MDR vs XDR: What's the Difference?

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) are different Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) paradigms that share some similarities but also differ in significant ways. Although they share an underlying fundamental approach to protecting endpoints, the models each appeal to a different type of organization depending on the maturity of its cybersecurity capabilities and risk requirements.
MDR operations are specialized security services that allow an organization to outsource the management of EDR products installed across their network domain. According to Gartner, MDR provides real-time threat hunting to detect malicious activity on individual endpoints, actively mitigate identified threats, and push alerts to the SOC for further investigation. MDR gives an organization access to security experts specializing in threat hunting, analysis, and response and alleviates the burden of complex and critical security operations.
XDR is a unified cybersecurity solution that collects and analyzes data from multiple sources to prevent, discover, and respond to cyberattacks. It expands on EDR with additional capabilities for detection and response across a network domain, or even cross-domain, to cohesively protect an organization’s entire digital environment, including its network, cloud storage, applications, and endpoints.

How Is MDR Different from XDR?

Both MDR and XDR provide endpoint security beyond traditional scanning of incoming content to continuously monitor endpoints for indicators of compromise (IOCs). Both MDR and XDR proactively mobilize defenses to neutralize identified threats and push alerts to SOC team members for further investigation.

However, MDR is an outsourced security service that transfers the responsibility of network security to a team of experts that specialize in threat detection and response, while XDR does not. In the XDR model, responsibility for management lies squarely on the organization implementing the XDR solution. 

The other key difference is that XDR programs benefit from the advanced capabilities of XDR’s approach to extending security. More specifically, XDR includes the ability to correlate security telemetry data across the network and can deploy a cohesive real-time response to identified threats across the entire network topography.

What’s Better: MDR or XDR?

MDR is advantageous because it allows the organization to outsource specialized IT security skills and knowledge. On the other hand, XDR provides the stronger assurances of an extended response, providing a cohesive orchestrated defense across the entire network by updating and adjusting security awareness on each device. From a purely technical perspective, XDR offers better overall network visibility and protection. However, as threat actors become more pervasive and sophisticated, even large corporations with dedicated cybersecurity teams can get overwhelmed and have difficulty managing a high-risk cybersecurity program’s increasingly complex and critical task. 
Managed XDR, an MDR service that leverages XDR technology, offers the best of both MDR and XDR models. Managed XDR takes advantage of access to dedicated professional knowledge and skills and applies threat intelligence across the entire network, immediately increasing the real-time security of all endpoints.

Companies of all sizes must now contend with a growing number of devices, each one representing a new addition to their attack surfaces. And they must do so while balancing skill gaps and resources shortages, all while hoping they don’t end up in an adversary’s crosshairs.  This is challenging enough for larger organizations, but for small and mid-sized businesses, it verges on impossible.

As a human-centric subscription-based 24x7x365 Managed XDR service, CylanceGUARD® provides the expertise and support businesses need. CylanceGUARD combines the comprehensive expertise embodied by BlackBerry Cybersecurity Services with AI-based Endpoint Protection (EPP) through CylancePROTECT®, continuous authentication and analytics through CylancePERSONA, and on-device threat detection and remediation through CylanceOPTICS®. In short, it provides businesses with everything they need to contend with a modern threat landscape—no matter what that landscape throws at them.