multiple layers, collecting and correlating data from email, endpoints, servers, cloud workloads and networks.
  2. Hassle-free detections and investigation: Analysts and threat hunters can focus on high-priority threats because XDR weeds out anomalies determined to be insignificant from the alert stream. And with advanced analytics and correlation content prebuilt in the tool, XDR automatically detects stealthy threats — all but eliminating the need for security teams to spend time constantly writing, tuning, and managing detection rules.
  3. End-to-end orchestration and response: Detailed, cross-domain threat context and telemetry — from impacted hosts and root cause to indicators and timelines — guides the entire investigation and remediation process. Automated alerts and powerful response actions can trigger complex, multi-tool workflows for dramatic SOC efficiency gains and surgical threat neutralization.


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XDR vs Other Detection and Response Technologies

XDR often gets confused with similar “detect and respond” acronyms that make up the alphabet soup of cybersecurity technology. Below is a quick explanation of the differences between XDR and other detection and response technologies:

  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR): Monitors end-user devices — desktops, laptops, tablets and phones — for threats that antivirus software can’t detect
  • Managed Detection and Response (MDR): Essentially EDR purchased as a service.
  • Network Detection and Response (NDR): Monitors communications within the network to detect, investigate and respond to threats that might otherwise remain hidden in unmanaged devices across on-premises, cloud and hybrid environments.
  • Identity Threat Detection and Response (ITDR): Detects threats to all Service and Privileged accounts on your network and cloud.
  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR): Uses EDR capabilities to extend protection beyond endpoints to also monitor data from networks, cloud workloads, servers, email, and more.

Want a more detailed explanation? Read our guide on the differences between EDR, MDR, and XDR and find which solution is best for your organization.

The Evolution of EDR

XDR is the evolution of EDR. In a recent Forrester report, analyst Allie Mellen explained that, “good XDR lives and dies by the foundation of a good EDR.” If you don’t start with the endpoint, there’s nothing for XDR to “extend.”

XDR builds on the core functions of EDR and makes all telemetry accessible — from endpoints, cloud workloads, identity, email, network traffic, virtual containers, sensors (from operational technology, or OT) and more.

Is XDR the Same as SIEM?

No. XDR isn’t about aggregation, it’s about results.

XDR makes real-time threat detection easier by bringing together world-class threat hunting, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and threat intelligence with third-party data sources. Unlike SIEM, XDR delivers impactful remediation strategies by intelligently consolidating all of the valuable telemetry from security solutions, while also orchestrating and automating analysis.

How XDR Works

XDR connects data from siloed security solutions so they can work together to improve threat visibility and reduce the length of time required to identify and respond to an attack. XDR enables advanced forensic investigation and threat hunting capabilities across multiple domains from a single console.

Here’s a simple step-by-step of how XDR works:

  • Step 1. Ingest: Ingest and normalize volumes of data from endpoints, cloud workloads, identity, email, network traffic, virtual containers and more.
  • Step 2. Detect: Parse and correlate data to automatically detect stealthy threats with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
  • Step 3 Respond: Prioritize threat data by severity so that threat hunters can quickly analyze and triage new events, and automate investigation and response activities.

a graphic of xdr architecture and how xdr works

Key XDR Requirements

To fully deliver on its promise for optimum detection, investigation, hunting and incident response, any XDR solution you are considering must demonstrate the following requirements:

  • Runs on a cloud-native platform. It operates at sufficient scale, with the ability to ingest data from multiple sources, provides broad visibility and detection capabilities across all data, and is positioned to orchestrate automated response.
  • Extends endpoint security. It continues to focus protection on endpoints but extends visibility, detection and response beyond them through best-of-breed integrations with security solutions through an open data scheme.
  • Focuses on threats. It automatically detects stealthy threats, eliminating the need to write, tune and maintain detection rules.
  • Offers broad, relevant and enriched telemetry. It incorporates a broad, diverse set of systems and applications for more comprehensive contextualization and correlation, including network analysis and visibility (NAV), next-generation firewall (NGFW), email security, identity and access management (IAM), cloud workload protection (CWP), cloud access security broker (CASB) and others.
  • Communicates with security tools. It leverages open, well-defined schemas for data exchanges with additional IT security systems to ensure enrichment and correlation take place in a consistent and comprehensive fashion with key objectives and outcomes in mind.
  • Ensures investigations are meaningful. It emphasizes data fidelity and detection quality to ensure XDR events and investigations are meaningful and efficient, minimizing false positives.
  • Expedites response. With multistage, multiplatform response workflows, it enables security teams to take swift — even automated — action to mitigate and remediate threats detected.
  • Continues to search for unknowns. Applies advanced security analytics, AI and ML to continuously search for previously hidden threats using aggregation and understanding of multiple, disparate weaker signals from different security domains across the security stack.

CrowdStrike Falcon® XDR: CrowdStrike’s XDR Solution

CrowdStrike Falcon® XDR unifies detection and response across your security stack to take CrowdStrike’s EDR technologies to the next level. Falcon and non-Falcon telemetry are integrated into one single command console for unified detection and response. CrowdStrike Falcon® XDR turns cryptic signals trapped in siloed solutions into high-efficacy, real-time detections and deep investigation context. Equipped with CrowdStrike Falcon® XDR, security professionals can more quickly and intuitively investigate, threat hunt and respond.

Interested in learning more about CrowdStrike Falcon® XDR? Check out the resources below:

CrowdStrike Falcon® XDR Demo CrowdStrike Falcon® XDR Data Sheet

XDR Resources


Anne Aarness is a Senior Manager, Product Marketing at CrowdStrike based in Sunnyvale, California.