What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

The cybersecurity threat landscape is evolving, and organizations need advanced security solutions to keep up. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is an effective tool for protecting the enterprise. However, many organizations lack the personnel and security expertise required to effectively manage EDR internally.

Managed detection and response (MDR) provides an organization with the tools that it needs to effectively protect itself from cyber threats. By partnering with an MDR provider, an organization gains access to a 24/7 security operations center (SOC) and the security expertise necessary to effectively protect the organization. MDR goes beyond simply trying to stop an ongoing attack and works to ensure that an organization will never have to worry about being impacted by the same cyberattack twice.

What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

MDR Service Features

Managed detection and response is a category of a Security-as-a-Service offering, where an organization outsources some of its security operations to a third-party provider. As its name suggests, it goes beyond simply detecting threats to actually working to remediate them on an organization’s network.

An MDR service offering typically includes a few different features:

  • Incident Investigation: MDR service providers will investigate an alert and determine whether it is a true incident or a false positive. This is accomplished through a combination of data analytics, machine learning, and human investigation.
  • Alert Triage: Not all security incidents are created equal, and a number of factors can impact the priority of different events. An MDR provider will organize the list of security events, enabling the most critical to be handled first.
  • Remediation: An MDR provider will offer incident remediation as a service. This means that they will remotely take action to respond to a security event within a customer’s network.
  • Proactive Threat Hunting: Not all security incidents are caught by an organization’s security stack. MDR providers will proactively search an organization’s network and systems for indications of an ongoing attack and, if one is detected, take steps to remediate it.

What Challenges Does MDR Solve?

Implementing a robust cybersecurity program is a challenge for many organizations due to a number of different factors. Managed detection and response provides an answer to many of the challenges faced by organizations attempting to increase their security maturity and decrease their cybersecurity risk, such as:

  • Personnel Limitations: The cybersecurity industry is facing a severe talent shortage, with many more unfilled positions than there are qualified professionals to fill them. This makes it difficult and expensive for organizations to fill critical security roles internally. MDR enables an organization to fill staffing gaps with external security professionals.
  • Limited Access to Expertise: Beyond the lack of cybersecurity expertise in general, organizations struggle to fill specialized roles requiring skills like incident response, cloud security, and malware analysis. MDR provides an organization with immediate access to external cybersecurity expertise when it is required without the need to attract and retain this talent in-house.
  • Advanced Threat Identification: Advanced persistent threats (APTs) and other sophisticated cybercriminals have developed tools and techniques to remain undetected by many traditional cybersecurity solutions. MDR enables organizations to detect and remediate these threats through proactive threat hunting.
  • Slow Threat Detection: Many cybersecurity incidents go undetected for a significant period of time, increasing the cost and impact to the target organization. MDR providers detection and response times backed by service level agreements (SLAs), ensuring that the cost incurred by an organization due to a cybersecurity incident is minimized.
  • Security Immaturity: Building an effective cybersecurity program can be expensive due to the required tools, licenses, and personnel. MDR enables an organization to rapidly deploy a full security program with 24/7 threat detection and response with many of the associated costs shared across the MDR provider’s customer base. This decreases the total cost of ownership (TCO) of cybersecurity and enables an organization to achieve a high level of cybersecurity maturity more quickly than would be possible internally.

Selecting an MDR Solution

The effectiveness of an MDR provider depends primarily on two things. The first is the expertise that the provider has in-house. An effective MDR provider will have the in-house expertise necessary to handle any situation that a customer may encounter. This includes a 24/7 SOC, incident response teams, and expertise in securing different platforms, such as cloud computing and endpoint devices used in the enterprise.

However, these teams can only be effective if they have the tools that they need. An MDR provider requires full visibility into a customer’s network, robust data analytics, and the ability to rapidly respond to potential security incidents.

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