XDR: The Next Big Thing in Security
From being listed as one of Gartner’s Top 10 Security Projects for 2020-2021 to countless thought leaders labeling it “the latest evolution,” XDR (extended detection and response) has emerged as an exciting new holistic approach to proactive protection against today’s sophisticated cyberattacks. Beyond the buzz, the solution has also shown promise to transform the scale and efficiency of the SOC. As interest and adoption for XDR continues to rise rapidly, it’s important that security leaders look past industry hype to understand how XDR can be used to impact their organization.
1 Gartner Top Security Projects for 2020-2021
Putting the "X" in XDR
While you’re likely quite familiar with the “D” and the “R”, it’s the “X” that has introduced a new development in detection and response. That X represents the integration and extension of protection across the entire enterprise. The predecessor to XDR, EDR (endpoint detection and response) focused on monitoring and protecting organizations from threats at the endpoints. With data moving beyond the perimeter, XDR was necessary to extend the range of protection to the network, servers, and cloud as well as endpoints. Analyst firm ESG defines XDR as:
An integrated suite of security products spanning hybrid IT architectures, designed to interoperate and coordinate on threat prevention, detection, and response. XDR unifies control points, security telemetry, analytics, and operations into one enterprise system.
Simply put, XDR offers a single platform for unifying detection and response to track threats across multiple security components. With enhanced visibility into a quickly changing threat landscape, the primary value behind XDR solutions include:
- Enhanced detection of both unknown threats and advanced adversaries that are too often missed by point solutions
- Simplifying security operations to improve efficiency and productivity
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What problems does XDR solve?
As modern threats continue to grow in complexity, cybersecurity solutions have followed suit with ineffective efforts to stop them. For example, multi-vector attacks occur when cybercriminals deploy threats across multiple points of entry. This targeted approach is now the new normal and often goes undetected by a siloed approach to threat detection. Managing security solutions in isolation of each other restricts visibility and significantly impacts the efficiency and efficacy of security operations.
Detection of unknown threats and advanced attacks
XDR centralizes security events across multiple security controls to provide a holistic approach to security into how complex attacks progress across a kill chain. The solution combines weak security signals from multiple sources into stronger signals to identify known and unknown threats.
Alert fatigue impacts productivity
Data without context is nothing more than meaningless noise. Without an integrated platform to correlate data, it won’t take long before security analysts are buried in an overwhelming volume of alerts too much cybersecurity noise. With greater context, XDR dismisses false positives to enable security operations to focus on incidents that matter.
Without integration and correlation, security teams can easily get lost in the "noise" of abundant alerts and have trouble prioritizing which ones to investigate.
SOC analysts often struggle with the complexity in managing various standalone security solutions. With little to no integration between these tools, Tier 1 analysts are relegated to mundane tasks. As a result, highly skilled senior analysts are forced to place more focus on platform management and administrative tasks as opposed to handling more meaningful security investigations.
Advanced threat detection is in high demand.
83% of IT pros are increasing their budgets on threat detection and response technologies.2
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IT pros view XDR as a viable approach to improve detection
Threat detection represents 3 of the top 4 most appealing XDR capabilities to IT pros:2
- Visualization of Complex Attacks: 42%
- Analytics that detect modern attacks: 38%
- Improved mean time to detect: 31%
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XDR uplevels SecOps effectiveness
Nearly 60% of IT pros believe XDR could improve the capabilities of security analysts.2
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Approaches to XDR
Proprietary XDR is characterized by vendors that have unified their own suite of network solutions on a centralized XDR management platform. A primary advantage to Proprietary XDR is a faster time to value due to off-the-shelf integration and pre-tuned detection mechanisms across the portfolio. On the other side of the coin, this approach requires considerable dependence on a single provider through vendor lock-in. As a result, customers may be forced to “rip and replace” existing security controls as well as sacrifice efficacy where vendors have gaps in their product portfolio.
Open XDR integrates best-of-breed security products, as opposed to single vendor solutions, into a coordinated approach to reduce security alerts and increase threat visibility. Many IT pros prefer Open XDR because it unifies current, siloed security tools and ensures flexibility for solutions that organizations may require in the future. Built on a cloud-native architecture, Open XDR leverages big data to normalize and correlate more effectively in addition to meeting SecOps needs for scalability.
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Centralization & Correlation Capabilities Reduce Alert Fatigue
Centralization and correlation are listed by Gartner as key requirements for an XDR solution. Centralization is the consolidation of historic and real-time event data into common data formats within a central repository. With a complete picture of threat activity, correlation combines related signals from multiple security components to identify malicious activity. The result is a significant reduction in security alerts and false positives, enabling analysts to focus more time on meaningful investigations instead of being overwhelmed by alerts.
Faster, More Reliable Detection with Integrated Visibility
Threat actors often exploit gaps created by siloed point solutions. Without a fully integrated platform, many security teams struggle to identify the blinds spots and rapidly detect and respond to advanced and evasive threats within their security posture. This is particularly true for data within a cloud environment where many organizations lack threat detection and are unable to effectively detect the scale of malicious activity without integrated visibility. Addressing threats individually within a siloed point solution reduces the ability to detect complex attacks. Integrated visibility enables faster detection, reduced dwell time, and quicker mitigation.
Greater Ease and Efficiency Improves SecOps Productivity
The complexity that often comes with replacing your legacy SIEM solutions has significantly diminished productivity in security operations. From swiveling between security tools to sifting through an overwhelming amount of data to find high-fidelity alerts, security analysts spend less of their time on investigations and responding to threats. XDR provides an integrated incident response capability that delivers faster, high fidelity alerts with greater context. With a centralized management hub that enhances visibility across all environments, Tier 1 analysts are empowered to play a greater role in threat protection and increasing SecOps productivity.
ESG surveyed cybersecurity professionals across multiple industry verticals to better understand the market perception of XDR, as well as value points and challenges that come with an XDR solution. Read the eBook to learn more about what ESG research revealed about the state of XDR and how it may meet the needs of your future security program.
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