Manoharan Mudaliar

Cyber Security Consultant

Understanding the Differences Between EDR and MDR Methods of Threat Detection

Threat detection service

The cyber security world today is filled with multiple acronyms. It isn’t easy for stakeholders to detect and distinguish the differences between many of these acronyms and what they stand for. IT and security personnel need to be well equipped with methods of threat detection, which is why they should be well versed in all the terms in use in the cyber security domain.

IT and cyber security personnel need to make quick decisions in the heat of the moment, which is what makes it even more important for them to know their acronyms in full. Two of the most common acronyms likely to be encountered by organizations looking to improve their threat detection mechanism for shutting down threats are MDR and EDR. MDR stands for Managed Detection and Response while EDR stands for Endpoint Detection and Response.

This blog takes a look into the differences between EDR and MDR methods of threat detection, and oversees just how they can help cyber security personnel take the right decision.

What Is EDR?

Endpoint Detection and Response or EDR is a term commonly used by cyber security agencies and personnel to define measures taken to detect threats in endpoint servers. With the growing number of endpoint servers, organizations today take special interest in ensuring that all host devices connected to their network are protected. These devices include laptops, desktops and other mobile servers.

Endpoint Detection and Response technology combines different elements of functionality with next generational antivirus to deliver anomalies reported in all endpoint systems. EDR does a good job at detecting anomalies by supporting threat hunting and by eventually automating the incident response process.

EDR solutions begin work by collecting all of the data generated by endpoint systems. Once this data is collected, the systems run behavioral analytics to examine and detect any signs of suspicious activity in how the endpoint system is being used. This constant monitoring ensures that even the slightest anomaly is detected by the system. Once an anomaly is detected, a prompt alert is sent generated for human investigation and response.

Endpoint systems can be used to contain and quarantine infected devices, perform kill chain analysis, block malicious IPs and create a custom threat watch list for monitoring. All these benefits provide security teams with the layer of visibility they need to not only identify, but also respond to threats and intrusions.

Features of EDR

  • Endpoint device data monitoring: As we have studied above, all endpoint devices are constantly monitored as part of an EDR system. Systems are monitored for suspicious data and files, which may be the doing of a network threat. All detected threats are mitigated with limited damage. EDR also monitors and updates security systems like anti-malware programs in endpoint devices.
  • Traffic Analysis: Cyber security specialists monitor traffic going in and out the endpoint system, looking for variations in the flow. These variations are basically signs of an intrusion. Specific digital methods of common threats are identified.
  • Digital Forensics: Digital forensics is perhaps one of the most essential aspects of EDR. Once a data breach takes place, a thorough forensic analysis of all endpoints is conducted to unearth the cause behind and the damage caused by a breach. Digital forensics help mitigate network threats and also guide cyber security analysts about threats, so that they can be neutralized in the future.
  • Endpoint Event Storage: Log files from a threat are stored in central locations accessible by all. These log files play an instrumental part in eventually unearthing data surrounding the breach.

What Is MDR?

MDR or Managed Detection and Response is an acronym used to define a process for helping organizations not only detect, but also respond to threats. MDR combines a number of areas such as human expertise, endpoint detection technologies, networks and threat intelligence mechanisms to reach the results that it generates.

All Managed Detection and Response Services are delivered by professional MDR experts. These services are concocted to help organizations form an enterprise grade cyber security mechanism. MDR is best suited for businesses that do not have the ability or the financial prowess to build a fully oiled in-house security system. MDR comes at a fraction of the cost it takes businesses to build their own cyber security capabilities in-house. The system not only helps save costs, but also ensures that organizations are able to safeguard their systems from threats.

MDR can work as the virtual extension of the in-house team within your organization. It not only hunts down threats, but also responds to them around the clock. MDR goes well beyond the scope of what is traditionally offered by a managed security service provider. MDR providers are tasked with hunting for, investigating and providing the support needed to remediate and manage threats.

Features of MDR:

  • Intrusion detection and prevention: MDR systems come equipped with the ability to recognize all attempts to breach a network. Countermeasures are a hallmark of MDR. With MDR almost all kinds of network intrusions are discovered right in their infancy. Timelier responses are possible due to early detection.
  • Threat Analytics: MDR does not only oversee the mitigation of all threats, but also runs an analysis over the kind of threat in action. Cyber security protocols following MDR protocols look for composition and sources of threats during threat analysis. Analyses help experts develop the right counter measures for keeping all such threats away in the future.
  • Round the clock support: With MDR, businesses can rest assured knowing that their systems are monitored 24×7. Since attackers don’t work in 8 hour shifts, an attack can come at any hour, which is why coverage throughout the day is necessary.
  • Proactive Threat Hunting: Some network threats are made to evade traditional security systems. MDR systems can detect all such threats due to attention round the clock and because of their specialized tools. All sophisticated threats are neutralized before they can cause any damage to individual systems and the network as a whole.

Does MDR Include EDR?

EDR technologies are an important part of MDR’s stack. EDR technologies allow MDR security teams to achieve deeper threat coverage and visibility. Some EDR providers even offer MDR services dedicated to specific endpoint detection. All such services are marketed as Managed EDR.

However, in almost all cases, EDR is just one of the many tools in place of a full stack MDR service. MDR providers also incorporate a wide range of other services to achieve comprehensive visibility. Other services offered by MDR providers in their stack include intrusion detection, SIEM, vulnerability management tools and network traffic analysis. An MDR provider will deploy, accurately configure and properly monitor all the technologies included within their service pack.

Challenges of In-House Endpoint Monitoring

As the sophistication of cyber threats continues to grow, the perimeters in place for controlling threats are insufficient now. While buying and integrating all necessary technologies is already extensive, most organizations also have to go through the additional burden of training their staff members.

Many organizations run into spending exuberant amounts on staff training, without realizing the cost burden of all such expenditures. The potential offered by systems like EDR is significant, but no organization can truly unlock this potential without a dedicated team of experts to configure, monitor and manage these systems around the clock.

Overstretched IT teams often fail to extract value out of these systems, while professionals end up suffering from alert fatigue. Eventually, the technology is rendered redundant. It is because of these challenges that organizations today prefer managed security services to fill in the resource gap.

The Rise of MDR

Managed Detection and Response has grown as a popular form of threat detection because of the growing concerns related to managed security services or MSS. These concerns include the inefficiency of MSS systems to handle modern cyber threats.

Many MSSPs were criticized for passing threats with only basic monitoring and alerting. MDR goes well above and beyond the scope of a traditional security service, adopting a more outcome-driven and proactive approach. Elements included in a typical MDR include continuous network and endpoint monitoring, security orchestration, threat hunting and remote threat disruption and containment.

Many MDR providers also extend their coverage to cloud services. This could mean proper detection and response in GCP, Azure, AWS and common SaaS applications. It is believed that a quarter of all organizations across the globe will be using MDR services in 2024, a massive jump from the 5 percent that use these services today.

A cyber security consultant can help provide the help you need in choosing the right threat detection service. I’m a certified information security manager with extensive experience in helping organizations from various industries devise cyber security protocols and measures to ward off sophisticated and invasive cyber threats.