A Beginner’s Guide to Network Detection and Response

A Beginner's Guide to Network Detection and Response

Cybersecurity is a huge concern for enterprises, and for good reason. Malicious cyberattacks can cause serious damage across every area of your infrastructure. Everything from devices to servers to data might be in danger.

Your enterprise’s network is no exception. A network connects devices and nodes across your company so they can communicate with each other. Networks allow devices to share data and information with each other, which is essential for an enterprise’s operation. However, it also provides an easy path for dangerous programs or code to travel to every device in your infrastructure. Because network threats aren’t going away, it’s crucial that businesses invest in network security measures.

There are a handful of security functions that help protect networks from cyberattacks. This could range from DoS attack monitoring and device responsiveness detection – both of which are common features in network performance monitors (NPMs). However, network detection and response (NDR) has gained traction in the past year as an effective network security strategy. What is NDR, what is its purpose, and why should you integrate it into your network infrastructure? We’ve put together this guide to explain the basics of NDR and how it helps IT teams secure their networks.

What is network detection and response?

NDR is an application of the detection and response security system that was developed for endpoint security (this is known as EDR). The principles of detection and response focus on discovering hidden malicious actors on a system and initiating a counterattack to remove the actor and heal any damage it’s already done. NPMs already come equipped with detection functions, but primarily discover issues that affect performance. NDR providers design their tools specifically for discovering threats hiding on your network.

An NDR system contains root cause analysis and mitigation response features to deal with security problems it discovers. When it detects a threat, it performs real-time analysis to determine what kind of threat it is. It then configures a counterattack response based on this analysis in an attempt to stop and remove the actor from the network. The NDR functions continuously monitor the network, capturing and killing threats 24/7. Many NDR solutions also employ intelligence and machine learning capabilities that store information about threats that it finds. This allows the tool to learn from attacks that enter your network and provide quicker analysis and response in the future.

What does NDR look for and respond to?

One of the biggest cybersecurity challenges is that cyber threats are constantly evolving. As more security solutions are introduced, threat developers find ways to get around them or break them entirely. As such, the current landscape of hazardous actors that IT teams face is expansive. Since there are so many types of cyber threats, security tools need to evolve to keep up with malicious actors as they pop up.

Depending on the specific NDR solution, an NDR system may search for any and all of the following network threats, plus others not listed here:

  • Malware. Files and software are commonly distributed across networks, usually by users downloading or sending files stored somewhere on the network. If a device is infected with malware, it could potentially hijack itself onto a network when that device transmits data.
  • Harmful use of business-critical applications. Companies install and run several applications to help them operate and manage their business. If a user without the proper authority gains access to these applications, they can gain access to your information or disrupt your business’ workflows.
  • Zero day attacks. Some cyberattacks take advantage of the buffer time between the actor reaching the target and the cybersecurity team’s response to it. They begin their attack as soon as the actor is installed onto the system.

What’s the difference between NDR and NPM?

We mentioned above that NPMs already feature detection capabilities, so what makes an NDR tool any different? NPMs are built to monitor a network’s performance – bandwidth usage, data speeds, proper network routing, and so on. They also usually come with basic security functions designed to alert network teams of performance data that indicates a possible security issue. These detection features find flaws with a network’s performance. NPM security features analyze suspicious behavior but often don’t eliminate threats directly.

That’s where an NDR comes in. NDR systems specifically target the prevention and removal of threat actors on a network. Detection and response monitoring scans for signs of malicious information on the network and send counterattack protocols to destroy it. NDR tools provide enterprises with a combative measure designed to stop attacks before they wipe out everything on the network.

Why should I bother with a dedicated NDR system?

You might believe your enterprise’s network is already safe enough because you have systems like firewalls and perimeter security tools in place. However, as has already been established, cyber threats are constantly improving themselves. Standard security tools simply aren’t enough anymore, since malware and threat actors can easily bypass or disable them.

NDR tools work alongside your network’s security and NPM programs to cover for security blind spots. Since threats can lay dormant anywhere on your network before attacking to avoid detection, a security system that reacts to bad behavior won’t catch it. By contrast, an NDR implements AI and machine learning to gather a database of known threats and appropriate responses. These features allow the NDR to eliminate dormant threats before they have a chance to start attacking. Cybersecurity is multi-faceted: the best approach to securing your network is to have multiple security systems in place. Implementing a tool for detection and response will give you an automated network defense force – perfect for keeping malicious actors at bay.


Our Network Monitoring Buyer’s Guide contains profiles on the top network performance monitor vendors, as well as questions you should ask providers and yourself before buying.

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Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein

Dan is a tech writer who writes about Enterprise Cloud Strategy and Network Monitoring for Solutions Review. He graduated from Fitchburg State University in 2018 with a Bachelor's in Professional Writing. You can reach him at dhein@solutionsreview.com
Daniel Hein

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