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  • Writer's pictureMark van Vuuren

What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

(First published by Heimdal)



The term managed detection and response (MDR) refers to a cybersecurity service that employs advanced technologies and human expertise to carry out threat hunting, monitoring, and response, assisting in diagnosing and minimizing the severity of threats without the necessity of additional employees.

A cutting-edge 24/7 security control that frequently consists of a variety of core security tasks, MDR security platforms can provide cloud-managed security for businesses that are unable to run their own security operations center (SOC).

What Challenges Does MDR Solve? The cost-effective range of services offered by managed detection and response vendors strengthens an organization’s security posture and reduces risk in the context of a constantly evolving cyber threat landscape and rising security events.

The main challenges that an MDR solution can solve are linked to staffing/lack of security skills and alert fatigue.

Staffing / lack of security skills While larger companies that can afford it may be able to train and put up specialized security teams to conduct full-time threat hunting, most businesses often find it a challenging alternative considering their financial constraints. This is particularly true for medium-sized and large businesses, which are frequently the targets of cyberattacks yet lack the funding or personnel to field these teams. Alert fatigue As endpoints add up due to IoT, remote workers, supply chain partners, and hybrid networks, managing enormous amounts of alerts from new security solutions is another major difficulty. Most businesses lack an internal team that can choose the best course of action for each alert. Additionally, when threats are serious, they don’t have the necessary expertise to promptly address them before having to deal with a significant breach. Even when teams are available, they can be overwhelmed, since many of these alerts are difficult to identify as malicious and must be examined individually. Security teams must also correlate these threats because doing so can show whether a series of seemingly unrelated signs add up to a greater attack. This may interfere with the other tasks carried out by smaller security teams and consume valuable time and resources. How Does MDR Work? MDR is a collaboration between a customer and the experienced staff of the service provider, adding the necessary personnel to boost the customer’s security team’s capacity to identify, evaluate, research, and adequately respond to threats. Customers can use the SOC team of the MDR provider to construct a comprehensive detection and response process and allow 24×7 security operations monitoring. Some of the main requirements of an MDR service are threat hunting, prioritization, investigation, remediation and accurate reporting. Threat hunting As Heimdal’s CEO notes in one of his articles, threat hunting is […] the practice of finding and comprehending threat actors who may compromise a company’s infrastructure by focusing on repeated activities. Threat (or malware) hunting is a proactive cyber defense strategy based on the assumption of compromise, which allows you to concentrate on the risks that may have gone undiscovered in your network. MDR adds human intelligence to the equation to identify even the most elusive threats that the various levels of automated defenses may overlook. Prioritization Managed prioritization separates benign occurrences and false positives from real dangers using automated rules and human review. The outcomes are then refined into a stream of high-quality alerts after being further contextualized. Investigation MDR services assist firms in comprehending risks more quickly by adding more context. The investigation and comprehension of what happened, when it happened, who was impacted, and how serious the incident was is made easier as a result. This knowledge makes it possible to design an efficient response. Remediation MDR services must also remediate their customer’s systems by restoring them to a pre-attack state and removing persisting mechanisms, if any, to prevent further compromise. The actions that must be performed for this part include malware removal, registry cleaning, and intruder ejection. Accurate reporting Accurate reporting is mandatory for having an overview of a company’s cybersecurity state. Any effective MDR solution must provide verifiable, easily accessible, and practical results and reporting. Benefits of MDR The benefits that MDR services provide to organizations that opt for them are various and significant:

  • continuous visibility over all organizational assets (24/7);

  • full-service managed endpoint threat detection and response;

  • technology augmentation with human intelligence to improve reliability and value;

  • advanced threat intelligence based on indicators and patterns collected from global insights;

  • personalized responses that take into account the context and motive of an attack for each business;

  • reduced possibility or impact of successful cyberattacks;

  • enhanced forensics and extensive investigations;

  • major incident response and log management;

  • constantly updated information on emerging threats and vulnerabilities;

  • superior reporting and compliance;

  • lower security expense, higher ROI.

MDR vs. MSSP With no surprise, Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) services and Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services are frequently contrasted. Despite their commonalities, they also have differences in relation to technology, experience, and engagement. Here are a few examples:

  • While MSSPs are more concerned with system security overview, MDR services are more focused on active threat detection.

  • While MSSPs work to prevent future cyberattacks, MDR services locate and neutralize active threats.

  • While MSSPs’ major interfaces are their portal and emails with secondary chat and phone access to analysts, MDR providers additionally offer a team of experienced threat detection professionals who are accessible through phone, email, and text.

MDR vs. XDR You might also wonder how XDR fits in this equation. XDR (Extended detection and response) is a next-generation cybersecurity solution that provides unified visibility across the various distinct vectors that a cyber threat actor could employ to infiltrate a company’s network. By expanding an organization’s internal security team with outside resources, MDR addresses the problems security teams confront. Most or all of the tasks required to monitor and safeguard an organization’s IT assets will be carried out by the external SOC offered by an MDR service. XDR solves customer challenges by simplifying analysts’ tasks and giving them the tools they need to complete them. XDR frees up security employees to look into and mitigate potential business threats by unifying visibility across an organization’s security architecture and automating tedious and time-consuming operations. How Can Heimdal® Help? You can find many of the features of an MDR service in Heimdal’s Extended Detection and Response powered SOC Service, which ensures:

  • Constant monitoring, 24/7/365;

  • Minimized response times and enhanced productivity;

  • Complete network visibility;

  • Real-time phone or email alerts in the event of an infection or attack;

  • False-positive management, pre-incident assessment, “noise” reduction;

  • Systemized, comprehensive reports on potential threats, malware, and vulnerabilities;

  • Actionable advice on how to strengthen your security policies and procedures;

  • Inspection of policy settings to ensure maximum compliance.

As Heimdal’s CEO, Morten Kjaersgaard explains, By utilizing a structured mix of network and endpoint monitoring, behavioral analysis, Machine Learning tools, and threat intelligence, Heimdal’s XDR/SOC acts as a central hub for security intelligence, gathering and dynamically comparing input from multiple sources (endpoints, networks, cloud workloads) to detect threats faster and ramp up response times. [….] Our XDR solution comprises some of our most critical modules (Threat Prevention, Patch and Asset Management, Next-Gen Antivirus, Ransomware Encryption Protection, Privileged Access Management, Application Control), which work together to provide a seamless experience and are available through a unified, intuitive, dashboard, and it can also be used by Heimdal resellers and distributors for their clients. Final Thoughts Managed detection and response (MDR) is a cybersecurity service that can help companies resolve some of the main challenges of today’s businesses: staffing/lack of security skills and alert fatigue, offering threat hunting, prioritization, investigation, remediation and accurate reporting.

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