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The MDR difference: Rapid fire detection and containment of cyber threats

BY Tia Hopkins

September 20, 2018 | 2 MINS READ

Managed Detection and Response

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The current state of cybersecurity as it relates to the rapidly evolving threat landscape has led many organizations to outsource some, if not all, of their security operations. While there are many flavors of the SOC (or Security Operations Center)-as-a-Service option, the two options most discussed today are MSS (Managed Security Services) and MDR (Managed Detection and Response).

According to Gartner’s 2018 Market Guide for Managed Detection and Response Services, MDR is a 24x7 monitoring, detection, and lightweight response service that combines technologies at the host and network layers to investigate incidents, provide remote response capabilities (i.e., threat containment), and support customer efforts to restore compromised environments to a steady state. Many Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) rely on SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) technologies to protect organizations from business disrupting events. While there is some value in this approach, there are gaps when compared to MDR: response capabilities, time to detection, and protection against zero-day threats.

Focusing on the “R” in MDR for a moment, response capabilities of an MSSP are very different from those of an MDR provider. Both MSSPs and MDR providers will Manage the Detection of threats. But while an MSSP sends an alert to a customer’s network or security team that requires additional triage and investigation, an MDR provider will likely perform the initial investigation on the customer’s behalf, contain the threat if applicable, and support the customer during its own internal forensic analysis and remediation process.

A SIEM’s basic function is to ingest, aggregate, correlate, and enrich logs, then compare resulting datasets to rules defined within the system and trigger an alert (assuming appropriate rule sets have been configured). This makes time to detection (and inevitably response) of a SIEM slower than that of a live MDR analyst performing investigations on all potential anomalous activity or indicators of compromise and responding with some form of containment in near real-time, if necessary. Additionally, a SIEM must be configured to look for specific indicators of compromise or anomalous activity. So, in the case of a net new zero-day threat, this technology falls short as likely there is not a rule in place to alert on the associated activity.

Utilizing full packet capture and endpoint forensics to power eSentire’s MDR capabilities, SOC analysts can detect threats faster, perform more in-depth investigations, and provide threat containment services and detailed forensic data to customers. This drastically reduces internal network and security team workloads by relieving day-to-day threat hunting activities, so they can focus on other areas of security within the business.

Many organizations now realize that effective threat hunting is a 24x7 operation that requires dedicated resources with advanced skillsets and access to cutting-edge security technologies. Similarly, MSSP customers are finding they need more guidance, information, and involvement from security partners to safeguard environments and respond to incidents. eSentire MDR services address these concerns by staffing two global 24X7 SOCs with extremely talented, highly skilled analysts that provide incident response, forensic analysis, and remediation support.

Tia Hopkins
Tia Hopkins Chief Cyber Resilience Officer & Field CTO

As Chief Cyber Resilience Officer & Field CTO, Tia Hopkins is focused on engaging with the cybersecurity community, providing thought leadership, supporting strategic customer and partner engagements, and working closely with the sales, marketing, product, engineering, and customer success teams to drive security outcome-focused initiatives. She has spent the past 20+ years of her career in various IT and IT Security roles and has over a decade of experience in the managed services space. Outside of her role at eSentire, Tia is also an adjunct professor of Cybersecurity at Yeshiva University and is currently pursuing her PhD in Cybersecurity Technology Innovation Management.

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