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Managed Detection And Response (MDR): Why It Is Important And Why We Need It

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By: Nihad Hassan

June 21, 2021

In today's digital age, cyberattacks are increasing at a rapid pace. As more organizations worldwide are increasingly adopting automation to improve work operations and enhance their efficiency, the cost of a successful cyberattack becomes tremendous if adversaries succeed in penetrating or ceasing target organization IT systems. According to Cyber Security Ventures, the global cost of cybercrime will reach $10.5 trillion in 2025 annually. The same company predicts that ransomware attacks will hit businesses every 11 seconds by 2021, and global ransomware damage costs are projected to reach $20 billion annually by 2021.

To counter the ever-growing threats that originated from cyberspace, organizations utilize various tools and services to protect their IT assets. Still, the most critical factor in stopping cyber threats remains the human element. The availability of skilled workers to run and monitor different security solutions remains (e.g., IDS/IPS, Firewalls, and SIEM) crucial for making the best use of the tools comprising your cyber defense line.

The cybersecurity skills gap increases steadily. The rapid acceleration of digital transformation across all organization types has increased dependence on information technology to facilitate work operation. This increased the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals to protect IT systems from various cyber threats. According to Cyber Security Ventures, the cybersecurity talent crunch will create 3.5 million unfilled jobs globally by 2021.

Not all organizations can afford to have dedicated cybersecurity teams to handle all their IT security needs. For instance, small and medium-sized organizations that lack financial capability can outsource some or all of their security services. A Managed Detection and Response is an example of such a service.

Defining Managed Detection and Response

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is a type of outsourced cybersecurity service that provides various security services for client organizations like incident response, threat intelligence, and advanced security monitoring. MDR providers give their clients access to their pool of human expertise (IT security professionals, digital forensics examiners, malware analysts, and security engineers) responsible for monitoring networks, investigating security incidents, and responding to them accordingly.

MDR provides 24/7 security control; they also offer cloud-managed security for organizations that cannot afford their own Security Operations Center (SOC).

Two types of customers commonly utilize MDR services:

  1. Small and medium-sized organizations that cannot afford to hire dedicated security teams.
  2. Other organizations with adequate resources want to back up their in-house security team capabilities with advanced expertise from a third-party provider.

Does Managed Detection and Response offer the same services as Managed Security Services?

Although many people think that MDR is similar to MSSP, there are distinct variations between these two providers.

  1. The MSSP duties are reactive. They focus their efforts on discovering security vulnerabilities in the client IT environment. They monitor the network through network solutions such as IDS/IPS and Firewalls and notify the client once the abnormal activity is detected. The MSSP's role is to detect the malicious behavior and inform the client but not stop it. While the service model of the MDR providers differs in being focusing on protective security, they concentrate on threat hunting, detection, and response.

  2. MDR providers have access to many third-party threat intelligence sources; this allows them to stay updated against the latest cyber threats and attack vectors utilized by advanced threat actors.

  3. Providing compliance to various regulatory bodies GDPR, HIPPA, and PCI DSS is standard for MSSPs. While most MDRs do not offer such a service as part of their standard service offering.

  4. MDRs allow direct connections with their security advisors and engineers' team, making them an extension to the client organization's local security team. In contrast, MSSPs provide their support via technological means like email, internet messages, and dashboards.

  5. Most MDR offers on-site and remote incident response services as a part of their basic service offering; of course, you want to arrange this service and pay for it in advance. In contrast, you need to have a special arrangement or agreement to get this service from MSSPs.

What advantages are acquired from utilizing an MDR service?

As with any outsourced service, an MDR provides a team of security experts for a cost-effective price. Small organizations cannot hire a dedicated security team to protect their data and IT infrastructure. MDR is an excellent solution to use as an advanced service at a cost-effective price. MDRs use their security tools and solutions; MDRs have access to expensive programs that most organizations cannot afford to buy or develop. Besides, MDRs may customize their tools to align with the client's current IT systems or meet its distinct security needs.

Although most MDRs does not provide compliance reporting, they help their clients review their security processes and technological security solutions to comply with the enforced regulatory frameworks.

By utilizing the MDR service, a client organization will ensure they have a dedicated incident response team that can tackle security incidents once they occur and quickly contain them before they spread and cause more damage.

Finally, MDR offers advanced security threat intelligence that most organizations cannot easily get because of budget, expertise, and technological constraints. This advances MDR's customers' ability to fight advanced threats such as ransomware, lateral movement, and APT attacks.

Summary

To counter the increased number of cyberattacks, big organizations can hire a dedicated IT security team to protect their network and servers. However, the problem arises for small and medium organizations that actively leverage digital solutions while still not having the necessary budget or resources to have an in-house security team. Managed Detection and Response (MDR) has emerged as a cost-effective solution to help organizations improve their threat detection and response capabilities.

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