The cybersecurity solutions landscape is changing quickly. It’s hard staying on top of all the acronyms! However, cyberthreats and attacks are also rapidly evolving, and the technology we use has to match that tenacity if we want to adequately protect our businesses and our clients’ businesses from being exploited.
Extended detection and response (XDR) is a perfect example of keeping up with the cybersecurity Joneses, if you will. Built on the principles of endpoint detection and response (EDR), XDR solutions collect, correlate and contextualize security incident and event data across multiple security layers to enable faster threat detection, alert investigation and coordinated response. With the help of advanced analytics, machine learning and automation, XDR also makes it easier for security teams to identify and eliminate legitimate security threats amongst the potential millions of alerts that can be generated by an organization in a single day.
Although still regarded as an emerging trend, Gartner predicts that up to 40% of end-user organizations will use an XDR solution by 2027, primarily to consolidate the number of security vendors they work with. From that perspective, IT providers — including managed service providers (MSPs) and managed security service providers (MSSPs) — would do well to investigate how an XDR solution might compliment their current offerings to keep pace with client demands.
XDR goes beyond EDR
EDR technology is by no means obsolete, but XDR nevertheless presents opportunities for greater cybersecurity analysis, investigation and mitigation due to the increased number of security layers that can be monitored simultaneously. While EDR covers only endpoints — end-user devices such as laptops, desktops, mobile devices and printers — XDR incorporates email security, networks, servers and cloud applications as well.
Instead of an IT provider or security analyst referencing individual solutions to monitor email security, network security and endpoint security, XDR makes it possible to manage cybersecurity for all these areas in a single location. XDR solutions are also typically equipped with powerful integrations that enable each security layer to speak to each other, in addition to advanced analytics that correlate data from different layers. By doing so, XDR can pinpoint specific incidents and events that, while seemingly benign on their own, represent potentially malicious activity when observed in context.
XDR benefits for MSPs
MSPs and MSSPs are at the forefront of keeping small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) safe from cyberthreats. At the same time, providers themselves are also increasingly targeted by bad actors in part due to the number of clients they serve and by extension the amount of customer data they can access. XDR solutions will therefore undoubtedly grow more popular in the MSP channel as they represent not only a streamlined approach to protecting individual client environments, but also an effective way to safeguard an MSP’s entire client base from coordinated attacks perpetrated through their own systems.
On top of providing a holistic approach to monitoring clients’ email, network, server and endpoint security from a single place, XDR benefits for MSPs also include:
- Proactive threat hunting. Unfortunately, most businesses take a reactive approach to cybersecurity. Threats are identified after they’ve already infiltrated systems, and responses are mostly damage control. XDR, however, helps MSPs implement a far more proactive stance and therefore realize a stronger security posture. By using advanced telemetry and automation to parse hundreds of thousands of alerts, XDR relieves security teams’ workloads and gives them more time to seek out and eliminate legitimate threats.
- Effective threat investigation. Leveraging data collected from multiple sources and security layers, XDR solutions enable security teams to mount more effective threat investigations. Again using powerful automation to analyze and correlate incidents and alerts holistically across the entire environment, security analysts can visualize the path of an attack with greater context. Understanding how a threat entered the system, how it spread and who it affected makes it significantly easier to block similar threats in the future.
- Response recommendations. EDR solutions typically only quarantine an affected endpoint and are therefore limited in their response capabilities. XDR can detect threats affecting endpoints, servers, cloud workloads and networks and coordinate appropriate responses based on established security policies. XDR solutions can also update applicable policies after a breach to prevent it from happening again. Additionally, more proactive threat hunting and investigation allow security teams to coordinate more successful responses in turn.
Is XDR right for your business?
Understanding the benefits of XDR and how it differs from EDR is easy at face value, but making an informed decision about which cybersecurity solutions are right for your managed services business is more difficult. A strong provider partner can help.