Since Gartner coined the managed detection and response (MDR) category in 2016, many organizations have turned to MDR providers in the hopes they’d help ease the burden for their overworked security teams and improve their cybersecurity posture. Seven years later, though, the shine has worn off. In this blog post, we will explore why MDR is no longer a viable option for many organizations and what alternatives are available for improving cybersecurity and reducing the workload of security teams.

6 Shortcomings of Traditional MDRs

Managed detection and response (MDR) combines human expertise with advanced analytics and threat intelligence to provide an as-a-service option for threat management and incident response. MDR solutions can be an improvement over managed security service providers (MSSPs), which typically provide alerts, not action, based on discovered threats. But as organizations have deployed MDR solutions, they have bumped into MDR limitations, including:

  1. They’re EDR-centric: While effective in protecting at the endpoint, traditional MDRs often lack visibility into an organization’s broader tech stack and some of the more advanced threats we see plaguing today’s landscape. Consequently, they cannot provide additional context that could be crucial to protecting the broader attack surface.
  2. They don’t solve the alert noise problem: MDR providers perform a bare minimum of alert triage and seldom deduplicate alerts or automatically enrich alert data.
  3. They can be a black box: Because MDR providers only deliver the investigation output and a threat response recommendation, your team has limited visibility into investigations and can’t collaborate in the DIR lifecycle.
  4. They have no actionable threat intelligence: Managed detection and response providers typically don’t allow for the implementation of custom threat feeds or the ability to scan the dark web to understand potential brand threats, which is necessary for informed security decisions and proper threat intelligence.
  5. They don’t provide board-friendly metrics: Because MDR providers typically don’t provide important security operations metrics, such as threat detection coverage, visibility, MITRE ATT&CK® mapping, MTTR, or alert noise reduction, security leaders are unable to effectively communicate their security posture and program improvements to management.
  6. They don’t support your tool stack: Many MDRs support specific toolsets, so if you’re relying on a certain tool but it is outside of an MDR vendors supported list, you may have to rip and replace your tool to accommodate the MDR vendor.

Any one of these can be a dealbreaker for an organization hoping to optimize its security operations and achieve security outcomes.


Go Beyond MDR with the ReliaQuest GreyMatter Security Operations Platform

When you’re ready to graduate from traditional managed detection and response, the ReliaQuest security operations platform, GreyMatter, is the next step. With GreyMatter, you’ll get so much more than traditional MDR solutions can deliver, including:

Better detection, investigation, and response using your existing tools

  • No need to rip and replace. GreyMatter is tool agnostic, so you can keep the toolset you’ve carefully curated for your team. Plus, we’ll help you measure the performance of your tools so you know you’re getting the most out of your investment.
  • Weed out alert noise and false positives with high-fidelity detections centrally deployed and tuned to your environment.
  • GreyMatter can automate the investigation process, de-duplicating alerts, culling false positives and anomalous safe alerts, and auto-populating investigative artifacts using threat intelligence from your existing threat feed subscriptions.
  • Using prebuilt, configurable playbooks using your existing security tools, your team can take quick and consistent action against threats.

More proactive and efficient security operations

  • GreyMatter’s threat hunting capabilities delve deep to find malicious actors in your environment that may have slipped past your security defenses.
  • Test whether your security controls are effective with automated breach and attack simulations.
  • Reduce the time your team spends on triaging phishing emails by automating analysis, categorization, and resolution.

A bigger picture of the risk to your organization

  • Digital Risk Protection looks beyond your attack surface and analyzes the dark web for potential dangers like data leaks on cyber criminal forums.

Board-ready reporting and security operations metrics

  • Get clear, understandable metrics you can share with board members that will drive a productive, actionable conversation.

The MDR Bottom Line

MDR can help improve security, but it may not be sufficient as organizations’ security needs become more complex. To be fully prepared for the future, it is important to make certain you can achieve your team’s goals around the Detection-Investigation-Response process, threat hunting, breach and attack simulations, digital risk beyond the perimeter, and measuring the results in your security strategy.