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What Is Managed Detection and Response?

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If you're like most business professionals, you're always looking for ways to improve your cyber security posture.

You know that cyber security is important, and you may have heard of managed detection and response (MDR), but you're not sure what it is, how to evaluate it, or whether it's right for your organization.

In this post, we’re going to break down what MDR is, along with its challenges. We will also unpack alternative approaches to MDR and provide you with a guide so you can learn more about MDR alternatives.

What Is Included in Managed Detection and Response?

Managed detection and response (MDR) is a type of managed security service that provides 24/7 threat monitoring, detection and response to protect an organization's IT infrastructure. 

MDR services are delivered by specialized MDR providers, or by managed security service providers (MSSPs), and include advanced threat detection, incident response and threat hunting, all powered by a security analytics platform. They are also designed to supplement an organization's in-house security team and help them to quickly identify and respond to threats

What Are the Benefits of MDR?

MDR provides a comprehensive security solution that can detect and respond to threats quickly and effectively. In addition, MDR can help to reduce the risk of costly data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents. As a result, organizations that are serious about protecting their data and reducing their cybersecurity risks should consider investing in MDR.

The benefits of MDR include:

Around-the-Clock Monitoring

In today's fast-paced business world, it's more important than ever to have a reliable and effective security system in place. With managed detection and response (MDR), you can feel much more confident that  your business is protected from the latest threats. MDR services provide around-the-clock monitoring of your network for signs of intrusion, malicious activity, or other security risks. If a potential issue is detected, trained security analysts will investigate and recommend appropriate actions to be taken to contain the threat. 

Compliance Requirements

In addition, MDR providers can help you to maintain compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA and PCI DSS. By entrusting your security to a team of experts, you can focus on running your business while knowing that your data and operations are better protected.

Maintaining compliance is no easy task, but thankfully, there are solutions available to help.

Reduce Cyber Insurance Premiums

Cyber insurance generally covers a business' liability for a data breach involving sensitive customer information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, driver's license numbers and health records. 

With the rising number of attacks, the demand for, and premiums associated with cyber insurance, are also on the rise. Increases of 37-83% in the first quarter of 2022 have been common, according to a study by Gallagher.

The maturity of an organization’s security posture directly impacts the premiums that companies can expect to pay. Cyber insurers are also incentivizing companies to further bolster and invest in their cybersecurity posture by offering discounts on insurance costs. Depending on the service used, MDR can help reduce premiums by addressing applicant “checklist” items that ask about threat intelligence, network and event monitoring and incident response.

Reduce Investigation Costs

In addition, MDR services can help to reduce the time and cost of investigating and responding to incidents, as well as minimize the impact of successful attacks.

For these reasons, MDR services are an increasingly popular choice for organizations of all sizes, but MDR services are not without their challenges.

What Are the Challenges of MDR?

Managed detection and response (MDR) is a type of security service that proactively, monitors, detects, investigates, hunts for and responds to cybersecurity threats. While MDR services can be an effective way to tighten up an organization's security posture, it’s important to understand where MDR does not always meet the mark.

Woman examining a screen with computer data.

Legacy Technology

A modern, cloud-native, next-generation SIEM platform is absolutely essential to threat detection and response. Yet some providers of MDR services rely on a legacy SIEM that wasn’t specifically designed or optimized for threat detection and response. 

To address the shortcomings of their SIEM, MDR providers often cobble together a set of point solutions like user and entity behavior analysis (UEBA), security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR), and a threat intelligence platform (TIP). As a result, their analysts are stuck with the inefficiency of jumping between applications as they try to investigate a threat, and spend much of their time sifting through an unmanageable number of alerts and false positives.

We have seen some providers of MDR services rely on legacy systems that were not specifically designed or optimized for threat detection and response. This can lead to delays in identifying threats, missing important alerts, incorrectly connecting sensors with other systems within your network (which might also be infected), and the list goes on – all things we take very seriously here at Cysiv.

Lack of Transparency

Because many traditional MDR providers rely on a legacy SIEM or a collection of point solutions, or because of limitations in how they’ve architected their platform, the visibility they provide clients is often restricted to a set of dashboards and reports.

Additionally, due to the constraints of the legacy SIEM they rely on—or due to the limitations of the platform they’ve built themselves—providers of basic MDR services can’t offer customers active participation in the threat detection and investigation process, a critical component of modern security operations. If your in-house team can’t be actively involved in investigations, you’re missing out on valuable knowledge sharing and collaboration, and the efficiency of the threat investigation and ensuing response processes will be diminished.

The lack of transparency diminishes the overall value and effectiveness of the MDR service, and leaves CISOs and CIOs without the insights and answers they need to feel confident in their security. 

Lack of Flexibility

To collect specific telemetry, MDR providers generally use a prescribed technology stack that covers a range of control points, such as network and endpoints. Many limit their services to on-premises infrastructure, but some are expanding capabilities to cover cloud platforms, IoT and operational technology (OT). According to Gartner, “Coverage for popular SaaS applications such as Microsoft 365, Google G Suite and Box is increasing, but broad coverage for SaaS, such as via a cloud access security broker (CASB) solution in the provider’s technology stack, is still rare.”

Regardless of their capabilities, traditional MDR providers tend to support only a select set of technologies and vendors. They don’t offer customers much, if any, ability to customize the stack.

This lack of flexibility limits the value of the technology you’ve already deployed. It takes away your control over your security architecture and leaves it entirely in the MDR provider’s hands, while potentially adding costs. 

Inability to Ingest Necessary Data

Some MDR services are not much more than managed EDR solutions, only providing visibility into desktops, laptops and servers. Although many threat vectors specifically target endpoints, today’s cybercriminals use an expansive variety of techniques that exploit a range of access points. 

Passive Monitoring

Threat detection alone is not enough.

As Gartner notes, “Security leaders are increasingly cognizant that reducing the time to detect a threat is meaningless without a corresponding reduction in the time to respond to a threat to enable a return to a known good state.”

When a security incident is discovered—something that could be important but isn’t yet an actual data breach or successful attack—rapid investigation, response and containment are critical to preventing or minimizing the potential damage inflicted on your organization. 

Unfortunately, many MDR providers will simply provide recommendations for the response that should be taken, leaving the actual responsibility for implementing the containment or mitigation measures to you.

How Does Cysiv SOC as a Service Go Beyond MDR?

At Cysiv, we go beyond basic MDR. Most importantly, we leverage our modern, cloud-native, next generation platform which we’ve purpose-built to support enterprise SOC needs.

Abstract data mesh texture.

It is a next-generation, co-managed SIEM that can leverage an existing SIEM, or is a cost-effective alternative to those organizations that don’t have one. As a SaaS it enables you to fully participate alongside our analysts, in the threat investigation process, to the extent you’d like to

And with a vendor- and data source-agnostic model, Cysiv natively supports over 160 data sources, including security, applications, infrastructure and other essential cloud and other data sources that you’ve already invested in, to improve the dramatically reduce false positives, and to improve the accuracy, timeliness and fidelity of threats detected..

Cysiv SOC as-a-service is the most effective alternative solution to managed detection and response.

By complementing your SecOps with Cysiv SOC-as-a-Service, your organization can free up internal resources and focus on other priorities, while also maintaining access to experienced security professionals who can then identify and respond to threats in a timely manner.

While MDR services can also provide these benefits, MDR services typically require a significant amount of upfront investment.

For organizations looking for a more transparent, cost-effective solution, Cysiv SOC-as-a service is the better option.

Ready to learn more about how SOC-as-a-service can improve your security posture over MDR? Download the white paper here.