Jul 04, 2022

Managed Detection and Response: From Yesteryears, till date

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) can be referred to as a blend of technology and human proficiency in the cybersecurity world to thoroughly perform threat hunting, monitoring and response with an intent to safeguard the security posture of an organization in a proactive manner. With an ultra-modern 24/7 monitoring and response to threats that comprises a range of fundamental security activities like cloud-managed security, endpoint security and inspection of every security alert for identifying potential intrusions at their earlier stage, MDR stimulates endpoint detection and response (EDR) or extended detection and response (XDR) with the usage of automated threat intelligence and artificial intelligence (AI) while executing its overall functionality.
Although, has the evolution of MDR outshined against the threat sphere in the recent era of cybersecurity? Or, has it become more futile to the latest trends of cyber-intrusions? The query remains.
Whilst there are varied MDR services with their own protocols and tool sets throughout the cyber world, the must-have attributes of a MDR are as mentioned beneath:

Threat Intelligence: In today’s cyber world, transformative and adaptive attack procedures have led the smaller as well as bigger enterprises to be a victim of zero-day attacks and advanced potential intrusions, overpowering the threat intelligence approach of an organization remarkably.  
In simpler words, threat intelligence provides a better understanding of the attackers, their attack motive, their security breaching tactics, techniques and procedures, and the remediation approach taken against their action, strengthening the defense mechanism of an organization against future attacks.
Threat intelligence is classified into 3 sections namely Tactical, Operational and Strategic Threat Intelligence.
A. Tactical Threat Intelligence provides a bulk of information regarding the indicators of compromise and tactics, techniques and procedures used by the threat actors. With a thorough investigation of the unwanted events in the network, this kind of threat intelligence is responsible for performing the day-to-day protection of the security premise of an organization followed by detection and termination of potential alerts and incidents. Also, it comprises SIEM, adept data analysis, EDR, and efficient network firewalls for log collection, endpoint protection and varied security services.
B. Operational Threat Intelligence can be defined as an actionable intelligence on particular incoming attacks. Providing the information on the nature of tha attack, identification of the capabilities of the threat actor and the acknowledgement of the attack procedure of the attacker beforehand, it effectively responds to the collected data with threat hunting, SOC analysis, vulnerability management and incident response via security tools and cybersecurity experts.
C. Strategic Threat Intelligence  provides higher-level information on cybersecurity posture, threats, financial effect of cyber activities, attack trends, and their impact on the business. Profoundly managing the existing cyber risks along with unknown future risks, it deals with the latest trends or long-term strategies with cybersecurity policies, tools and procedures. Providing a risk based approach, it includes UEBA, herd protection via crowdsourced intelligence, thorough investigation by SOC professionals and vulnerability awareness.

24/7 monitoring and response: Due to the inconsistent nature of attacks, the MDR solution pledges a 24/7 threat monitoring, detection, mitigation and response. Favorable for organizations with in-house SOC too, the MDR solution fuses the varied security tools, software and human expertise,
-    To provide response for automated alerts, remediation, and on-call incident response to remove malware or intrusions
-    Investigation and response to potential vulnerabilities with immediate remediation through distinct security operations
-    Constant update of threat intelligence repositories to address latest trends of threats and vulnerabilities
-    Restoration through automated and human response, lessening the impact of an attack
Incident Detection: A full-fledged MDR solution rigorously inspects any security incident from a false alarm to a full-scale attack, acknowledging its severity to apply ideal remediation procedures thereafter. With fine-tuned SIEM and SOAR systems, an automated set of pre-defined responses are instigated, aiding threat detection and investigation of varied network parts to determine the impact of the attack on the systems.
After the establishment of a complete attack timeline, the analysts along with the SOC team mitigate the damages and rectify the consequences with necessary steps to cease the security gaps, avoiding analogous consequences in the near future.  

Threat Containment: As of the evolution in the threat scope, the varied approaches to the breaching of networks and systems by the cyber-attackers is prevalent in recent years. Sophisticated attacks are formulated to aid the threat actors to carry out their fraudulent operation, deceiving the organizations as a normal network activity.
The attackers routinely initiate the intrusions in the systems by gaining access to endpoint security or via phishing emails with a low level access, mimicking as an authorized activity without prompting any kinds of alert. Hence, the MDR plays a vital role in ceasing the efforts of an attacker to gain access to confidential data throughout the system. With the usage of multiple security tools and service policies, the MDR enacts automated actions through SIEM software, disconnecting the fatigued devices or systems from the network to remediate the threat in depth.
The remediation action is followed by SOC experts, where they track the possible patterns of breach or intrusion, employing the log collections, closing the specific ports and servers, changing passwords, relocating the web servers, and creating a sophisticated remediation and prevention plan to fully recover the system.  

Threat Monitoring and Identification: One of the major prerequisites of an effective cybersecurity system, continuous monitoring of the network for the intrusions or potential vulnerabilities is fairly crucial to the organizations that operate via online measures. Up-to-the-minute threat monitoring secures the security premise of an organization with varied measures to identify and cease the impacts of the potential intrusions, ceasing the expensive downtime and aftereffects beforehand.
An integral part of a MDR solution, varied security tools along with expert security analysts are used to continuously monitor the entire network system of an organization that include end points and cloud components. The procedure collects and correlates information from network devices, operational technology, endpoints and IoT devices, provides an absolute SIEM solution for the collected logs, applies proper analysis, thereby discovering the identical patterns of the hostile attack trends. Then, the data is sent to the SOC team to meet compliance standards, uncover the network vulnerabilities and futile security behavior of an organization.

Advanced Analytics: In a MDR solution, automated response is crucial to sustain the adept security behavior of an organization. The pro-active functionalities of a network security that includes threat detection, monitoring and analysis of security events is the core motive of the advanced threat analytics in a MDR service.
Varied security analytics tools proffered by a MDR solution are as mentioned beneath:
SIEM (Security Incident and Event Management): Responsible for automated collection and real-time analysis of recurring traffic and security alerts, generated by network devices and applications
Behavioral analytics: Analysis of a normal behavior and formation of a baseline, with the aid of UEBA to automatically recognize abnormal behavior that specifies a threat
Forensics: Usage of the tools for an inspection of past or persisting attacks to determine the gain access of attackers, damages caused or systems compromised, uncovering the security vulnerabilities of an organization
Network analysis and Visibility: Collection of tool sets to analyze end-user and application traffic that circulates across the network
SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation and Response): Analysis of collected data and the initiation of automated response tuned to each specific threat and the organization’s unique work environment

Remote Response Services and Provision: Provision of 24/7 response acts as the mainframe of MDR. The responses occur in varied forms like generic automated responses based on an alert generated by SIEM, however, the most effective solutions offer an emergency response from on-call security analysts who tend to have an adept knowledge about the organization.
After the security professionals identify the severity of the intrusions or threats, needful steps and policies are acted upon in order to cease the impact of the threat in a lesser timeframe, minimizing the overall damage to the organization’s security structure.

Human Expertise: As it may seem an unimportant criteria to be fulfilled, human expertise has a pivotal role for delivering an absolute MDR service package. The deliverables of a first-rate cybersecurity solution is crucial rather than just an automated service and response; a round-the-clock assistance of an off-site SOC team impacts the operations of the MDR in a greater way.
How does an expert team of cybersecurity professionals aid the MDR?
-    Preferable installation of the cybersecurity software along with the needful security tools
-    Upgradation of the programs to restrain false alarms and address the threats that pose a significant risk to organizations
-    Updates of software and patching of the applications to eliminate newer vulnerabilities constantly  
-    Acknowledgement on the latest trends of the threats landscape, thereby enhancing the security framework
-    Provision of emergency response for taking the righteous decisions regarding a cybersecurity incident based on facts and predictions
-    Integration of newer devices on the security systems to balance the latest technological advancements