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How MDR Can Bring More Value to Your Endpoint Detection and Response Platform

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions are a crucial element of any cyber defense strategy, helping companies detect issues on the myriad devices employees use. While valuable on their own, there’s a simple way to draw additional value from an EDR system while strengthening your defense in depth strategy: by adding a managed detection and response (MDR) solution.

EDR: A Brief Explanation

As the name implies, EDR is all about protecting end points, including laptops, desktops, tablets and smart phones. Typically, a software agent is installed on the device to monitor for events and send data back to a central repository. Often, EDR systems also collect log data from end devices and add it to the repository.

The next step is for an analyst to check the data in that repository. Done correctly, it can paint a comprehensive picture of the threat landscape facing devices in a given organization. Machine learning techniques are often applied to aid in analyzing the data, the goal being to ferret out trends and anomalies that indicate an intrusion, malware, or other cyber security issue.

At that point, whatever the EDR finds must then be acted upon by a security professional.

EDR Demands a Human Response

Making the most of an EDR platform, then, entails having security professionals on staff who know what to do with the data the EDR generates. In the right hands, this data can help security analysts determine how threats spread in an environment, and craft an effective response.

The problem is most organizations simply don’t have enough security expertise on hand, certainly not on the 24x7 basis that cybersecurity demands. That’s where an MDR solution comes into play.

With MDR solutions, trained security professionals look at alerts coming from an EDR, as well as various logs and other security tools such as security information and event management (SIEM) systems. MDR providers often maintain a database of alert data that helps them quickly ferret out false positives, a chore that can overwhelm companies attempting to do the job on their own.

Gartner’s View on EDR and MDR

Weeding out false positives means being able to quickly home in on potentially critical alerts and bring expertise to bear on how best to deal with those alerts. The 2023 Gartner Market Guide for Managed Detection and Response Services summed up the issue well:

“The key value proposition of MDR is the human interpretation of security incidents, providing guidance, as well as performing the initial mitigation steps, that would otherwise be complex to understand and enact,” the Gartner guide stated. “By providing context-led investigation, analysis and threat validation (and taking action to disrupt or contain an attack), the MDR provider can buy time for the customer to perform further investigation and ultimately remediate discovered issues utilizing their internal standardized response processes.”

Gartner goes on to point out that many mitigative response actions involve using EDR systems to contain threats, such as by isolating an endpoint or killing a malicious process. So, again, the MDR service enables customers to get more value from their EDR platform.

Finding Previously Unknown Threats

MDR providers that also perform threat hunting bring yet another layer of value. Whether done proactively or on a continual basis, threat hunting typically involves using an EDR (and other tools) to conduct a thorough investigation of a company’s environment. Experienced threat hunters can identify the tell-tale signs of an intruder in a network, and discover security gaps that an attacker may exploit.

In the course of threat hunting and other investigative work, MDR providers often find new, previously unknown threats, which are then added to their threat database. At that point, these newly found threats are available to every other MDR customer, in effect extending the power of each customer’s EDR solution.

Clearly, an EDR solution on its own is a sound way to detect and aggregate threats from all endpoints. But feeding threats your EDR finds to an MDR provider adds an additional layer of protection that both extends the value of your EDR solution and strengthens your defense in depth strategy. Trustwave’s MDR solution, for example, includes 24x7x365 coverage from seven global security operations centers staffed by highly trained researchers and analysts who monitor client environments.

Trustwave believes and is committed to human-led threat hunting conducted by our SpiderLabs team of skilled and experienced security professionals that is backed by powerful behavior-based threat hunting, including Trustwave’s recently introduced human-led Advanced Continual Threat Hunting.