Find Your Perfect MDR Provider: 10 Things You Can’t Ignore
Not only are cyber threats becoming more advanced, but they are also reaching unprecedented levels, leaving companies more vulnerable to expensive and dangerous attacks than ever before. With managed detection and response (MDR), cybersecurity takes a more dynamic and proactive approach, helping businesses access comprehensive and tailored solutions that fortify their defenses and respond swiftly to potential threats.
While MDR services are a must in today’s volatile digital environment, finding the best provider for your needs can be tricky. Not only has the demand for MDR providers surged, but there are also so many to choose from, making it hard to navigate the landscape wisely. The managed detection and response provider you choose can make or break your security processes—making it paramount to choose wisely.
So, what makes an MDR provider exceptional? In this post, we will break down ten key characteristics to look for when choosing an MDR provider. Look out for these things to make an informed decision well-suited to your unique security needs.
1. In-House SOC
Having a Security Operations Center (SOC) is a given but must be stated. An SOC is a must-have when you’re evaluating MDR vendors. And do your due diligence. It’s easy to say “24/7 monitoring” on a website, but you need a response from trained people 24 hours a day. Find out the shift schedule, communication protocols, how many people are on the team, and their skill levels. The SOC is a team in which you are putting your business’s trust. It should be filled with good communicators who help you actively stop threats and manage risk.
2. 24/7/365, End-to-End Incident Response
Ensure you clearly understand what incident response (IR) does and does not include. Most MDR providers will require an incident response retainer to be in place for their IR team to engage. No surprise, as IR situations are extremely time sensitive. They’re also costly and usually require long overnight and weekend hours (because security incidents almost always happen on a Friday). When the retainer is in place, the provider can assemble the team without slowing down the process with billing and contract negotiations.
Evaluate the MDR provider’s containment strategy and incident reporting compatibility with your organization. Determine if they can execute actions on your behalf that align with your business needs, compliance/legal policies, and government regulations.
That said, you want an MDR provider that can handle IR. When an attack has penetrated your environment, you need a coordinated and swift incident response effort.
3. Security and Enterprise Architecture Experience
With an exceptional MDR provider, the organization won’t only be experts in MDR—it will also be able to support you across the IT infrastructure. When a provider has expertise in security architecture (SA) and enterprise architecture (EA), security is no longer an afterthought of a project. Instead, it’s baked in right at the start with experts to validate the strategy every step of the way.
In the case of MDR, having both SA and EA capabilities on your side puts you at a significant advantage in security incident response situations. You have the team that can stop and remediate the threats and then the team that can recover data, rearchitect systems, and get users back online as fast as possible. Complex implementation situations can be addressed internally, whether on-premises, hybrid, multicloud, or a custom API.
4. Commitment to Improvement and Keeping up with Attackers
As attackers evolve, your defenses need to keep up. From cloud services to remote users, the attack surface has increased in recent years, leaving your organization open to more threats than ever. An MDR provider must be at the forefront of new attack methods and continuously update the program as attackers advance their techniques.
You want a provider heavily invested in its Security Orchestration, Automation, and Remediation (SOAR) platform and threat intelligence tools. It’s impossible to touch the thousands of alerts an organization produces daily. Security automation tools enable known threats to be remediated through playbooks and surface threats that need attention without human intervention. Automated responses can include blocking suspicious IP addresses, isolating infected devices, or shutting down compromised services. But the tools alone aren’t enough. Your MDR provider should have an arsenal of playbooks and always be creating more.
5. Ability to Integrate with Existing Tools
Many organizations are already using tools that are part of the MDR stack. If you’ve invested in endpoint detection tools like Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and Crowdstrike, you’ll want to find a partner that can integrate its SOC with those tools. That way, you won’t need to add the cost of another security solution, and you’ll be able to maximize your use of the tools you already have.
Look for an MDR partner with some flexibility and the ability to integrate into your existing tools. Your partner should want to help you maximize your investments for the best outcome possible.
6. Industry Expertise
Your MDR provider should also have expertise in your vertical. When it has experience with your specific needs and understands the complexity of your environment, it can offer more proactive cybersecurity recommendations and tailor solutions to your unique challenges. It also means it better understands your business processes, allowing it to integrate within your organization seamlessly.
For example, with power and manufacturing expertise, ProArch continuously invests in growing its operational technology (OT) services. From training to continuous improvement, the SOC team constantly monitors current industry standards and expected trends. This ensures that it can tailor threat-detection capabilities to focus on the most relevant risks these organizations face.
7. Services Aligned with NIST
Compliance requirements and security go hand in hand. When you work with an MDR provider who can do governance, risk, and compliance along with cybersecurity operations (like ProArch), you can keep your sights on the most valuable efforts and invest in your organization’s best long-term security strategy.
Look for MDR services that follow a standardized framework like NIST. The NIST Control Life Cycle offers a structured, proven approach to implementing a secure information system—from authorization and monitoring to implementation and assessment. When your MDR services adheres to NIST, it can architect a security program that aligns with compliance requirements, plus perform any needed gap analysis assessments.
8. Rapid Deployment
In an incident response situation, time is not on your side. Tools need to be deployed quickly so investigation and containment can take place. A great MDR provider will be able to deploy its stack fast. At ProArch, we can deploy through code, which means our team is responding to threats and minimizing damage as quickly as possible in a matter of hours.
Of course, most companies likely don’t find themselves in a high-pressure situation to pull the trigger on an MDR partner. Choosing an MDR provider with rapid deployment capabilities helps you speed time to value, as your organization can start benefiting from an enhanced security posture earlier than other partners will offer.
9. A Partner in Reducing Risk
Cybersecurity isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution: It’s a constant evolution as your business grows, technology progresses, and attackers get more sophisticated. In order to get those things in sync, MDR services need to be closely aligned to your business objectives. A regurgitation of KPIs and metrics with no added guidance or analysis does little to help. Having an MDR provider that understands your business and technology requirements and knows how to align them is a big advantage for any organization.
Agreed-upon goals, regular meetings, and agile priorities ensure efficiency, resulting in a better security posture. Don’t settle for anything less than a strategic partner that acts professionally, strategically, and quickly to get you the results you need to thrive.
10. MDR Must-Have Capabilities
On top of items one through nine that you can’t ignore, what’s included in the MDR program is why you’ll reach out to the vendor of your choice in the first place. Here’s what you should see included in a provider’s offerings:
- 24/7 detection and response functions remotely delivered by the provider
- A technology stack, either developed by the MDR provider or through integrated commercial technologies, that is provider-operated and enables real-time threat detection, investigation, and active response
- Skilled staff who possess skills and expertise in threat monitoring, detection, hunting, threat intelligence (TI), and incident response
- A turnkey approach to delivery, with a standardized playbook of workflows, procedures, and analytics
- Requires a minimum viable set of telemetry to deliver services
- Offers integration with third-party detection and response technologies beyond provider-owned technologies
- Goes beyond mere alerting and notification to mitigative response, investigation, and containment activities, such as quarantining hosts and deauthenticating users
Depending on what you need and don’t need, you’ll need to decide between Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Identity Detection and Response (IDR), or Extended Detection and Response (XDR). At a high level, here are the differences between EDR vs. IDR vs. XDR from ProArch.
& Response (EDR)
& Response (IDR)
& Response (XDR)
Device Centric: Endpoints and servers
|Identity Centric: Cloud and on-premises identity
|Logging Centric: Endpoints, identities, event logs, and custom integrations
|Workstations, servers, and mobile devices
|On-premises active directory accounts and cloud-native identities
|On-premises and cloud networks, endpoints, and identities
|Servers: Linux and Windows
Workstations: Linux, Windows, MacOS
Mobile Devices: iOS and Android
|On-premises active directory accounts and cloud-native identities
|Multicloud: Azure, Google, AWS
Multiplatform: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
|24/7 endpoint monitoring and detection
|24/7 identity monitoring and detection
|24/7 endpoint, identity, and network monitoring and detection
|24/7 threat containment, eradication, and remediation
|SIEM: ingestion and analysis of logs from security toolset
|SOAR: automated incident response
|Seamless escalation to incident response in the event of compromise
What organization checks all 10 characteristics of a perfect MDR provider? ProArch, of course.
If you’re ready to dramatically improve your security posture and reap all the managed detection and response benefits, read more in our MDR services comparison guide and learn more about ProArch’s Managed Detection and Response Services here.