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What is XDR? Concepts and Benefits

Uncover the benefits of XDR for comprehensive security, including threat detection, response, and recovery across endpoints and networks.

Many cybersecurity solutions operate in siloed technology stacks. Organizations deploy one solution for endpoints, another for cloud workloads, and yet another for the network layer. Aside from being inefficient, this approach also can be highly ineffective—allowing threats to go undetected until it’s too late.

Extended detection and response (XDR) integrates these previously siloed security products and data into a unified SaaS solution that views an organization’s entire computing environment holistically. This enables security teams to hunt and mitigate security threats across multiple domains rapidly and efficiently.

What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?

In the field of cybersecurity, XDR is an advanced, SaaS-based approach to threat detection, investigation, and response. XDR solutions are designed to provide organizations with comprehensive visibility across their entire digital environment.

Traditional cybersecurity solutions often focus on individual components, such as firewalls, antivirus software, or intrusion detection systems. XDR takes a more holistic approach by integrating security tools and unifying data from multiple sources, such as endpoints, network devices, cloud services, and applications. XDR analyzes the aggregated data using advanced analytics and machine learning techniques and provides a unified view of potential threats.

This may sound similar to SIEM solutions. However, XDR de-couples the storage of security-relevant data from the threat detection, investigation, and response functions. XDR is meant to fill the gap where a lot of SIEMs are just too rooted in log collection (for storage), compliance, and traditional correlation rules to be that effective at preventing a successful breach.

How Does XDR Work?

The process begins (and continues) with collecting data from various security tools and systems from across an organization’s total computing environment. Example sources include endpoint security tools, identity and access management systems, network security devices, cloud workloads, email systems, applications, and more. All relevant security information should be ingested. As it comes in, the data is normalized into a consistent format and enriched with contextual information.

The next step involves data correlation and analysis. Advanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are applied to identify relationships and patterns and detect anomalies within the data. XDR can combine multiple data points into a unified attack story, which can span multiple attack vectors. The analysis produces insights that help security teams detect both known and unknown threats, as well as advanced persistent threats (APTS), in real-time.

Once a threat has been detected, the XDR solution delivers all the relevant information to the security team to enable the investigation and response process. There may be automated response actions, for example, blocking malicious traffic or dropping the connection of a suspicious account. Threats are prioritized by severity to help the security team decide what to work first.

XDR Architecture

The Importance of XDR Security for Business

As organizations evolve their networks and infrastructure based on digital transformation objectives, it leads to an expanding attack surface with numerous security gaps. In addition, the cyber threat landscape has grown very complicated—too complicated for security teams to monitor and detect threats with traditional security solutions alone. With the increasing volume of relevant security metrics spread across the environment, from endpoints to data center to cloud, it’s impossible to manually correlate and analyze information to effectively respond to threats in real-time.

XDR solutions are purpose-designed to help companies build a unified, automated defense system that operates across the entire environment. Such solutions are a force multiplier for security teams, allowing them to gain better visibility into potential threats and respond more effectively. When organizations have confidence that their business systems are secure, they can focus on strategic business priorities.

XDR vs. EDR Comparison

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is an endpoint security solution that continuously monitors managed end-user devices such as laptops, mobile phones, and IoT devices to detect and respond to cyber threats. According to Gartner, an EDR solution “records and stores endpoint-system-level behaviors, uses various data analytics techniques to detect suspicious system behavior, provides contextual information, blocks malicious activity, and provides remediation suggestions to restore affected systems.”

While this sounds like XDR, the main difference is that EDR is limited to endpoints for the data sources. XDR uses data from multiple sources, including endpoints, to provide a more holistic view of an organization’s computing environment. XDR can detect and respond to threats that EDR would miss because they don’t originate from an endpoint device.

XDR versus SIEM Comparison

There is a lot of confusion around how XDR and SIEM are different, and which solution is “right” for enterprise security. The fact is, though they overlap in many capabilities, they can be very complementary to each other.

SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management. It is a type of software solution that provides security professionals with a centralized view of their organization’s security events, including alerts, incidents, and logs. SIEM systems collect and analyze security-related data from multiple sources, including network devices, servers, endpoints, cloud platforms, applications, and more. They then use advanced analytics and correlation techniques to identify potential security threats, anomalies, and patterns that could indicate a security breach or attack.

Sounds like XDR, right?

SIEM solutions also can provide real-time alerts, automated response actions, and reporting capabilities that help organizations detect, investigate, and respond to security incidents more efficiently and effectively. Another key function is to provide reporting to support industry and regulatory compliance requirements. SIEM is the central platform of choice for organizations that need to address compliance, operational, and security use cases.

So, how is XDR different from SIEM?

It starts with the origin of the two types of tools. SIEM largely began more than a decade ago as a means to collect, store, and analyze logs from across an organization’s network and security devices, and to provide compliance reporting. SIEM evolved over the years to include threat detection and response. XDR is still an emerging technology that is strictly focused on the need to detect and respond to threats across the enterprise. XDR works with an organization’s existing security tools, including SIEM.

SIEM is not going anywhere. Companies need it for logging and compliance purposes. XDR, however, has a stronger threat detection element—something that companies need to keep their systems secure.

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XDR Use Cases

There are numerous security use cases for XDR, including:

Hunting Threats Across Domains

XDR helps threat hunting teams find and mitigate attacks by efficiently processing data collected from a variety of sources and platforms and transforming it with contextual information. XDR also leverages machine learning to find hidden threats using sophisticated behavioral models and identifies and correlates threats through multiple layers of the network or stack.

Precision Threat Detection and Immediate Response

XDR can quickly and accurately determine if there has been an attack, understand the impact, and then respond immediately.

Continuous Intelligence Monitoring

XDR enables organizations to leverage unlimited global threat intelligence and then correlate it against telemetry and security logs for pinpoint accuracy of immediate and future threats.

Attack Prediction

XDR enables organizations to leverage global intelligence at scale and to automate the analysis of threat actors across threat models such as the MITRE ATT&CK Framework to reveal their tactics, techniques, and procedures, showing what their next likely move is going to be.

Gurucul Open XDR

Gurucul Open XDR is a cloud-native, analytics-driven platform that works with organizations’ existing security stack to improve and accelerate threat detection and incident response. With Gurucul Open XDR, Security Operations Centers (SOCs) of varying skills and size have proven to gain the necessary visibility, context, and automation to identify attack campaigns in real-time and prevent damage within minutes and hours, not days, weeks, or months.

Gurucul Open XDR automatically provides out-of-the-box integrations with current customer solutions, such as traditional SIEM, to collect, correlate, link, and analyze data from all their security components and other infrastructure. It provides contextual threat hunting for investigations and enables a variety of incident response actions. Powered by the Gurucul Risk AnalyticsTM (GRA) platform, Gurucul Open XDR allows security teams to operate more efficiently, thus reducing risk, data loss, and operating costs.

With GRA, Gurucul offers the most comprehensive set of advanced cyber security analytics solution that goes beyond traditional rule-based pattern-based detection. GRA leverages big data and a trained machine learning and enterprise-class risk engine to predict, prioritize, detect, and respond to active attack campaigns. The diagram below shows the analytics that Gurucul has developed as part of the Gurucul Open XDR product.

Gurucul Risk Analytics (GRA)-Graphics

With Gurucul Open XDR, organizations can:

  • Achieve immediate time-to-value through out-of-the-box automated threat detection in real-time
  • Adapt and more rapidly identify new threats and variants without the need for machine learning model updates from vendors
  • Eliminate manual customization needed for ingesting different data sources and reduce performance impact
  • Leverage and retain a correlated and normalized set of threat metadata that eliminates manual efforts
  • Drastically reduce Mean Time to Detect (MTTD) to minutes or hours instead of days, weeks, and months through advanced detection
  • Elevate your security team to understand and respond more effectively to attack campaigns with targeted context and link event analysis
  • Accelerate response (reduce Mean Time to Respond to hours) through risk-driven, dynamic playbooks with prioritized response actions.

Read our Whitepaper: Gurucul Cloud-Native Analytics Driven XDR Platform

Whitepaper-Gurucul Cloud-Native Analytics Driven XDR Platform

Conclusion

XDR, which stands for Extended Detection and Response, is a cybersecurity technology designed to enhance threat detection, response, and remediation capabilities across multiple security products and platforms. It offers a holistic approach to cybersecurity that goes beyond traditional endpoint protection and focuses on integrating and correlating data from various security solutions to gain better visibility and context into cyber threats.

The key idea behind XDR is to break down the silos that exist between different security tools and enable them to work together seamlessly. By integrating data from endpoints, networks, cloud environments, and other security solutions, XDR offers a comprehensive and centralized view of the entire IT ecosystem, allowing for improved threat detection and faster incident response.

FAQs

Does XDR provide compliance and regulatory benefits?

Yes. XDR solutions integrate and analyze data from multiple security sources, including endpoints, networks, and cloud environments, allowing organizations to gain comprehensive visibility into their security posture. This enhanced visibility enables better monitoring and detection of security incidents, helping organizations meet compliance requirements and regulatory standards. XDR can provide detailed logs, incident reports, and audit trails, which can be crucial in demonstrating compliance with various regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and others. Additionally, XDR’s automated response capabilities and predefined playbooks can help organizations enforce security policies and controls, further bolstering their compliance efforts

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Can XDR integrate with existing security solutions?

Yes, XDR is designed to integrate with existing security solutions, making it a flexible and adaptable approach to cybersecurity. XDR platforms typically support interoperability with a wide range of security technologies and products, allowing organizations to leverage their existing investments in security infrastructure.

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How does XDR facilitate threat detection and response?

XDR facilitates threat detection and response by providing a centralized and holistic view of security incidents across multiple endpoints, networks, and cloud environments. By integrating data from various sources such as EDR, NTA, and SIEM, XDR enables the correlation and analysis of vast amounts of security telemetry in real-time. This allows for the early detection of advanced threats and malicious activities that might otherwise go unnoticed. XDR’s advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities help identify patterns, anomalies, and indicators of compromise, enabling security teams to swiftly investigate and respond to potential threats. Additionally, XDR automates and orchestrates incident response actions, enabling faster remediation and minimizing the impact of security incidents, ultimately enhancing an organization’s overall threat detection and response capabilities.

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What types of threats does XDR protect against?

XDR is designed to protect against a wide range of threats, including known and unknown malware, advanced persistent threats (APTs), zero-day exploits, insider threats, ransomware, phishing attacks, and unauthorized access attempts. It offers comprehensive threat detection and response capabilities across endpoints, networks, and cloud environments. XDR leverages advanced analytics, machine learning, and behavioral analysis techniques to identify indicators of compromise, detect suspicious activities, and uncover hidden threats. By continuously monitoring and correlating security telemetry from various sources, XDR can swiftly detect and respond to threats at different stages of the kill chain, providing organizations with proactive and effective protection against a diverse array of cyber threats.

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