What is the Difference Between MDR and Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)?

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The cybersecurity market is booming and enterprises have thousands of security solutions to choose from. However, two security solutions hover over others as being particularly vital: managed detection and response (MDR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR). 


Both MDR and EDR solutions can boost an organization's cybersecurity capabilities. However, MDR and EDR have different strengths and deficiencies that businesses must be aware of. Businesses can better protect their IT environments by understanding the intricacies of these two essential security services. 


Before diving into the "EDR vs. MDR” puzzle, let’s briefly explore why EDR solutions and MDR services are necessary in the first place. The cyber threat landscape has never been as menacing as it currently is. All signs point to the fact that cyberattacks are only going to increase in scope and scale. 


Cyberattacks are increasing because threat actors now use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to engineer advanced cyberattacks, leading to more damaging data breaches. According to IBM, as of 2023, the global average cost of a data breach has increased by 15% in the last three years.


Companies have also evolved their IT infrastructures to streamline digital operations and edge past competitors in saturated markets, which calls for robust new cybersecurity solutions. In-house cybersecurity professionals and resources are scarce, and so businesses rely on cybersecurity solutions like EDR and MDR. 


The answer to which is better between the two options ultimately depends on the context of a particular organization. However, no one can make that decision without knowing the fundamentals of MDR and EDR solutions and, most importantly, their key differences.


What are MDR Solutions?


Like any other cybersecurity solution, MDR's fundamental purpose is to strengthen an enterprise's security posture. However, MDR is unique in a few different ways. Firstly, MDR is a security-as-a-service offering where a third-party managed security service (MSS) provider takes on key cybersecurity responsibilities. 


This makes MDR a valuable option for businesses with limited in-house tech talent and infrastructure. By going down the MDR path, companies can augment their existing cybersecurity resources with the added offerings of an MDR provider. 


MDR providers give enterprises access to a 24/7 security operations center (SOC), which means enterprises get around-the-clock fortification for their IT environments. MDR providers also support businesses with top cybersecurity professionals, taking the pressure off in-house security teams. This combination of security tools and human security expertise is one of the key characteristics of MDR solutions. 


MDR solutions don’t focus on temporary fixes when it comes to cybersecurity threats. They concentrate on ensuring that businesses find permanent and long-term cybersecurity solutions. 


Key features of MDR solutions include: 


  • Vulnerability triage
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Proactive threat hunting
  • Robust security incident response


The top benefits of MDR solutions include enhanced security forensics, minimized alert fatigue, dedicated security experts, AI-powered security analytics, faster mean-time-to-remediation (MTTD), and access to certain extended detection and response (XDR) tools.


What are EDR Solutions?


EDR solutions primarily focus on enterprise endpoint protection. Endpoints typically include desktops, laptops, mobile devices, printers, and various IoT machines. EDR tools mitigate endpoint threats like malware and ransomware. 


Endpoint security is important because threat actors have been deploying automation-driven cyberattacks that target connected devices as primary attack vectors. These modern cyberattacks can easily bypass traditional antivirus and firewall solutions, which is why businesses need more advanced endpoint-centric threat detection and remediation capabilities. 


Since so many catastrophic security events result from endpoint vulnerabilities, businesses increasingly understand the importance of endpoint security. Furthermore, many companies are embracing a zero-trust security approach, in which bulletproof endpoint security is essential. 


The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting hybrid work models have also caused a proliferation of enterprise endpoints, which has expanded the attack surfaces of numerous organizations. EDR solutions can help enterprises significantly prune their attack surface. 


The key capabilities of EDR solutions include:


  • Complete and centralized visibility of endpoints
  • Real-time threat and intrusion detection 
  • Log aggregation


Another key capability is EDR’s ability to proactively analyze malicious activities on any device connected to enterprise networks. The benefits of endpoint threat response solutions include a more holistic and interconnected cybersecurity ecosystem, richer threat intelligence via endpoint telemetry, and more fruitful postmortems of endpoint-related suspicious activities and attacks. 


EDR vs MDR: 8 Key Differences


The following are the eight crucial differences between MDR and EDR solutions.


Key Focus


Both MDR and EDR solutions focus on tackling security challenges faced by businesses. However, EDR solutions revolve around the advanced threats that plague an organization's endpoints, whereas MDR is a more holistic security solution. 


Some companies may have thousands of connected devices under attack and prefer a robust endpoint protection platform (EPP). Others may opt for a more comprehensive solution, such as MDR. MDR solutions also encompass endpoint security, albeit not as a sole priority, and this may be sufficient for some businesses. 


Auxiliary Functions


It’s natural to wonder about auxiliary functions after understanding the key focus of a security solution. However, there’s not a lot to report when it comes to EDR tools. As mentioned above, endpoint security is the sole priority of EDR tools. 


While EDR can significantly help with identifying and mitigating endpoint vulnerabilities and cyberattacks, anything outside of endpoint threats requires a different security solution. On the other hand, MDR solutions have numerous auxiliary functions and add-on options that can potentially cover every aspect of cybersecurity. 


The Human Factor


Humans are the weakest link in enterprise cybersecurity. However, new technologies can’t replicate the creativity and intuition that human cybersecurity professionals have. One of the biggest differences between EDR and MDR is that MDR solutions supplement their security monitoring and remediation tools with cybersecurity experts. 


These cybersecurity experts and analysts can find anomalies in IT environments and network traffic that may bypass specific security controls. Therefore, while endpoint monitoring tools are profoundly powerful, MDR solutions provide a human touch. 




With EDR, businesses will typically commission EDR tools from a vendor but allow their in-house security teams to be in charge of endpoint security. Therefore, while EDR tools can perform endpoint behavioral analysis, it’s up to the in-house personnel to interpret findings. 


On the other hand, businesses commission MDR solutions from managed service providers (MSPs) and follow a shared responsibility model that complements an organization’s cybersecurity strategy. MSPs will typically have a more advanced infrastructure and an arsenal of security tools to ward off any threats that an enterprise might face. 




While off-the-shelf EDR tools provide significant cybersecurity improvements, especially to an organization’s endpoint pillar, businesses must confront a considerable limitation. Their endpoint security solutions will not acknowledge the intricacies of their IT environments and device-related security needs. 


This is because EDR vendors don’t custom-build these tools unless they are for bespoke projects, which tend to be extremely expensive. On the other hand, MDR solutions are more customizable. This is because MDR is fundamentally a service, and MDR service providers will pay close attention to a customer's needs before crafting a unique security solution. 




MDR solutions will often be more expensive than EDR solutions. The reason behind this is simple. With EDR, businesses are essentially purchasing tools. The quality of endpoint security then depends on how well they apply those tools. MDR solutions are more of a service. 


With MDR, the vendor is investing a lot more time, resources, and personnel to keep a business’s IT environment safe. The full-time and personalized service offered by MDR vendors does have a heftier price tag, but companies must evaluate long-term benefits before making a decision. 




Scalability is one of the most important attributes for a modern company to have. Radical strategic shifts and pivots are becoming increasingly common, and those moves come with significant IT and cybersecurity implications. 


With EDR, businesses may not find adding new components or altering their security solution easy or affordable. With MDR, companies can innovate and strategize with the confidence of knowing that their security solution is amenable to change. Scaling an MDR solution may come with costs. However, the option to scale is itself an important difference. 




It’s inaccurate to say that EDR solutions aren’t proactive. Numerous AI and ML-led mechanisms in EDR tools result in some form of proactive endpoint security. However, degrees of proactivity between security tools vary, and MDR solutions are proof of that. 


MDR solutions provide a more proactive approach to cybersecurity. This is because MDR offerings include a 24/7 SOC and top cybersecurity professionals who toil away at understanding the unique threats that haunt an enterprise and what they can do to ensure that their customers are always one step ahead of threat actors.


MDR vs EDR: Choosing the Right Solution


The first thing businesses must remember when assessing MDR and EDR solutions is that they don’t have to choose one over the other. Endpoint security is a major aspect of cybersecurity, and EDR solutions can go a long way in helping enterprises secure their devices. 


MDR solutions offer a broader range of cybersecurity services but can work perfectly with a robust EDR tool. Therefore, businesses mustn’t get overwhelmed by the MDR vs EDR rhetoric. Instead, they must look inward and assess their unique security needs, contexts, strengths, deficiencies, and resources. 


Certain businesses may find an EDR solution sufficient for their current needs. Others may realize that they require a more holistic solution. Similarly, companies with limited in-house IT and security teams may opt for MDR solutions so they can utilize their MSPs’ cybersecurity professionals. There’s no single way of perfecting cybersecurity. 


Whether businesses choose to go with MDR, EDR, an MDR-EDR hybrid, or even explore the world of XDR solutions, there are a few non-negotiable factors. Businesses must only commission EDR and MDR security solutions from reputed vendors who can demonstrate meaningful and measurable cybersecurity success. This is especially important because cyberattacks aren’t going to slow down any time soon. 


According to McKinsey, cyber threat actors will cause $10.5 trillion worth of damages by 2025. To avoid dealing with the fallout of data breaches, businesses must carefully assess their current situation and make wise and educated decisions about MDR and EDR security.




MDR and EDR are both cybersecurity solutions that help enterprises secure their IT environments, prevent data breaches, and strengthen digital operations. They are both vital because threat actors are targeting enterprises in a faster and more damaging way than ever before, and traditional security mechanisms are proving to be insufficient. 


MDR and EDR have some key differences that businesses must know about. Enterprises can only choose the right solution to protect their IT infrastructure by knowing these differences. 


MDR is a security service that blends cutting-edge technology with human expertise. Businesses procure MDR solutions from MSSPs. EDR comprises tools rather than services, and they focus on protecting enterprise endpoints. While MDR solutions also tackle endpoints, they provide a broader range of cybersecurity services. 


Enterprises must assess eight critical areas of difference between MDR and EDR solutions: their key focus, auxiliary functions, human involvement, ownership, customization, cost, scalability, and degrees of proactivity. Businesses can profoundly strengthen their cybersecurity posture by analyzing these differences and making an educated decision on which security solution is best for their unique requirements. 


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Categories: Security, cyber security, Network Security, proactive network security, it security, Endpoint Detection and Response, EDR, Cybersecurity, MDR vs EDR, EDR vs MDR, Managed Detection and Response, MDR

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