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MDR, EDR, and XDR… What’s the Difference When it Comes to Cybersecurity?


In a recap of Cybersecurity Trends & Statistics for 2023, Forbes Magazine noted ominously that there is “more treachery and risk ahead as attack surface and hacker capabilities grow.” Every company, large or small, the author stressed, is now a reachable target with its brand, reputation, and revenue pipeline at risk from a breach.

So how does a business––particularly a small to medium sized enterprise––contend with sizeable cyber risks and threats? Today’s cybersecurity options go far beyond the firewall to ensure that businesses can withstand the evolution of cybercrime–in other words, keep up with how quickly attackers’ capabilities change and grow. These solutions take a more proactive approach to threat detection and response and reduce the time and resources required to manage threats. Ultimately, they enable enterprises to focus on their core business objectives.

Among the most popular mitigation techniques are Managed Detection and Response (MDR), Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR). Each can function both independently and collectively to protect you from cybersecurity breaches. Here’s how:

  • MDR service provides a business with a team of experts who use advanced analytics and machine learning (ML) algorithms to actively monitor the network. The team monitors cloud environments, network traffic and endpoints; identifies potential security threats; and takes action to mitigate those risks. The goal is to detect and respond to threats swiftly, before they can cause harm. Small to medium sized businesses unable to hire and retain cyber professionals to support MDR or whose team struggles to keep up with monitoring activities, can have MDR implemented by a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) equipped with a 24/7 Security Operations Center, or SOC.
  • EDR focuses specifically on endpoint devices and is a core component of MDR. In fact, no MDR solution is complete without EDR. Endpoint devices on a network include all the servers, desktops, laptops, smartphones, cameras, scanners, and other devices. EDR uses advanced analytics and ML to detect and respond to threats in real-time, providing in-depth visibility into endpoint activities and threats that may evade traditional antivirus solutions. EDR still requires manual intervention (typically from a team of SOC analysts) to investigate and remediate threats.
  • XDR can be seen as another version of MDR that relies more on artificial intelligence (AI) and ML and less on a hands-on approach. Advanced threat hunting typically reduces the need for human intervention and the “managing” of threats.

One of the significant advantages of MDR and XDR solutions is that they integrate data from multiple sources, providing a more comprehensive view of security across the entire organization. This integration of data allows security teams to detect and respond to threats that may have gone undetected using other methods. It also helps to reduce the number of false positives and negatives, leading to faster and more accurate detection and response.

Wondering what your next steps might be? An MSSP can evaluate your security needs and recommend the best-fit solution to improve your cybersecurity posture and ensure that your business is protected under any circumstance. Even if you have an in-house IT team, an MSSP can complement your existing resources to improve security and enable growth. As Forbes outlined, being cyber-aware is part of the process of risk management and security; looking at the cyber-threat landscape and understanding your options enables you to see how to position the enterprise to keep pace with evolving risks and threats.

Learn more about partnering with an MSSP like Hughes to protect your network and your businesses.