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MDR vs. SIEM – which comes out on top?
Blog //03-10-2023

MDR vs. SIEM – which comes out on top?

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

Many companies turn to Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions to meet compliance requirements and enhance their security measures. SIEM solutions offer a comprehensive view of the security environment, empowering companies to proactively protect their digital assets. However, how does SIEM stack up against a Managed Detection and Response (MDR) solution?

Join us as we explore the MDR versus SIEM debate and help you evaluate the most suitable choice for your company's needs.

What is SIEM?

IT business systems produce a wealth of data from logs recording user and application activity, while security devices constantly generate massive volumes of data awaiting analysis. All that data can contain indicators of compromise that are useful for threat detection.

SIEM tools serve as the gatekeeper in cyber security, ingesting and analysing vast amounts of data. They can usually accept a large range of log data types and other feeds. SIEM allows users to configure rules triggered by specific data patterns and even explore machine learning analysis.

Indeed, SIEM can be a very powerful tool in the fight against cyber threats. However, it’s important to view SIEM as a dynamic process rather than as a one-time purchase. The critical part of the acronym is the word management.

SIEM platforms are a popular choice due to the below factors:

  • Unified visibility: by adopting a one-stop-shop approach, SIEM platforms create a comprehensive view of security logs, enabling efficient monitoring and analysis.
  • Customisation and configuration: SIEM solutions offer broad flexibility, allowing organisations to tailor the platform according to their internal requirements and standard security policies.
  • Compliance support: with built-in capabilities for data storage and archiving, SIEM assists businesses in meeting numerous compliance regulations through data retention in the event of an audit.

In 2019, the global SIEM industry was valued at $ 2.83 billion and is projected to grow to a value of $6.42 billion by 2027In a SIEM-focused study, 56% of respondents said they already use SIEM platforms and another 34% plan to implement SIEM in the near future. Does this mean we have a clear market winner in the SIEM vs MDR battle? Not quite…

What are the cons of SIEM?

While an effective SIEM solution can help organisations with threat management, there’s often a gap between expectations and what SIEM solutions actually deliver. This isn’t because the solutions themselves are ineffective, but because they aren't always used effectively.

Companies often look at SIEM as a one-off technology purchase. They underestimate the investment in time to achieve value and the ongoing management required to ensure its success.

While SIEM platforms may appear to operate autonomously, they require the expertise of security professionals to maintain and balance correlation rulesets and log analysis. The undertaking of drafting and maintaining new detection rules and gathering insights from various sources of threat intel falls on the security team. Once the logs are aggregated, the work shifts to weeding out false positives and fine-tuning existing rules to maintain an effective platform.

If you’re not doing this, SIEM solutions will draw attention to false positives while letting real security threats go undetected.

How does MDR work?

As mentioned above, the critical part of the SIEM acronym is the M, and the same is true for Managed Detection and Response. Unlike traditional SIEM solutions, companies don’t implement and run their own MDR solution. Instead, MDR is managed by an external team of security experts on the organisation’s behalf.

[Related ReadingWhat is Managed Detection and Response?]

Security Management vs. Managed Security

While SIEM aims to detect attacks, MDR takes this a step further by exposing vulnerabilities within a system, by analysing user behaviour and activity which can provide early indicators of an attack. MDR offers rapid detection and response to threats through continuous monitoring of evolving risks, the implementation of cutting edge security techniques, and a 24/7 security operations team working closely with clients to mitigate threats.

In 2022, the average time it took businesses to identify and neutralise a data breach was 244 days, highlighting the urgency and importance of MDR as a proactive defence measure. With MDR, that time usually is reduced to a couple of hours though rapid detection and delivery of actionable guidance or automated response.

MDR not only provides companies with a way to detect and respond to attacks, but also plays a vital role in prevention. Through the seamless integration of attack detection and response capabilities along with pre-breach assessment tools like vulnerability management, MDR creates a unified force. Threat intelligence teams possess key insights into the identification of new potential attack vectors,  providing early warning signs and protection against impending attacks.

An effective MDR solution comes with a wide range of security tools for monitoring activity, detecting and eliminating threats, and safeguarding networks against future attacks. This means that your organisation can benefit from 24/7 protection without the cost, resource, and management overheads of running an in-house security team.

One notable difference between MDR and SIEM lies in the approach taken to cyber security. Unlike SIEM, MDR takes a proactive stance in safeguarding against digital threats. While SIEM effectively gathers and scrutinises logs, MDR moves the needle forward through comprehensive exploration of attacker activities across a much larger spectrum.

MDR vs. SIEM: Which comes out on top?

Undoubtedly, SIEM tools have proven effective in safeguarding systems. However, harnessing their full potential requires significant investment of time and budget. Limitations in team expertise, personnel, or 24/7 operations reduce the effectiveness of a SIEM platform.

MDR flips the script by alleviating the required purchase and updating of additional security platforms to aid SIEM tools. You don’t have to go it alone to build additional cyber security infrastructure or create an in-house team of security experts to monitor your systems 24/7. MDR solution providers shoulder these responsibilities and provide comprehensive protection and coverage well beyond traditional SIEM.

Advanced partner with leading cyber security and MDR provider - Fortra’s Alert Logic, to deliver their specialist technologies, along with our expert services, to truly add value to your organisation. Together, our Cyber Security Services ensure you are protected 24x7x365.

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