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Managed detection and response (MDR) enables organizations to enjoy the expertise and resources of detection and response tools and teams, without setting up an in-house team. MDR services provide offerings that include incident detection and response services, endpoint detection and response (EDR), perimeter telemetry and threat intelligence.
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Managed detection and response (MDR) is a cybersecurity strategy that uses managed services to provide threat detection and response capabilities. It is designed to help you continuously monitor for and identify threats, and to respond or provide response assistance for those threats. MDR cybersecurity solutions typically combine security software with external security experts to provide you with robust coverage and protection.
While not all MDR solutions are identical, there are some basic features that any good service should have. Below are some of the most important features:
Endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools
EDR security tools monitor for and block threats on endpoints (Internet-facing devices) using advanced technologies like behavior analysis.
EDR tools provide protection past what is traditionally available from traditional security tools, such as firewalls or antivirus. Because of this, EDR security solutions can detect new and evolving threats that would otherwise be missed. Learn more in our guide about endpoint protection and EDR.
Incident management and response
Proper incident response requires significant expertise, planning, and staff time. However, many organizations do not have the in-house resources to dedicate to effective management and response.
MDR security providers should supplement the resources an organization has available. This supplement can come in the form of predefined response procedures, response expertise and experience, or remote responders.
MDR solutions should incorporate threat intelligence into monitoring and response capabilities. This ensures that best practices and protection measures remain fully up-to-date. Providers should also be able to develop new intelligence that is related specifically to your systems. This helps ensure that your particular vulnerabilities are discovered and covered.
Managed detection and response solutions have developed in recent years as a result of the insufficiencies that are perceived in existing managed security services (MSS). For many, MSS solutions are not able to provide the protection needed to detect and eliminate modern cyber threats. This growing market can be seen in Gartner’s predictions that by 2024, 25% of organizations will adopt MDR security services.
In contrast, MDR cybersecurity providers typically take a more outcome-driven, proactive approach. In addition to continuous monitoring, these providers offer security orchestration, integrated response measures, and threat hunting capabilities. Threat hunting involves proactively searching for threats even if none are detected by tooling.
Advanced services may offer coverage for cloud or hybrid services, such as AWS, Azure, GCP, or software as a service (SaaS) applications. Additionally, some providers offer coverage that extends to industrial control systems (ICS) or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.
Deciding whether an MDR or MSS solution is right for your organization can be a challenge. For some organizations, an MSSP can offer the needed level of cybersecurity monitoring and management. These services can provide all of the basics of perimeter security, including antivirus, firewalls, intrusion detection, and management of virtual private networks (VPNs). These solutions should also be able to manage basic system modifications and updates.
If all you’re lacking are the resources to dedicate to these systems and processes, MSSPs can provide the 247 coverage you need. However, if you want greater support and protection from threats, MSS may not be enough. In these cases, you should consider the services offered by MDR security providers.
If you’re still unsure which is the right choice for you, consider the following differences.
MDR services incorporate the newest technologies in detection and response, including next-gen antivirus, machine learning, and AI-based automation. In contrast, MSS tends to rely on more traditional technologies and methods. Additionally, MDR cybersecurity services may be more accommodating of cloud services and hybrid systems than MSSPs.
MSSPs are generally not committed to providing a high level of expertise or guidance in the way that MDR providers are. Instead, these services offer outsourced help from Tier 1 SOC analysts who are focused on supporting automated protection and detection systems. This is very different from MDR providers, who incorporate whole teams of security professionals of various levels. Additionally, rather than simply being responsive support staff, MDR professionals tend to proactively develop and monitor systems.
Responsibilities and cost
The responsibilities of MSSPs as compared to MDR providers are directly related to their costs. MSS solutions are generally significantly cheaper than MDR services because MSSPs are not responsible for the same level of response as MDR service providers.
As previously mentioned, a standard MSSP is only responsible for monitoring systems and forwarding alerts to in-house teams. They do not necessarily filter alerts by priority or spend time confirming whether a threat is legitimate. In contrast, an MDR security team is responsible for verifying threats and for responding according to agreed-upon guidelines. This extra effort and commitment to detection and response makes MDR solutions more expensive but can also make them a better investment.
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