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Oh boy – XDR definitions. Really defining anything within cybersecurity, MDR, EDR, SOAR, XDR, SOCaas, NextGen, LMNOP, is a nightmare. Sure, overtime most things conform to a universal definition, but now it seems like there’s a new definition every week. In today’s “early” stages of XDR, it’s still the wild west or what is or isn’t XDR.

What complicates the matter is who’s creating the definitions: analysts, industry thought leaders, and of course vendors (who are just renaming current solutions in an XDR format). So we decided to compile a list of XDR definitions from across reputable sources within cybersecurity.

Related Extended Detection & Response Terms

Before we dive into specific definitions of XDR, there’s a few category type terms. It’s good to establish a few other terms of XDR platforms.

Types of XDR Solutions

Native XDR
An “all-in-one” one vendor type solution. Purchasing multiple tools from one provider creating an easily integrated network of detection and response. The ease of one system typically comes with an enterprise price tag, a locked-in contract, and potential gaps in security coverage based on limited (or no) external integrations. 

Open XDR
As the name suggests, an Open XDR is a platform that connects to third-party integrations creating a network of coverage across tools with one core repository for detection and response. While the open XDR system may come with integration challenges, it does avoid a vendor lock-in, creates more tool flexibility, and integrations into non-security systems increase security coverage.

What is the real foundation of XDR solutions?

Two Foundations of XDR Definitions

Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) Based XDR
Those who see endpoint security as the main system within an XDR platform that everything integrates with. Typically, those use this base for a definition are vendors who started as an EDR and are looking to expand their coverage. These solutions typically have limited data retention, which can hinder the ability to meet compliance requirements.

Security Information and Event Management based XDR focuses more on security data aggregation, telemetry,  and analytics as a core function with the SOAR automation layered on. These tools tend to align more with open Extended Detection and Response networks as they look to collect data from as many sources as possible

But What about MDR based XDR?
Managed Detection & Response (MDR) is more about the service provided (like and outsourced SOC), rather than the tool used. In their an MDR offering could be built around any security system that covers endpoints, networks, cloud services and more.

Analyst & Third-Party XDR Definitions

  1. “Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is a security solution that unifies multiple security technologies into a single platform, providing greater visibility and control over threats.” – Gartner, “Market Guide for Extended Detection and Response Solutions,” by Peter Firstbrook, 2021.
  2. “XDR is a security technology that automatically collects and correlates data from multiple security products to improve threat detection and response.” – SANS Institute, “Extended Detection and Response (XDR) Architecture,” by Mark Bouchard, 2020.
  3. “XDR is a next-generation security solution that integrates and correlates data from multiple security products, providing a unified view of security events and context-aware insights that enable faster and more effective threat detection and response.” – Forrester, “The Forrester Wave: Extended Detection and Response, Q4 2021,” by Jeff Pollard and Allie Mellen, 2021.

Vendor Definitions of XDR

  1. “XDR is a comprehensive security solution that integrates multiple security technologies, including endpoint detection and response (EDR), network traffic analysis (NTA), and security information and event management (SIEM), to provide comprehensive threat detection and response capabilities.” – McAfee, “Understanding Extended Detection and Response (XDR),” by John Yeoh, 2021.
  2. “XDR is a cloud-native, AI-driven security solution that enables organizations to detect and respond to threats across multiple endpoints, networks, and cloud environments in real-time.” – Palo Alto Networks, “What is XDR? The Future of Detection and Response,” 2021.
  3. “XDR is a security solution that combines multiple security technologies to provide advanced threat detection and response capabilities, including endpoint detection and response (EDR), network detection and response (NDR), and security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR).” – Trend Micro, “What is XDR and How Does It Work?” 2021.
  4. “XDR is a security solution that enables organizations to detect and respond to threats across multiple environments, including on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments.” – IBM, “What is XDR?” 2021.
  5. “XDR is a next-generation security solution that leverages advanced analytics and machine learning to identify and respond to complex threats in real-time.” – CrowdStrike, “What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?” 2021.
  6. “XDR is a security technology that enables organizations to gain a unified view of security events across multiple environments, including endpoints, networks, and cloud environments.” – Microsoft, “What is Microsoft Defender for Endpoint XDR?” 2021.
  7. “XDR is a comprehensive security solution that enables organizations to detect, investigate, and remediate threats across multiple environments, using a combination of advanced analytics, automation, and machine learning.” – Check Point, “What is XDR?” 2021.

Common Themes of Extended Detection & Response

While the types, foundations and definitions may vary across sources, there are a few commonalities that almost all agree on.

  • XDR is a combination of multiple tools or systems
  • The goal of XDR is to improve positive threat detection and incident response 
  • There needs to be some component of automation, AI or machine learning to stop security threats

Benefits of XDR Security

Extended Detection & Response is considered “better security” but what does that really mean? Here’s a few benefits we think small businesses can get if they move to the right XDR platform

  1. The efficiency of working with a unified system. Whether its native or open XDR by having all data flow into one tool, it become easier to manage for a smaller team
  2. Correlation of data means better prioritized security detections. Giving one system eyes on all data points helps with threat hunting and identifying blindspots separate systems might not see right away, improving remediation time
  3. Allowing automation to help you get more with less, whether that’s host isolation, blocklists or something else, XDR automation can really help a small team improve security
  4. Satisfy more compliance (and cyber insurance) boxes with XDR, especially a SIEM based system that comes with long-term data retention
  5. Better support (both in product and from real humans) to triage security threats and prevent malware attacks 

Finding XDR That Work For You

No matter how you define it, Extended Detection & Response is the next evolution in cybersecurity. Taking time to understand the options available is key to finding the system that’s right for your security team. Ease of use of one vendor? Flexibility to integrate your entire stack? What meets your compliance needs for detection & response and data retention. So in the end it’s not about finding an XDR platform that meets your definition; it’s about finding the one that meets your security objectives.

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