Fri, Mar 8, 2024

What Is MXDR and Why Do You Need It?

Managed XDR (MXDR) is a service-led security solution that uses a wide range of telemetry sources to better unify and automate incident investigation, analysis, and response.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is the technology at the heart of MXDR. It is a security platform that unifies telemetry across multiple security layers, such as networks, endpoints, applications, email, identities, and cloud services, into a single platform.

Read on to discover how, when deployed effectively, Managed XDR can help mitigate many of the risks associated with managing security in-house to deliver broader visibility and support a more robust security posture.

What is Managed XDR (MXDR)?

MXDR is a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that provides advanced detection and response capabilities through a powerful combination of security technologies and specialist expertise.

In a constantly changing threat landscape, organizations must ensure they are prepared to respond effectively to new and emerging threats by leveraging the best technologies. The “X” in Managed XDR stands for “extended” because it unifies data from a wide range of data sources, including previously isolated security tools across an organization’s technology stack. This facilitates enhanced visibility across the attack lifecycle and more efficient investigation, threat hunting and response across networks, cloud services, email, identities, and Software-as-a-Service applications. 

MXDR can be delivered via either a closed XDR or open XDR approach. Closed or native XDR is delivered via one technology suite from a single vendor, while open or hybrid XDR uses one vendor, for example for EDR, and integrates third party data from other vendors. The optimal approach will vary between organizations, depending on existing investments, budget and roadmap.

Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) plays a crucial role in XDR, easing the burden on in-house security teams by allowing specific incidents to be responded to automatically. MXDR provides a critical advantage for in-house teams, who are freed up to focus on the key issues, with response playbooks and automated actions accelerating the incident response process.

Companies using a wide range of security point solutions risk being overloaded with alerts that lack context, creating more work for their security teams and leading to delays in addressing threats. Recent Kroll research revealed that, such was the complexity it created, the more security tools organizations used, the more incidents they experienced. Managed XDR significantly reduces this burden by providing multi-layered visibility and streamlining security analysis, investigation, and response, coordinating security tools into a single platform.

By acting as a virtual extension of in-house resources and providing a turnkey, outcome-based service, MXDR significantly reduces the costs associated with establishing and maintaining an in-house security team and infrastructure. Managed XDR enables businesses to continually improve their defenses by drawing on insights gained through frontline threat intelligence.

MXDR vs Legacy Managed Services

Legacy Managed Services

One complete, turnkey solution, ensuring consolidated security data

Often delivered via multiple fragmented toolsets, with long implementation and integration timelines

Allows the monitoring of data across many different sources for greater visibility and more complete threat detection

Visibility limited to a select group of toolsets, with many providers having limited specialist expertise and critical telemetry blind spots

Fully outsourced detection and response, reducing the burden on security teams

Deep analysis and response tasks may have to be managed in-house, adding to the work of internal security teams

One complete “pane of glass” provides a more immediate overview of security status

Disparate, siloed security systems can mean delays in threat alerting and response

Harnesses automation to accelerate triage and remediation of issues, reducing the mean time to detect and respond to threats

Inconsistent use of automation may mean that false positives multiply and risk remediation is delayed

Enriches alerting by contextualizing large volumes of data collected and analyzed from across many different sources 

Alerts are often “passed over the wall,” with limited context, requiring additional triage before they are actionable

MXDR Benefits

Leveraged effectively, Managed Extended Detection and Response has the potential to advance organizational security in several ways.

  • Enhanced Threat Detection

    By harnessing advanced analytics, artificial intelligence-led algorithms, and the expertise of security specialists, MXDR enables organizations to dramatically enhance their ability to detect threats before they cause disruption. Because MXDR allows data monitoring across many different sources, it delivers greater visibility and more nuanced and complete threat detection, supporting long-term cyber resilience. 
  • Accelerated Incident Response

    Managed XDR speeds up incident response because it streamlines organizations’ security operations. While fragmented approaches mean that organizations’ systems often work in silos, MXDR consolidates all security data. This provides a clearer and more immediate overview of a company’s security status, enabling in-house teams to respond to and resolve issues more quickly and effectively.
    MXDR harnesses SOAR to speed up the process of triage and remediation, standardizing and accelerating the whole mitigation process. By reducing the mean time to detect and respond to threats, MXDR enables businesses to minimize the potential disruption caused by cyberattacks.
  • Increased Visibility

    MXDR allows organizations to achieve a more comprehensive overview of their security posture. By combining machine and human learning and combining many different data sources into one “pane of glass”, it provides real-time visibility into an organization’s security status. MXDR also highlights how specific alerts and incidents are interconnected, providing actionable insights and reducing the burden on already pressured security teams. This then enhances response to incidents and increases visibility, helping organizations to identify key threat patterns and mitigate potential security issues.
  • Improved Threat Analysis

    Managed XDR enables organizations to build their knowledge of specific threats to help support a proactive approach to addressing them. This is because it collects and analyzes very large quantities of data about the unique threats that can impact an organization, contextualizing it between data sources to significantly enrich alerting.

    As well as known threats, MXDR supports the detection of emerging threats that other security approaches may not have identified. In this way, MXDR allows companies to better understand their particular threat landscape and empowers them to resolve potential vulnerabilities before they are exploited by threat actors.Real - Time Monitoring

    Because MXDR solutions automatically monitor endpoints and networks, they enable 24/7 threat monitoring. When MXDR identifies a genuine security incident, real-time analysis and automated response actions accelerate the speed at which risks are mitigated. Through MXDR’s artificial intelligence and automation processes, organizations can more quickly detect threats, reducing the time internal security teams spend manually investigating them.


  • MDR vs MXDR

    MDR and MXDR are closely related because MXDR draws on the best of MDR to function. They are both outsourced security services that pass over responsibility for network security to a team of experts specializing in threat detection and response. Both MDR and MXDR provide endpoint security to continuously monitor endpoints for indicators of compromise. Both also proactively help neutralize identified threats and send alerts to security operations center (SOC) teams.

    Through XDR integration, MXDR provides a cross-platform approach to endpoint detection and response that streamlines security data ingestion, analysis, and workflows across an organization’s entire security stack.
  • EDR vs XDR

    XDR is sometimes referred to as the next step from EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response). Both technologies aim to take a proactive approach to security, and provide rapid threat response and threat-hunting support. However, a key difference is that while EDR focuses on endpoint protection to provide visibility and threat protection for specific devices, XDR unifies security across all endpoints, networks, cloud, email, and other event sources. XDR platforms work more broadly, ingesting the same type of telemetry used by EDR tools but also integrating and analyzing data from other areas of an organization’s environment.

    Integration is another key difference: EDR solutions are manually integrated with a set of point solutions, while XDR provides visibility and threat management within a single solution. XDR makes EDR’s whole approach more sophisticated, enabling security teams to go beyond logging and reporting on security incidents on an endpoint to do so across the whole attack kill chain. This means that XDR delivers broader visibility at every stage of the kill chain.

MXDR Features

While the provider will define the specific capabilities of Managed XDR, it usually includes certain aspects.

  • Threat Hunting

    MXDR is fueled by threat hunting, a proactive approach to cyber defense in which security analysts search through network, cloud, and endpoint system logs to find undetected threats. Through Managed XDR, organizations benefit from continuous threat detection using threat intelligence and an approach that combines the best human expertise with data-driven insights.
  • Response Automation

    Managed XDR incorporates SOAR. Through response automation, custom playbooks are developed to automate actions about specific threat scenarios, like endpoint isolation and threat containment. XDR experts can guide customers through more complex remediation and recovery requirements or manually intervene in high-severity incidents.
  • Threat Intelligence

    Threat intelligence is a key feature of Managed XDR because the information drawn from cyberattacks delivers valuable insights into specific threats. Security experts analyze these insights to better understand the nature and behavior of threat actors to reduce the risk of attacks. Threat intelligence informs the strategy and performance of MXDR, ensuring that the steps taken are precisely targeted to the specific threats affecting an organization.
  • Vulnerability Management

    Vulnerability management is an ongoing approach that involves identifying, assessing, managing, and addressing vulnerabilities in endpoints, workloads, and systems. MXDR usually includes a vulnerability management program that enables risks to be prioritized and vulnerabilities to be addressed as quickly as possible.
  • Remediation

    Managed remediation is critical to MXDR because it enables the restoration of systems to the state they were in before an attack. Remediation actions may include removing malware, cleaning the registry, ejecting intruders, and removing persistence mechanisms.

What to Look for in an MXDR Vendor

With Managed XDR vendors varying widely in terms of capacity and approach, it is essential to assess potential providers based on a range of criteria.

  • Deployment

    Without the right expertise, deploying MXDR solutions can be a lengthy and complex process. Organizations can also find it challenging to collect and correlate detections and other activity across many different security layers. Ensure that your chosen MXDR vendor can demonstrate an effective deployment process and provide consistent transparency and an appropriate level of support at every stage of the process.
  • Advanced Telemetry

    To be truly effective, XDR solutions must be “fed” the right telemetry and intelligence to be capable of continually detecting the latest threats. Check that your chosen MXDR vendor constantly reviews and updates detection policies and processes.
  • 24/7/365 Monitoring

    Look carefully at the level of support your prospective vendor can deliver. Ask them about the breadth of specialist resources and support they have in place to ensure that the solution is supported 24/7/365 at a level that will maximize its performance.
  • Incident Response

    An effective MXDR provider will be able to demonstrate their experience and knowledge of incident response to advise and support an effective incident response plan alongside experts on hand to analyze, isolate, and eliminate threats as quickly as possible.
  • Threat Intelligence Integration

    Threat intelligence is a critical element of MXDR. Your Managed XDR provider should be capable of delivering ongoing insight into the latest threats that may impact your business while also turning this intelligence into active detection, hunting, and response efforts. Assess whether your chosen provider offers threat intelligence that includes a variety of organic, open-source, and proprietary sources and can identify known attacker indicators such as an IP address, internet domain, and file hash, as well as methods and behaviors used by attackers.

    A critical aspect of this is ensuring that your MXDR provider has an adversary-driven mindset or has teams beyond their core SOC that engage with live attacker campaigns and use this information to frequently update detections. This requires close integration between threat intelligence analysts, malware analysts, and detection engineers.
  • Transparent Service Delivery and Processes

    Your MXDR partner should provide a nominated team to act as the point of contact for strategic security advice and service-related queries. This will help keep you informed about the overall service quality. Managed XDR providers should offer a service portal that provides a unified view of alerts and incident activity across your digital estate, along with self-service features for tracking service requests, KPI-driven reporting, and defined response playbooks.

Benefit from Built - in XDR with Kroll

Kroll Responder MDR, our managed detection and response service, features built-in XDR, which enables organizations to achieve broad visibility across their cloud and on-premises environments to quickly detect and respond to the latest threats. Informed by the cutting-edge threat intelligence and insights gained from more than 3,000 incident response investigations each year, you can rely on Kroll for advanced MDR that delivers a complete response. To benefit from the same level of insight to help advance the security of your entire Microsoft estate, discover our Managed XDR for Microsoft services.

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