Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is a detection and response cybersecurity tool that consolidates solutions and unifies data to offer extended protection beyond predecessor technologies like endpoint detection and response (EDR), which focus exclusively on endpoints. XDR extends the range of protection to assets across an entire enterprise network, including endpoints, servers and cloud repositories and cloud-based connections to help reduce blindspots and detect threats faster.
How Does XDR work?
XDR leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to add automation to security tasks that can bog down security teams. These systems continuously learn from data as it is collected, developing knowledge based on expected network behavior. As XDR encounters new information, it makes determinations about whether the data could indicate a potential threat, given what the system knows about typical network behavior.
The holistic nature of XDR means these systems can uncover bad actors even when they use legitimate software to gain entrance to a network, unlike commonly used tools like security information and event management (SIEM). By taking an “extended” look at the entire network architecture, XDR can manage:
To achieve this birds-eye view security approach, XDR draws from three primary functions.
Sophisticated data analytical features allow XDR to not only monitor and collect data from the entire network (including endpoints and cloud resources), but to incorporate valuable context into its findings. One significant advantage of XDR is its ability to prioritize alerts, reducing security team fatigue originating from threat hunting. Simply put, XDR reduces the number of false positives these teams must sort through.
The detection element of XDR refers to visibility. These systems develop baselines of expected network behavior across multiple network environments and then compare actual behavior, including behavior that might appear innocuous in other environments. Legitimate usage of software for nefarious means, for example, can be detected by XDR and quarantined safely until security analysts can evaluate the potential threat. This contextual approach adds a line of defense against modern cyber criminals who are savvy enough to enter networks covertly through means like phishing and credential spoofing.
Other security solutions are able to contain and remove detected threats, but XDR responses include threats across entire networks, not just endpoints or workloads. XDR is also not reliant on manually devised rules and tags required by legacy security solutions like SIEM, providing an overall response that is quicker, more effective, and more accurate.
Key Benefits of XDR
Perhaps the main, overarching advantage of upgrading to an XDR approach is that these systems offer a single platform that can prevent, detect, and respond to threats across multiple sources. By funneling cybersecurity data and insights into a centralized dashboard interface, security teams can stay on the same page, easily monitor hybrid network architectures, and ensure holistic, integrated network security oversight.
XDR can monitor a variety of sources and evaluate them in a way that is tailored to unique networks, including:
Hybrid network resources
Other remote worker connections
As these resources are monitored, XDR systems employ self-driven machine learning AI to “learn” a network’s architecture and apply that knowledge to making educated decisions about the veracity of potential security threats.
Other key benefits over systems like EDR and SIEM include:
Better visibility across networks, including hybrid networks with cloud assets and large numbers of endpoints
Minimizing the overall impact of true threats (XDR’s more sophisticated, contextual response often means networks can continue to operate and perform core functions while threats are isolated and resolved)
XDR is a Significant Cybersecurity Advancement
XDR offers a comprehensive, integrated, automated approach to security that takes advantage of modern advances in the field of AI and machine learning. Organizations that use XDR can centralize their security approaches and protect their networked assets from cyber attacks even across complex, hybrid network architectures.
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