What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

ThreatDown Managed Detection and Response (MDR) delivers 24/7/365 on-call cybersecurity expertise to provide organizations advanced protection within minutes.

What is MDR?

Managed detection and response (MDR) is a service that provides proactive, purpose-built threat hunting, monitoring, and response capabilities powered by a team of advanced cybersecurity technicians combined with the analysis of robust correlated data.

MDR services take the guesswork out of your most complex cybersecurity threats by delivering 24/7 threat detection, rapid alerts, prevention, and remediation. MDR is a service built on a powerful endpoint detection and response (EDR) platform that is managed by a team of advanced analysts and threat researchers. It’s an affordable, tailored solution to your business’s high-level cybersecurity needs that offers best of breed human expertise and threat intelligence.

Business challenges MDR solutions address

MDR vendors focus on resolving key challenges that many small businesses and their security IT teams face. With so many detection and response tools on the market, your security team grapples with copious volumes of alerts, unable to interpret complex, disjointed threat intelligence data. Cutting through the noise to make sense of siloed data is near to impossible with many security teams lacking elite cybersecurity expertise. It’s a race against the clock. As your business’s environment rapidly evolves, the bad actors are continuously finding ways to circumvent layers in your security stack.

Let’s dive into what an MDR solution can address.

Resource and internal security staffing limitations

The ratio of IT staff to the total number of employees varies depending on organization size and annual revenue. While medium and large organizations may be able to afford full-time security teams dedicated to threat hunting, response, and remediation, individual experience varies with obscure skill level and acumen. For small businesses, hiring a team of such caliber is outside the realm of possibility. MDR security presents the unique opportunity for large and small businesses alike to leverage budget-friendly, high-skilled cyberthreat expertise.

High alert volume

Glaring issues that IT personnel face include an overwhelming volume of alerts (alert fatigue) and notifications set off by traditional security tools. Seemingly pinging with equal levels of urgency, the magnitude of false positive activity can leave internal security professionals overburdened. Attempting to follow-up on every alert inadvertently distracts your in-house team from monitoring legitimate malicious activity and other important projects. Managed detection and response services alleviate your team’s time expenditure towards investigating alerts by accurately identifying threats and prioritizing them based on severity.

Lack of sophisticated threat identification

In an evolving threat landscape, MDR addresses the underlying challenges in sophisticated threat detection. Frequently, legitimate alerts go unnoticed. While in-house security teams focus threats on an individual basis, they fail to correlate small indicators that contribute to a large-scale attack. Advanced MDR personnel leverage their EDR platform with industry-leading tools giving them the ability to contextualize and examine indicators of compromise (IOC) as well as strategically prevent future cyberattacks on your organization.

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Benefits of MDR security for your business

Driven by a team of on-premise analysts adept at identifying and classifying incidents, MDR encompasses the advantages of both human expertise and today’s EDR platform threat technologies. MDR solutions not only aim to block threats but dig deeper into forensics behind endpoint and network attacks. It is often described as a cost-effective SOC-as-a-service equivalent that offers the experience of high-skilled cybersecurity specialists at an affordable price. These specialists work around the clock to monitor alerts, interpret security events, develop the right course of action, and proactively hunt threats in your network.

Designed to save your organization valuable time, managed detection and response experts are ready to find and triage modern-day malware, including ransomwarespyware, and computer viruses. Most notably, MDR fills your organization’s cybersecurity skill gap by delivering the bandwidth necessary to achieve better security posture. In turn, it fosters your existing internal security staff’s strategic initiatives by taking the complex problems off their hands.

How managed detection and response works

MDR vs SIEM – What’s the difference?

Security information and event management (SIEM), share many similarities to MDR. SIEM collects data from your network’s events using multiple security tools, including firewall management, endpoint security, and network monitoring. SIEM relies heavily on aggregate data and the analysis of log event information to detect threat anomalies.

Because of its reliance on data, SIEM generates complex results that make it difficult for users to understand. Conversely, MDR monitoring incorporates human expertise that presents an intuitive solution with results that are easy to read. Want to learn about MDR and SIEM? Visit our business blog post: Threat Monitoring for SMBs: SIEM vs SOAR vs MDR

MDR vs MSSP – How do they compare?

For many companies, their IT security teams are struggling to keep up with alerts and attract qualified security talent. With sustaining an in-house Security Operations Center (SOC) being out of reach, managed security services offer an affordable, subscription-based solution helping your organization attain skilled security personnel and access to cutting-edge threat intelligence tools. Managed security allows organizations to outsource, augment their security posture, and delegate responsibilities to a third-party security provider.

Let’s compare the two common managed security services, Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) and Managed Detection and Response (MDR).

Managed security responsibilities and cyber prevention

An MSSP is not a SOC substitute but situationally can address some of the gaps in your cybersecurity ecosystem that plague your IT team. Managed Security Service Providers help alleviate alert fatigue and supplement round-the-clock monitoring, detection, response, and remediation.

Though MSSPs can take on some of the responsibilities as MDR providers, MSSPs focus greatly on cyberattack prevention and are designed to support your business’s existing security layers, such as maintaining SIEM management and firewall tools. The Managed Security Service Provider has limited forensic capabilities but performs basic investigation.

Security skill gap and threat investigation capabilities

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) cybersecurity can mimic the same capabilities as an internal SOC (MDR IT security is often compared to a managed SOC), which bolsters continuous 24×7 monitoring, proactive threat hunting, behavior analysis, investigation, response, and remediation. Unlike an MSSP, MDR is a threat intelligence-driven service which blends human-led analysis performed by advanced, highly skilled MDR analysts. Equipped with the skillset to leverage leading-edge security technology, such as SIEM and other threat intelligence tools, MDR analysts rely on their backbone of veteran security experience and are well-versed in behavioral analysis, forensics, and incident response.

Your MDR vendor handles the deep analysis, triage, and response following a cyber intrusion. On-call, premium cybersecurity expertise is a pinnacle factor for choosing Managed Detection and Response services. This advanced security concierge experience allows your organization to receive personalized support from experts who understand your business, your customer’s objectives, and threat landscape.

Explore ThreatDown Managed Detection and Response (MDR) for MSPs for more information.

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What are the benefits of MDR?

The benefits of managed detection and response (MDR) include 24x7x365 threat monitoring, highly skilled MDR analysts, proactive threat hunting, enriched contextual alerts, and precise remediation to save your organization time and prevent damaging expenses incurred from a security breach. MDR services were designed to accelerate your business’ cybersecurity posture and expedite the threat response process to support improved cyber resilience.

What is the difference between EDR vs MDR?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is a cybersecurity tool used to detect threats and protect endpoints against malware, ransomware, and other cyberattacks. Managed detection and response (MDR) is a service which focuses on leveraging both analysts’ expertise and technologies, such as a SIEM platform, to fuel threat analysis, detection, and response at scale. Learn more about EDR vs MDR on our Malwarebytes Labs post.

How to choose an MDR security service?

There are three key areas businesses should address when choosing an MDR service provider. Companies should think about these areas in relation to their scope of operations, budget, and security maturity.

Security fatigue

Your in-house security IT team might struggle with an overwhelming volume of alerts gathered from a range of cybersecurity tools. Chasing down false positive alerts diverts your security team from investigating legitimate threats and executing incident response activities. Consider an MDR that’s experienced in tools such as SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response).

Response capabilities

Following a cyber incident, your organization needs confidence security experts are ready to respond at any given moment and trust the incident is fully investigated. Many MDR companies tout their services are led by experienced analysts but neglect to specify their MDR team’s composition. Malwarebytes MDR has a high percentage of Tier 2 and Tier 3 analysts (Forensic Analysts) to Tier 1 analysts (Frontline Responders). These Tier 2 and Tier 3 analysts dig deep into threat investigation and provide advanced expertise. Our team is powered by incident response playbooks that allow our experts to accelerate response activities.

Deployment and setup

Length of the onboarding process, ease of deployment, and security tool integration are all factors to consider when choosing an MDR tool. Adversaries won’t wait for your next security layer to get set up.