What Is Open XDR?

Open extended detection and response (Open XDR) is a growing term in cybersecurity. It denotes an open, vendor-agnostic approach to detection and response that goes beyond the endpoint for a holistic view of your security posture across a broad tool set.

Let’s take a closer look at how this security methodology emerged and how it compares to other modern security initiatives.

The History of XDR
The Emergence of XDR
Open XDR vs Other Tools
Where ReliaQuest Comes In

A Brief History of XDR

Our story begins with XDR, a term whose functionality isn’t exactly clear. Anton Chuvakin of Anton on Security identified no less than six different industry understandings of XDR in August 2021, for example. One of those viewpoints interprets XDR as improved endpoint detection and response (EDR) in that it’s capable of collecting data outside of the endpoint. As such, XDR can get along with Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions… for a time, anyway. Another of those perspectives sees XDR as unified threat management (UTM) for detection and response (D&R), thus putting it on a collision course with SIEMs.

Those differences notwithstanding, Chuvakin identified some commonalities across those interpretations. They all understand XDR to be native to the cloud and focused on detection, for instance. They also see some connection to EDR and, because an ideal XDR solution would have automation capabilities to accelerate response, the potential for XDR to eat up some of the capabilities promised by security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) vendors.

Which leads us to our understanding of XDR. As we discussed in a previous blog, XDR is a cross-platform threat detection and response strategy. Common features of XDR include centralizing, correlating, as well as automatically sorting and analyzing relevant security data.

Learn more about the ReliaQuest approach to Open XDR ➞

Understanding the Emergence of Open XDR

According to Grand View Research, the global XDR market is expected to increase from its value of $505 million in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.9% between 2021 and 2028. This forecast considers the reality that organizations’ networks continue to grow in complexity. Specifically, the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud deployments into corporate environments has made it more difficult for organizations to secure their critical data, thus leaving them more vulnerable to digital threats. Organizations are responding to these and other developments by looking to more modern threat detection and response initiatives such as XDR.

Even so, the forecast overlooks the limitations of many traditional XDR tools. We call these solutions “native XDR” because they’re not always created for the purpose of objectively augmenting a customer’s detection and response capabilities. Specifically, many native XDR platforms suffer from “vendor-based restrictions” in that they “are generally limited to working with products within the same brand,” as we explained back in May of this year.

Not only that, but it’s not always easy for organizations to implement a native XDR tool. eWEEK pointed out that many platforms’ capabilities are limited and thus require customization from professional services or security engineers. This type of work can increase the expertise and resources required to set up and manage a traditional XDR solution, potentially making it cost-prohibitive for some customers.

Native XDR’s limited functionality and high overhead helped to give rise to Open XDR. The “Open” in “Open XDR” means that organizations are not limited to a small list of products. Rather, they can implement an Open XDR solution and integrate it with their existing security stack. The platform therefore doesn’t replace organizations’ SIEM or any of their other tools. It acts as a home base, pulling data from multiple sources (SIEM, EDR, email, cloud, etc.), cascading detection logic across them, applying orchestration to enrich investigations with context, and executing response across multiple controls to close out issues. This helps security teams to identify which tools are providing value and which need additional tuning and integration to deliver value, thus achieving better total cost of ownership (TCO) and reducing tool sprawl. It also helps companies do more with less, freeing up staff to focus on higher-value projects and critical incidents while still empowering them with increased visibility into their employer’s environments.

Where Open XDR Diverges from Other Security Tools

Just because Open XDR works with other security tools doesn’t mean its functionality is comparable to theirs, however. Take SIEM tools as an example. Like Open XDR, SIEMs ingest data from various security sources and bring them together to help give security teams a broader focus of what’s going on in the network. But SIEMs are limited in that they require specific data models to work. Not only that, but they lack fidelity in the information they do yield. Absent contextual and correlated alerts, security teams could find themselves in a position where they need to investigate every alert and manually collect additional context from each disparate tool to determine whether it traces back to a legitimate security concern. They could subsequently waste their time looking into false positives.

It’s a similar situation with other traditional security tools. As we explained in our XDR blog:

More traditional cybersecurity methodologies, such as endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR), generally involve reactive approaches to detected threats. The sheer volume of security alerts provided by EDRs and SOARs derived from SIEM data often leads to security team burnout and more time spent tuning tools to avoid false positives than managing threat response.

Open XDR doesn’t suffer from these limitations. Open XDR queries disparate data sources just in time once an alert has been validated, applying machine learning to increase alert fidelity and adding the needed context to accelerate investigations and response. It extends the strengths of SIEMs and EDRs to collect data from sources regardless of deployment model—all without needing specific data models or a data lake. The purpose of Open XDR is to save security teams time, so it doesn’t send over piles of low-confidence alerts. It correlates that data to make sure security teams can continue to monitor the health of the network without sacrificing their ability to respond to urgent actions as they come up.

Where ReliaQuest Comes In

ReliaQuest takes Open XDR a step further than other vendors by combining the power of people, process, and technology into one package. As such, organizations get the best of both worlds. They get a sophisticated Open XDR tool that pulls vendor-agnostic telemetry from across their ecosystem, eliminates false positives, and provides security teams with actionable alerts. They also get in-house expertise that uses custom detection content and security benchmarking to focus on each organization’s unique security requirements.

Embrace Open XDR with ReliaQuest today ➞


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