In the rapidly evolving cybersecurity industry, acronyms seem to multiply faster than malicious threats. When discussing the detection and response sector, we are usually faced with a plethora of acronyms, ranging from EDR, NDR, VDR to XDR, MDR, to-(insert a letter)-DR. While this may seem like alphabet soup, the surge in the number of specialized detection and response acronyms stems from the limitations of traditional SOC technology.
The Security Operations Center (SOC) landscape has transformed significantly from the first-generation to the current modern SOC era. SOCs were predominantly focused on reactive incident response, particularly event log analysis and signature-based detection. However, as threat actors became more sophisticated and attacks grew in complexity, traditional SOCs struggled to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. This resulted in numerous SOC cycles, as illustrated below.
|• Next Gen SOC + |
• Cloud-native MDR platforms
• Cybersecurity mesh architecture by design
• Prescriptive security analytics
• EASM, DRPS, SRS
• Client tailored threat intelligence and monitoring
• Managed EDR
• Managed XDR
• Cloud & edge Security
|• Monitoring |
• Business security monitoring (OT, IoT, industry-specific
• SASE monitoring
• Breach attack simulation
• Threat anticipation
• Industry-specific SOC Use cases
• Risk awareness and business-led prioritization
• External risk scoring
|• Adversarial simulation |
• Threat hunting & threat modeling
• Remote DFIR
• End-to-end automation for active response
• Road to hyper automation
• Blue, purple & red Teams
• Continuous development enhancements on visibility and collaboration
• Hybrid operations (leveraging service providers and specialized vendors)
Over the years, reliance on legacy tools, manual analysis, and siloed processes, resulted in delayed threat detection and limited response capabilities, leading to significant financial impacts for organizations grappling with the surge in cyber incidents. Modern SOCs emerged as a response to these challenges, adopting a proactive and intelligence-driven approach. The future of SOC is breaking down the silos and gaining visibility across an organization’s whole heterogeneous environment, thereby laying the foundation for a cybersecurity mesh architecture blueprint.
These advanced SOCs embrace a collaborative approach, encouraging seamless communication and information sharing among teams. In the face of sophisticated attacks, this enables rapid response and effective coordination. To enhance their effectiveness, these modern SOCs leverage:
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML): AI-driven solutions can analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and detect anomalies more efficiently than traditional methods. They offer real-time threat detection, reducing response times and minimizing the damage caused by advanced attacks.
- Automation: Automation streamlines security operations by automating routine tasks, such as threat detection, alert triage, and incident response. It enhances efficiency, frees up valuable resources, and reduces the risk of human error.
- Context-aware threat exposure management: By correlating threat intelligence with an organization’s unique context, detection and response tools help the organization gain a deeper understanding of threats and prioritize security efforts.
Unraveling the acronyms
NDR (Network detection and response)
NDR focuses on analyzing network traffic to identify and respond to suspicious activities or potential threats. It leverages advanced analytics, machine learning, and behavioral analysis to detect anomalies, intrusions, or malicious patterns that traditional security solutions might miss.
IDTR (Insider detection and threat response)
IDTR focuses on monitoring and detecting organization’s internal threats posed by employees, contractors, or other individuals.
It involves analyzing user behavior, access patterns, and data exfiltration attempts to proactively respond to insider threats.
VDR (Vulnerability detection and response)
VDR focuses on identifying vulnerabilities in systems, applications, or networks and responding promptly to mitigate the associated risks. It involves continuous monitoring, vulnerability scanning, and patch management to prevent potential exploitations and minimize the attack surface.
MXDR (Managed extended detection and response)
MXDR goes beyond traditional boundaries, integrating multiple security tools, data sources, and endpoints to provide a holistic view of the threat landscape. It enables cross-environment threat detection and response across cloud, on-premises, and hybrid infrastructures to enhance overall security.
How to implement detection and response solutions
When selecting the right detection and response technologies, it is crucial to conduct a thorough SOC maturity assessment and evaluate current technologies. I recommend measuring your tools against the following strategic factors:
- Alignment with business objectives: Each organization has unique business features, business objectives, compliance requirements, and risk tolerances. It is crucial to select detection and response technologies that align with these features. For instance, organizations operating in a highly regulated industry may require tools that provide comprehensive compliance reporting and audit capabilities.
- Scalability and flexibility: Choose technologies that can grow with the organization and respond to evolving threats. Flexibility is key to accommodate future changes in infrastructure and security requirements.
- Integration capabilities: Look for technologies that can seamlessly integrate with your current security systems. This will ensure efficient collaboration and information sharing between different tools, and create a unified, comprehensive security ecosystem, which is essential for fostering a cybersecurity mesh architecture.
- Return on investment (ROI): Assess the ROI of the selected technologies by considering the potential cost savings, improved productivity, reduced MTTD and MTTR, and enhanced security posture they can provide. Look for solutions that provide measurable value.
- Future readiness: Choose technologies that embrace innovation and respond to evolving threats and technologies. Consider emerging trends such as AI-driven solutions, cloud-native architectures, and advancements in threat intelligence.
Multiple technical factors can impact the selection process such as detection analytics, response techniques, reporting capabilities, and security platform models. The illustration below shows a few comparison criteria for EDR, XDR and MDR platforms.
It is important to note that technology is only one piece of the puzzle. A holistic approach for advanced detection and response involves a combination of people, processes and technologies.
The proliferation of acronyms and platforms for detection and response capabilities reflects the growing need for specialized solutions to strengthen organizations’ abilities to anticipate threats and effectively mitigate cyber incidents.
Choosing the right detection and response technology is a critical decision for an organization. While the range of available solutions may seem overwhelming, it is important to focus on key business and technical selection criteria to identify the risk tools/platforms that will not only address your current but also your future security challenges needs.
The cybersecurity industry is innovating fast, and I am confident that with the right combination of people, processes and technologies, we can empower organizations to effectively safeguard the digital ream against threats and stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
About the author
Global CTO for Digital Security
Zeina Zakhour is Global CTO for Digital Security
Zeina is an accomplished and passionate technology executive serving as the Vice-president, Global CTO for Digital Security in Eviden, an Atos business. Her unyielding passion for cybersecurity is the driving force behind her relentless pursuit for innovation to combat emerging digital threats.
With over twenty-two years of experience in the cybersecurity industry, Zeina has a proven track record of success in various strategic roles. Her expertise spans Product Engineering, Risk Management, Security Integration, Managed security services/Managed Detection and Response, Security by design for digital innovations (Cloud, IoT, Edge, AI etc…), Compliance and privacy and Innovation/Design thinking.
Zeina’s contributions extend beyond her role at Eviden. She serves as a member of the Advisory Group for the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and is a Council member of the Women4Cyber Foundation.
Zeina has received numerous accolades for her outstanding achievements. In 2019, she was honored as one of the “100 fascinating Females Fighting cybercrime” and was featured in the CTO/CIO/CDO French top 10 influencers survey. In 2020, she was recognized as a Cybersecurity leader by the Cyber Security Observatory, and in 2022, she was included in the list of Europe Top Cyber women.
Zeina graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer and Communication Engineering from Notre Dame University Lebanon. She furthered her education by obtaining a M. Sc. From Telecom SudParis and completed an Executive MBA focused on Innovation & Entrepreneurship from HEC School of Management.