Endpoint detection and response (EDR) and extended detection and response (XDR) have been topics of conversation for a while in the world of IT security and have been a point of contention – with some wondering what their differences are as many of the features and benefits can be viewed as the same. Thus, it can be confusing. With such confusing beginnings, XDR still sits in a nebulous middle-ground, with some analysts like Gartner describing it one way and Forrester defining it another. So, what is the difference between the two? If you already have EDR, why invest in upgrading to XDR if they are such similar solutions? Let’s explore.

What is EDR?

Endpoint Detection and Response, otherwise known as EDR, was once the benchmark for endpoint protection. It focused on threat detection by tracking and recording endpoint behaviours in search of malware or malicious activity. EDR solutions use this data to identify suspicious behavior within the network and block it, followed by remediation functions to restore any systems that have been infected.

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What is XDR?

As XDR is still a developing and emerging approach to threat detection and response, we need to dive into its origins and differing definitions from sources to fully understand what it is. 

Where did XDR come from?

The original concept for XDR was created by Palo Alto to showcase their NGFW and their endpoint product, Traps, which are working together. Soon, it became the marketing buzzword du jour, and analysts had to start taking it seriously. Many believe XDR to be the evolution of EDR. The reason Palo Alto created it was because the organization recognized that existing detection and response tools on the market were too narrowly focused at the time to serve a security team’s ever-evolving needs. 

How does Gartner define XDR?

Gartner defines Extended Detection and Response as “a SaaS-based, vendor-specific, security threat detection and incident response tool that natively integrates multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system that unifies all licensed components.

In other words, XDR pulls data from different security devices together from a single vendor under a single (preferably cloud-based) management function that provides consolidated status, views, operations, and response for an environment.

How does Forrester define XDR?

Forrester describes: “While EDR was once relied upon to perform the most cutting-edge endpoint detection and response, XDR goes further, unifying endpoint security investigation with network security analysis, visibility, identity access management, and cloud security. By going cloud-native, extended detection and response provide a platform that is easily scalable, flexible, and automated.”

In other words, start with EDR, add network (L2/L3) detection & response (NDR), ID management, and integrate with (hybrid) cloud environments as well. Putting the management in the cloud will make it very scalable.

How do Gartner & Forrester XDR definitions differ?

As with any relatively new technology, the definition and preferences differ from analyst to analyst. Gartner believes that XDR is a cloud-based integration of different products from a single vendor but not limited to EDR and Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW), all under a single management structure with some type of response mechanism. Forrester believes any XDR must have EDR at the core but extends that functionality with NDR and other security tools and is hybrid with cloud devices.

What are the key components of the XDR system?

An XDR system is built upon a foundation of interconnected security tools and data sources. These typically include: 

  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Monitors endpoint activity for malicious behaviour and provides detailed forensic data.
  • Network Detection and Response (NDR): Analyzes network traffic to identify suspicious patterns and potential threats.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): Aggregates and correlates logs from various sources for centralized visibility and threat detection.
  • Threat Intelligence Platforms: Provide real-time information about emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): Controls user access to sensitive data and applications.
  • Cloud Security Solutions: Protect cloud-based workloads and infrastructure.

How does XDR work? 

XDR provides advanced threat detection and response through the following:

  • Unifying visibility and control across endpoints, networks and clouds
  • Analyzes TTP and other threats 
  • Detections and response to targeted attacks that allow teams to move quickly to a response
  • Provides end-to-end network protection
  • Able to identify hidden, stealthy and sophisticated threats proactively
  • Track threats across sources or locations within a company 
  • Conclude investigations quickly by reducing the need to chase false positives and confirm alerts automatically

What are the key capabilities of XDR?

In terms of capabilities, XDR platforms offer a wide range of powerful features that are suitable to enhance the security posture of all organizations, including enterprises and companies of smaller scale: 

  • Data Aggregation and Correlation: Collects and combines data from disparate sources to provide a holistic view of the threat landscape.
  • Advanced Threat Detection: Leverages AI and machine learning to identify sophisticated threats that may evade traditional security tools.
  • Automated Incident Response: Automates routine tasks and workflows to accelerate response times and minimize damage.
  • Threat Hunting and Investigation: Enables security teams to proactively search for hidden threats and investigate suspicious activity.
  • Improved Security Posture: Provides actionable insights and recommendations to strengthen overall security defences.

What benefits does XDR provide?

Endpoints are often at risk, and their security is vital, so why isn’t EDR the solution of choice for more security-minded enterprises? EDR is a great option for smaller organizations with low-level cyber security concerns, but XDR provides larger enterprises with a more comprehensive view of network, cloud, mobile, and data by collecting information from more than just the endpoints. A few of the benefits are:

  • Total Visibility of the Entire Network (Endpoints, Network, and Cloud): It offers a comprehensive view of the entire IT ecosystem, allowing the cyber security teams to monitor activity and detect threats across endpoints, networks, and cloud environments, eliminating blind spots.
  • Threat Hunting and Remediation: It facilitates proactive threat hunting by helping to identify hidden threats and investigate suspicious activity across the entire environment before they can cause significant damage.
  • Automated Response: It automates routine security tasks and incident response workflows, improving response times to reduce the impact of security breaches.
  • Single Solution = 360° Protection: It consolidates multiple security tools and functions into a single platform, providing comprehensive protection and simplifying security management.
  • Productivity Boost: Streamlining the security operations, it enhances the productivity of the company security team, allowing them to focus on resolving more complex threats with increased efficiency.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Reduction: It can help reduce security costs by integrating multiple tools into one centralized platform.

What are the common XDR mistakes?

Organizations should be aware of the following potential pitfalls upon the implementation of XDR:

  • Underestimating Complexity: XDR implementation requires careful planning and expertise to ensure successful integration and operation.
  • Lack of Skilled Personnel: Operating and managing an XDR platform effectively demands skilled security professionals.
  • Data Overload: The vast amount of data collected by XDR can overwhelm security teams without proper analysis and prioritization tools.
  • Ignoring Integration Challenges: Integrating XDR with existing security tools and infrastructure can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Neglecting Ongoing Maintenance: XDR platforms require continuous monitoring, tuning, and updates to maintain optimal performance.

What are the common use cases of XDR? 

As a solution that addresses multiple cyber security challenges across industries, XDR can be used for many scenarios. Some of its common use cases include:

  • Ransomware Protection: Detects and blocks ransomware attacks at multiple stages, minimizing data loss and disruption.
  • Insider Threat Detection: Identifies anomalous user behaviour that may indicate malicious intent or accidental data breaches.
  • Cloud Security: Secures cloud environments by monitoring activity, detecting misconfigurations, and protecting against cloud-specific threats.
  • Compliance Management: Helps organizations meet regulatory requirements by providing comprehensive security monitoring and reporting.

Why do organizations need XDR?

Modern organizations face an increasingly complex and evolving threat landscape. From sophisticated ransomware attacks and targeted intrusions to insider threats and cloud security risks, security teams are constantly challenged to stay ahead of adversaries. This is further compounded by limited budgets and resources, placing immense pressure on security personnel to effectively protect their organizations. Traditional security tools, often siloed and disconnected, struggle to keep pace with the volume and velocity of modern threats. This is especially true for those with limited or smaller security teams, which have historically been under immense pressure to oversee an entire organization’s security operations.

The strain on resources has meant that the tools and platforms of a modern organization need to be more advanced and all-encompassing. Further, coupled with the rise and continued advancements of threat actors and malicious threats, security staff are struggling to keep up with disconnected security tools and data sets.

XDR emerges as a critical solution to address these challenges. By providing comprehensive visibility, advanced threat detection, and automated response capabilities, XDR empowers security teams to work smarter and more efficiently. It enables them to proactively hunt for threats, respond rapidly to incidents, and gain deeper insights into their overall security posture. With XDR, organizations can better protect their valuable data and assets, mitigate risks, and ensure business continuity in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats.

What are the differences between XDR and EDR?  

While both EDR and XDR play crucial roles in threat detection and response, their approaches and scope differ significantly. EDR, as the name suggests, primarily focuses on endpoints like laptops, desktops, and servers. It excels at monitoring endpoint activity, detecting malicious behaviour, and providing detailed forensic data for investigation. However, its visibility is limited to the endpoint itself.

XDR expands upon EDR's capabilities by incorporating a wider range of data sources beyond just endpoints. This includes network traffic, cloud workloads, applications, and user behaviour data. By correlating and analyzing data from these diverse sources, XDR provides a more holistic view of the threat landscape, enabling it to detect sophisticated threats that may evade traditional endpoint-focused solutions. XDR platforms also typically offer more advanced features like automated incident response, threat-hunting capabilities, and security posture improvement recommendations.

The choice between EDR and XDR depends on an organization's specific needs and security maturity. While EDR may be sufficient for smaller organizations with simpler IT environments, XDR offers a more comprehensive and proactive approach for larger enterprises facing complex and evolving threats. As industry analysts like Gartner and Forrester suggest, XDR can be seen as an evolution of EDR, building upon its strengths while expanding its scope and capabilities to address the challenges of modern cybersecurity.

Why XDR over EDR? 

Both solutions provide threat detection and even some response, as they draw information from endpoints, in addition to real-time monitoring and analytics to seek out threats. Both offer the same proactive approach to network security thus far. Where XDR goes the extra mile is its ability to provide total visibility into data, mobile devices, cloud and network – in short, everything that’s connected to the infrastructure. You can see how this multi-dimensional protection goes beyond the capabilities of EDR; you need network analysis as well as application or server data (think SIEM).  Does XDR require EDR? Gartner says it can be a key component but not limited to it, while Forrester believes in starting with EDR and then adding to it.

How to effectively implement XDR?

Implementing XDR effectively requires a strategic approach that considers both technology and human factors. Here are some general strategies to ensure a successful XDR deployment:

  • Start with a Clear Vision and Goals: Clearly define your security objectives and assess your current security posture to identify areas where XDR can make the biggest impact. Set realistic expectations and understand that XDR is an ongoing journey, not a one-time fix.
  • Choose the Right XDR Solution: Research and compare different XDR vendors, considering factors like features, scalability, pricing, and compatibility with your existing infrastructure. Prioritize solutions that are user-friendly and offer intuitive management tools.
  • Focus on People and Processes: Invest in training and skill development for your security team to ensure they can effectively operate and manage the XDR platform. Establish clear incident response procedures and foster collaboration between teams.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Improvement: Regularly review and update your security policies and procedures to adapt to evolving threats. Monitor XDR performance metrics and stay informed about emerging security trends to ensure your defences remain effective.

Sangfor's XDR, XDDR and Cyber Command

Sangfor Omni-Command: Introducing Sangfor Omni-Command: a comprehensive Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solution designed to meet the challenges of today’s complex security landscape. Omni-Command seamlessly combines various security technologies such as endpoint security, firewalls, and network detection and response solutions into one unified platform. Leveraging advanced AI capabilities, it offers a consolidated, intelligent, and proactive strategy for identifying and responding to threats, empowering security teams to stay ahead of adversaries and safeguard their digital environments.

Sangfor XDDR: Sangfor offers extended detection and response in the form of XDDR, which is an advanced cyber security solution that goes beyond traditional XDR frameworks. It integrates Sangfor and third-party products, allowing for synergy and correlation of anomalous behaviour. With a holistic approach, XDDR provides comprehensive protection against malware and APT breaches. It gives 360° network security, uncovers hidden threats, simplifies SOAR, and conducts business impact analysis. XDDR strengthens organizations' security posture by combining various components into a unified solution. 

Sangfor Cyber Command: Much in the way XDR gives a 360° panorama of the network, Sangfor Cyber Command threat hunting platform provides access to a broad range of security data, including endpoint data, network traffic data, and application and system data and logs. Sangfor Cyber Command is linked with Sangfor Endpoint Secure and Network Secure (on-premises or in the cloud), providing flexible and effective mitigation of threats in a timely manner, and offering recommendations for new rules, policies, or patching. This immediately meets the Forrester definition.

Cyber Command seeks out potential threats and responds to them in real-time. Sangfor Cyber Command can integrate multiple security products and then use AI analysis and threat intelligence to give the user the ability to defend and respond against exploitation, brute force attacks, C&C, lateral movement, P2P traffic, data theft, and even phishing. Cyber Command can be hosted in the cloud thus meeting the Gartner definition of XDR.

Sangfor has long been able to do not only what both Gartner and Forrester have defined but beyond both definitions as well. Cyber Command makes threat hunting easier and faster by performing a comprehensive analysis of all breaches and using that to trace the breach back to its root. Cyber Command then takes this information and uses it to strengthen assets that need strengthening, thereby fortifying the entire network on an ongoing basis.  Sangfor has always called this XDDR for extended detection, defense, and response; somewhere. XDR forgot you need to defend as much as you need to respond. Sangfor security, infrastructure, virtualization, and cloud technologies all support XDDR by working together to provide a true 360° view and protection for your network environment.

Sangfor Technologies is an APAC-based, global leading vendor of IT infrastructure and security solutions specializing in Network Security and Cloud Computing. Visit us at www.sangfor.com to learn more about Sangfor’s Security solutions and ransomware protection, and let Sangfor make your digital transformation simpler and secure.


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Frequently Asked Questions

To transition from EDR to XDR smoothly, you need a strategic approach. Start by assessing your current security posture and identifying areas where XDR can add value. Choose an XDR solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing EDR and other security tools. Invest in training for your security team to ensure they can effectively use the new XDR platform. Finally, monitor your progress and adapt your approach as needed to ensure a successful transition.

It’s important to invest in training for your cyber security team and ensure that they have secured industry-recognized XDR certifications prior to operating the XDR platform. Encourage and foster a culture of continuous learning among them. Additionally, you can partner with an MSSP or vendor for XDR support services to build a skilled and knowledgeable team capable of managing the solution on their own.

Future challenges for XDR include managing data overload, keeping pace with evolving threats, and ensuring skilled personnel. However, there are some opportunities ahead, which include leveraging AI and automation for advanced threat detection and response, further integration with emerging technologies like IoT and blockchain, and expanding XDR adoption across industries.

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