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What is extended detection and response (XDR)?

Learn how extended detection and response (XDR) solutions provide threat prevention and reduce response time across workloads.

Extended detection and response (XDR) defined

Extended detection and response, often abbreviated (XDR), is a software as a service (SaaS) tool that offers holistic, optimized security by integrating security products and data into simplified solutions. As enterprises increasingly encounter an evolving threat landscape and complex security challenges with workforces in multicloud, hybrid environments, XDR security presents a more efficient, proactive solution. In contrast to systems like endpoint detection and response (EDR), XDR broadens the scope of security. XDR software integrates protection across a wider range of products, including an organization’s endpoints, servers, cloud applications, emails, and more. From there, XDR combines prevention, detection, investigation, and response, providing visibility, analytics, correlated incident alerts, and automated responses to improve data security and combat threats.

Key capabilities of XDR

XDR systems offer numerous capabilities that broaden an enterprise’s security, threat protection, and remediation capabilities.

Correlated incidents

XDR collects and correlates alerts, creating a more complete picture of a security incident or attack and allowing analysts to invest time in more focused research.


Because XDR systems examine large swathes of data coming in from multiple sources—identities, endpoints, email, data, networks, storage, Internet of Things, and applications—strong analytics are essential to understanding threat activity. XDR’s robust analytics allow for threat timeline visibility and help analysts more easily find threats that might otherwise go undetected.

Automated detection and response

XDR automatically identifies, assesses, and remediates known threats in real time, and can reduce and simplify an organization’s workload, as well as catch hard-to-detect threats.

AI and machine learning

XDR’s application of AI and machine learning makes it scalable and efficient. From behavior detection and alerts to investigation and remediation, XDR uses AI to monitor threatening behavior and automatically respond to and mitigate possible attacks. With machine learning, XDR can create profiles of suspicious behavior, flagging them for analyst review.

Auto-healing of affected assets

XDR returns affected assets to a safe state by enacting healing actions like terminating malicious processes, removing malicious forwarding rules, and identifying compromised users in an organization’s directory.

How does XDR work?

XDR uses automation to provide wider visibility from a unified standpoint, allowing for contextual understanding of threats.

Data collection and integration

XDR monitors data in an enterprise’s technology environment, from endpoint devices and firewalls to cloud and some third-party applications. XDR identifies incidents and threats across the environment and collates related occurrences, optimizing the number of security alerts and allowing security teams to understand a cyberattack more clearly.

Unified analytics

XDR automates analysis of correlated incidents, facilitating quick and efficient response and remediation. AI and machine learning capabilities can analyze extensive data points and locate attacks and malicious behavior in real time, significantly faster than security teams attempting to manually correlate incidents and remediate threats.

Incident management

XDR allows enterprises to respond automatically or manually to threat incidents. XDR can use preset conditions to quarantine devices and remediate threats by blocking IP addresses or mail server domains. Security analysts can also review incident reports and recommended solutions and act accordingly.

Top XDR use cases

  • Detect endpoint device vulnerabilities
  • Hunt threats across domains
  • Investigate security events
  • Perform endpoint health checks
  • Predict future attacks
  • Prioritize and correlate alerts

Key benefits of XDR

XDR offers a range of security benefits that give enterprises holistic, flexible, and efficient protection against threats.

Increased visibility

XDR expands an enterprise’s view, offering a fuller understanding of its security landscape. By integrating telemetry data across multiple endpoints, networks, email, applications, and more, XDR illuminates relationships between alerts and incidents, creating broader threat visibility and freeing up analyst time and resources.

Alert management

XDR reduces the amount of time analysts spend manually investigating threats. Correlated alerts streamline notifications and reduce noise in analyst inboxes. By collating related alerts, an XDR system increases efficiency and provides a more complete picture of the incident.

Incident prioritization

XDR evaluates incidents and provides weighted assessments to prioritize remediation and recommend actions aligned with key industry or regulatory standards, or an enterprise’s custom requirements.

Automated tasks

XDR offers tools that automate repetitive tasks and reduce analyst labor.

Increased efficiency

XDR’s centralized management tools increase the accuracy of alerts and simplify the number of solutions analysts must access to assess threats.

Real-time threat detection

XDR identifies threats in real time and deploys automated remediations, eliminating access or reducing the amount of time an attacker has access to enterprise data and systems.

Integrated response across multiple security tools

XDR remediates threats across all enterprise security products, and provides centralized analytics, response, and remediation.

How to implement XDR

Determine data storage needs

Enterprises deploying an XDR system should determine their logging and telemetry data needs before implementation for a clear sense of the XDR’s storage space requirements.

Plan a phased rollout

Begin integrating the XDR system with a selection of services before broadening across the entire technological environment.

Evaluate baseline data

Build in time to fully assess the XDR system and its baseline data to help ensure accuracy.

Components of an XDR system

Front end

Typical XDR systems include a minimum of three front-end solutions focused on threat identification and response. These solutions might include endpoint detection and response (EDR), network detection and response (NDR), security services edge (SSE), email security, and mobile threat detection.

Back end

On the back end, XDR systems will offer API integration capabilities, data lake storage, strong analytics, automated responses, and correlated alerts.

How does XDR work with SIEM?

XDR complements existing enterprise security information and event management (SIEM) systems. Primarily detection tools, SIEMs aggregate large quantities of shallow data and identify security threats and anomalous behavior but cannot respond to or remediate threats, and usually require manual responses. XDR offers this response capability and works in tandem with SIEMs as part of an organization’s security portfolio, taking advantage of the broad data SIEMS make available.

The role of XDR for businesses

In an increasingly complex threat landscape, XDR systems are flexible and efficient tools for security enforcement and remediation. For businesses seeking to optimize security analyst time and workload, XDR systems maximize efficiency and reduce the dwell time a malicious user might spend on an enterprise network. XDR integrates well with an enterprise’s existing ecosystem, minimizing onboarding time and maximizing efficiency.

Learn more about Microsoft Security


Get integrated threat protection across your technological environment.

Microsoft Defender XDR

Disrupt cross-domain attacks with the expanded visibility and unrivaled AI of a unified XDR solution.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud

Secure your multicloud infrastructure.

Microsoft Sentinel

Gain visibility across your entire organization.

Frequently asked questions

  • An XDR platform is a SaaS-based security tool that draws on an enterprise’s existing security tools, integrating them into a centralized security system. An XDR pulls raw telemetry data from across multiple tools like cloud applications, email security, identity, and access management. Using AI and machine learning, the XDR then performs automatic analysis, investigation, and response in real time. XDR also correlates security alerts into larger incidents, allowing security teams greater visibility into attacks, and provides incident prioritization, helping analysts understand the risk level of the threat.

  • XDR is a natural evolution from endpoint detection and response (EDR), which primarily focuses on endpoint security. XDR broadens EDR’s scope, offering integrated security across a wider range of products, from networks and servers to cloud-based applications and endpoints. XDR offers flexibility and integration across an enterprise’s range of existing security tools and products.

  • Native XDR systems integrate with an enterprise’s existing portfolio of security tools, while hybrid XDR also uses third-party integrations for telemetry data collection.

  • XDR offers a range of integrations, including an enterprise’s existing SOAR and SIEM systems, endpoints, cloud environments, and on-premises systems.

  • Managed detection and response (MDR) is a human-managed security service provider. Often MDRs use XDR systems to meet an enterprise’s security needs.

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