MDR vs. SIEM: What’s the Difference?

MDR (Managed Detection and Response) and SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) are among the most prevalent cybersecurity solutions today. As a result, they are often compared and evaluated for their respective capabilities and benefits.

While both are vital in securing an organization’s mission-critical data and sensitive customer information, their scope, functionality, and approach differ.

SIEM is a centralized platform designed to collect and analyze security-related data from multiple sources within an organization's network. This data includes logs from firewalls, servers, and other network devices, including applications and databases. SIEM systems use this data to identify security events and incidents, which are then categorized and prioritized based on event severity.

SIEM solutions offer visibility across a network and identify anomalies that could indicate a potential breach. Organizations can also use them to meet compliance requirements by generating reports and alerts demonstrating its security posture.

MDR is a comprehensive outsourced cybersecurity service designed to provide a more proactive approach to security. These solutions typically include a team of security analysts and experts who monitor an organization's network in real-time, looking for signs of potential threats. MDR providers use a combination of technology and human expertise to detect and respond to threats quickly, often before they can cause significant damage.

MDR services and solutions are focused on detecting and responding to unknown threats, including zero-day attacks and other advanced threats that may not be detectable using traditional security solutions. These services and solutions include threat detection, cyber threat intelligence, threat response, endpoint solutions, technology stacks, and cloud monitoring tools.

MDR providers also typically offer incident response services, helping organizations quickly contain and remediate security incidents.

Does MDR Include SIEM?

MDR solutions employ a variety of tools, possibly including SIEM, to effectively monitor and identify threats. The combination of these cybersecurity solutions allows for a powerful and proactive approach to security; by integrating SIEM systems, which gather and analyze data from multiple sources, into MDR solutions, their threat detection capabilities are enhanced.

Differences between SIEM and MDR

While both SIEM and MDR solutions aim to improve an organization's security posture and monitor, detect, and respond to the threat landscape, there are several key differences between the two.

Focus: SIEM solutions typically monitor known threats and identify anomalies, while MDR solutions focus more on detecting and responding to unknown threats

Technology vs. Human Expertise: SIEM solutions rely primarily on hardware and software to detect and analyze security events, while MDR is an outsourced solution that relies on a combination of technology, processes, and human expertise

Reactive vs. Proactive: SIEM collects data and analyzes logs to generate alerts that rely on the organization's incident response capabilities, while MDR offers proactive threat hunting and detection

Cost: A report by IDG found that businesses pay roughly $607,000 a year to manage their in-house SIEM solution, which is typically more expensive than MDR solutions due to the size and complexity of SIEM environments. MDR is a more practical and cost-effective option for organizations that don't have a complex environment or an in-house security operations center (SOC).

What’s Better: SIEM or MDR?

Choosing between SIEM and MDR solutions depends on an organization's specific security needs and budget. For example, organizations primarily concerned with meeting compliance requirements may find that a SIEM solution is sufficient. However, organizations more concerned with detecting and responding to advanced threats may find that an MDR solution is a better fit.

Ultimately, the best approach may be combining both solutions, using a SIEM solution for compliance and monitoring known threats while leveraging an MDR solution for more proactive threat detection and incident response.

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.