What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

what is xdr
Use Cases for XDR

What XDR Does All Day

XDR is like your own digital police force. Imagine two officers on patrol, cruising down the cyber streets looking for threats. If they see something suspicious, they assess the threat. Then, if it looks like something big is about to go down, the officers call in the reinforcements. The goal is to minimize the damage of crime before it’s committed or escalates. That’s exactly what XDR does.

use cases
find Threats

Find Threats

As difficult as it may be to accept, threats are most likely lurking in your network right now. You may be saying, “But I have anti-virus software. Shouldn’t that work?” Unfortunately, no. Today’s threats have grown so sophisticated that they can slip right past yesterday’s anti-virus software.

The good news is that XDR can comb through vast amounts of data with ease and precision to quickly find any existing threats.

assess Threats

Assess Threats

Using AI and machine-learning, XDR assesses threats to determine just how much you need to worry about them. This is one of the most powerful features of XDR. Best of all, XDR goes beyond simply assessing the threat to prioritize the level of threat. Without XDR, this type of assessment could take security personnel hours or days to figure out.

investigate Threats

Investigate Threats

Finally, the reinforcements arrive. XDR facilitates investigation into threats by providing you with as much information on a threat as possible. It'll look to see where a threat originated, how it spread and what it's done/doing to your network/devices.

With this insight, your cyber security teams will no longer have to test different security protocols or work to understand a threat. Instead, they’ll have the knowledge needed at their fingertips to accurately respond and neutralize the threats to your network security.

How XDR Works

While the tech behind XDR is highly complex, how it works to protect your business is pretty straightforward.

A new addition to the family

Think of XDR as a new member of your cybersecurity family. Rather than replacing the cybersecurity tech you're already using, XDR acts as the connective tissue, bringing together data from your current cybersecurity systems, network infrastructure and cloud solutions from across your entire IT landscape. By doing this, XDR gives you a holistic and comprehensive overview of your data and future cyber security threats – allowing you to be more responsive, effective, and faster when handling cybersecurity incidents.

The need for speed

One of the keys to protecting your business from cyberattacks is speed. It only takes a few minutes for a cybersecurity threat to have a serious impact on your business. To stop it, you need to react as quickly as possible to mitigate that impact. XDR gives you the speed to stay ahead of the bad guys thanks to its automation in detecting threats.

By the way, when assessing cybersecurity solutions, you'll inevitably come across the terms “vulnerabilities” and “threats.” While they can seem interchangeable, they're actually quite different. A threat is an active danger poised against your business, a hacker or malware that is trying to break through your defenses. A vulnerability, on the other hand, is a weakness that can be exploited by a threat.

All in one place

Finally, XDR works by centralizing your data into what security experts call a data lake. Rather than getting disjointed information from different systems, XDR unites all of your data into one convenient location. In doing so, you're able to get a much more complete view of threats and alerts at a moment's notice.

Additionally, XDR helps you deal with what is fundamentally a data problem: there is too much data, it is hard to analyze, it’s disjointed and unorganized and more importantly not all of it aids in detection. XDR solves this by bringing the data that is relevant for detection into one place and analyzing it to surface the important alerts, relieving you of the burden of dealing with massive data volumes, multiple sources and weak signals.

But wait, there’s more

About now, you might be ready to sign up for any XDR solution. But hold up because not all cybersecurity solutions are created equal. Some XDRs, known as native XDR solutions, lock you into a specific network or hardware vendor. As a result, protecting your business from advanced cyber threats becomes more complicated because you’re prevented from using a single set of security tools across all of your IT assets.

Thankfully, there’s a better option. Vendor-agnostic XDR solutions (also known as open XDR) include all the benefits discussed above and aren’t exclusive to any hardware, network, or other proprietary systems. That means that you can use vendor-agnostic XDR with whatever tools and systems you're already using without any issues. Since you are not tied down to any specific vendor, network, or hardware, you can truly build a cybersecurity solution that works for your business.

SOAR Tools and XDR

The number and frequency of cyberattacks continue to rise year after year for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Increased interest in hacktivism, where attacks are perpetrated in an attempt to promote a political or social cause.

  • There are simply so many more places to attack because of the proliferation of IoT devices and a mobile workforce.

So what’s a business to do to stay protected?

SOAR represents software solutions that help businesses and organizations streamline their cybersecurity operation. It is both complex and costly. XDR incorporates the key components of SOAR which aid in streamlining your security operations processes, while at the same time removing the complexity of integrating a SOAR platform into your security stack. With the threat landscape evolving so quickly, traditional security solutions cannot keep up or offer sufficient protection. XDR, extended detection and response, was created to defend against today’s emerging threats with the following capabilities and characteristics:


The integration with existing security tools is a crucial characteristic of XDR solutions. The goal is to consolidate your security systems into one tightly integrated solution that collects data from your business’ entire IT infrastructure. With this holistic view and much more functional approach, you get instant visibility into the environment, allowing you to identify weak signals or issues that need to be addressed.


Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), XDR can consolidate large streams of data, perform multi-faceted analytics, find threats faster and determine risks automatically and in real-time. Another characteristic of an XDR solution is the opportunity to automate tasks to improve efficiency and minimize response time.


Armed with data from your network and every device in your organization, XDR automatically responds with appropriate and effective actions.

Did You Know?

In addition to your computer and phone, your TV, remote-controlled keys, security cameras, pacemaker baby monitor and ever your fridge could potentially be exploited by an attacker?

XDR and Network Security

By now you should have a good understanding of how XDR protects the network of your business or organization and helps to enhance your cyber awareness. To paint a fuller picture, it might help to walk through one of today’s most common threats to see how it can impact your business and how XDR can help.

Phishing gets personal

In phishing attacks, hackers use fraudulent emails and websites to steal information from users. Spear phishing goes one step further by targeting specific individuals within the organization, typically senior-level people. Carried out by email, the attacker will appear to be from a piece of software or tool the business uses in its everyday operations, asking the recipient to click on a link to update account information. Unfortunately, the link leads them to a fake website that looks legitimate. The attacker can then use the individual's personal information to gain access to other accounts and data.

Spear phishing attacks are usually more successful than general phishing because they seem more personalized. Hackers spend time researching their targets before carrying out an attack, so they can use information that will make the email believable. For example, a hacker might find out the name of team members and send an email that appears to be from one of them.

How to prevent spear phishing

Knowledge truly is power. All of your employees should trained to look for the following email red flags:

  • The email is not addressed to recipients by name.

  • The message asks something unusual, sensitive, outside of your corporate channels.

  • The email contains a generic greeting, such as "Dear valued customer."

  • The sender's address does not match the legitimate website's address.

  • The email contains misspellings or grammatical errors.

  • The email asks you to click on a link or download an attachment.

  • The email demands some sort of urgent action.

If your employees receive emails with any of these red flags, have them delete the email and report it to your IT department or security team.

It only takes one click

In addition to employee training, be sure all of your software, MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) solutions and your VPN (Virtual Private Network) are up to date and fully configured and integrated. However, even with all of this training and prevention, one click by an employee on a malicious link can lead to a world of trouble. This is where XDR can add a stronger layer of improved protection.

In case of attack

If a spear phishing attack bypasses your controls, XDR provides the detection capabilities needed to identify the threat and automate a response on how to deal with it. As mentioned before, having this protection across all endpoints (devices) allows you to respond to threats as immediately as possible no matter where the infiltration took place.

XDR and Security Data

You may have heard the parable of a group of blind men who were asked to describe an elephant by touching different parts. One man who touched the trunk said an elephant must be like a big snake. One who touched the ear thought it seemed like a kind of fan. And one who touched the leg said an elephant is like a tree trunk. The problem here – and with old-school cybersecurity solutions – is that they’re missing the full picture.

XDR sees the entire elephant

The key to XDR is data. Your business generates massive amounts of data from various security tools and systems, but this data is often siloed, meaning it's not easy to make sense of it all. XDR takes all this data and puts it into one place. By doing this, you can see everything that's happening, identify any security incidents and respond to any threats, such as ransomware, more quickly.

Protects the cloud

XDR uses machine learning to detect any unusual behavior and alert you if there's a threat – all in real-time. For example, if someone tries to access your business's system from an unusual location or device, XDR will detect it and notify you immediately. XDR can also automatically isolate affected endpoints, contain the threat and initiate incident response procedures. This automation helps to prevent cyberattacks before they can cause any damage. Especially today, as remote work has become a standardized practice and increased cloud workloads, XDR is a mandatory resource for keeping cloud platforms safe.

There’s a cyber skills shortage

Around the globe, businesses are having a difficult time finding qualified cybersecurity personnel. This worldwide shortage means, quite simply, that businesses are more at risk of cyberattacks. With XDR in place, you have a built-in security solution that automatically contains threats and initiates incident response procedures. Armed with these incident response procedures, even small cyber security teams will have the necessary tools to investigate incidents thoroughly, correlate events across multiple systems and identify the root cause of an incident. This level of insight enables cyber security teams to understand the scope and severity of an incident, as well as any potential impact on the organization.

As technology continues to advance, so do the threats to your business's online security. It's important to have a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity to protect your business's sensitive data and assets. XDR does just that. Its ability to provide a holistic view of security data and automate threat detection and response make it not a “nice-to-have,” but a “must-have” for any business or organization that wants to protect its sensitive data and assets.

XDR and Telemetry

XDR works by collecting telemetry data from across your organization's security infrastructure. Telemetry refers to the process of collecting and transmitting data about the performance and behavior of your company's devices, networks, and applications. This data is then analyzed in real-time using advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to identify and respond to future cyber security threats.

But this is only the beginning of how XDR helps improve your cyber awareness.

Let’s talk about NTA.

NTA, or network traffic analysis, is a type of cybersecurity solution that goes beyond collecting and transmitting data to monitoring the traffic (movement of data and device connections) on your business's network. NTA provides a different level of visibility that isn’t available just by using telemetry from endpoints.

Always on. Always monitoring.

NTA doesn't just monitor a segment of your network at preset times. It continuously and automatically monitors your entire network, 24/7 365. This makes it much harder for a potential threat to go unnoticed. And it means that when a threat does take place, you'll be able to address it much faster.

Learning from the past.

Network traffic analysis also provides the ability to investigate past incidences by recording data about network activity. After a threat has taken place and been resolved, you can revisit it using your NTA solution and see what went wrong, what the motivations behind the threat were and how you can strengthen against this kind of threat in the future.

More tools than Batman’s belt.

Unlike older security solutions, NTA uses a variety of tools and strategies to keep your network safe. These tools include machine learning, incident analysis, traffic analysis, and risk indicators. Combined, these features greatly reduce the chances of your business overlooking a potential threat especially when coupled with XDR.

Protect your business from today’s malicious threats.

Today, the threats your business faces seem endless… malware, phishing, password attacks and so many more. Network traffic analysis is just one more way XDR delivers a more holistic detection capabilities and response solution for your business.

Extended Detection and Response FAQ

Are your computers and phones the only devices that can be hacked?

Not at all. Your security cameras, remote entry systems, web-enabled presentation devices, and even the new fridge in the break-room could potentially be exploited by an attacker.

If you receive an email from an online shopping site claiming you were incorrectly charged for a purchase and are due a refund, should you click the link in the email?

No. Even if the email seems legit, navigate to the site yourself.

You’re on the road for business and need to check your bank account. Should you use the hotel’s Wi-Fi?

No. The best advice is to never transmit PII (Personally Identifiable Information) over public networks. Use your mobile data network instead.

What’s the best way to keep track of your different passwords?

There are actually two:

  • Use a password manager

  • Use a password pattern recognizable only to you.

Do cellphones need protection like computers?

Yes! Cellphones are mini-computers and gateways to your company’s information. Keep them protected.

At an airport or coffee shop, is it safe to use one of the available networks?

For general use (nothing that divulges passwords or personal information), yes. But, before logging onto any public network, be sure it’s the correct one. Cyber criminals “spoof” legitimate networks to create a fake one from which they can access your private data.

Learn More about XDR