What is the Difference Between EDR vs MDR?

5 min. read

Managed detection and response (MDR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) aim to enhance cybersecurity through advanced security solutions, emphasizing improved visibility. However, EDR focuses on detecting and responding to threats at the endpoints, while MDR often includes EDR and offers security monitoring typically by a third party. Many companies benefit from implementing EDR and MDR solutions to effectively address their diverse security challenges.

What is the Difference Between MDR and EDR?

Scope EDR focuses primarily on detecting and securing individual endpoints, such as desktops, laptops, servers, and mobile devices. It provides visibility and security controls at the endpoint level. MDR is a service that includes monitoring and responding to threats across endpoints.
Responsibility EDR solutions are typically deployed and managed by the organization's IT or security team. They provide the tools and capabilities for in-house security professionals to detect and respond to threats at the endpoint level. MDR is a full or partial managed service provided by a third-party provider–a managed security service provider (MSSP) or MDR provider. The MDR provider is typically responsible for monitoring, detecting, and responding to threats on behalf of the organization, reducing the organization's internal workload.
Monitoring and Detection EDR solutions focus on endpoint-specific monitoring and threat detection. They collect data and analyze endpoint activities to identify suspicious or malicious behavior. MDR services often encompass advanced processes, threat hunting, threat intelligence, and human expertise to detect and respond to threats.
Response Capability EDR solutions provide tools for endpoint containment and response. They allow security teams to take actions like isolating infected endpoints or removing malicious files from individual devices./td> MDR providers offer comprehensive threat response capabilities, which may include not only endpoint containment but also broader incident response, investigation, and guidance to mitigate threats.
Expertise EDR solutions require organizations to have their own cybersecurity expertise to utilize the tools and respond to threats effectively. MDR providers bring their own team of cybersecurity experts skilled in threat detection, analysis, and incident response. They provide organizations with access to specialized knowledge and experience.
Cost Structure Organizations typically purchase EDR tools and may incur ongoing operational costs for maintaining and managing the solution. MDR services are subscription-based and often include the cost of both the technology and the expertise of the managed service provider. This can make it a more predictable cost model for organizations.
Proactive vs. Reactive EDR solutions are often a reactive approach, requiring organizations to respond to threats once detected. MDR services are a more proactive approach, with the MDR provider actively monitoring and hunting for threats and quickly taking action to detect and mitigate threats before they escalate.

Benefits of EDR

EDR offers deep visibility into endpoint activities, enabling rapid threat detection and efficient incident response.

Additionally, it may support regulatory compliance and offer centralized management, customization options, and seamless integration with other security tools, enhancing overall cybersecurity measures and helping organizations maintain a strong security posture.

Key Capabilities of EDR

An EDR solution should have the following capabilities to ensure robust endpoint security:

  • Integration with other security tools, such as incident response, antivirus/anti-malware, and firewalls, to promote shared threat intelligence and easy linking to other software through APIs.
  • Scalability to cope with a growing number and diversity of types of endpoints (Windows, macOS, Linux), both in local and remote locations and to handle a growing number and type of threats and attacks and protecting against new vulnerabilities.
  • Advanced threat detection that enables fast response to threats before, during, and after they take hold.
  • Automated data collection and processing to quickly understand the nature of the threat or attack and take appropriate action as quickly as possible.
  • Easy-to-use tools with a user-friendly interface, clear alerts, and a centralized management console that allows EDR admins to view the security status of every endpoint, configure policies, and investigate and respond to security incidents.

Benefits of MDR

Managed detection and response (MDR) offers significant advantages in cybersecurity. One of its primary benefits is outsourcing threat detection and response to specialized security experts, alleviating the burden on in-house teams.

MDR providers typically offer 24/7 monitoring, ensuring that threats are identified and addressed promptly, even during non-business hours. This continuous monitoring, combined with the expertise of MDR professionals, enhances an organization's threat detection capabilities, enabling it to detect and respond to advanced and emerging threats effectively.

MDR services often include threat hunting, which involves actively seeking out potential threats within an environment, further bolstering security. Additionally, MDR can provide valuable insights into an organization's security posture and suggest improvements to strengthen overall defenses.

Ultimately, MDR enables businesses to proactively protect their digital assets and sensitive data, making it a crucial component of a robust cybersecurity strategy.

Key Capabilities of MDR

MDR service providers must be able to:

  • Connect alerts and telemetry data for analysis
  • Cover managed and unmanaged devices with user entity behavior analysis (UEBA), network threat analysis (NTA), EDR, and endpoint protection platform (EPP)
  • Quickly switch from threat hunting to incident response
  • Provide 24/7 coverage with mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR) objectives

In addition, potential providers should be evaluated for research and development capabilities, financial stability, service policies, SLOs/SLAs, and references. The relationship between the provider and the organization's security operations center (SOC) and cybersecurity team is also critical - trust and confidence must be established and maintained.

Should I Use EDR, MDR, or Both?

The decision on whether to use MDR, EDR, or a combination of both depends on the organization's specific security needs, available resources, budget, IT environment complexity, and compliance requirements.

EDR is ideal for improving the security of individual endpoints. MDR provides a holistic view of security threats, making it suitable for organizations lacking or wanting to enhance their specialized cybersecurity skills.

EDR is cost-effective for simpler IT infrastructures, and  MDR is beneficial for a wide range of organizations especially those without resources or expertise in house. It is often considered suitable for organizations with complex setups, distributed networks, a mix of on-premises and cloud resources or any organization concerned about advanced threats.

In many cases, a combination of EDR and MDR is the most effective approach as it addresses different aspects of an organization's cybersecurity needs. Ultimately, the decision should align with the organization's unique risk profile, IT environment, and available resources.

What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?

XDR augments the capabilities of EDR by providing a comprehensive and integrated security approach that spans multiple security vectors. It enhances threat detection, incident response, and visibility across an organization's entire IT environment, making it an attractive option for organizations seeking a robust defense against evolving cyberthreats. (figure 1)

XDR encompasses multiple security components beyond endpoints, such as networks, email, cloud services, and more.

Organizations should assess their specific security needs, IT environment, and resources to determine whether XDR, MDR, EDR, or a combination of these solutions is most appropriate for their cybersecurity strategy.

Explore XDR further by reading our article, What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?


Antivirus software is typically used to detect and respond to malware on an infected computer. EDR, however, uses antivirus software and other endpoint security tools and features to provide more robust protection against malware and other threats.
SOC professionals, although extremely talented and dedicated, have had to deal with big expansions in their workloads; threats have become more numerous, specialized, and unpredictable. Working with an MDR provider greatly expands an organization's capabilities and enables 24/7/365 coverage without having to hire a large number of new employees directly. Additionally, an MDR provider's services can usually be expanded faster and more cost-efficiently than an in-house SOC team can do.
MDR service providers often use XDR solutions to give the service providers' analysts substantial greater visibility into the organization's data assets, including endpoints, networks, clouds, identity, and more. Using XDR helps MDR service providers gain broader visibility and context to quickly identify, stop, and remediate malicious activity that could impact the organization.