The Endpoint Threats Detection and Response (ETDR) is one of the emerging Cybersecurity technologies. The ETDR or simply the EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) is an integrated system designed for the endpoint layer to monitor, analyze, and respond to cyber threats. The EDR solutions respond to the potential threats through the elimination or containment process. Since the IT infrastructure of organizations has multiple layers, the EDR platforms are not sufficient to address the diverse data security challenges. To fill this gap, the security researchers transformed the concept of EDR into an Extended Detection and Response (XDR) technology. The XDR is a cloud-based vendor-specific security solution that has the capability to collect and correlate data across multiple layers and respond to the identified threats.
How XDR Works?
The XDR working can be divided into two groups.
- Frontend XDR
- Backend XDR
The frontend generates the telemetry data from multiple layers, such as Cloud, networks, emails, servers, etc. The backend performs the data correlation and advanced analytics to detect the potential threats. The backend components also respond to the potential threats found through artificial intelligence and reference models.
The XDR solutions are generally classified into the following two categories.
- Native XDR
- Hybrid XDR
The native XDR are standalone XDR solutions that offer all the functionalities and capabilities of an XDR solution. Native XDR solutions do not integrate with other security tools. Therefore, a native XDR vendor must provide all the required frontend and backend features to the consumers. The hybrid (or open) XDR are more advanced XDR solutions with an ability to integrate with third-party security tools and services.
Following is a brief overview of XDR capabilities that have transformed the XDR solutions into a competitive Cybersecurity technology.
Scalability: Typical XDR is a cloud-based technology that makes XDR a scalable solution. Organizations can deploy and expand the XDR solutions without worrying about hardware resources. The Cloud technology allows XDR solutions to store as much data as required to manage ongoing and persistent security challenges.
Integration: XDR solutions can integrate with third-party security tools to enhance their learning and response capabilities. XDR can collect data from other security tools as a reference model to detect similar events in the deployed environment.
Artificial Intelligence: Instead of relying on manually defined threats and signatures, XDR solutions depend on supervised and semi-supervised learning. This machine learning technology behind XDR platforms can comprehensively detect zero-day and non-traditional threats as compared to rule-based threat detections offered by other solutions.
Unified Correlation: XDR tools can combine the related alerts to prioritize the critical events automatically. This feature helps the security teams to quickly determine the situation and respond efficiently.
Graphical Timeline: In case of a successful data breach, the graphical timelines help the forensics team by answering the important questions, like what was the cause of infection; what was the entry point; what is the origin of the threat; how many systems or devices are infected.
How SOC Analysts Can Use XDR Solutions?
Security Operation Center (SOC) is the central unit in any organization that deals with Cybersecurity challenges. SOC analysts monitor and respond to security threats. Since SOC teams heavily rely on deployed tools, XDR solutions can help security teams to manage the security challenges in the following manner.
Full Stack Solution: Since XDR has the capability, the SOC analysts can use XDR technology for multiple tasks, such as traffic monitoring, information collection, data aggregation, Forensics, and automated response.
Events Investigation: XDR solutions use machine-learning tools for data analysis. The SOC members can use this AI feature for automated investigation of the events.
Threat Intelligence: Threat intelligence is one of the challenging jobs in Cybersecurity. Since XDR tools can comprehensively analyze the network traffic and reduce the output data by automatically grouping the related alerts, SOC analysts can use this feature for speeding up the threat hunting operations.
How XDR is Different from SIEM?
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is the combination of Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM) tasks. Security policies and rules are defined as a reference model. SIEM solutions analyze the data or events and generate security notifications upon identifying any data or incident that goes against the predefined reference model. Real-time visibility of security systems, events log management, events correlation, and automatic security notifications are the core features of SIEM solutions. Although SIEM and XDR sound similar in many ways, there are some key differences between both technologies.
Domain Coverage: Threat Detection, Investigation, and Response (TDIR) is the key XDR domain. The SIEM solutions support multiple domains, such as TDIR, compliance, reporting, and centralized data storage. There is no centralized data storage concept in XDR solutions; data can be stored anywhere.
Process Automation: SIEM solutions are primarily used for collecting data from endpoints and generate alerts. The security professionals then manually investigate the endpoints for further analysis. On the other hand, the XDR solutions can automate the endpoint analysis to give a complete picture to the incident response team.
Analytical Methodology: The traditional SIEM analytics depends on statistical modeling while XDR solutions rely on machine learning for analytical tasks. The AI-driven analysis is considered more authentic and accurate as compared to statistical analysis.
Data Tuning: SIEM solutions are known for collecting data from multiple sources and present in a centralized manner. Collecting a lot of information from multiple sources and display in a single dashboard makes the prioritization process difficult. On the other hand, XDR solutions record the context-rich data and send it to the data lake for further investigation. Data lakes are data repositories containing structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data.
Is XDR a Threat to SIEM?
The growing popularity of XDR solutions has divided the service providers into two groups. Some vendors are working on the concept of “evolved SIEM” to include the XDR features into the traditional SIEM model. Others are working on providing the XDR as a separate solution along with SIEM technology. However, there are mixed arguments about the XDR and SIEM technologies. Some researchers believe that XDR is never a threat to SIEM solutions. In fact, XDR can enhance the SIEM performance by offering the missing capabilities. Others believe that XDR can replace the SIEM at some stage in the future.
The SIEM solutions are transforming very quickly. Many security professionals believe that SIEM will eventually claim the XDR features. In that case, the XDR would become an integral part of SIEM solutions rather than a standalone technology. Others believe that XDR and SIEM are heading towards a collision point; the one with better security features will dominate the Cyber domain.