Managed detection and response, or MDR, is one of the most talked about modern cybersecurity services. And while many businesses are upgrading to MDR, the question remains about how MDR relates to the offerings of a Managed Security Services Provider, or MSSP.
In this post, we're going to look at the evolution of managed security services and how MDR epitomizes what is needed from a modern managed security service.
What is managed detection and response (MDR)?
Managed Detection and Response, or MDR, is a type of cybersecurity service that provides a holistic threat detection and response capability across your endpoints, IT infrastructure (including networks) and cloud services. Endpoints include devices like laptops, smartphones, and servers.
In many cases modern MDR services leverage XDR (Extended Detection and Response) as the the underlying technology on which MDR is based. By using XDR it becomes possible to bring together detections across the entire IT infrastructure including network, endpoints and cloud, unlike solutions like EDR, which focuses on endpoints and NDR, which focuses on the network.
While XDR provides state of the art tooling to detect and respond to threats, MDR goes further by providing a service which leverages the skills of experienced security analysts. The ability to operate a Security Operations Center (SOC), staffed with highly skilled analysts who have experience gained from exposure to multiple organizations' environments is beyond the resourcing capabilities of even many of the largest enterprises. MDR, on the gives you access to the best skills available without having to invest in your own SOC.
The benefits of MDR
To give you a more comprehensive idea of why MDR is growing in popularity, here are some of the key benefits that it has to offer. While there are a whole host of reasons to invest in MDR, these are the ‘go-to’s that businesses consider before purchasing MDR.
A key component offered by MDR is threat hunting. Threat hunting involves performing searches (or queries), both automated and human-initiated for potential threats to your cybersecurity 24/7.
Traditionally, threats have been caught after they've been noticed by your users or IT team. This reactive approach waits too long by today's standards. A cyber attack can cause widespread damage across your network if you wait until its effects become apparent before countering it.
Threat hunting attempts to detect the earlier stages of an attack, allowing you to catch threats as they hit your network, dramatically mitigating the damage that can be done.
MDR services are capable of detecting threats quickly thanks to threat hunting. Automated responses stop them quickly. Unlike many cybersecurity systems, which only alert your IT team whenever a threat hits your system, MDR has the capability to respond to threats immediately and also has the ability to trigger automated responses to stop threats in their tracks.
This means that your IT team can either take the night off or, if they need to be involved, your MDR service will give them all of the tools and information to act quickly.
Without automated security, you're waiting until after an attack has left its mark. And in 2022, that's just too long to wait.
What can MDR do for a business?
Like any cybersecurity solution, MDR solves challenges for businesses that would otherwise need to be solved manually. And as we've covered, working through cybersecurity manually can result in lost time and growing threats.
The first challenge that MDR solves is the sheer number of threats that businesses face today. Capabilities like threat hunting and automated responses allow fast responses to a growing number of cyber threats. The skilled analysts at your MDR provider are able to investigate threats as they are identified and then advise you on the best course of action to remediate the threat.
Not only will MDR help you to respond to threats quickly, but your provider’s skilled analysts will also be able to advise you on how to improve your security posture in order to prevent the recurrence of threats in the future.
MDR vs. MSSPs
You may be more familiar with MSSPs (managed security service providers) than MDR because they have been around for a long time. Traditionally, MSSPs have focused on securing IT infrastructure for their clients.
As you'll see in the following discussion, MDR provides an evolution of managed security services in an environment where security has become a ubiquitous concern, rather than limited only to security infrastructure.
MSSPs traditionally secured the perimeter
MSSPs evolved at a time when security was largely managed at the “perimeter” of an organization's IT infrastructure, focusing on managing specialized security devices, like firewalls, which formed a barrier between the organization’s internal network and the outside world.
With the advent of hybrid IT, remote working and cloud services, the notion of managing security at the perimeter has become outdated. Security has now become an integral part of the management of all IT infrastructure and systems. This means that managing security configuration has become an integral part of any IT team’s day to day life. Having a service provider that specifically manages security of your infrastructure is often no longer practical or cost effective. At the same time, the tools and skills required to detect threats have become much more specialized and complex.
MDR provides specialized security around the clock
Unlike many traditional MSSP offerings, which focus on managing the configuration of the “defenses” at the perimeter, MDR aims to detect threats, no matter where they emerge, and then respond quickly, and even automatically if possible.
This is done by gathering telemetry from the entire IT infrastructure and analyzing it in real-time. Analyzing this deluge of data requires very specialized skills and systems which MDR providers have developed specifically for this purpose.
In addition to monitoring your IT infrastructure on a 24/7 basis, MDR providers also specialize in building up a “database” of Threat Intelligence (TI) which contains “Indicators of Compromise” (IoCs) which are used to identify threats. The task of curating TI requires very specialized skills and many years of experience. Through the curation of its TI your MDR provider is able to identify new and unknown types of attacks as they emerge and then automatically apply that TI to detect emerging threats in your environment.
This set of capabilities sets MDR aside from traditional MSSP offerings which have tended to focus on building defenses against known attacks, rather than detecting and reacting to both known and new attacks. In the current, rapidly evolving, cybersecurity landscape the capability to adapt to emerging threats is becoming more and more critical.
MDR provides an evolution of managed security services
The maintenance of security controls has become a day to day responsibility of every IT operations team. At the same time, strong security controls have become embedded in most IT systems and infrastructure. Unfortunately however, the cyber threats that we face have become more complex and evasive. As a result, MSSP customers will find the need to move to services which provide protection in this “new normal”.
In this context, MDR provides you with access to the highly specialized skills and technologies which give the ability to defend against more and more sophisticated attackers, all the while evolving to defend against new threats.
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As you may have gathered from this post, there's a lot to learn about cybersecurity and how it can best keep your business protected. For more information from industry experts, visit the rest of Samurai's website today.
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