Cybersecurity Glossary

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

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What Is Managed Detection and Response? 

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) solutions combine human work with technology to provide continuous monitoring as well as threat detection and response in organisations’ digital environments. MDR solutions work as a third party for an organisation, allowing them to rapidly detect and respond to cyber threats without needing additional internal staff.  

How MDR works 

MDR solutions have three components: Monitoring, detection, and response.  

  • Monitoring: MDR solutions offer 24×7 monitoring of an organisation’s technology stack and digital environment. 
  • Detection: MDR solutions utilise data from this monitoring to detect potential cyber threats (in the forms of suspicious or unusual behavior) quickly. 
  • Response: MDR solutions then investigate the threat themselves, to make sure it’s legitimate, and then alert the organisation to said threat. Many MDR solutions work with organisations to offer incident response, additional investigations, and remediation. 

Key Features of MDR 

MDR solutions complete the three main tasks above by utilising a variety of capabilities within the solution. 

Those capabilities include: 


MDR solutions can holistically monitor a network while prioritising what’s most important from a security standpoint. That means when an organisation is alerted to a threat, it is one that the solution deems critical. In addition, many MDR solutions are rules-based, which allows organisations to customise what behaviors are normal for their specific environment, weeding out potential false alarms.

Threat Hunting

MDR solutions actively monitor the environment and work through massive amounts of data to detect potential threats. Because MDR combines human work with technology, the human element of this solution can interpret data and identify potential threats for an organisation.

Threat Intelligence Integration

As part of threat hunting (and threat investigation), MDR solutions utilise the best threat intelligence available to make sure an environment is protected, and threats are identified immediately. Threat intelligence, often paired with machine learning and behavior analytics, is critical to the success of an MDR solution.

Threat Investigation

MDR solutions don’t stop at identification. The solution investigates said threat to 1. make sure that it is real and 2. make sure that it is a top priority. The solution then contacts the organisation about the threat.

Guided Response

MDR solutions are active partners with organisations, so if a threat is detected, they work with the organisation to help them respond. Many MDR solutions offer full-service incident response and retainers for incident response costs.


Once a threat is neutralised, MDR solutions often work with the organisation to patch vulnerabilities, understand what went wrong, and improve their security posture to reduce future risk. 

What are the Benefits of MDR? 

While every organisation’s business and security needs are unique, there are many benefits that an MDR solution can offer. 

  1. A Dedicated Security Team 
  2. Continuous Security Monitoring 
  3. Customisable Security Rules 
  4. Human-Augmented Machine Learning 
  5. Cloud Threat Monitoring 
  6. Compliance Reporting 
  7. Vulnerability Scanning 
  8. Workflow Integration 
  9. Log Data Collection/Correlation 
  10. Scalable Data Architecture 

What Challenges Does MDR Address? 

MDR is a great option for organisations of all sizes and industries because not only does it help improve security posture, but it also solves key security problems organisations face.  

Those challenges include: 

Staffing Constraints

Many organisations lack the internal staff to manage their security tech stack in addition to active monitoring and threat hunting. Large organisations often rely on small IT teams, who are too overwhelmed to properly monitor and detect threats. MDR offers a human staff that assists in active monitoring, detection, and threat response. 76% of organisations cannot achieve their security goals due to staffing concerns. 

Budget Constraints

In addition to a lack of IT staff, many organisations deal with a set or stringent budget that is often spent on technology. There isn’t extra room in the budget for more technology or more hires to assist in monitoring and detection. Cost is the number one factor organisations consider when establishing a security program.  

Alert Fatigue

When an organisation is using dozens, if not hundreds, of applications across their business environment, alerts can pop up regularly, overwhelming the internal staff. This alert fatigue can lead to threats not being addressed properly or missed entirely.  

Visibility Across the Security Environment

Visibility is a struggle for organisations considering the number of applications and aspects of the network that need monitoring. Many applications do not play well together, which prevents a centralised option for visibility and monitoring. An MDR solution is able to not only offer that centralised pane of glass but utilise it for better threat detection. 

Lack of Security Expertise

For organisations that can staff an internal team, there is also the issue of security expertise. Cybersecurity, as well as cloud security, are growing fields, but the demand for that talent outmatches the amount available. MDR security teams are full security experts and can provide expertise when organisations need it most. 56% of organisations distribute security responsibilities to their IT staff and there is mass turnover, with 65% of cybersecurity employees actively considering new positions. 


Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is similar to MDR with one exception: EDR only monitors an organisation’s endpoints. While endpoints are an important part of an organisation’s security architecture, many organisations are moving to a cloud-first approach, and EDR does not monitor cloud or network services. 

While EDR can assist with visibility, insight, and remediation, the full scope of the tool is limited to that one aspect of an organisation’s architecture. However, EDR is useful in detecting breaches and is more powerful than typical anti-virus software when it comes to endpoint breaches.  

MDR v. SIEM Solutions 

Security incident and event management solutions (SIEM) is the main technology employed by a security operations center (SOC). This technology integrates with the IT system and low flows to digest data for analysis. The SIEM collects and aggregates data from different devices, security tools, and appliances, such as network devices (e.g., routers and domain controllers), endpoint security (antivirus, endpoint detection and response), intrusion detection or intrusion prevention systems, honeypots, and so on. 

While a SIEM solution is great for gathering and analysing data, it still must be done in-house, which can lead to some disadvantages compared to an MDR, including false positives, incident misses, and high cost of ownership. SIEM solutions are often noisy, complex, and difficult to manage. 


Similar to a SOC or an MDR, Managed security services providers (MSSPs) are IT security providers that monitor, maintain, and manage security 24×7. While this outsourcing is popular because it’s more cost-effective and frees up internal team to focus on other priorities.  

MSSPs can bring value to your security posture, but only if they fill a gap in your existing infosec ecosystem — something that’s difficult to assess without the ability to independently evaluate the capabilities of the vendor. In addition, organisations do not have control over the MSSP’s security portfolio and processes – this lack of control can create major risks. It can also make compliance more complicated. 

MDR and Artificial Intelligence 

As MDRs evolve, they are integrating more and more artificial intelligence (also called machine learning) into their processes. While MDRs are traditionally rules-based solutions, meaning normal (or abnormal) behavior is dictated by a set of rules given to the MDR by the organisation, artificial intelligence learns behaviors over time. This approach allows the solution to have more context around alerts, and better understand user behavior in a broad sense. This can provide an organisation with better information on how their system operates and what their users are doing – allowing them to act more intelligently if a threat arises. 

What to Look for in an MDR Solution? 

There are many facets to consider when looking at an MDR solution. Every organisation has unique needs that should be accounted for, but there are some guidelines, as highlighted by Gartner. 

Questions an organisation should ask an MDR solution provider: 

  1. Does the MDR “orchestrate and centralise threat detection, investigation and mitigation, and methods, such as the use of API-enabled integrations?” 
  2. Is there a “focus on high-fidelity threat detection and validation?” 
  3. Is there a “a common delivery platform for all customers which provides centralised reporting?” 
  4. Is the provider “expanding into other security operations functions?” 
  5. Can the provider “monitor cloud infrastructure and platform services, as well as popular SaaS applications?” 
  6. Does the provider “use validation-type capabilities such as breach and attack simulation (BAS) and penetration testing as a services (PTaaS) to test and understand threat scenarios in an environment on a continuous basis” 

How Does Arctic Wolf’s MDR Solution work? 

In short, Arctic Wolf is able to answer yes to every question posed above. Arctic Wolf® Managed Detection and Response (MDR) solution provides 24×7 monitoring of your networks, endpoints, and cloud environments to help you detect, respond, and recover from modern cyber attacks.  

Arctic Wolf’s MDR solution is also delivered via the dedicated Concierge Security® Team, which offers white-glove service, security expertise, and strategic recommendations to reduce risk and improve your security posture. 

Arctic Wolf

Arctic Wolf

Arctic Wolf provides your team with 24x7 coverage, security operations expertise, and strategically tailored security recommendations to continuously improve your overall posture.
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