Managed detection and response (MDR) solutions combine human expertise, advanced analytics, and threat intelligence to provide organizations with threat detection and incident response.

MDR solutions are typically offered as an as-a-service model, enabling organizations to benefit from expertise without the need for extensive in-house resources.

Why are MDR solutions important? Given the increasing cybersecurity threats companies face today and a shortage of cybersecurity talent, it’s no surprise that many organizations are turning to MDR solutions.

Ideally, MDR providers can help companies tackle challenges like overburdened security teams, lack of expertise in cloud security, and excessive alert noise. Gartner states “MDR service providers deliver these capabilities using a variable combination of technologies — these are commonly endpoint- and network-driven but increasingly involve cloud services layers, SaaS and custom applications.”

Choosing the right MDR provider for your organization is crucial.

Features of Modern MDR Solutions

An effective MDR solution should provide the following minimum capabilities to ensure comprehensive threat management:

  • Threat detection – The MDR solution should have strong detection capabilities to identify various types of security threats, including malware, unauthorized access attempts, data exfiltration, insider threats, and other malicious activities.
  • Expert analysis and investigation – MDR solutions should combine technology and human expertise to analyze security alerts, perform in-depth investigations, and provide actionable insights.
  • Incident response – An MDR provider should contribute towards a well-defined incident response process. This process involves a series of well-defined steps to ensure that the MDR provider promptly manages security incidents. These steps include incident validation, containment, eradication, and recovery to minimize the impact of an attack and restore normal operations.
  • Integration with existing technologies – An MDR solution should be able to seamlessly integrate with the organization’s existing security technologies, such as security information and event management (SIEM) platforms, endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions, firewalls, cloud security tools, and other security infrastructure.

What are the Key Differences Between MDR Providers that Impact Their Effectiveness?

MDR solutions vary in terms of managed services and technologies offered by providers. Here are some common approaches and variations seen among MDR providers:

Detection-Centric vs. Detection & Response 

MDR providers may take a detection-centric approach, where their primary focus is on detecting security incidents, and much of the burden of response falls on the customer. On the other hand, some MDR providers are involved in the full security operations lifecycle, which includes not only detection but also incident response, threat hunting, and remediation assistance. These MDR providers aim to deliver a more comprehensive security service, actively responding to and remediating security threats.

Proprietary Technology Stack and Integration

MDR providers differ in the technologies and tools they utilize within their solution stacks. This includes variations in the choice of and support for SIEM platforms, EDR tools, network traffic analysis (NTA) solutions, threat intelligence sources, and machine learning algorithms. The integration and orchestration of these technologies play a crucial role in the efficiency and effectiveness an MDR solutions will have for a specific organization. One MDR solution might require you to use that provider’s custom SIEM, while another provider might support one or multiple SIEMs vendors.

Level of Configuration to Security Ecosystem

MDR providers may vary in their ability to tune their services to meet specific customer needs. Some providers offer standardized service packages with predefined rules and playbooks, while others provide a more tailored approach with the flexibility to align their services with the customer’s unique security requirements. Configurability may include tuning detection rules specific to a customer environment, incident response processes, or integration with customer-specific technologies.

SOC Metrics: Reporting and Analytics

MDR providers differ in the level of reporting and analytics provided to customers. Some providers offer basic metrics around incidents resolved while others may provide detailed reports that can include detection coverage, MITRE ATT&CK mapping, mean time to resolve incidents and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to give customers visibility into their security posture.

Proactive Threat Hunting

While all MDR providers offer threat detection and incident response services, the level of proactive threat hunting may vary. Some providers actively hunt for threats within the customer’s environment. They utilize threat intelligence and advanced analytics to identify potential threats that may go unnoticed by traditional security controls. This proactive approach helps uncover hidden or advanced threats.

Service Level Agreements

MDR providers may have variations in the service level agreements (SLAs) they offer, including response times, incident remediation timelines, and availability of security experts. SLA variations can impact the speed and effectiveness of incident response and the level of support customers receive.

Evaluate the different approaches and variations to choose a provider that aligns with your specific security requirements and desired level of service.

Can an MDR Solution Grow with My Organization?

Particularly for organizations looking to improve their overall security posture, be sure to ask certain questions about an MDR solution like? 

  • Does it extend detection beyond endpoints? 
  • Can you participate in investigations? 
  • Can you keep your current technology stack? 
  • Does it support multiple SIEMs and Clouds? 
  • Does it provide security metrics that can inform business decisions? 

ReliaQuest Moves Beyond the Limitations of MDR Solutions

The task of building out your security program is daunting, what with the hundreds of security solutions, tools, and MDR solutions out there. Regardless of what you’re prioritizing as you evaluate MDR solutions, ReliaQuest can partner with you to move your security program forward with a focus not only on managed threat detection and response, but on improving your overall security operations. Learn more about how GreyMatter, our security operations platform, unifies and streamlines your entire security operations.