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CDR vs EDR vs XDR: What's the difference?

Wade through the alphabet soup of detection and response technologies to understand where they overlap and how they differ.

3 min read

TL;DR

  • CDR, EDR, and XDR differ in focus, as well as in their application and the environments they support.

  • CDR and EDR are indispensable, with CDR protecting cloud environments and EDR protecting endpoint devices.

  • XDR adds to both by correlating siloed security data. This post will further explore these differences and each solution’s distinct approach to cybersecurity.

Organizations have experienced tremendous benefits and business agility with cloud computing, but there is one problem: cyberattacks. Some 39% of organizations suffered a cloud attack in the previous year, according to 2023 data, and hostile characters are continuously adopting new technologies and techniques to exploit security gaps. 

Companies must remain vigilant. The ability to detect and thwart risks, like misconfigurations, is like a superpower. And with the complexity and vastness of the cloud ecosystem, they have to leverage specialist security tools to gain this power and ensure their systems are secure.

In this post, we’ll analyze how three detection and response tools work and how your organization can use them to better navigate the cloud while staying safe.

What is CDR?

Cloud detection and response (CDR) is a new proactive stance against cybersecurity issues to safeguard your cloud applications and infrastructure against:

  • Suspicious behavior

  • Malware

  • Anomalous activity

  • Account compromise

  • Data exfiltration

  • Credential theft

  • DDoS attacks

  • Cryptojacking

  • Insider threats

  • Access misuse

  • Other security mismanagement issues 

CDR tools combine the power of technologies, processes, and human and machine intelligence to enable continuous monitoring and the implementation of countermeasures in the wake of a threat. 

These tools allow comprehensive visibility and analytics to identify, evaluate, and mitigate threats in the cloud.

How does it work?

CDR solutions employ multiple tactics and processes to protect your cloud systems from external and internal security risks. CDR encompasses threat detection, investigation, and response to minimize their business impact, as discussed below.

Key functions of CDR

With a CDR solution, you can automate continuous monitoring to detect threats, trigger alerts, initiate remediation, and record evidence for analysis.

FeatureDescription
Real-time monitoring and detectionCDR tools are responsible for the continuous monitoring of cloud environments. This ensures that any irregularities or anomalies are uncovered early on and remediated quickly.
End-to-end visibility for threat correlationYour CDR solution must be a centralized hub for all aspects of your cloud ecosystem. It should provide you visibility into identity, runtime events, and  logs from the cloud service provider so that you can correlate this data to uncover complex attack patterns.
Out-of-the-box detectionAn ideal CDR tool should be trained out-of-the-box on common vulnerabilities and threat profiles; this means you don’t have to spend time configuring security filters and instead can start benefitting from the solution as soon as you deploy it.
ResponseBy automating the workflow, you can improve your response time to a security breach and minimize damage. This includes both manual and automated actions, playbooks for efficient incident management, and addressing threats at both the cloud and resource layer for thorough protection.
Attack simulationsOne core aspect of finding threats proactively is testing your cloud environment. CDR solutions allow you to simulate real-life attack scenarios to test your security posture and identify any chinks in your armor.
Data analysis and threat detection in real timeCDR tools rely on AI/ML detection and analytics to run forensics and uncover threats and suspicious activities. They are built to stop complex cloud native threats.
Automated response flow to threatsCDR solutions can automatically trigger an action when a threat is identified. These include:  - Disconnecting compromised devices - Isolating security risks - Killing processes
Investigation and remediationAfter identifying and isolating a threat, the CDR tool will help security teams investigate and mitigate the risk. This entails root cause analysis to detect the source of the threat and show the potential blast radius of the incident.
Support for threat huntingCDR solutions help organizations with threat hunting by supporting custom detection rules, retention of key cloud logs, and collection and retention of runtime execution data with support for manual investigation.

What is EDR?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) protects your end users' endpoint devices and IT equipment—desktops, laptops, servers, IoT, mobile devices—from threats. It employs real-time monitoring, analytics, and automation to ensure security risks don’t get past endpoint assets.

Once a cyber threat is identified and flagged, the solution automates response processes to avoid or reduce the scope of damage.

How does it work?

Activities at the endpoint layer often remain unexplored by security teams, which can end up costing the organization due to threats originating from endpoint devices. EDR security solutions meticulously collect, record, and analyze all incidents that take place on your endpoints and workloads. 

These tools continuously provide real-time insights on endpoint activities, which are then used for advanced threat detection, incident alerts, activity validation, and proactive threat hunting.

Key functions of EDR

EDR solutions help you uncover security risks across your endpoints. They must provide the functionalities below for effective detection and remediation.

FeatureDescription
Consistent data collection at the endpointEDR solutions install an agent on all endpoint devices to automate continuous data collection. This allows companies to monitor activities like configuration changes, network connections, file downloads or transfers, and end-user behaviors.
Behavioral detection and response capabilitiesEDR focuses on behavioral analysis of endpoint devices to spot threats. For this, it gathers data from devices and applies AI/ML algorithms to identify unusual patterns and irregularities. It also provides threat intelligence capabilities to respond to highlighted attack patterns.
Risk monitoring and reportingSimilar to CDR, EDR provides in-depth visibility into endpoint activities so that your team can proactively identify vulnerabilities and threats. It can also conduct forensic analyses of incidents and generate compliance reports.

What is XDR?

Extended detection and response (XDR) integrates all your siloed security tools across various layers, including networks, cloud workloads, endpoints, and data. It collects telemetry from different solutions to create a centralized data hub to run analysis, detect suspicious activity, and remediate issues.

XDR doesn’t need your security stack to be interoperable. It will collect and correlate data from different sources and present them in visual models for seamless threat prevention, detection, and response.

How does it work?

XDR automates data collection to provide centralized monitoring and visibility into the context of threats across your organization. Using AI/ML algorithms, it analyzes exhaustive data volumes to spot risks and malicious behavior. It also blocks IP addresses or mail server domains to isolate corrupted devices automatically.

Key functions of XDR

XDR aims to detect threats that traverse endpoint, network, and cloud. Its key features and functionalities are explained below.

FeatureDescription
Harmonized data for consolidated visibilityXDR solutions combine data from multiple security systems, including firewalls, cloud workloads, and email security, onto a single platform for easy analysis.
Easy threat detection and streamlined investigationBy unifying data from different platforms, XDR correlates unrelated events gathered from across networks for better threat detection. This, in turn, facilitates evaluation and root cause analysis.
Orchestration of threat monitoringWith XDR, you can automate monitoring, investigation, and mitigation by setting pre-defined conditions, such as isolating devices and blocking suspicious traffic.

CDR vs. EDR vs. XDR

Although the primary purpose of all three of these tools is to detect and mitigate security threats, they differ in scope and place of action. Let’s see how. 

FeatureCDREDRXDR
Comprehensive focusOffers cloud-specific detection and response capabilities for identifying cloud native threatsFocused primarily on endpoints like desktops, servers, mobile devices, etc. to collect and analyze data for threat detection and remediationGives broader visibility into the security landscape by pulling data from multiple sources for unified data processing
Automated detection and responseSophisticated detection and response for threats and incidents associated with the cloud ecosystemStrong detection capabilities that cover only endpoint security devices and incidentsOffers automated threat detection and response that extends across multiple tools
Cloud-centric risk monitoring and reportingDesigned specifically for cloud environments, providing consolidated cloud-centric risk monitoring and reportingTypically for endpoint devices, with limited functionality for cloud environmentsBuilt to give security analysts a broader view of data and security posture
Cloud-specific workload protectionCloud-based workloads, e.g., VMs, serverless functions, and containersFocused on endpointsFocused on pulling security information from multiple tools
Cloud big data processingCan process large volumes of data, although only within cloud environmentsCan process large volumes of endpoint security dataCan extend to handle big data from diverse sources with additional configuration

Ensure effective threat detection with Wiz CDR

CDR, EDR, and XDR may have some similarities in how they function, but, as seen above, not in terms of the environments they support. Organizations need to choose the right tool for the specific environment.

Having said that, CDR forms the foundation for effective threat forensics, and to manage that at scale, you need a solution like Wiz Digital Forensics. Wiz ensures the security of your cloud environments regardless of process complexity through in-depth forensics. 

To experience how Wiz Digital Forensics can identify and respond to threats by correlating your risk data, schedule a demo today.

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