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NDR: The Vital Ingredient For A Successful XDR Strategy



Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series is a collection of contributed articles written by thought leaders in enterprise software categories. Mark Doering of NETSCOUT dons his chef’s hat and looks at why NDR is a vital ingredient when cooking up an XDR strategy.

In the world of enterprise security, numerous technology options are available, causing companies to make difficult decisions when it comes to designing their security strategies. Despite the options, security teams are constantly searching for the ‘secret sauce’ or the best and most effective way to integrate security tools that will achieve a strong ROI. One of those ingredients is a successful Extended Detection and Response (XDR) strategy, which offers visibility across multiple data in one platform.

This strategy, however, can only exist with the inclusion of Network Detection and Response (NDR), which focuses on analyzing packet data in network traffic rather than logs, endpoints, or other data streams. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of designing a comprehensive XDR strategy, why packet-based NDR solutions must be a vital part of that strategy, and why combining both security solutions is the ideal posture for a more robust, real-time view of today’s rapidly-evolving threat landscape and dynamic attack surface.

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Defining an XDR Strategy

Forrester defines XDR as “the evolution of Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), which optimizes threat detection, investigation, response, and hunting in real-time.” Unlike EDR, XDR solutions bring a more proactive approach to threat detection and response by providing a one-platform solution that offers visibility across multiple data streams (endpoint, network, and cloud). Additionally, this intelligence can be further improved with enhanced Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), Integrated Cybersecurity Orchestration Platforms (ICOPs), and Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) tools while using analytics and automation to address more complex problems and trigger remediation actions and workflows to mitigate threats.

What appears to be a simple definition is actually quite complex in its execution. Several moving parts must be present to achieve a complete and functional XDR strategy – most notably, Network Detection and Response (NDR).

Although XDR’s one-platform approach is appealing and therefore adopted by many organizations, like anything, it has its limits regarding what it can offer. Mainly, XDR lacks visibility into an organization’s broader network environment, which can be detrimental for IT leaders who need that visibility to see changes in their dynamic network activity to compare against the endpoints and cloud data. This is where NDR comes in and reveals itself as “the secret sauce,” as it can provide the context needed to put the focus on and ultimately thwart potential cyber threats.

XDR Cannot Exist Without NDR

By design, NDR efficiently protects the complex requirements of on-premises, public and private clouds, and hybrid environments. When NDR is combined with other security solutions, such as log analysis tools (SIEM) and EDR, blind spots in visibility are thereby brought into the light, and a more robust cybersecurity strategy can be implemented.

Most importantly, NDR provides network context – which is crucial for automating responses to threats and thereby enabling network operations and security teams to collaborate. In doing so, overall security capabilities are heightened, and there is a natural, increased detection and mitigation of threats. When powered by network packet data, NDR toolkits can provide real-time attack surface monitoring, early warning capabilities, contact tracing, and back-in-time analysis to locate bad actors and malicious traffic within the network.

The importance of this real-time analysis of data cannot be stressed enough. As threats can arise and unfold rapidly today, it is crucial to identify them early in the attack lifecycle. Further, this automated process reduces manual work on behalf of the security teams, freeing up key personnel to focus on other tasks, and strengthening an organization’s security posture.

The Long-Term Benefits of Using NDR Within An XDR Strategy

Security programs are not a one-size-fits-all for every organization. However, designing your unique strategy and incorporating multiple elements that cover all attack vectors is crucial in today’s complex threat environment. When considering the implementation of an XDR strategy, NDR must be part of the equation. It provides numerous benefits to support a complex security environment. It is essentially the glue that incorporates context from other security systems to make them more effective at threat detection and response.

When addressing network telemetry, holistic security strategies that incorporate multiple techniques for security coverage prove to be more effective. Cybersecurity leaders within organizations need optimal visibility to see abnormalities, anomalies, and changes in network activity and then compare that against endpoint and cloud data. NDR solutions continuously prove invaluable in this sense and must be a focal point when considering options for security programs, defense-in-depth strategies, and particularly as the threat environment becomes more challenging to maintain in the long term.

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