What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

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With every passing year, it becomes more evident that cybersecurity must be the strongest pillar in every organization. Businesses lose millions because of cyberattacks. Some cyberattacks are so catastrophic that it’s impossible to recover from.


Threat actors are leveraging automation via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to deploy attacks at previously unseen speeds. Traditional cybersecurity will likely struggle in this battle against threat actors. Businesses must shift their gaze to robust security solutions like managed detection and response (MDR). 


Before delving into the intricacies of MDR solutions and what they can offer businesses, let’s take a moment to understand just how dangerous the current cyber threat landscape is. According to The Independent, almost 365 million individuals were victims of data breaches in 2023. Malware and ransomware were the root cause of many of these breaches. 


IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report 2023 revealed that the average cost of these data breaches was $4.45 million. In-house security teams scramble to protect cloud environments and strengthen cloud security posture, and many of them could use the additional support of managed security service providers (MSSPs). 


This blog post explains the nuances of MDR solutions. It also highlights the key features, benefits, and capabilities to look out for when commissioning an MDR service provider. In a world full of diverse security technologies and offerings, MDR solutions stand out as being particularly relevant and transformative. 


What is MDR and How Does It Work? 


MDR is a cybersecurity solution that focuses on reducing the degrees of risk that businesses face from cyber threats. As we will soon explore further, in detail, it's a solution that blends technology with human cybersecurity skills. By commissioning MDR services, businesses can keep their IT environments safe without making significant investments to reinforce their existing cybersecurity teams and infrastructure. 


To understand how MDR works, let's break it down into a few key processes: 


  • Threat Identification: Cybersecurity tools and professionals proactively scour a business's IT environments to find vulnerabilities, exploits, and suspicious activities.
  • Threat Analysis: All detected threats undergo deep analyses to reveal their root cause, potential blast radius, and attack path. 
  • Context-Based Prioritization: MDR experts prioritize uncovered vulnerabilities and threats based on a series of organization-specific factors. 
  • Response: Experts share their findings with customers and suggest optimal remediation strategies and techniques. 
  • Remediation: Remediation plans begin, where MDR vendors and businesses start to mitigate cyber threats meticulously and in order of priority. 


Understanding MDR Solutions


Contrasting MDR solutions with other fields of cybersecurity, like endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security information and event management (SIEM), is an effective way to understand its uniqueness. 


Unlike EDR and SIEM, where in-house security experts and teams typically hold responsibility, most aspects of MDR solutions become the responsibility of third-party managed services providers. Certain businesses may not possess the necessary in-house security skills to manage their EDR or SIEM initiatives. In these cases, third-party MDR vendors work with an organization’s security teams to tackle their most pressing cybersecurity challenges. 


MDR solutions are the perfect solution to bridge the gaps in an organization’s in-house cybersecurity capabilities. MDR vendors typically offer enterprises a robust security operations center (SOC) as well as security analysts with diverse skills and abilities. This security-as-a-service (SaaS) model ensures that businesses find an optimal balance between in-house and outsourced security resources. MDR solutions also strike a balance between cutting-edge security tools and human expertise. 


MDR solutions go beyond isolated threat detection and remediation efforts. They use advanced analytics to correlate security incidents, find patterns, and identify the root cause of security issues. Some key features of MDR solutions are continuous monitoring, real-time threat detection, advanced threat hunting, incident response, vulnerability triage, and incident postmortem and forensics. MDR vendors often furnish businesses with robust security tools, after which they will continue providing supplementary cybersecurity services, threat response capabilities, and expertise. 


Why are MDR Solutions Important?


We will explore the many benefits of MDR solutions in the next section. However, before doing so, let’s unpack the unique importance of MDR in a world full of diverse cybersecurity solutions. 


As we touched upon earlier, one of the main reasons why businesses should consider MDR solutions is that traditional threat monitoring and threat response strategies will come up short against the ever-evolving tactics and tools of threat actors. 


Businesses are also in need of security solutions that are compatible with cloud-based infrastructures and evolving workloads. Traditional kinds of network security, especially those designed for purely on-premises IT infrastructure, stand no chance against modern threat actors. 


Furthermore, MDR solutions address a glaring deficiency in the world of cybersecurity: the tech talent shortage. According to Gartner, more than 50% of cybersecurity disasters will be the result of talent shortages by 2026. 


Additionally, ISC2's Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2023 revealed that only 33% of survey respondents felt that they had sufficient in-house professionals to tackle security issues. In the same study, 92% of respondents claimed that zero trust, cloud-based cybersecurity, and AI/ML capabilities were amongst the top skills deficiencies. It's evident that businesses need the help of third-party cybersecurity experts, and MDR vendors can be a powerful solution for many. 


Lastly, many businesses suffer from cybersecurity alert fatigue. Alert fatigue is a result of receiving too many irrelevant security alerts. A high volume of false positives is a headache for cybersecurity teams. It can also distract security experts from more probing issues. Since businesses have limited cybersecurity and IT budgets, they simply can’t afford to spend resources on threats that don’t matter. Companies must find more effective ways to prioritize security threats, reduce alert fatigue, and recalibrate their detection and response mechanisms. 


What Are The Advantages of MDR Solutions?


The following are the top 8 benefits of MDR solutions.


1. Reduced Alert Fatigue


Most businesses have a limited number of security professionals within their organization. The sheer volume of security alerts that these security professionals receive will likely overwhelm them. 


Furthermore, excessive low-priority alerts and the resulting alert fatigue can distract security experts from real threats deployed by cybercriminals. MDR providers can help ease the burden of in-house security teams and eradicate alert fatigue.


2. Intricately Tailored Security


Achieving security maturity is challenging, especially for businesses with highly intricate IT and security requirements. Companies can configure and calibrate threat mitigation strategies by commissioning personalized services from MDR providers to match their unique security needs. 


While this is possible to do with in-house teams, it’s only something that businesses with massive security investments and budgets can afford. MDR solutions can make customized cybersecurity a reality for many organizations.


3. Enhanced Endpoint Security


Modern businesses understand the need for robust EDR solutions. However, not all enterprises have the security resources, budgets, and personnel to host a robust EDR security ecosystem. 


For these businesses, MDR solutions are a great option. Irrespective of an organization’s size, scale, or degree of security complexity, MDR solutions can make endpoint protection an affordable and effective component of a cybersecurity strategy. 


4. 24/7 Monitoring 


Modern IT infrastructures, especially cloud-based environments, are incredibly dynamic. They are constantly in flux, which means that their attack surfaces expand and contract non-stop. This leaves them susceptible to myriad cyberattacks that businesses must detect early to prevent security disasters. MDR solutions provide 24/7 monitoring capabilities to ensure that IT estates have around-the-clock surveillance. As long as MDR solutions are in place, threat actors cannot access enterprise networks easily. 


5. Dedicated Cybersecurity Professionals


While businesses understand the importance of proactive threat hunting, they know it’s impossible to do without large teams of cybersecurity professionals. The fact that cybersecurity professionals are so scarce makes MDR solutions an even more valuable option for enterprises. 


MDR providers assign dedicated cybersecurity professionals and teams to oversee a range of cybersecurity activities, from proactive threat detection to robust response services. 


6. Advanced Threat Data Analytics


Upon first inspection, certain security alerts may not worry in-house security teams. However, that might be because they lack the analytics tools, infrastructure, and expertise to interpret suspicious activities within their IT estate. 


MDR providers have powerful threat data analytics tools and capabilities to effectively leverage threat intelligence and uncover indicators of compromise (IOC) that in-house teams may have bypassed. 


7. Active Cyberattack Identification


Many victims of data breaches have been unaware of their exploit for years. This can be disastrous because every minute of compromise could cause financial and reputational havoc. 


The proactive threat hunting that MDR solutions provide ensures that businesses won’t suffer undetected data breaches. The key to active cyberattack identification is to pair robust technology with intuitive cybersecurity experts, and that’s precisely what MDR providers do. 


8. Quicker Mean-Time-To-Remediate (MTTD)


No matter how effective in-house vulnerability management mechanisms are, the support of third-party cybersecurity experts, especially MDR providers, can significantly reduce the MTTD. 


By lowering the MTTD, businesses will ensure that minor vulnerabilities and exposures don’t result in large-scale security incidents. An enhanced MTTD also means that companies are unlikely to suffer from extended periods of downtime, which is a significant bonus.


What Are The Disadvantages of MDR Solutions?


The following are the top 3 disadvantages of MDR solutions. 


1. Lack of Compliance Assistance


Regulatory compliance is a major challenge for most businesses. There are numerous regional as well as sector-specific laws and regulations that enterprises must abide by, and failure to do so can lead to significant penalties. MDR solutions are security-centric, which means they might not always provide compliance-related assistance. This is a significant deficiency because security and compliance work hand in hand. A strong security posture strengthens the compliance posture and vice versa. While MDR solutions have their unique benefits, businesses may have to look elsewhere for compliance management.


2. Endpoint Security Limitations 


MDR is a holistic security solution that encompasses endpoint security. However, MDR sometimes lacks the dedicated tools and controls an EDR solution might offer. While this may seem like a minor challenge, businesses should keep in mind the dramatic proliferation of endpoint devices in the last few years. Endpoints have become a major pillar in an enterprise's architecture and need protection from specialized cybersecurity tools. Businesses should learn about the endpoint security capabilities of their MDR solution to assess what additional EDR tools might help address security weaknesses and gaps. 


3. High Costs


It's not difficult to understand why MDR is more expensive than other cybersecurity solutions. Off-the-shelf solutions, preconfigured tools, and isolated security mechanisms are effective, but they have significant limitations. On the other hand, MDR solutions offer high-quality tools, cybersecurity professionals, and a 24/7 SOC. These advanced and dedicated security services come with a bigger price tag, which can be off-putting to small and medium businesses. However, it's important to remember that while MDR might be pricier than other solutions, the benefits can be transformative. After all, the cost of a data breach is likely going to be a lot more than the cost of an MDR solution.


What Should You Look For In An MDR Solution? 


Like most other cybersecurity solutions, there are numerous MDR options to choose from. The global MDR market is proof of that. By 2028, the MDR market will be worth $9.5 billion, and it’s been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 23.3% since 2023. How do businesses go about selecting an MDR vendor from this crowded market? The following are some key features to look out for a potential MDR solution.


Talented Cybersecurity Professionals


Since one of the main reasons many companies seek MDR solutions is a lack of in-house talent, choosing an MDR vendor with a strong group of cybersecurity professionals is essential to solve any security issue a business might face. 


Full-Time Security Operations Center (SOC)


The ideal MDR vendor should provide a full-time SOC to stay on top of any vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and security incidents that may affect an enterprise. The modern threat landscape is relentless; therefore, anything short of full-time support is insufficient. 


Robust Cloud Capabilities


Considering most businesses have embraced cloud environments, it’s vital to commission an MDR solution from a vendor with rich cloud experience and expertise. However, it’s also important to ensure that the MDR solution is infrastructure-agnostic, meaning that the quality of cybersecurity service provided must be equally powerful for all types of infrastructures. 


Extended Detection and Response (XDR) Tools


XDR is a field of cybersecurity that’s becoming increasingly popular. XDR solutions focus on unifying all aspects of enterprise cybersecurity and advancing it to previously unseen levels. Businesses often view XDR as a completely different security solution than MDR. However, companies must choose MDR vendors that leverage XDR tools. This will help enterprises understand XDR better and explore the possibility of self-hosting XDR ecosystems in the future. 


Strong Threat Intelligence Ecosystems


MDR vendors can only provide proactive threat hunting, incident response, continuous monitoring, and similar services if they have access to solid threat intelligence ecosystems. The strength of an MDR vendor’s threat intelligence ecosystem will largely define the quality of cybersecurity service that a business receives. 




MDR is a unique offering in cybersecurity. This is because it marries ultramodern cybersecurity technology with old-school human expertise. This blend offers enterprises robust outsourced security models that can secure them against the most potent threats. Most importantly, MDR solutions prioritize finding permanent solutions for nagging security threats rather than focusing on one-time remediation efforts.  


MDR solutions are important for a variety of reasons. Firstly, threat actors are evolving at unseen rates, and businesses don’t often have the capability to withstand relentless cyberattacks. Secondly, a global tech talent shortage means that cybersecurity is a glaring deficiency in the arsenal of most enterprises. Third-party cybersecurity solutions like MDR can fill in skills gaps. Lastly, high volumes of security alerts often overwhelm businesses with small IT and security teams. These businesses could use external support to manage, validate, and remediate these issues. 


The primary benefits of MDR solutions include reduced alert fatigue, customizable security protocols, enhanced endpoint security, 24/7 monitoring, dedicated cybersecurity professionals, advanced threat data analytics, active attack identification, and quicker MTTD. Businesses should look for MDR vendors with talented cybersecurity professionals, a full-time SOC, robust cloud capabilities, XDR tools, and substantial threat intelligence relationships. If companies can find an MDR vendor that offers the above, cybersecurity will become an asset rather than a challenge. 


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

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