MDR vs EDR: What’s Best for Your Business?

By Ron Samson Jr February 11, 2021

MDR and EDR are similar sounding acronyms, and the differences between the two may not be clear. If you are trying to determine MDR vs EDR and which is best for your business, you have come to the right place.

What is MDR?

Managed detection and response (MDR) is an example of a managed security service offering.  MDR providers offer their clients the following services:

  • Round-the-Clock Network Monitoring: Cyber-attacks can occur at any time, and 24/7/365 SOC services are essential to ensure that an organization is prepared to respond to any cyber threat. This round-the-clock monitoring is a core component of the services offered by an MDR provider.
  • Threat Detection and Response: MDR’s primary focus is on threat detection and response. This means that MDR services go beyond the threat detection provided by a managed security services provider – who places the responsibility for threat remediation on the client – to include investigation and handling of the incident.
  • Threat Hunting: Cybersecurity solutions are not perfect, and some attacks may slip through the cracks. Threat hunting is a proactive approach to cybersecurity in which threat hunters search for undetected intrusions within an organization’s environment.  This service is included in MDR services and is essential to minimize an organization’s cybersecurity risk.
  • Security Systems Management: Effective cybersecurity requires an array of cybersecurity solutions that need to be appropriately configured and managed to do their jobs properly. With MDR, this responsibility is in the hands of the service provider instead of being a task that an organization needs to manage and maintain the required expertise internally.

 

 

What is EDR?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) such as Carbon Black is designed to improve the security of an organization’s computers and other endpoint systems against cyber threats.  To accomplish this, EDR solutions commonly include the following capabilities:

  • Endpoint Monitoring and Protection: The endpoint is the primary target of cyberattacks, especially during this time of remote work. EDR solutions are designed to protect the endpoint by collecting and aggregating data about the protected system and analyzing it to detect potential threats.
  • Anomaly Detection and Artificial Intelligence: EDR systems integrate machine learning for threat detection, including anomaly detection and artificial intelligence (AI). These systems can analyze a great deal of data and extract patterns and trends that point to potential intrusions and other issues on the system.
  • Endpoint Log Management: Endpoints can generate a number of log files; however, this log data is useless if it is not collected and analyzed. EDR performs automatic log management, making this data available to its own data analytics systems and to human analysts.
  • Digital Forensics: Digital forensics investigations can be crucial to determining the cause and scope of an infection on a system. EDR systems support these investigations by performing log collection and data analytics and providing investigators with access to the compiled results.

 

 

MDR vs EDR

MDR and EDR are both designed to help improve an organization’s cybersecurity posture.  Some of the main similarities between the two include:

  • Threat Detection and Response: Both EDR and MDR are designed to perform threat detection and response. This includes incorporating key capabilities such as data collection and analytics.
  • Log Aggregation and Analysis: Both an MDR provider and an EDR solution will perform log aggregation and analysis. This enables them to extract the features from the available data that are required to detect and respond to potential intrusions and other events on the protected system.
  • Data Analytics and Machine Learning: Both MDR and EDR include the use of machine learning and data analytics. This use of machine-based intelligence and analysis can be invaluable as these algorithms are effective at extracting patterns and trends from data, which can be directly applied to threat detection.
  • Support for Threat Hunting: Both MDR and EDR include support for threat hunting. An MDR provider may offer threat hunting services, while an EDR solution provides threat hunters with access to data and analytical tools.

While EDR and MDR have some similarities, they also have significant differences, which include:

  • Internal vs. External: MDR and EDR solutions differ in where they are applied and located. An MDR provider is a third-party organization that operates from outside of the protected network, while an EDR solution is deployed directly on a protected system.
  • Area of Focus: MDR and EDR have different areas of focus. An EDR solution is focused solely on endpoint security, while an MDR service includes protection of both the endpoint and the network.
  • Service vs. Tool: MDR and EDR differ in their core functionality. An EDR solution is a tool that needs to be deployed, configured, and managed by human operators. MDR is a service that may include the use of EDR solutions as part of its threat detection and response capabilities.

 

 

Which is Right for Me?

EDR and MDR can provide some overlapping capabilities; however, they are very distinct. Some important considerations when selecting between MDR vs EDR for an organization’s needs include:

  • Internal Security Staffing: The state of an organization’s in-house security talent is a crucial differentiator in the decision between EDR and MDR. If an organization has a right-sized security team missing tools for endpoint response, then EDR is the right solution.  However, if a security team is understaffed, or does not have the expertise, then MDR may enable the organization to fill critical gaps.
  • Security Gaps and Requirements: EDR and MDR are designed to address overlapping but distinct security gaps. If an organization has a largely mature security program with limited endpoint protection capabilities, then EDR can help to address its security needs.  If, on the other hand, the organization’s entire cybersecurity program needs improvement, then MDR might be the correct option.
  • Required Security Expertise: EDR solutions assume that an organization has the required skills to deploy, configure, and operate them effectively. If this is not the case, MDR service providers can take over the responsibility for managing an organization’s security infrastructure.
  • Incident Response Capabilities: Incident response is an essential part of managing an organization’s cybersecurity risk, but EDR does not provide this capability (only support for it). If an organization lacks an in-house incident response team, then an MDR provider can offer the required services.
  • Threat Hunting Capabilities: Like incident response, threat hunting requires specialized knowledge and skills, and EDR solutions support threat hunting but assume that an organization’s security team has the required expertise. If not, MDR can help to fill these skills gaps.

Based on these criteria, it should be possible to determine which of the two options is a better fit for your organization. For many organizations, having both is the best option to get optimal coverage. For more information or to learn more about Clearnetwork’s MDR services available, click here.