What Is XDR?
Extended detection and response (XDR) is a category of cybersecurity solutions that pairs previously disconnected threat detection and response tools with security orchestration. By collecting telemetry from an organization’s entire ecosystem—including endpoints, clouds, networks, threat intelligence feeds, and more—XDR enables faster and more accurate detection, correlation, threat hunting, and incident response than endpoint detection and response (EDR) alone.
XDR collects telemetry from what would otherwise be multiple silos of data, using a local agent that effectively serves as a security information and event management (SIEM) solution, among other functions. XDR identifies malware and advanced threats, and then takes various steps to prioritize, contain, and eliminate them using the power of machine learning (ML) and automation.
To accomplish this, XDR continuously performs three core functions:
The solution collects data across servers, endpoints, clouds, and other parts of the ecosystem, correlates that data, and sends only relevant, important alerts to the organization’s security team, helping to minimize alert fatigue.
Taking advantage of its wide and deep visibility, XDR uses ML to establish a baseline of normal user and entity behavior. Layered with other detection mechanisms, this allows the XDR solution to investigate anomalies that could indicate security threats.
XDR isolates and eliminates a threat, and then updates security policies to stop that threat in the future. Where it goes beyond EDR is in consolidating security operations center (SOC) resources across network, endpoint, and cloud environments in one console.
Benefits of XDR Security
XDR unifies detection and response capabilities across an entire data environment, enabling it to go beyond traditional security products and point solutions to offer greater coverage and a more complete picture of security incidents. An effective XDR platform provides:
Broad, deep visibility and insights: With perspective that extends beyond the endpoint, an XDR solution can understand sophisticated threats—including point of entry, affected assets and environments, and methods—across any port, protocol, or layer of your ecosystem, giving you an edge in remediation and root cause analysis.
Automated correlation and triage: ML-driven automation correlates data and prioritizes alerts, optimizing your security team’s remediation workflows by helping them avoid false positives and surface true threats in volumes of data they could never parse with manual security solutions.
Faster, more efficient operations: With a holistic, centralized view of threats, fewer security tools to manage and monitor, and automated analysis, XDR reduces operational complexity and frees up your experts for proactive threat hunting and other valuable tasks.
XDR Use Cases
XDR supports three primary use cases:
With the sheer volume of threats targeting today’s enterprise networks, even the most skilled security professionals can’t keep up with the alerts, let alone quickly and accurately sort out the false positives, prioritize the most critical threats, and respond. XDR uses ML and advanced analytics to refine threat data from the entire ecosystem into a manageable number of high-quality alerts.
Today’s sophisticated threats are extremely good at hiding, making threat hunting both more important and more difficult than ever. Because XDR offers visibility into your entire ecosystem alongside ML-powered detection and correlation, it can pinpoint threats that traditional SIEM solutions alone will miss.
XDR solutions provide rich context to support root cause analysis, including real-time and historical data, helping your security team understand what happened in an attack and what it will take to stop similar attacks in the future.
XDR vs. Other Detection and Response Technologies
With detection and automated response technologies, businesses can continually monitor systems to detect, investigate, and contain threats in network and application traffic as they arise. Using machine learning and automation technologies, XDR can prioritize, contain, and remove those threats in real time.
Other detection and response technologies include:
Endpoint detection and response (EDR), which can identify, prioritize, and respond to malware and advanced threats on endpoints and in workloads, but lacks visibility across the rest of the ecosystem.
Network detection and response (NDR), which focuses its response capabilities on attacks that hide in network traffic and attempt to evade network firewalls.
Managed detection and response (MDR), which relies on services provided by a team of third-party security analysts, rather than your own personnel.
NDR and EDR were revolutions in the realms of network and endpoint security at one time, but today’s complex, multilayered data ecosystems call for more coordinated visibility and analytics, alongside greater accuracy and speed, to keep up with the volume and sophisticated techniques of modern cyberattacks.
Key XDR Requirements
Like any relatively new technology, there are a lot of different perspectives out there on what defines extended detection and response. What exactly makes XDR? At its core, XDR is:
SaaS-based: Fundamentally, XDR is delivered as a cloud service. This offers strong returns in terms of the cost of hosting and maintaining it, but it’s also key to how XDR delivers effective protection, since updates can be delivered instantly to all customers.
Agent-based: Although XDR is based in the cloud, it still requires an agent installed on your physical and virtual endpoints to gather data, performing the duties of a SIEM. Many agents also perform antivirus and other endpoint protection functions that complement the SaaS functionality.
Unified: This is the essence of XDR. By gathering telemetry from any data source and using that to fuel behavior analytics, advanced detection techniques, XDR offers protection from ransomware and other advanced malware well beyond what disconnected point products can do.
How Does XDR Support Zero Trust?
If your organization is looking to implement zero trust—or hone your existing zero trust architecture—you’d do well to add XDR to your cloud-delivered security stack to take full advantage of:
Streamlined cloud security: Deploying zero trust in a multicloud environment can present some challenges. XDR streamlines much of the process by consolidating cloud workloads across environments and supporting comprehensive monitoring.
Better visibility: XDR performs real-time analysis and centralized security analytics across your environment, making it easier for your organization to deploy and enforce zero trust security controls.
Automation: XDR automates key tasks across identification, triage, hunting, and response, reducing the burden on your security team. AI- and ML-based analysis of user and network behavior helps deliver faster and more efficient security.
Prioritization: Zero trust assumes anything might be a threat until proven otherwise. XDR fits perfectly here: using automated correlation and ML-powered analytics to avoid overwhelming security teams with alerts, it helps optimize workflows and reduce response times.
How Can Zscaler Help?
Zscaler integrates with industry-leading partners to combine the cloud native Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange™ platform with the power of XDR. Using advanced AI/ML, our XDR alliances provide high-fidelity threat intelligence and context for faster, more effective detection and response across platforms, enabling end-to-end visibility.
The Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange™ is a cloud native platform built on zero trust. Based on the principle of least privilege, it establishes trust through context, such as a user’s location, their device’s security posture, the content being exchanged, and the application being requested. Once trust is established, your employees get fast, reliable connections—wherever they are—without ever being placed directly on your network. The Zero Trust Exchange operates across 150 data centers worldwide, ensuring that the service is close to your users, colocated with the cloud providers and applications they are accessing. It guarantees the shortest path between your users and their destinations, providing comprehensive security and an amazing user experience.
Endpoint detection and response provides continuous monitoring and detection of endpoint data and uses an automated response to prioritize and contain threats.
What’s the Difference Between XDR and EDR?
While EDR focuses only on endpoint detection and protection, XDR provides monitoring, detection, and resolution across all security control points, including email, clouds, networks, and servers.
How Does XDR Work with SIEM?
Both XDR and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions pull threat data from multiple sources. However, XDR makes use of advanced security measures, whereas SIEMs are limited to pushing security alerts to SOCs. XDR can proactively adjust network and endpoint defenses to neutralize threats while also notifying SOCs.
What Is the Role of XDR for Businesses?
XDR is a highly sophisticated way to monitor and detect threats in real time, using automation to filter out the most important issues and lighten the load on security teams.