Understanding XDR, MDR and EDR: The Definitions


Don’t let confusing definitions and technical jargon create a barrier in conveying cybersecurity outcomes and solution advantages to internal executives and your end-customers. Terms that are every-day to IT professionals may be less familiar to strategic decision-makers.

The cybersecurity industry is notorious for coining terms and acronyms, both as practitioner shorthand and an effort to stand out in the crowd. Even more challenging, definitions for identical terms can vary from vendor to vendor. As a result, business and IT leaders are left wondering what cybersecurity solutions are truly needed and which are redundant. As trusted advisors, MSSPs are poised to help customers navigate questions such as:

  • Can our security solutions scale as my organization grows over time?
  • Would 24/7 monitoring and threat management like XDR improve my security maturity?
  • Are we balancing investment in MDR that uses a defense-in-depth approach to threats?
  • Have we assessed legacy endpoint tools like anti-virus against more holistic EDR solutions?

Let’s outline some key terms to shed light on these questions:


While there might be more buzz around the term XDR now, it isn’t really new but rather a useful term to denote a solution that aggregates and correlates telemetry from many security controls to holistically defend the IT infrastructure. Also remember that the XDR term alone does not outline which specific controls are included, or even imply that its managed by SOC experts who provide human intelligence and attack context. XDR holds promise to reduce the complexity of point security tools, improve Security Operations Center (SOC) efficiency with better automation, and enhance security outcomes that leave more time for threat hunting and other strategic priorities.


Managed detection and response (MDR) is a popular term these days. What exactly constitutes MDR? It’s a service and not a technology. What makes MDR unique is a focus on leveraging technology and expertise to continuously monitor IT assets, to quickly detect and effectively respond to true cybersecurity threats.

The technology behind an MDR service includes an array of options, and this is crucial when evaluating technology providers. The technology stack behind the service determines the scope of attacks they can detect. Cybersecurity is about “defense-in-depth” – having multiple layers of protection to counter the multiple attack vectors possible and increase the cost and pain for cyber attackers. Various technologies are used to provide more comprehensiv visibility and thus more complete detection and response capabilities. Some examples of key MDR elements for powerful and practical cybersecurity include Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Intrusion Detection Service (IDS).


EDR stands for endpoint detection and response. The word “threat” is missing as the name of the game isn’t detecting that endpoints exist. Sometimes referred to, less commonly, but more correctly, as ETDR, the difference between MDR and EDR is scope. EDR is focused on threat detection and response on the endpoint environment specifically. What does that mean? EDR is focused on activity on the device as opposed to on the network – think laptops, servers, and critical business devices like Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. EDR deals with threats that have gotten past the Predict and Prevent functions that are only two elements of the comprehensive Predict, Prevent, Detect, and Respond (PPDR) cybersecurity framework.

How You Can Help

With their deep community relationships, MSSPs bring a complete solution to bear for customers, tailoring the right functionality such as XDR, MDR, and EDR and the right time. IT Service providers already assist resource-strapped IT teams that must focus on more than just cybersecurity in a trusted advisor role. As you work with current and prospective customers, focus on distilling cybersecurity into outcome-driven results and avoid confusing technical jargon as you expand your security portfolio.

And don’t worry if you lack a robust, fully-staffed SOC (Security Operations Center) equipped with technology. Strengthen and simplify your cybersecurity offerings with the help of an experienced partner who offers the right people, process, and technology.

The Journey to Security Maturity

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, so too will the solutions and terminology used to address these increasingly-complex threats. Modern capabilities like XDR, MDR, and EDR are also helping to minimize false positives and improve practitioner effectiveness for you and your end customers. Future-proof your cybersecurity journey with Netsurion’s managed threat protection approach.

Blog courtesy of Netsurion, which offers the EventTracker security platform. Read more Netsurion guest blogs here.