MDR vs. Incident Response: What’s the Difference?

MDR (Managed Detection and Response) and Incident Response are closely related aspects of cybersecurity. Because of their similarities, MDR and incident response are often confused as one and the same solution.

Both are crucial components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to protect organizations from evolving threats and improve their security posture. However, despite the similarities, MDR and Incident Response differ in how they help businesses resolve and recover from cybersecurity issues.

MDR is a service that involves the continuous monitoring of an organization’s network, systems, and endpoints to detect and respond to potential security threats. It’s a proactive approach that combines human expertise with advanced threat detection technologies for threat intelligence and hands-on security analysis to provide real-time monitoring, alerting, and incident investigation.

Key Features of MDR

Threat Detection: MDR employs various technologies like network traffic analysis, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), and behavior analytics to identify potential threats and suspicious activity within an organization’s infrastructure.

Real-Time Monitoring: MDR providers continuously monitor an organization’s network and systems to detect anomalies, security incidents, and potential breaches.

Alerting and Response: When a security threat or incident is detected, MDR services alert the organization’s security team, who investigates the incident, determines its severity, and advises on containment and remediation.

Incident Response is a reactive process that focuses on handling and mitigating cybersecurity incidents after they occur. It involves a systematic approach to identify, respond to, and recover from security incidents, minimize damage, and restore normal operations. 

Incident Response is typically performed by an organization’s Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT).

Key Features of Incident Response

Incident Identification: Incident Response starts with detecting and identifying a security incident.

Incident Containment and Mitigation: Once an incident is identified, the CIRT works to contain the incident and prevent further damage. 

Incident Investigation: The CIRT will thoroughly investigate the incident’s cause, impact, and extent.

Remediation and Recovery: After containing the incident, the CIRT focuses on remediation and recovery. 

Differences between MDR and Incident Response

MDR is a proactive service focusing on continuous monitoring, threat detection, and response to potential security incidents. And with a cybersecurity worker shortage of almost 4 million people, MDR allows organizations to implement proactive threat response and detection strategies despite the IT security talent deficit.  

On the other hand, Incident Response is a reactive process that aims to handle and mitigate cybersecurity incidents after they occur. While a good incident response plan can help you prepare for an inevitable security breach, it’s primarily designed to handle a data breach or cyberattack, including how an organization manages the consequences of the attack. 

In sum: MDR is aimed at prevention and early detection. Incident Response is geared toward containment, investigation, and recovery after an incident.

Does MDR Include Incident Response?

MDR typically includes elements of Incident Response within its service offering. While MDR primarily focuses on proactive monitoring, detection, and response, it often incorporates Incident Response capabilities to recover from an attack effectively.

What’s Better: MDR or Incident Response?

Cybersecurity is never a one-size-fits-all approach. MDR and Incident response are not mutually exclusive options. However, they can and do complement each other. Some organizations may implement both to cover the full spectrum of their security needs.

Businesses large and small contend with a growing number of devices, each adding to attack surfaces. At the same time, most enterprises face a cybersecurity skill gap and resources shortages. Cybersecurity staffing is particularly troublesome for small and mid-sized businesses.

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, CylanceGUARD provides business with the people and technology needed to protect the enterprise from the modern threat landscape.