Traditional tools that make up threat detection and response often operate within specific segments of an organization’s IT infrastructure, such as endpoints, networks, or applications, leading to siloed visibility.  

However, threat actors deploy various methods which might not be detectable within these isolated domains. Advanced persistent threats (APTs) combine several attack vectors simultaneously to increase their chances of success and make it more challenging for security measures to detect and mitigate. Low and slow attacks can easily evade detections, but the ability to correlate events across layers greatly increases accuracy, refines alerts, and speeds up investigations. 

Although dwell time has seen a reduction, attack volume is up, and threat actors are moving faster. Critical damage can be done in a short amount of time. 

To keep up, organizations need an extended approach to threat detection and response that goes beyond the visibility provided by traditional tools. 

What is XDR? 

Extended detection and response (XDR) unifies data from all security layers for a holistic, integrated methodology designed to improve threat, detection, investigation and response across an entire security environment.  

XDR is singular tech stack providing a full, aggregated data repository of security activity – including detections, metadata, telemetry, etc. This allows a comprehensive view of an attack’s breadth and depth while using advanced analytics, AI and ML to improving the ability detect multifaceted threats. From this central location you can also perform investigations, initiate responses and proactively hunt. 

While the data analysis is more comprehensive, alerts are more refined and focused to prevent response overload making easier analysis and fewer false positives. 


  • Collects data from all security layers  
  • Detects advanced threats from comprehensive view of an attack’s lifecycle 
  • Centralizes threat detection and response and unifies secops 
  • Refines and focuses alerts 

XDR Benefits 

Utilizing an XDR solution brings several benefits to an organization’s security operations. By integrating with a range of data sources, leveraging advanced analytics, and providing comprehensive threat detection and response capabilities, XDR addresses many of the limitations of traditional security tools. Some of these key benefits include: 

  • Improved visibility: The integration provided by XDR solutions ensures that all parts of an organization’s environment are being monitored, providing a holistic view that traditional, siloed security tools cannot achieve. This visibility is not only a matter of monitoring and collecting more data, but also making sense of it, from endpoints and networks to cloud environments. 
  • Unified operations: By consolidating multiple security functions into a centralized platform, XDR reduces the need for security teams to manage and switch between disparate tools. 
  • Real-time threat detection: Using ML and AI, XDR can identify patterns and signal potential threats. The ML models continuously learn and evolve, improving the accuracy of threat detection and reducing false positives. 
  • Improved response times: By automatically executing response actions when a threat is detected, the window of opportunity for attackers is significantly reduced. Also, with its integrated approach, XDR can orchestrate responses across an organization’s environment from one platform, eliminating time spent swiveling between tools. 
  • Reduced alert fatigue: An XDR platform helps prioritize alerts by eliminating false positives, surfacing only high-priority alerts, automating response when possible, and proactively addressing potential threats so that security teams can focus on other, higher-priority tasks. 

How XDR Works 

Some of XDR’s hallmarks include centralization of normalized data, correlation of security data and alerts into incidents, and automated data sorting and analysis. Let’s look at the steps of how this cross-platform strategy to threat detection and response works. 

Data Aggregation 

An XDR platform collects and normalizes data from various sources, which typically operate in silo. This data is enriched with contextual details, improving the accuracy of threat detection and the effectiveness of responses. 


The detection engine of an XDR solution combines traditional approaches like signature-based and rule-based detections with advanced technologies including machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and behavioral analysis. This combination enhances a security team’s ability to identify and respond to cyber threats across their organization’s infrastructure. Unlike traditional security tools, which may target specific types of threats or operate within limited domains, XDR offers a comprehensive approach to detection. 

Correlation and Analytics 

Data aggregation serves the purpose of centralizing data for ease of access and analysis. However, correlation and analytics go a step further to extract meaning from that data. Correlation specifically refers to finding relationships between different data points, while analytics encompasses various techniques, such as ML, to understand the data and identify trends. XDR platforms use both correlation and analytics to provide security teams with the actionable intelligence needed to make informed decisions. 

Response Automation 

XDR platforms are equipped with response orchestration capabilities that allow for predefined response actions without manual intervention. Actions such as isolating infected endpoints, blocking malicious IP addresses, or revoking compromised user credentials can all be initiated directly from the XDR platform. 

This is where Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools differ greatly from an XDR solution. While both play vital roles for integrating various parts of a security ecosystem, a SIEM lacks the ability to respond to threats. However, by collaborating with an XDR, a SIEM can contribute to a more comprehensive threat containment and mitigation strategy through a layered defense approach. 

Threat Hunting and Investigation 

XDR solutions are equipped with advanced threat hunting and investigation capabilities designed to proactively search for and analyze potential security threats across an organization’s environment. These capabilities enable security teams to identify, understand, and mitigate threats that evade standard detections. An XDR platform enhances threat hunting beyond what SIEMs and other security tools offer by delivering more comprehensive and contextual data and supporting real-time automated responses. 

How Does XDR Compare to Other Security Solutions? 

XDR vs. EDR and SOAR 

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. 

XDR, on the other hand, enables a proactive approach by delivering visibility into data across clouds, endpoints, and networks, all while using automation and applying analytics to address threats. By automatically grouping lower-confidence activities into singular higher-confidence events, fewer alerts get prioritized for action, freeing the security team up for more urgent actions. 


While Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and XDR both focus on enhancing an organization’s ability to detect threats across its digital environment and act effectively, an MDR is usually provided as a service. MDRs provide organizations with external expertise to monitor endpoints and sometimes the networks. On the other hand, XDR is a technology platform that organizations can use to integrate and analyze data for extended visibility of security events from various security sources and tools themselves, from on-premises to the cloud. 


SIEMs make it possible for teams to tailor rule-based detections to specific needs and the threat landscape. It aggregates and monitors log data from many network sources. SIEM compliments the amount of sources XDR integrates for advanced threat detection and automated response capabilities. Visibility into network events and behaviors provided from SIEM improves XDRs holistic approach to detection and understanding attack movements with context-rich alerts 

XDR vs. Open XDR 

While XDR is a step forward in the world of cybersecurity and threat response, it still suffers from vendor-based restrictions. Simply put, XDR platforms are generally limited to working with products within the same brand, and each XDR tool is tuned to the perspective of its creators. 

XDR platforms should be “open” and integrate with a range of security tools—such as firewalls, email security solutions, and threat intelligence feeds—regardless of vendor, as well as the wider IT infrastructure.  

Today’s IT environments are diverse, and can include data stored on-premises, in the cloud, or within hybrid environments. This diversity presents a complex challenge for traditional security solutions, which can often struggle to provide comprehensive visibility across disparate environments. 

A vendor-agnostic alternative, ReliaQuest GreyMatter takes an open approach to XDR, working as a glue for multiple XDR platforms and unifying them to work together to protect your network from threats of all shapes and sizes. 

Considerations Before Choosing XDR 

Before investing in an XDR solution, organizations should consider several factors to ensure that they choose one that aligns with their security needs, infrastructure, and goals. When looking at XDR, consider these questions below to evaluate its compatibility and configurability: 

  1. Is it compatible with what I have now?

Consider how well the XDR solution integrates with your current security tools, IT infrastructure, and cloud environments. Compatibility is crucial for seamless data aggregation and effective threat detection across diverse digital landscapes. Ideally, adopting an XDR solution shouldn’t require replacing your current set of tools. Instead, aim to maximize your existing investments by choosing an XDR solution that can work with any technology, regardless of vendor. 

  1. Can the platform scale with me if I switch vendors, acquire a company, or get acquired?

Consider its scalability and flexibility in various scenarios. It should be able to maintain the same technology functions, such as detection and response, that you currently have, regardless of vendor. Also, consider an XDR that can handle increasing volumes of data and a growing number of endpoints as your organization expands. 

  1. Will I be locked in to a vendor?

Choosing an XDR platform may lead to a degree of vendor lock-in, which could impact future security and IT decisions. This can limit an organization’s flexibility to adopt best-of-breed technologies and adapt to new security challenges, and it may lead to higher operational costs. To mitigate this, you should choose an XDR platform that can integrate with multiple vendors, ensuring a more adaptable security infrastructure. 

  1. Can it configure to how my environment works?

An XDR should adapt to your organization’s specific workflows, operational processes, security policies, and IT infrastructure. 

Choosing the right XDR solution ensures it can support your organization’s evolving security needs and maintain a stronger defense against existing and emerging cyber threats. 

ReliaQuest GreyMatter: Built on an Open XDR Architecture 

The ReliaQuest GreyMatter security operations platform is built on an open XDR architecture. Unlike many other solutions, its technology-agnostic approach enables you to fully leverage your technology stack and maximize your existing security investments. It’s designed to help security operations teams increase visibility, reduce complexity, and manage risk across the full security ecosystem—across cloud, on-premises, and hybrid cloud architectures. 

With its bi-directional APIs, GreyMatter can ingest data from security tools and stitch it together to provide a unified detection, investigation, and response process, ultimately empowering security teams with the comprehensive understanding they need to swiftly respond to threats.