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August 19, 2022
As the ever-increasing list of cybersecurity acronyms and vernacular grows, what cybersecurity tools will work for your team and meet your organization’s needs? To make sense of it all, let’s dive into security technologies used in the market today and the differences between endpoint detection and response (EDR), network detection and response (NDR), extended detection and response (XDR) and security information and event management (SIEM).
In addition to this blog, a webinar featuring LogRhythm’s Deputy CISO Andrew Hollister and VP of Field Engineering Jonathan Zulberg covers this topic in depth.
Cybersecurity solutions are constantly evolving to reduce risk and help SOCs modernize their defenses, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to security technology. EDR, NDR, XDR and SIEM are all solutions that help organizations mature their security posture and each have unique functionality tailored to the needs of an organization. Some of these platforms have overlapping capabilities, which can cause confusion among cybersecurity professionals.
EDR security enhances visibility by collecting, correlating and analyzing endpoint data. It helps security teams identify and respond to malicious activity occurring at an endpoint. EDR solutions must provide four primary capabilities:
With EDR software you can better understand what threats exist and what attacks are happening at endpoints such as IoT devices, servers, cell phones, laptops, cloud systems and more. In this Alphabet Soup e-Book, Hollister shares an example of how EDR can work: “If a user browses to a malicious website and malware is downloaded, EDR software can stop a threat in its tracks before it turns into a ransomware attack.” The adoption of EDR software has risen because of sophisticated cyberattacks and the increase in endpoints across environments that make infiltrating a network easier for cybercriminals.
NDR solutions provide centralized, machine-based analysis and incident response capabilities to protect against known and unknown threats traversing across the network. NDR security improves visibility into network blind spots and helps identify what or who is coming across the network and what anomalies exist. NDR enables security operations teams to conduct rapid threat investigation across the environment and adds analytics and behavioral capabilities resulting in high-fidelity alerts for more accurate threat detection.
XDR is an emerging technology in the market, and definitions may vary based on the source.
Hollister and Zulberg explain how XDR merges security capabilities such as EDR, NDR, and some aspects of user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA). It provides deep analytic and security capability to detect and respond to threat actors across the entire IT ecosystem.
Some professionals refer to XDR security as an “easy button” for an out-of-the-box solution that streamlines end-to-end threat detection. To some degree, it does help with focused and targeted detections, but all security solutions still require the resources and skills to onboard and continuously improve processes. SOCs with limited resources can use XDR security as a powerful means to improve threat detection and response, but “easy” is a loose term to describe implementing and maintaining security technology.
SIEMs are invaluable for many SOCs because they provide centralized visibility and context into mass amounts of data. They consume data from all assets and security technology and help SOC teams make sense of a sophisticated environment by providing a comprehensive and holistic view across the entire enterprise. By collecting and analyzing security events and contextual data sources, SIEMs enable security operations teams with threat detection, compliance and incident management capabilities.
SIEM tools are useful for organizations that must demonstrate compliance. Highly regulated industries such as healthcare, finance and government must abide by certain mandates. SIEM tools help SOCs manage persistent data for forensic search and auditing, compliance and reporting, risk analysis and operational monitoring.
Here are some answers to several commonly asked questions about the differences between EDR, NDR, XDR and SIEM.
S&P Global’s market intelligence report, “The Rise of Extended Detection and Response,” suggests that “XDR provides threat detection and response capabilities that extend beyond the approach of single threat vector solutions such as EDR and NDR. XDR aggregates telemetry across the security stack, adding analytics and intelligence to interpret and correlate data and detect threats across the IT ecosystem.”
EDR and XDR are security tools that aim to detect and respond to threats quicker. The difference between the platforms is EDR focuses on detection and response at the endpoint, while XDR expands protection across networks, firewalls and cloud applications.
SIEM tools can be used for a broad set of security needs, such as threat detection, compliance, incident management, risk analysis and operational monitoring. XDR is much more targeted with threat detection and response. SIEMs can do everything XDR does, but add additional capabilities like reporting, compliance and operational monitoring. XDR focuses on a narrow set of data sources and is ideal for low-volume, high-accuracy detections for automated remediation.
Andrew Hollister’s Forbes article on the “Similarities and Differences Between XDR and SIEM” is a great extra resource that explains why certain organizations may choose one solution over the other, or how both XDR and SIEM can work together in a security architecture.
Per Hollister’s comment, XDR and SIEM both have powerful benefits, but whether your team invests in one over the other, truly depends on your goals, resources, architecture and highest priorities. Below is an example of how XDR and SIEM technologies may work harmoniously.
A CISO at a large healthcare enterprise manages a complex security stack with a diverse set of vendors. The organization must adhere to numerous regulatory standards, compliance mandates and reporting requirements. The SOC team needs better threat detection and visibility across the hybrid IT environment with data centers and clouds.
To overcome these challenges, the team integrates XDR with their SIEM. XDR provides real-time visibility and the SIEM provides forensic search, data archival and customization for compliance. The combination of strategies creates a more robust and mature security posture. With XDR, fewer contextualized alerts are sent to the SIEM for prioritized investigations.
In some instances, yes, but there is not a standard to acquiring one solution first over another.
Security technology like EDR, NDR, XDR and SIEM can help security operations teams reduce risk and bridge gaps in visibility, detection and response. It’s just as important to note that although acquiring security technology may help you with modernizing your SOC strategy, it’s not always the answer to solving your challenges. If your team cannot support onboarding, managing and continuously validating data, then you will only cause more issues.
Everyone’s path looks to improving security looks different. You can build on the foundation of current tools, processes and security controls to get to the next level of maturity. If you add a platform to your security arsenal, then you must ensure it meets the needs of your team while aligning to your business’ objectives.
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