Shifting from Managed Security Services to Managed Detection and Response

The world of managed security services is changing rapidly, having recently expanded with Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services. According to Gartner’s 2018 Market Guide for Managed Detection and Response Services,” 15% of organizations will be using MDR services by next year. This new turnkey approach is designed to accelerate threat discovery and response time, but what is MDR? How is it different from traditional services provided by managed security services providers (MSSPs), and how do you know if you need it? Let’s take a look.

The Difference Between MDR and Traditional Security Services

While most enterprises are familiar with MSSPs, many are still familiarizing themselves with MDR. Reaching beyond traditional security services (including technology management and threat monitoring), MDR adds advanced threat detection, threat intelligence capabilities and incident response. I have heard analysts simplify it as the difference between ordinary monitoring services that simply hand the customer a list of prioritized alerts with suggested action items and an extended service where the MSSP is actually taking an active role inside the customer’s environment.

The key element here is “response.”

With a team of outside experts “fighting battles” on your behalf, the upside is clear. When existing internal IT resources can’t monitor threats in real-time and lack the responsiveness needed to act on those risks, MDR is the solution.

How It Works

Using a combination of technology and human resources, MDR services focus on advanced threat detection and mitigation. MDR partners look for attackers that have infiltrated the perimeter of the IT environment–cloud or on-premises. It’s an all-encompassing solution that typically includes:

  • 24-7 monitoring.
  • Threat intelligence.
  • Network traffic analytics.
  • Log monitoring and correlation.
  • Vulnerability Scanning and risk analysis.
  • Cloud security for IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.
  • Machine learning and behavioral analytics.
  • A 24/7 team of experienced security analysts who do everything from proactive threat hunting to investigation, validation, containment and mitigation.

Filtering security noise to identify what’s real, what’s important and what’s the most dangerous, MDR partners leverage best practices in response and work collaboratively with the customer to build shared playbooks that enable continuous improvement.

Key Benefits of MDR

MDR can take enterprises from overwhelmed to empowered with:

  • Accelerated threat discovery.
  • Faster response time.
  • Reduced dwell time–the amount of time an attacker has inside your IT environment before being detected (average dwell time is 6+ months for a given breach).
  • Additional security personnel, analysts and expertise.

While an improved security posture might be enough to sway your investment, another benefit surfaces when you consider the cybersecurity skills shortage and the cost of employee churn. Building an in-house security team presents serious challenges. According to a 2018 Ponemon Institute study, 57% of companies are unable to hire the appropriate staff to deal with cyberattacks. An MDR can help alleviate that internal talent and resource gap.

MDR is particularly helpful for IT leaders who:

  • Are struggling with an overwhelmed IT staff without 24/7 security monitoring.
  • Have a siloed approach to security with multiple products that are not working together.
  • Are considering building an in-house security operations team.
  • Need to fulfill compliance requirements.
  • Are using unmonitored cloud services and apps (Amazon Web Services, Office 365, etc.).

MDR: An Industry on the Rise

The continually overtasked IT team is one of the key reasons MDR is a ballooning industry. With the rapid expansion of endpoint visibility and control alongside the rising adoption of cloud apps and services, many enterprises have failed to support technologies from personnel and skill set perspective. IT leaders recognize the need for the extra coverage but struggle to deliver support on a 24/7, real-time basis, causing investments to go underutilized and systems to go inadequately secured. As these dynamics collide with recent rises in cybersecurity and ransomware attacks, the stage is set for MDR. Enterprises are asking for more help with security tasks, and MSSPs are more than willing to step up to the job.


Craig DAbreo

Craig DAbreo

Craig oversees the managed security, threat intelligence and security professional services departments at Masergy. He is responsible for Masergy’s proactive enterprise cybersecurity threat management and operations program. Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA in information security. He is a Certified Information Security Systems Professional (CISSP) with over a decade of experience in the security industry and holds various network security certifications. He has written on various security blogs, spoken on a range of industry panels and is a recognized thought leader in the cybersecurity space.

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