The Basics of XDR Explained
What is XDR?
Before we explain what XDR is, let’s talk about what it evolved from. A typical enterprise, at this stage in the game, should have a well thought out ‘defense in depth’ plan for cybersecurity. Basically, that means at least n+1 security tools for any attack surface. For a SOC professional to respond to all the alerts generated from all of these different tools would require a lot of monitor real estate and coffee, so most companies opt into getting a Security Information Event Management (SIEM) platform that collects logs and aggregates alerts. While SIEMs gave us a single window into all of our logs and alerts, they have typically lacked the horsepower needed to enrich alerts with broader context. This is where XDR platforms have been a gamechanger.
Gartner defines 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.” XDR, also known as Extended detection and response, represents a more advanced approach towards threat detection, investigation, response, and hunting. The system is touted to provide more holistic safety measures against breaches, unauthorized access and misuse of access and data. It achieves this by bridging the separation of traditional security silos and delivers a more comprehensive detection and response framework that encompasses all data sources. In the SIEM world, you’d see an alert from one of your security tools, and you’d dive in from there. In the XDR world, an alert from one of your security tools would trigger an enrichment- correlating data from every tool or device in the blast radius to give a complete picture of how an attack happened, where it came from, and what systems could be compromised
How does XDR work?
The beauty of XDR solutions lies in ensuring 360° visibilities across all data sources that includes all enterprise endpoints, network, and cloud data. XDR also leverages advanced analytics and automation to combat the increasing urgency and sophistication of threats in today’s business environments. This enables companies to take a far more proactive approach towards threat detection and response than was previously possible. Just to have a glimpse of what cyber security teams are capable of doing with XDR, please note that XDR can enable you to:
- Correctly anticipate and identify hidden, stealthy and advanced threats proactively and effectively
- Enable companies to track threats regardless of the source or location within the company infrastructure
- Improve metrics that impact the bottom line such as effective productivity scores
- Enable companies to get better ROI from their security investments
- Conduct and close investigations into security incidents more effectively
Apart from enhancing your overall security posture, XDR platforms enable organizations to even improve the resilience and productivity of their infrastructure by enabling a higher degree of proactiveness in combating threats and simplified security management. This guarantees a greater degree of peace of mind for companies, so they can focus on improving customer service, strategic priorities for business growth and expansion and drive more enhanced digital transformation initiatives.
What are the Use Cases of XDR?
Proactive threat hunting may be on the wish list of mini security teams, but in reality, few have the time to actually do it. This, despite the fact that security teams are aware that serious threats may already exist in the company network. This is where the enrichment and automation capabilities of XDR come in handy to extend the capabilities of security teams and lighten their load as much of the threat detection is actually automatic. Human security experts only need to step in when manual intervention is absolutely necessary.
Prioritizing or triaging alerts is a necessary part of effectively and quickly responding to critical threats. In fact, this could possibly be characterized as one of the most important functions of any security team. XDR can help security teams perform this function better with the help of powerful analytics that can parse through large amounts of alerts and correctly identify the high-priority ones.
XDR enables security teams to conduct more streamlined investigations with comprehensive data collection, better visibility into data streams, and automated analysis. Tracking threats becomes easier when you can trace Origin points easily, know exactly how it spread, and correctly estimate its impact on users and systems. This is critical in tracking lateral movement to another system or device that didn’t trigger an alarm.
Benefits of XDR?
XDR’s considerable list of additional capabilities offers many tangible benefits for strengthening an organization’s security framework. These benefits include:
Greater visibility and context: Traditional EDR only provides visibility to the endpoint; although, the EDR visibility in tools like Crowdstrike Falcon are pretty darn impressive, it certainly helps to be able to zoom further out beyond the endpoint. XDR, on the other hand, provides a comprehensive bird’s eye view of the entire security environment enabling security teams to better see threats on any security layer. As already explained above, XDR allows you to better investigate attacks as you can trace exactly how an attack happened, pinpoint the entry point, affected users and systems, and trace the path of the spread. This context and additional insights enabled by XDR analytics make it possible for security teams to speed up the rate of response and effectively respond to threats.
Prioritization: IT and security teams often find themselves mired in countless series of alerts generated by a disparate range of security services. XDR’s data analysis and correlation capabilities make it possible for security teams to group related alerts, assign the requisite level of priority, and respond to alerts according to the level of priority.
Better threat response: Till now, threat detection has been dependent on quarantining the affected endpoint. This approach is now proving dated as advanced threats are capable of taking out not just individual systems but critical business servers. With XDR, businesses can have a better handle on responding more effectively to threats with advanced capabilities and visibility. This allows security teams to specifically tailor their response to specific affected systems and servers and minimize or mitigate the overall impact of the attack. For more information on this, please refer to Cloud migration solution.
Platforms providing the most visibility in EDR
If your company is not already familiar with it, Crowdstrike Falcon is a cloud-based platform that enables endpoint protection across the length and breadth of your organization. Crowdstrike Falcon makes it possible for security teams to configure the Falcon SIEM Connector to send events to best in class XDR platforms like Rapid7 InsightIDR, where companies can launch investigations around that data. InsightIDR is Rapid7’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry-leading security information and event management (SIEM) tool that seamlessly integrates with CrowdStrike Falcon Insight™ endpoint detection and response (EDR). This enables companies to leverage better threat response decision-making through united endpoint telemetry and detections alongside user, network, cloud, deception technology and other security alerts, enabling a holistic and comprehensive view of the security environment.