What is MDR and How Will It Transform Security for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses?

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Written By Devansh Vijay

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Managed Detection and Respond (MDR), an outsourced cybersecurity service, is designed to protect data and assets when threats go beyond standard organizational security controls.

What is MDR?

The MDR approach is primarily focused on protection against advanced malware, ransomware, and persistent threats (APTs) that traditional security tools are unable to detect. This adds to legacy antivirus, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems (IPSs), and provides additional protection for attackers who breach these defenses.

MDR consists of three components: a platform that is deployed within the protected organization, threat information, advanced analytics techniques, and a team made up of human experts. They manage the platform remotely and analyze security data to identify and respond to threats.


MDR services rely on endpoint detection technology and response (EDR). EDR, an endpoint security tech that was introduced in 2013, quickly became an integral part of modern security tools.

EDR solutions can be deployed on employee workstations, servers, or mobile devices. Advanced behavioral analytics is used to detect suspicious activity and send alerts to security personnel. They can also block certain attacks by automatically blocking software processes or isolating endpoints from the network. The EDR platform can be used by security experts to investigate and contain the threat.

Security challenges for SMBs

The main driver of the global economy is small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face many cybersecurity challenges. Cyberattacks can have a severe impact on businesses bottom lines, and even threaten their ability to stay in business.

Cybersecurity breaches are extremely common. More than a third of SMBs have reported an incident in the past five years. Unfortunately, many smaller businesses ignore security concerns because they believe that they are too complex to prevent or too serious for large companies.

SMBs are most likely to experience phishing attacks. Ransomware, which locks or deletes data in order to demand ransom payments, is another risk. Scammers also use current concerns to get employees to reveal sensitive information. For example, some phishing emails exploited COVID-19 pandemic fears to compromise accounts.

CEO fraud is a trick that tricks employees into following instructions in an email that appears to come from the CEO. The email often requests urgent payment for a business purpose.

Summary of Security Challenges for SMBs

  • Many employees and companies are aware of potential threats.
  • Businesses don't adequately protect sensitive data.
  • Companies do not have the funds to implement security measures.
  • Cybersecurity experts are in short supply.
  • There are no security guidelines for the SMB sector.

Many SMBs were faced with additional security risks after the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies had to come up with new ways to offer services to customers, and allow employees to work during lockdown or isolation in order to keep their businesses afloat. This meant that companies had to move to the internet to support remote workers.

However, the move to the cloud and remote access to sensitive corporate data and applications presents additional security risks and requires a new cybersecurity approach.

MDR is Important for Small Businesses

Many SMBs adopted EDR solutions when they were first introduced. They are able to detect and stop cyber attacks as soon as they happen. An EDR solution can detect and block ransomware attacks that are not yet known, which can cause serious damage to an organization.

Most SMBs that purchased EDR realized they could not operate it efficiently. SMBs don't usually have security personnel, so security is handled by IT administrators. They don't have the training or time to properly configure EDR.

Even though in-house experts are able to use the EDR system effectively, they don't always have the time or resources to read all important alerts and respond to them. A global cybersecurity skills shortage could mean that an SMB company might not find qualified candidates and may not be capable of paying their required salary.

It is a natural decision to outsource EDR services to another provider. MDR is exactly what it does: an MDR service provides EDR software and dedicated security experts who can use the software for network and endpoint monitoring and analysis.

MDR Offers Many Advantages to An SMB Company Over EDR

  • There are no upfront costs and there is no need for EDR software or related infrastructure.
  • EDR is not necessary to be deployed and configured (which can take time and require expertise).
  • You have access to highly skilled security professionals who are certified in EDR solutions.
  • Provider experts have the time and resources to go through all security alerts and respond appropriately to any threats.
  • EDR expert use can increase the likelihood of critical incidents being handled quickly and efficiently. This will help to prevent data breaches.
  • MDR experts are available to provide advice to the SMB organization to improve security practices and prevent future attacks.

The following security benefits can be provided by an MDR service:

  • Protection against evolving attack vectors and zero-day attacks
  • Protection against sophisticated threats that could bypass security measures
  • It is important to prevent critical incidents from turning into full-blown data breaches.
  • It is important to have a faster recovery time, as this can be a significant impact in the event of a breach.
  • There is no need to hire external incident response teams when there is a major attack. These services can be costly and less efficient if they are not available immediately.

Evaluation of MDR Services

These are the top criteria to consider when you're looking into MDR services for your SMB.

  • View Third-party reports on the service's ability to respond to threats that bypass active security control.
  • Evaluate EDR, and other technology offered by the service--prefer a proven platform used by respected organizations within your industry.
  • Compare the automated security solutions offered by the provider. MDR solutions may be able to orchestrate security tools such as automatically setting up firewall rules or reconfiguring network segments to block malicious activity.
  • Learn how the provider handles remote management - for example, what level they need to access local systems, how they interact with cloud environments, and how they interact with in-house staff.
  • Determine the compliance impact on MDR services. You may have to follow certain regulations or standards in order to work with MDR services.
  • Assess the quality of the MDR service and determine if it is truly end-to-end. This includes monitoring, detection, containment, and recovery. Consider how you will work with your internal team if certain aspects of the process are not being handled by the provider.
  • Assess threat intelligence as well as analytics capabilities, which are key distinguishing factors between vendors.
  • Talk to the provider about customization options and whether the MDR service can be adapted to meet your specific technical needs.


This article explains the basics of MDR, and shows how it can make a huge difference for SMB security. MDR provides unique capabilities that small businesses would not otherwise be able to attain:

  • Protection against evolving attack vectors and zero-day attacks
  • Protection against sophisticated threats that can bypass security measures
  • Recognizing critical incidents and stopping them from getting worse
  • Major incidents require rapid recovery
  • Access to security experts from abroad immediately

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