Extended detection and response (XDR) is an approach to threat detection that represents the evolution and consolidation of Network Detection and Response (NDR) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions. By taking a more holistic view of a computing environment, XDR goes beyond the threat detection capabilities of NDR and EDR.
NDR focuses on analyzing network activity to detect known threats and anomalies that may indicate malicious activity. EDR concentrates on endpoint security and is designed to prevent or mitigate malicious processes that can affect your hosts and are not easily detected by observing network activity.
In addition to NDR and EDR solutions, companies implement multiple security controls to protect the environment from malware and other threats. Unfortunately, threat actors are continuously searching for ways to circumvent each new security control. The result is that the effectiveness of these controls may vary and not provide the expected level of protection. Implementing an XDR solution strengthens security and addresses any gaps in an organization’s cyber defenses.
What are Effective Security Controls?
Security controls can be broadly categorized into four classes.
- Administrative controls - These controls are essentially the security policies that guide individuals and define how IT resources should be handled and protected. An example is a company’s data handling policy which outlines how information can be used by employees.
- Physical controls - Limiting physical access to IT systems is a critical security control. Controls such as ID badges or biometrics such as retina scans should be in place to prevent unauthorized physical access to the environment.
- Technical controls - These controls are implemented as hardware or software solutions and are designed to prevent access to IT systems and data. These are the types of controls that form the foundation of a cybersecurity posture that is enhanced by the addition of XDR. Technical controls include encryption, multi-factor authentication, firewalls, and antivirus (AV) software.
- Operational controls - Processes carried out by individuals to strengthen security are operational controls. Examples include reviewing logs in search of anomalies and engaging in security awareness training.
Security controls are made more effective through a layered approach that methodically addresses the possibility of threats and mitigates damage when a security breach occurs. Companies should adopt a defense in depth approach to cybersecurity to handle the increasingly complex and sophisticated attacks launched by threat actors. The following is the logical order in which layered controls should be implemented for optimal security.
- Deterrence - The top level consists of firewalls and endpoint protection tools that deter threat actors from attempting to gain access.
- Access prevention - This layer includes management of identity and access, using tools like passwords and multi-factor authentication to prevent intruders from accessing company assets.
- Risk detection - Detecting the risk is essential to mitigating it and controlling its spread. XDR operates at this level to detect sophisticated threats that have managed to bypass deterrence and access prevention.
- Control threat propagation - Once a threat is detected, it is essential to control its spread to limit any damage to the environment. XDR’s ability to identify and prioritize threats facilitates the efforts of security personnel to minimize risks. This is also where XDR’s ability to detect lateral movement of threats by correlating signals across different domains becomes important.
- Addressing the issue - A company’s incident response plans come into play to address and correct the issue with a minimum of collateral damage.
- Recovering compromised assets - In the case of compromised assets, the final stage incorporates recovery procedures to return the environment to its operational state.
Effective security controls are those that perform their role in a layered approach to cybersecurity. Encrypting sensitive data is an effective control that prevents unauthorized access to data resources. Using strong passwords has been a sufficient access prevention control in the past that has been strengthened through the use of multi-factor authentication.
An illustrative example of the increasingly sophisticated threats can be seen in new techniques that have been developed by hackers to compromise MFA implementations. They are employing techniques such as session-hijacking and MFA flooding to defeat what is generally considered a robust security methodology.
Identifying these threats is beyond the capabilities of traditional cybersecurity measures. Relying solely on legacy tools may give organizations a false sense of security that does not reflect the true extent of threats to the IT environment. It’s too late to identify a threat when it has already brought down your infrastructure or exfiltrated valuable data.
Organizations need to accept the fact that they will probably be breached at some point despite their best efforts at implementing strong security controls. A misconfigured control or a new hacking technique can put the IT infrastructure at risk. XDR steps in to detect threats that have breached controls so they can be mitigated to limit damage. Without the additional protection offered by XDR, companies are putting their IT environment at risk of being exploited by stealthy threat actors.
How XDR Addresses Advanced Hacking Techniques for Enhanced Security
XDR addresses the need to go beyond your existing security controls no matter how effective they appear to be. There is an incentive for threat actors to find ways around your defenses via misconfigured controls or unintentional gaps in security. XDR can detect intrusion by providing visibility into the entire digital estate and analyzing signals that indicate the presence of threat actors.
The sophistication of stealthy threats often involves a compromise of first-level defenses that facilitates the embedding of an advanced persistent threat (APT) in the environment. In the MFA example discussed previously, access to the environment was permitted by traditional defensive mechanisms. Additional security measures need to be taken that continue to look for threats that have escaped detection and continue to pose a risk to an IT infrastructure.
XDR accomplishes this in multiple ways that include:
- Discovering aberrant behavior that may signal an intrusion by connecting signals collected from across the IT environment;
- Identifying and consolidating weak signals to identify sophisticated threats that have circumvented other security controls;
- Using threat intelligence (TI) to identify known threats before they can impact the environment.
Samurai XDR is a cloud-based solution that is designed to enhance the cybersecurity posture of companies of all sizes. The XDR solution enables reactive and proactive threat hunting that can mitigate security breaches and identify intrusions before they can cause damage.
See the power and functionality of XDR in action by requesting a free private beta invitation. Let the experts at Samurai show you how XDR addresses the gaps in your security controls and provides more effective threat detection and protection for your IT environment.
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