The SMB’s Guide To Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Blog

Key Takeaways (TLDR)

  • MDR monitors your environment while you’re asleep
  • Setting up a SOC is very expensive

Introduction to MDR (Managed Detection and Response)

Given the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity, staying one step ahead of potential threats is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is a comprehensive cybersecurity service that provides a force multiplier for organizations seeking to fortify their digital defenses. At its core, MDR is your organization’s vigilant digital guardian, constantly scanning the horizon for potential threats and responding swiftly to neutralize them. In this blog, we’ll demystify the intricacies of MDR in layman’s terms, making it accessible for businesses aiming to bolster their security posture. We’ll underscore the escalating importance of MDR in today’s cyber landscape, where the sophistication of threats is matched only by their sheer volume. Moreover, we’ll shed light on the concerning surge in cyber threats targeting Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs), emphasizing why MDR is not just a security measure but a strategic investment for businesses of all sizes.

Before We Begin—What You Should Know

The threat landscape facing SMBs is vast and complex. The notion that smaller organizations are less enticing than larger ones is patently false.  According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), small businesses are “three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than larger companies.”

Breaking Down the Key Concepts of Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

Utilizing MDR is a great way for SMBs to get ahead on their security needs. Unlike traditional security solutions, MDR is a “Security-as-a-Service” offering. This means that a business essentially outsources some of its security operations to a third-party MDR service provider. This is one of the main advantages of such a service. By obtaining the service of an MDR, the business would avoid incurring the costs and effort of setting up its own robust security services, security operations center, and more. Instead, they need only to integrate the MDR service provider into their existing security systems.

At its core, MDR solutions are intended to provide a “turnkey” solution to security, adapting and integrating into a customer’s needs and being able to be up and running far more quickly than building from the ground up. It is also designed to provide more in-depth security than typical security solutions, such as offering real-time monitoring and detection. This is where data is collected from systems, aggregated by implemented tools, and analyzed by a dedicated team to ensure no threats go undetected. One of these types of  tools are Security Information and Event Management systems. SIEMs such as Splunk, one of the market leaders, are meant to aggregate data from a network and systems connected to it, and assist in analyzing that data for patterns and other threat indicators alongside the team reviewing the data.

Another core component of MDRs is the focus on real-time changes and non-stop evolution of their security. They are able to leverage global cyber threat intelligence to fine-tune their detections and response to potential threats as needed, taking knowledge from reputable sources to increase their capabilities. Furthermore, using real-time analytics, MDR analysts can be more proactive in identifying patterns and potential threats to tune their capabilities with.

MDR solutions also have flexibility, and offer seamless integration into existing infrastructure and security systems. This helps businesses avoid having to build systems from scratch and receive a customized experience tailored to their needs. Once integrated, the MDR can start providing services, with critical components such as incident response. If a security incident is identified by the real-time monitoring, MDRs can also provide incident response services to mitigate the issue, and even provide playbooks to businesses to help with handling the issues.

Why SMBs Need MDR More

It is a common misconception that SMBs need less security compared to larger companies. After all, why would threat actors go after a small business and only be able to extract a small amount of money when they could attack bigger companies and get a much bigger payout, right? Except this line of thinking is entirely incorrect. According to Astra Security, SMBs actually experience 43% of all cybersecurity related incidents going into 2024. Smaller businesses are often lulled into a false sense of security due to the fact that they are relatively unknown compared to bigger targets, what is known as “security through obscurity.” However, automated scanning of the whole internet is making SMBs much less obscure then they used to be.

However, there is one key difference. Larger organizations have far more resources, and likely far more robust security implemented. This means that it has become more difficult and time-consuming to attack the “big fish”, so many choose to target smaller, but much easier targets. A large number of SMBs, due to this thinking, end up using much more generic cybersecurity solutions that end up being significantly easier to breach, and are very attractive to threat actors looking for a quick score.

In today’s world, data is one of the most valuable resources an organization possesses, such that experiencing a breach can be catastrophic for a business, and even more so for SMBs. Losing access to your data, or having it stolen and sold or released online, is one of the worst case scenarios, financially. Being unable to continue operations or losing important data meant to stay within the business will lead to heavy financial losses, possibly too great to recover from for smaller businesses. This is the reason why threats such as ransomware are so prevalent. If a breach like this occurs, a SMB might be faced with the choice of financial loss from paying the ransom, or potentially even worse losses from being unable to operate, if they do not have robust countermeasures.

There is also another impact that could, in the end, be even more damaging. That is the reputational damage done to businesses that are successfully breached. A larger company may be able to weather the storm, but SMBs will likely feel the impact much more heavily. A hit to your reputation leads to customers no longer trusting you with their data, and thus a loss of business, which can bury smaller businesses.

Why SMBs Need MDR

When employing the services of an MDR, you are not simply purchasing another security tool. You are securing the services of a strategic partner dedicated to keeping you safe from digital threats that may come your way. Whereas other solutions are reactive, MDRs are proactive, and SMBs who employ them would gain access to a team that stays on top of new and emerging threats, making sure they are ready to fight back against them and protect their clients.

Additionally, all of this comes in a cost-effective package that allows SMBs to tap into services usually reserved for larger businesses. Building up your own cybersecurity team comes with hefty expenses, between all the equipment, licenses for tools, employees, training, and more. This approach is not viable for most SMBs, which is where MDR comes in. They already have their environment set up, the employees, and the training, which allows them to be up and running with a client in significantly less time. In the long run, it will save more money than running your own security team, and allows SMBs to reach peace of mind faster knowing that they have a team protecting them at all times.

 

Tips And Tricks for Maximizing MDR

One of the most important tips to keep in mind for maximizing usage of MDR is regular communication with the MDR provider. Almost like a regular visit to a doctor, providing timely feedback to your provider ensures better service overall. Discussing recent threats and overall performance of the MDR provider will allow each side to work better and perform any fine-tuning necessary to become even safer. Towards this goal, periodic reviews and/or audits of security postures is important. They can help evaluate just how well cybersecurity implementations are going and point out any areas that need to be improved.

While MDR services can provide great countermeasures to cyber threats, end-user behavior . It is important to work with the MDR provider and keep up with staff training and increase their awareness. Keeping everyone up to date on the latest cybersecurity trends will help mitigate much of this threat and help greatly in keeping your security posture high.

Choosing the Right MDR Provider

Choosing the right provider is the first major decision when looking to leverage MDR services. There are a few key things to keep in mind when making the decision:

  • Assessing the provider’s capabilities and expertise is crucial. Look for providers that have a proven track record and experienced staff. Another point to factor in is the provider’s experience with businesses of your size and industry. There is a large variety of SMBs, and a provider that has experience with your particular type of business may be an advantage.
  • Evaluate the level of communication of the MDR provider. As we discussed, communication is key, and choosing a provider that maintains regular contact and interaction with your business is better than one that does not.
  • Take into consideration the provider’s emphasis on staff training. An MDR provider that equips staff with the knowledge to better identify and avoid cyber threats is an even more valuable asset.

Total Assure takes all these aspects and more and combines into our MDR offering. Along with IBSS, we have a history of 30+ years providing cybersecurity solutions for the United States government across various contracts. Due to this, we have staff with years or even decades of experience in cybersecurity and protecting  government systems from threats. We are certified and can help with navigating complex regulations such as SOC2, PCI, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and more. MDR isn’t the only service provided by Total Assure as well, Cybersecurity Engineering and Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) services are also available and can even be bundled together.

Conclusion

As we conclude our brief foray into the world of MDR, there are two key points that we covered to keep in mind. First is that MDR services will allow you peace of mind knowing that your cybersecurity is being watched over, even as you sleep. Second is that MDR services will save money in the long run compared to going through the effort of building up your own cybersecurity team. Cyber threats to SMBs are already prevalent, and are only continuing to grow, and simply being a smaller company than the big players isn’t enough protection. I urge you to be proactive and consider MDR services, so that your business can get out ahead of threats and prevent them, instead of having to deal with them after they happen. Please check back in for future updates, as we have more blogs in store for you!

Resources

Newsletter

Stay updated on promotions, insights, news, and more!

Related Articles