Innovation In Cyber Security: NDR Meets XDR

Brought to you by Renelis Mulyandari    

The cyber threat landscape continues to change. Attacks have become more sophisticated and attackers are now more persistent than ever. With the rise of advanced AI, the likelihood of getting attacked has only worsened, as threat actors take advantage of AI tools to automate malware production, the search for exploitable vulnerabilities, phishing, and other attacks that used to take a lot of time and human involvement.

Countervailing this perturbing development, though, is the introduction of more advanced cybersecurity solutions. Security providers have developed better security controls and strategies by harnessing artificial intelligence and combining previously separate cybersecurity solutions.

NDR With XDR

Network detection and response (NDR) and extended detection and response (XDR) are two of the most powerful security solutions enterprises employ to fend off persistent and complex cyber-attacks. They were designed to work independently, as they have different scopes and employ different detection capabilities, data sources, and incident response approaches.

Also known as Network Traffic Analysis (NTA), an NDR platform focuses on tracking and analyzing network traffic to detect potentially malicious or harmful activities and respond accordingly. It captures and inspects network packets to gain deep visibility into network activities, facilitate the identification of anomalous behaviors, detect threats, and investigate security incidents.

Meanwhile, XDR was created to have a broader approach to detecting and addressing threats. It integrates several security technologies to provide more comprehensive protection. One of these security technologies is NDR.

Extended Detection and Response combines its capabilities with those of other effective solutions like Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR),  Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), and Identity and Access Management (IAM) to create a more formidable cybersecurity platform, which can perform functions standalone products are incapable of doing.

This combination results in the consolidation of security data from various sources, the correlation of security alerts and event details, and the application of advanced analytics and threat intelligence. With these enhanced capabilities, XDR achieves a holistic approach to implementing security controls, allowing security teams to efficiently detect and respond to threats across myriad endpoints and attack vectors. It does not guarantee the complete elimination of security breaches, but it ensures significantly reduced response times and security risks.

Is NDR Alone Not Enough?

Network Detection and Response was introduced in the mid-2010s when network-based intrusion detection and prevention systems started to gain popularity. These systems analyzed network traffic to spot malicious activities or instances of cyber intrusions and stop them. Over time, this threat detection and prevention process expanded to incorporate broader security visibility and behavioral analysis, leading to the development of NDR.

NDR platform capabilities have been quite effective, but they gradually lost their edge as the cyber threat landscape evolved and new types of attacks emerged. Network monitoring and analysis are essential, but there are various other threats to consider. Even with the enhancements added by their respective vendors, standalone NDR solutions may not be good enough against new threat vectors.

XDR takes NDR as part of a comprehensive cybersecurity platform capable of detecting threats through network activity evaluation and correlating network activity data with security information from other sources.

This is important given the ever-expanding endpoints and cloud resources of modern organizations. XDR ensures comprehensive security visibility as organizations add new endpoints like IoT/OT and embedded devices, implement changes in their IT infrastructure, and use relatively new resources like cloud apps and services.
Regarding the data used for security analysis, NDR mainly uses network data, capturing and examining network packets to look at traffic patterns, possible anomalies in the identities of network users, and other aspects that may indicate potential threats. XDR uses NDR’s analysis and scrutinizes it with the data from EDR, SASE, IAM, and other security products. The combined data and analyses boost the ability to detect concealed attacks or malicious actions.

The NDR And XDR Synergy

Does XDR expand NDR’s capabilities? Not exactly. Technically, NDR contributes to making XDR an effective, comprehensive cybersecurity solution. XDR needs NDR, and NDR has to be part of XDR to remain relevant. NDR is not necessarily obsolete, but it may not be an effective cybersecurity solution on its own.

Some security firms continue to offer enhanced standalone NDR products that can be integrated with other cybersecurity products. This integration is basically what XDR is doing. The difference is that it provides a standard framework for integration, which makes it easier for organizations to achieve a holistic and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. In some cases, NDR may be a modular component of a vendor's broad ecosystem of cybersecurity tools. It can be an optional module that organizations can obtain if they deem it necessary.

Whatever the case may be, what’s clear is that XDR with NDR results in more effective cyber defense. It allows organizations to secure their IT assets with the following key benefits:

Unified view of security risks with granular network traffic insights - XDR, with the ability to consolidate security from various sources, provides security teams with a comprehensive view of IT assets and threats. With NDR’s ability to thoroughly examine network traffic for possible threats, XDR delivers enhanced visibility to support more efficient threat detection.

Rapid threat detection and response - By integrating NDR capabilities in XDR, security teams not only gain a comprehensive understanding of threats across the entire infrastructure, but they can also detect and respond to threats more expeditiously. XDR maximizes the ability of NDR to spot lateral movements, data exfiltration, and command and control communications, which have become more prevalent as threat actors attack organizations that support remote work arrangements and monitor multi-location and multi-platform operations.

More insights from Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) - Indicators of compromise are found in many areas of an IT infrastructure. They help identify activities in a system or network that are possibly harmful or malicious. Examples are unusual network traffic, atypical login activity, the sudden surge in database read volume, and irregular usage of privileged access, among others.

With XDR leveraging NDR’s capabilities, security teams can detect sophisticated attacks that may have evaded detection. XDR correlates all IOCs to better understand the threat situation and supports informed decisions for mitigation, remediation, and prevention.

An Innovative Combination

NDR in XDR is a form of innovation in cybersecurity. Combining existing security technologies to achieve better threat detection and prevention outcomes makes perfect sense instead of coming up with entirely new cybersecurity technologies.

Network Detection and Response and Extended Detection and Response have a synergy that leads to enhanced security visibility, better threat detection and response, and more proactive security teams. This combination helps organizations strengthen their security posture and keep up with the incessantly and rapidly evolving - i.e. - worsening threat landscape.

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