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On the Hunt: Using XDR to Root Out Would-Be Attackers

In Greek mythology, the young hunter Actaeon was transformed into a deer by the goddess Artemis then chased down and torn apart by his own hounds. The hunter had become the hunted.

In the cybersecurity world, an emerging class of solutions known as extended detection and response (XDR) promises to turn the tables on malicious actors hunting your network for flaws and vulnerabilities.


For decades, IT security has largely depended on reactive measures designed to mitigate damages after an attack is identified. That’s no longer entirely effective. With modern cyberattacks able to exfiltrate data and compromise systems in a matter of nanoseconds, the damage is probably done before you can respond.


As such, organizations are now placing a stronger emphasis on finding and stopping threats before they have a chance to execute. Many are adopting XDR solutions that combine threat analysis, detection and response to automatically hunt for advanced persistent threats and other stealthy attacks around the clock.


Battling Complexity


IT security teams have long sought to improve their ability to proactively detect threats, but the effort has often resulted in increased complexity. A recent IDG study found that many large organizations have 30 to 100 separate security tools — far more than they can effectively use or manage. More than three-quarters of those surveyed said the overabundance of tools is actually increasing risk.


For example, security information and event management (SIEM), endpoint detection and response (EDR) and other standalone detection tools can generate huge numbers of alerts, including many false positives. Lacking the time, manpower and expertise to effectively investigate all these alerts, IT teams are often forced to simply ignore many of them.


XDR resolves that problem by orchestrating data from multiple functional silos to provide greater context about suspicious activity. Advanced automation and analytics features give XDR solutions the ability to continuously collect and correlate real-time security data streams from servers, firewalls, endpoints and cloud instances.


Better Data, Faster Response


Additionally, XDR solutions can rapidly harvest and process security event data from hundreds of threat intelligence feeds that collect data about existing and emerging threats in real time. These feeds typically pull data from reports shared among cybersecurity professionals, customer telemetry information, honeypot and sandbox results, and malware processing.


The net result is a single-pane-of-glass view of security data that allows IT teams to rapidly detect and respond to stealthy threats. In a new survey of the Pulse community of IT executives, 75 percent of XDR users said the solution improved their response time by up to 30 percent. As a result, roughly the same number said they now consider XDR a critical element of their security efforts.


Although XDR solutions make threat hunting easier, managing these tools can still be difficult for organizations with limited in-house security expertise. However, you can offload much of the burden to a qualified managed services provider (MSP). Best-in-class MSPs have security experts on staff who are familiar with detection-focused tools such as SIEM, EDR and XDR.


Reactive security measures still have value, but organizations today need to seek out stealthy threats and stop them before they’ve had a chance to do lasting damage. Contact us to learn more about using XDR solutions to change would-be hackers from hunters into the hunted.

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