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Cover image for article Where XDR Fits in Your Security Posture

Where XDR Fits in Your Security Posture

Andrew Douthwaite

June 30, 2022

Summary of Key Points

  • XDR provides holistic protection of your network and connected devices vs. operating in a silo with fragmented security products
  • Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, XDR will be constantly improving and evolving within your environment with smarter correlation so that it can proactively stop (or provide alerts for) previously unknown threats.
  • Organizations that collect sensitive data (financial, health, proprietary industry information, etc.) can benefit most from XDR

Cybersecurity threats against your business are more sophisticated than ever. Today, companies have more digital assets that they are responsible for than ever before, making the potential damage from a cyberattack greater than ever.

For many companies, Extended Detection and Response, or XDR, holds an essential place in their overall security posture. XDR offers multi-layered threat detection and response that is not just effective right ‘out of the box’ but also learns and evolves so that it can respond to new and unknown threats as they appear.

See also:

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What Problems Does XDR Solve?

The best way to determine where XDR fits into your security posture is to look at what types of problems it solves. Unlike discrete security tools, XDR takes a holistic approach to security. XDR provides you with full visibility into your security environment. Unlike standalone tools (e.g., MDR, EDR, etc.), XDR enables visibility and action throughout your entire environment.

Organizations have adopted XDR solutions in their environment when facing:

  • Difficulties with siloed cybersecurity tools
  • Alert fatigue for security and monitoring teams
  • Lacking proactive protection against unknown threats
  • A need to isolate and restore compromised systems

Below we explore these issues in more detail.

A person typing on a computer with a graphic of a secure network above

Difficulties with Siloed Cybersecurity Tools

With traditional cybersecurity systems, every protection point is going to get its own monitoring, alerts, and protection suite. For example, your virus and malware protection suite operates independently of your endpoint detection and response system. Once you add in all the other types of defense management systems, you will have a large number of systems that may detect a problem and issue an alert.

In this common scenario, a security professional will need to analyze each alert that is not automatically addressed. In many cases, a single cyberattack attempt could trigger alerts in multiple different silos. This means your team will be spending a lot of time attempting to correlate issues. This is an even bigger problem because these types of correlation efforts need to be attempted when an actual attack may be occurring.

Siloed defense management also takes a lot more time to set up and manage since you need to configure everything on each silo. With XDR, your security is a more centrally managed configuration that will allow you to handle things more efficiently and with minimal overlap.

Alert Fatigue for Security and Monitoring Teams

As mentioned above, traditional security techniques tend to create multiple alerts concerning a single potential issue. Not only does this eat up a lot of time, but it can also cause what is known as ‘Alert Fatigue’. This is where your security team is constantly seeing alerts that they need to investigate to either address or ignore.

Over time, people who are constantly seeing these alerts begin overlooking things or assuming that they know what an alert means before it is investigated. When this occurs, a real threat could fly under their radar for much longer than it should, leaving your systems exposed.

XDR is able to provide the same types of monitoring and threat detection from one system, which means far fewer total alerts that need to be investigated. In addition, XDR is able to respond to many types of threats automatically so that an active alert for your front-line teams is never actually produced. This means that your teams will be able to focus on other activities where they are able to provide significantly more value.

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Proactive Protection Against Unknown Threats

Most cybersecurity systems out there rely on constant updates from the system developer or other sources in order to be able to detect and block threats. This means that newly developed types of attacks are not blocked until the security software companies are able to find them, develop ways to block them, and distribute the updated protections to their customers.

For most companies, this represents an unacceptable level of risk.

On the other hand, XDR not only responds effectively to known threats, but is also independently learning about your network so that it can react to new unknown threats. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, XDR is constantly improving and evolving within your network so that it can proactively stop (or provide alerts for) previously unknown threats.

Isolating and Restoring Compromised Systems

While XDR is able to detect and respond to most types of threats, it is inevitable that some systems will become compromised for one reason or another.

If a virus, malware, or any other type of attack is able to compromise your system, XDR will be able to detect it. Once a compromised system is detected, you can configure XDR to isolate the system so that the problem does not spread across your network.

Once isolated, XDR (or your backup and restoration system) can be used to fix the problem and restore it to normal operation. After the system has been restored, it can be put back into normal production usage. This can all be done far more quickly than would be possible with most other types of cybersecurity solutions.

What Should You Have in Place Prior to Incorporating XDR?

If you have decided that adding extended detection and response solutions to your security posture makes sense, you want to make sure that you have everything in place that is needed before you get started. This is not a security solution that you can simply install and let it run.

Taking the time to evaluate your current situation and plan what your future security strategy will look like is the best way to ensure XDR is incorporated effectively. Specifically, you should:

  • Have a clear understanding of your existing security systems
  • Have an effective implementation plan
  • Have a designated XDR implementation and management team.

Let’s explore these in more detail.

Clear Understanding of Existing Security Systems

The first thing you will want to do is make sure that you have a complete understanding of your existing security systems. This will include basic things like ID and password requirements as well as any EDR systems, MDR systems, and antivirus programs. Anything that you already have in place to protect your network should be identified so that you can make sure it will work well with XDR.

In some cases, XDR will provide the same types of protections as other security tools, so the older tools can be removed. In others, XDR will work well alongside them so that you can get a more comprehensive security solution for your organization.

Effective Implementation Plan

An effective XDR implementation plan will include a plan on what systems the XDR will be monitoring, what types of settings are configured, who is responsible for the system, and more.

This may be done by a third-party XDR consultant or your own internal team. As long as everything is planned out before implementation begins, you will be able to avoid problems and get the level of protection that your systems need.

Two security professionals speaking in a room full of screens

XDR Implementation and Management Team

XDR is generally easier to setup and manage than most other types of security systems because it can provide such a broad level of security while still being configured from a centralized location. Despite it being easier, you do need to make sure you have the right teams in place to perform the initial setup and manage (and monitor) XDR going forward.

In some cases, this will mean training your existing network operations or security teams. In others, it will mean an experienced managed security services provider (MSSP) like us to handle this task. Either way, making sure that you have a team that is knowledgeable about XDR is essential for the long term success of this type of system.

What are Signs that XDR is a Good Fit for Your Organization?

While XDR is effective in strengthening an organization’s security posture, there are some organizations that have more to gain by adopting an XDR solution. Businesses that store sensitive data (healthcare, financial services, etc.) have a greater need to invest in market-leading security solutions due to financial/reputational risks of an incident. XDR can give your CISO some peace of mind.

Organizations with effective, but siloed security tools, such as a security information and event management (SIEM) platform, can benefit by adding XDR to deliver holistic visibility and improved correlation.

Every company should perform its own analysis of their digital environment to see if adding XDR would make sense or connect with a trusted expert.

If XDR sounds like it might be a fit for your organization and you’re looking for guidance, we invite you to connect with one of our cybersecurity experts. We will evaluate your systems, use cases, and overall needs, and help you make an informed decision about how to protect them.

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