What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?

The cybersecurity threat landscape is rapidly evolving and expanding. In response, many organizations are working to evolve their security capabilities to enable efficient and effective detection and remediation of unique, sophisticated, and fast-paced attacks.

The most common approach to a security platform is a “layered” approach, where an organization deploys multiple solutions – including endpoint detection and response (EDR), network traffic analytics (NTA), and security information and event management (SIEM) – to implement defense in depth across a variety of different platforms (workstations, cloud, IoT, mobile, etc.). While this approach can be effective for detecting and responding to cyber threats, it also has its limitations.

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XDR Security – What is Extended Detection and Response?

Unified and Integrated Data Visibility

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) takes a different approach. Instead of a purely reactive approach to cybersecurity, XDR enables an organization to proactively protect itself against cyber threats by providing unified visibility across multiple attack vectors.

Most organizations are struggling under a deluge of security data. While it is true that you can’t secure what you can’t see, being overwhelmed by too many low-quality security alerts has the same end result. In many cases, security operations centers (SOCs) are missing ongoing attacks because the information that they need is buried under a massive number of false positive alerts.

XDR solves this problem by providing unified and integrated data visibility and analytics across an organization’s assets. Unification enables an organization’s security team to see data collected by all security solutions from all platforms (including endpoints, mobile, cloud resources, network infrastructure, email, etc.) within a single dashboard. Integration enables analysts to take advantage of insights derived from aggregating event information from multiple different solutions into a single contextualized “incident”.

By simplifying security down to a single platform and dashboard, XDR enables a security team to effectively secure an organization against cyberattacks. Additionally, XDR leverages automation to simplify analyst workflows, allow for rapid incident response, and decrease analyst workloads by eliminating simple or repetitive tasks.

The Need for XDR

The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving. With this evolution comes more complex and sophisticated attacks that are increasingly difficult to detect and remediate. At the same time, corporate environments are growing larger and more complex, increasing the difficulty of monitoring and securing all of an organization’s IT assets.

XDR security solutions provide organizations with unified visibility and management across their IT assets. This unification enables security teams to identify and respond to cyber threats by eliminating the time wasted by switching between solutions and providing security analysts with the context that they require to accurately identify cyber threats more effectively.

Cybersecurity is only going to grow more complex as corporate IT environments grow and cyber threats become more sophisticated. XDR is essential to an organization’s ability to scale its security capabilities and keep up with the rapid pace of change.

XDR Capabilities

XDR security solutions are intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s security team by reducing inefficiencies and providing analysts with the tools and data that they need to identify and respond to potential threats.

Some of the key capabilities that XDR solutions must have to accomplish this goal include:

  • Data Collection: XDR solutions are designed to provide centralized security visibility across an organization’s network. This includes collecting security information from various sources to provide the needed visibility and context.
  • Data Analytics: XDR solutions use machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify potential threats. Combining internal security data with threat intelligence enables them to identify the latest threat campaigns.
  • Centralized Management: XDR solutions correlate multiple alerts and provide all data in a single interface. This enables analysts to investigate and respond to potential threats more efficiently.
  • Automated Response: XDR solutions leverage automation to provide scalable security and speed incident response. This includes the ability to automatically respond to certain threats and to orchestrate responses across an organization’s entire IT infrastructure.

Benefits

XDR is designed to simplify security visibility across an organization’s entire ecosystem. This provides a number of different efficiency benefits to an organization:

  • Integrated Visibility: XDR integrates security visibility across an organization’s entire network (endpoints, cloud infrastructure, mobile, etc.). This enables security analysts to gain context about a potential security incident without needing to learn and use different platforms.
  • Single Pane of Glass Management: Security settings can be configured from a single pane of glass across the entire enterprise network. This ensures that consistent security policies can be enforced despite a diverse network infrastructure.
  • Rapid Time to Value: XDR offers out-of-the-box integrations and pretuned detection mechanisms across multiple different products. This enables an organization to rapidly extract value from its cybersecurity investment.
  • Improved Productivity: XDR eliminates the need for security analysts to switch between multiple dashboards and manually aggregate security data. This enables analysts to more efficiently and productively detect and respond to security threats.
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): XDR offers a fully integrated cybersecurity platform. This reduces the costs associated with configuring and integrating multiple point solutions in-house.
  • Analyst Support: XDR provides a common management and workflow experience across an organization’s entire security infrastructure. This reduces training requirements and enables Tier 1 analysts to operate at a higher level than they would be able to otherwise.

XDR is designed to provide a security team with full visibility into all of the organization’s endpoints and network infrastructure. With this increased visibility come a number of benefits to enterprise cybersecurity:

  • Unified Remediation: XDR provides centralized and unified incident response capabilities across all of the environments composing an enterprise network. This allows security personnel to rapidly and efficiently remediate widespread attacks against the organization, reducing the overall impact and cost to the organization.
  • Improved Overall Attack Understanding: Taken individually, the indicators of an attack may be weak, making it difficult to separate the signal from the noise. XDR gathers and aggregates these signals from multiple sources, strengthening them and enabling an organization to detect and respond to attacks that may have otherwise been overlooked.
  • Unified Threat Hunting: XDR unifies visibility and data analytics across an organization’s entire network infrastructure. This enables analysts to gain the context required to proactively identify advanced threats present on the network.

How XDR Differs from Other Security Technologies

The cybersecurity landscape is flooded with acronyms and security solutions, making it difficult to determine how a particular solution stands out from the rest. While XDR may have similar goals as EDR, MDR, and SIEM solutions, it achieves these objectives in very different ways.

XDR vs. EDR

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) and XDR solutions are both designed to provide integrated security visibility. However, they do so at different scopes.

EDR solutions, as their name suggests, are focused on the endpoint. EDR collects information from various sources on the endpoint, analyzes it, and provides it to security analysts for threat detection and response. EDR solutions can also respond automatically to certain threats based on predefined playbooks.

XDR solutions work at a much larger scale than EDR security solutions. XDR collects data from targeted sources all across an organization’s IT environment, analyzes it, and provides it to analysts. Like EDR, XDR provides support for threat response within the tool, rather than requiring a standalone solution.

XDR vs. MDR

Managed detection and response (MDR) and XDR are both designed to enhance an organization’s threat detection and response capabilities. However, they do so in different ways.

MDR involves engaging a third-party provider for threat detection and response capabilities. This external partner is responsible for identifying and responding to security incidents within an organization’s IT environment. By engaging external experts, an organization can scale and enhance its threat detection and response capabilities.

XDR improves threat detection and response using technology rather than additional manpower. By centralizing threat visibility and management, XDR eliminates inefficient context switching, automatically collects and analyzes data, and provides analysts with the context required to make threat determinations. Automation further improves efficiency by eliminating manual processes and speeding and scaling threat response.

XDR vs. SIEM

Integrated security visibility and data analytics are essential to rapid threat detection and scalable incident response. XDR and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions both provide this capability but do so in different ways.

SIEM solutions achieve centralized visibility and management by integrating with an organization’s various security solutions, such as EDR tools. These tools can be configured to send the security data that they collect and generate to the SIEM, which normalizes, aggregates, and analyzes it. Based on the context provided by multiple sources of security intelligence, SIEM solutions can more accurately differentiate between true threats to the organization and false positive alerts.

XDR solutions take a more hands-on approach to collecting the data that they aggregate, analyze, and alert on. Instead of relying on other solutions to collect data and transmit it to them, XDR tools collect their own security data from various sources. This provides them with the same visibility and capabilities as SIEM solutions but makes them easier to configure and more robust since they are not reliant on integration with other solutions within an organization’s cyber security architecture.

XDR Security with Horizon XDR

The cybersecurity threat landscape is expanding, and organizations’ limited security teams are unable to scale to keep up. While a layered security approach is effective in theory, in reality, it only results in analysts missing crucial information because they don’t know where to look. Also, security teams waste time and effort monitoring and managing multiple security solutions, and these resources can be better spent protecting the organization against cyber threats.

Extended detection and response provides an alternative, using alert aggregation, data analytics, and automated threat detection and response to simplify security. An effective XDR solution provides the following properties:

  1. Broad, integrated visibility: An XDR solution should offer broad coverage of security solutions on all platforms (endpoints, mobile, cloud, etc.) with tight integration between solutions.
  2. Built-in integration: Security solutions are most effective when they are integrated to provide analysts with context derived from multiple sources. An XDR solution should include built-in support for these integrations.
  3. Security automation: Speed and scalability are key to the success of a security program as IT environments grow and threats evolve. An XDR solution should automate common processes and orchestrate incident response to enable security teams to keep up with their expanding duties.

Check Point’s Horizon XDR/XPR enables rapid detection, investigation, and automated response across your entire IT infrastructure, including Network, cloud, endpoint, mobile, and email security, all from a single pane of glass. To learn more about how to implement XDR in your environment, contact us today.

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