In the world of threat detection and response, alert fatigue and tool sprawl are real problems. Security professionals are struggling to manage different tools and control points, and they still are relying on manual processes, which results in security that is fragmented and reactive. Analysts need better visibility and control, more context and more automation to cut through the noise and respond to threats faster and more effectively.

Extended detection and response (XDR) solutions promise to optimize the security operations center (SOC) by accomplishing all the above. To realize the benefits of XDR, organizations need to understand exactly what it is, as well as what needs to be considered for an impactful XDR implementation.

Defining XDR and its capabilities 

In the simplest terms, XDR can be viewed as the evolution of threat detection and response. It combines telemetry and other data from various sources and leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence. Data is aggregated and continuously analyzed to provide context and enable rapid, effective threat detection and mitigation.

When considering an XDR solution, knowing the capabilities that are most critical to a successful XDR strategy is paramount. These should include: 

  • Increased telemetry (data from multiple environments such as cloud and endpoint are pulled into a central platform)
  • Advanced analytics (encompassing machine learning) combined with targeted threat intelligence
  • Facilitation of automated/orchestrated response actions

A strong XDR solution functions as a single pane of glass, integrating all the security tools in an environment to give organizations centralized visibility into their endpoints, cloud environments, SaaS applications and networks. Comprehensive XDR solutions will eliminate the need to separately monitor and maintain an array of point products; analysts receive fewer duplicate alerts, giving them more time to focus on the ones that matter. 

As security operations become more efficient and the number of monitoring tools decreases, the overall cost of ownership is lowered. A holistic threat detection and response model alleviates the burden of managing multiple tools and greatly reduces the risk of compromise. From there, an ideal XDR solution should have the infrastructure and expertise to take the information from an organization’s endpoint, cloud and network and bring it all together to give security teams better visibility into their threat environment.

Considerations for successful XDR implementation

Organizations looking for XDR solutions must select the XDR strategy that will best fit their needs. They can choose a vendor-agnostic solution (sometimes referred to as “open” or “hybrid” XDR), where a platform relies on integrations with security tools from different vendors, or they can opt for a single-vendor platform, also known as “closed” or “native” XDR.

For many organizations, the goal is to eliminate overlapping capabilities in their stack, which wastes budget and personnel resources. Make sure that the XDR solution under review can address this before continuing to invest. Additionally, take the time to find out if a solution offers ancillary capabilities; for example, the ability to easily report against regulatory frameworks (such as PCI DSS, FedRAMP, GDPR, HIPAA and NIST) and the potential to share reporting with executives or board members, so they have visibility into the organization’s security posture.

In addition to determining the best migration plan and the available capabilities of an XDR solution, understanding what needs to be secured is key. Does the organization have visibility into data across its endpoint, network, cloud, edge and OT devices — or are there blind spots in areas of the network that an XDR solution could address? A managed XDR service provides access to cybersecurity consultants who can assess an organization’s environment and identify where gaps are located.

XDR solutions are a powerful way to combine detection, response, threat analytics and machine-learning capabilities into a single platform. As security leaders review the options in this growing market, it is important to remember to evaluate them against the unique needs and capabilities of their organizations.