When researching endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions for cybersecurity, expect to hear more about extended detection and response (XDR). It is the newest evolution of EDR to detect real time cybersecurity threats. 

The threat world gets faster and more agile every day, and effective threat detection has become a multi-vector process. Security teams are looking for better ways to create a more unified view of potential threat activity.

What is extended detection and response (XDR)?

An XDR solution “extends” visibility, detection, and response across the security platform, by combining multiple tools. As with EDR, the security solution is primarily focused on detection and any prevention efforts fall back on the EDR tool. It is also relatively beholden to each of the vendor tools feeding into it. 

But XDR tools are much more. XDR is: 

  • EDR plus network detection and response (NDR), cloud, and identity and access management.
  • SIEM plus “stitching” of data into better correlations to cut down on alerts, synthesize real situations and prepare analysts with broader visibility.
  • A platform utilized by the buyer as well as a managed service to support the customer’s security team.

Adding XDR tools to an EDR solution offers the following benefits:

  • Prioritizes alerts to detect real threats and their risks
  • Identifies sophisticated and stealth threats quickly, reducing the amount of time it takes to detect and respond
  • Decreases visibility gaps across different tools and platforms
  • Simplifies investigations into data and events that may have been compromised
  • Eliminates isolation of products

What is XDR vs. EDR?

Both XDR and EDR are tools that improve productivity for security personnel. The volume of threat activity continues to increase, and human experts only have so much time and focus to prioritize alerts based on their potential damage.

XDR is broad, by pulling in endpoint, network, cloud, IAM and other solutions. Gartner describes XDR as “a SaaS-based, vendor-specific, security threat detection and incident response tool that natively integrates multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system.”

EDR offers a more narrow view of threat detection, providing investigation, response, and mitigation capabilities only at the endpoint. EDR needs other solutions to fully protect a company’s infrastructure because it does not offer that network visibility. Because of this, it can’t detect an attack from beginning to end. XDR monitors every phase of an attack, and it can provide historical information of attacks across the system. 

A reason to move beyond EDR is because security tools and vendors aren’t designed to work together as a system. XDR helps bring together pertinent security data and offers broader protections across the whole network infrastructure, rather than individual pieces. Important to note, however, is that as of now no technology can completely replace human talent for high confidence in a program’s capability.

Can XDR replace SIEM?

SIEM has been part of the security toolkit for more than a decade, and it is going to remain a part of the security toolkit, even as XDR is increasingly introduced into enterprise security solutions. 

Automation is one of the biggest differences between SIEM and XDR. XDR uses machine learning (ML) automation to identify potential threats and integrates a variety of investigative tools into a single solution, while SIEM data collection and event investigation requires rules to be created manually. New generations of SIEM are adding ML and behavior analytics capabilities.

The advantage of SIEM over XDR is in areas like log management and compliance, things that XDR isn’t built to do. XDR won’t replace SIEM, but it will likely be built into future SIEM products so that SIEM gets the benefits of XDR capabilities.

XDR won’t replace the other security tools needed across your network, but it will enhance visibility across your infrastructure as it continues to adopt new technologies.