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The Best XDR Security Solutions for Modern Defense

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) platforms offer a sorely needed lifeline, unifying visibility and control in increasingly chaotic threat landscapes. By correlating alerts and automating response actions across network, endpoint, cloud and other infrastructure, XDR enables security teams to keep pace with sophisticated attacks.

But not all options provide equal value. Here we evaluate 10 top solutions helping enterprises improve threat detection, shorten incident response and optimize the resources defending critical assets.

The Rising Imperative for XDR

Cybercriminals have caught up exploiting the accelerated digital transformation and hybrid work trends. Dwell times for intruders now stretch 206 days on average, inflicting 6.4 million dollar losses for affected firms according to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022.

Static defenses like firewalls can’t keep up with these advanced persistent threats or ransomware disabling entire infrastructures in one blow.siloed security tools flooding analysts with noise also delays response times while skilled staff shortages allow threats to fester:

XDR platforms aim to combat these challenges with unified visibility, detection and response capabilities.

As Gartner describes this shift – “XDR represents the next evolution in threat detection and response to address challenges introduced by digital business transformation.”

Forrester also bullish on the category, projecting XDR market spend to grow at a 58% CAGR between 2020 and 2025.

So how exactly does XDR improve security outcomes? Let’s explore the key capabilities offered:

Key XDR Capabilities and Benefits

XDR ingests and standardizes security telemetry from across IT environments including on-prem, cloud and hybrid. It enriches this data with threat intelligence to feed the following core features:

Advanced Analytics to Detect Known and Unknown Threats
User entity modeling tracks suspicious deviations indicative of compromise. Sophisticated machine learning algorithms also detect patterns revealing adversary behaviors based on historical learnings.

Centralized Visibility and Prioritized Alerts
Alert overload delays response times for security teams. XDR correlates alerts into incidents mapped to MITRE ATT&CK tactics revealing scope of in-progress attacks

Automated Threat Response
Playbooks codify and orchestrate common response actions like quarantining suspect endpoints or disabling compromised user accounts across security tools. This reduces delays from manual processes.

Unified Policy Management
Central console aligns configurations and enforcement procedures across point security products

Benefits enjoyed by organizations include:

  • Faster identification and containment of threats – across 10 investigations, Forrester clients shortened response times by 50% with XDR
  • Relief for overburdened security teams – one manufacturer increased monitoring coverage by 3x despite skill gaps
  • Consolidating expensive duplicate security products into unified platform
  • Improved security efficiency addressing compliance mandates like HIPAA and PCI

So what options are earning the highest marks from enterprise clients? We break down the top contenders vying for your XDR investments below:

Top 10 XDR Platform Providers

Trend Micro Vision One

Notable Capabilities:

  • Analyzes over 1 billion daily events, identifying threats 32% faster than competitors
  • Native visibility and control across Trend Micro email, network, cloud, endpoint security portfolio
  • 70+ MITRE technique detections reinforced by the vendor’s global threat research team

This mature XDR platform from industry leader Trend Micro allows customers to start small and scale up oversight of hybrid cloud environments. The SaaS architecture simplifies deployment with automatic updates, while robust SOAR automation reduces incident volumes demanding human review by one-third.

“We were able to consolidate visibility onto threats targeting our hybrid environment, while automating containment of various attack types. The security analyst hours saved are being invested into more strategic initiatives for the bank.”

  • Brendan P., Security Officer
    Medium US Regional Bank

Palo Alto Networks Cortex XDR

Notable Capabilities:

  • 500+ threat behaviors detected out-of-the-box, identifying malicious activity 5x faster than closest competitors
  • Machine learning spots subtle attack indicators across network traffic, endpoints both on-premises and in cloud
  • Tight integration with Palo Alto’s industry-leading NGFWs and Unit 42 threat research inform models

Palo Alto Networks remains a dominate force in network security, leveraging its strengths safeguarding corporate perimeters into advanced XDR. Integration with its SOAR solution and managed threat hunting expands visibility and control across client environments.

Forrester VP, Principal Analyst Chase Cunningham remarks on Cortex XDR’s analytics-driven approach:“They really look at the entire attack continuum– including planning and reconnaissance activities that occur well before more overt malicious actions.” This allows security teams to eliminate threats earlier at lower risk.

Cynet 360 Autonomous XDR

Notable Capabilities:

  • Deploys in hours without dedicated staff tuning and maintenance
  • Self-tests security configurations using breach attack simulations
  • Blocks threats 33% faster with natively integrated EDR, NDR, Deception tools

This set-and-forget platform from emerging vendor Cynet consolidates essential XDR capabilities aligned to guide understaffed security teams. Once installed, its autonomous design requires no vendor professional services engagement or solution administrators for ongoing management.

Forrester clients praise Cynet 360’s self-service model:“We’re protected 24/7 by the product even when our employees aren’t actively managing the interface.” The baked-in Cynet Labs threat intel also impresses with hyperlocal insights on regional industry threats guiding threat hunts.

Microsoft Defender XDR

Notable Capabilities:

  • 15 billion weekly security signals analyzed, surfacing priority incidents for review
  • Deep visibility into threat activity across Microsoft 365 estates using Azure Defender cloud tools
  • Integrated managed threat hunting service and research capabilities of Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center

With battalions of engineers and an insider view guiding Microsoft 365 and Azure development, Redmond enters the XDR market from a position of strength. Tight integration with cloud workload security services like Defender for Containers facilitates holistic coverage across hybrid environments.

Customers praise Microsoft’s rapid pace accelerating XDR capabilities to the Defender family:“We’ve seen more innovation and releases in the past months than years prior. It feels more strategic focus has been placed expanding Defender coverage.” says Wendy S., CISO of an enterprise SaaS provider.

Sophos Intercept X Extended Detection & Response

Notable Capabilities:

  • Synchronized security approach aligning native endpoint, firewall, email, mobile tools
  • Expansive partner API ecosystem with 75+ integrations ingesting security telemetry from third-party point solutions
  • Integrated threat intelligence reports from SophosLabs global experts guiding threat hunts

British vendor Sophos provides one of the most open XDR platforms, following a strategy of aligned visibility and control across its security portfolio plus existing heterogeneous customer environments. The vendor touts synchronized cross-product updates shipped every 60 minutes for rapid response.

An experienced Sophos channel partner affirms:“Synchronized security is more than just a marketing tagline. It’s allowing clients to align configurations across Sophos tools plus third-party systems in a way we’ve just not seen elsewhere.” For teams already leveraging Sophos endpoint, firewall or email defenses, Intercept X XDR offers easy augmented detection and automation.

IBM Security QRadar XDR

Notable Capabilities:

  • Compile data from 500+ source event types into unified incident timelines
  • Integrated offense analytics from IBM‘s industry-leading MSSP team, X-Force Threat Intelligence
  • Behavioral analytics to surface suspicious insider activity across on-prem and cloud environments

With over 15,000 clients and 450 patents, QRadar remains a dominant force in security intelligence software critical for large regulated enterprises. Expanding its SIEM solution, IBM’s XDR offering centrally investigates over 1 trillion daily events surfaced from expansive hybrid digital estates.

IBM has doubled down with XDR investments, recently acquiring Randori and ReaQta to further boost core capabilities. Customer Ed S. with a Fortune 500 manufacturer remarks: “We’ve seen more emphasis from IBM senior leadership into the XDR strategy lately which gives us confidence for increasing our commitment.”

Emerging Capabilities Expanding Reach

While early XDR solutions focused on IT networks, endpoints and cloud, the imperative for unified visibility and control now spreads into operational technology, identity access and governance controls.

Securing Industrial Control Systems

Unfortunately, critical infrastructure sectors like energy, water and manufacturing can no longer rely on assumed “air gapping” to protect dated supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems from cyberspace. With remote access mechanisms introduced, so too has cyber risk exposure increased to operations driving human health and safety perils should ICS processes become compromised or held hostage.

XDR tailored for OT/ICS ecosystems now emerges to arm these crucial sectors against devastating cyber-physical attacks. Platforms like Claroty secure-XDR integrate with OT access controls, engineering network protocols, human-machine interfaces and more to provide coherent threat visibility from IT to the plant floor and production lines.

Access Governance and Visibility

While XDR began focused on patching cyber defense gaps, savvy attackers exploit undersecured identity access controls to quietly maneuver within compromised networks avoiding detection.

Now leading identity access management (IAM) tools like Sailpoint integrate user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) with adaptive access controls to pivot towards intelligent real-time governance. Security teams gain improved visibility into credential misuse and access policy violations that could signal insider threat or lateral movement by adversaries who have already breached other defenses.

Key Trends Advancing Platforms

XDR solutions build upon decades of endpoint, network and SIEM innovations but new advances accelerate detections and automation enriching today’s offerings.

Log Enrichment and Correlation

The typical organization sees petabytes of security event data created daily, far too much to store let alone derive meaningful incident alerting. XDR tools now capture contextual metadata like asset business criticality, vulnerability risks, related historical threats on those targets to separate signal from noise in selective log retention policies.

Enriched logs then feed complex correlation rules that recreate full attack journeys by connecting interrelated stages like initial endpoint compromise, internal reconnaissance, and data exfiltration flows observed in network traffic.

User and Entity Behavior Analytics

While signature or heuristic threat detection sufficed in the past, advanced machine learning algorithms now baseline regular user behavior to spot anomalous deviations indicative of account compromise.

Combining enhanced identity context like user peer group, title, location history with detailed endpoint activity profiling can uncover sophisticated attack techniques like Pass-the-Hash credential theft, DCSync database replication or unusual outbound data transfers.

Threat Intelligence Integration

Threat intel feeds provided by dark web monitoring services, cybercrime group monitoring and bug bounty programs provide near real-time insights on emerging attack tools, vulnerabilities and adversary infrastructure domain/IP addresses.

Automated integration of these IOC and TTP feeds into XDR data lakes adds outside threat visibility that can guide more targeted hunts across environments enriching the platform‘s internal behavioral models.

12 Critical Capabilities Defining XDR Performance

While core visibility, detection and response functionality is expected across solutions, buyer requirements can vary based on use cases, infrastructure complexity and team skill level. When evaluating options, consider these capability dimensions:

Critical Capability Key Evaluation Criteria
Unified visibility and control across hybrid environments including cloud workloads Integrations with leading IaaS providers like AWS, Azure and endnode protections for clarity across estate
Holistic coverage beyond IT into OT, ICS and IoT environments ICS protocol parsing, industrial control system behavioral models, rapid industrial threat intel digestion
Third party integrations to ingest alerts, IOCs from existing tools API flexibility for bidirectional links to other security tools like proxies, firewalls and IAM systems
Use case-specific behavioral analytics tailored to asset criticality Pre-built algorithms oriented to key risk scenarios for environment – ex. Ransomware likely paths in healthcare
Case prioritization balancing business context, vulnerability insights and threat intelligence Analytics weighing advanced factors like exploitability metrics matched to vulnerable assets and users
Automated response actions across enforcement points Breadth of control mechanisms integrated for coordinated containment like endpoint isolation, account deactivation
Proactive threat hunting guided by MITRE ATT&CK Scenario-based hunts mapped to tactics like lateral movement, collection and exfiltration used by attackers
Talent augmentation with managed threat hunting and incident response services On-demand expert investigation and neutralization available via retainer
Compliance mode for visibility into regulated data access Workflow assistance revealing improper manipulation of CJI, PHI within medical, financial orgs
Solution deployability to minimize enterprise integration burden Availability of pre-configured packages by industry accelerating time-to-protection
Operations scalability across infrastructure size and complexity Options to securely federate model training, destributed data collection minimizing bandwidth overhead
Intelligent automation to optimize human analytical capacity Where applied ML can effectively take over tier 1 response routines based on complexity assessment

“Client requirements for XDR expand far beyond replacing traditional antivirus into seriously increasing threat resilience,” warns Justin Dolly, Chief Security Officer for a cyber insurance provider covering 3 million business policy holders. “Evaluate not just detection rates or endpoint coverage, but how the vendor helps security teams consistently improve protections navigating a threat landscape that evolves weekly.”

Matching Business Needs to XDR Solution Selection

While integrating essential security controls into unified visibility and response offers obvious appeal, XDR capabilities differ greatly across provider solutions. Conduct extensive capability evaluation mapping offerings against environment complexity and use cases before committing long-term.

We recommend approaching selection using a tiered model based on risk management priorities:

Tier 1 – Core Detection & Response

Firms needing to rapidly consolidate security tools into centralized visibility with automated investigation and containment should focus on:

  • Breadth of native controls integrated
  • Cloud architecture simplicity
  • Case management interface usability

Tier 2 – Advanced Use Case Support

More complex organizations using XDR to smooth IT/OT convergence, multi-cloud support or to address skill gaps should prioritize:

  • Managed detection/response augmenting teams
  • Behavioral analytics aligned to assets, accounts and threats affecting their industry sector
  • Compliance features assisting regulated data oversight

Tier 3 – Strategic Impact at Scale

Heavily distributed enterprises seeking to measurably bolster resilience against advanced targeted threats should emphasize:

  • Native endpoint protection efficacy reflected in MITRE ATT&CK® evaluations
  • Integrated threat intelligence leveraging cybercrime group activity insights
  • Visibility coverage over identity access, IT automation controls

The XDR landscape continues maturing rapidly from earliest entrant offerings just now hitting stride while incumbent megavendors plus innovative startups seek their stake. Conducting detailed capability benchmarking against structured organizational requirements avoids buying into hype guiding smart platform decisions. Consider where internal skill level, attacker trends targeting your sector and infrastructure complexity point to gaps placing the most valuable assets at risk when plotting an ambitious cyber resilience strategy with XDR at the core.

Author: Steve Watts
Director, Network Security
16 years IT Operations and Cybersecurity experience
CISSP, CCSP certifications

Connect with me on LinkedIn to continue the XDR conversation.