XDR vs. SIEM vs. SOAR: Which Does Your Business Need?
XDR, SIEM, and SOAR tools take different approaches to security event analysis and response. Learn which tool is right for you — and how they can be more powerful together.
- While SIEM emphasizes detection and SOAR focuses on response, XDR aims to do both.
- But XDR doesn’t yet include SIEM’s valuable compliance features or SOAR’s response orchestration capabilities.
- For now, the best choice for security analysis and response could be to integrate all three tools.
Today’s businesses face more email and collaboration security threats than ever before — and increasingly they must confront these threats with short-staffed cybersecurity teams.
In this environment, companies benefit from having the right security tools at their disposal. When it comes to identifying security threats, responding to them, and taking proactive steps to avoid them in the future, companies have many choices.
Security vendors typically describe products that analyze and respond to security incidents in one of three ways:
- Extended Detection and Response (XDR).
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).
- Security Orchestration and Response (SOAR).
Each type of product offers its own benefits. XDR is critical for securing email, which remains the top delivery vector for today’s cyberattacks, while SIEM offers valuable data retention and compliance features, and SOAR’s orchestration capabilities help with resource management. Mimecast’s email security platform integrates with tools like these to deliver more effective detection while reducing manual effort.
An Introduction to XDR, SIEM, and SOAR
Let’s take a closer look at XDR, SIEM, and SOAR tools, to understand how they differ and see how they can complement each other.
- What is XDR? Think of XDR as the evolution of endpoint detection and response (EDR). Where EDR focuses entirely on endpoints such as laptops, smartphones, and other devices, XDR goes a step further and pulls data from a range of traditionally siloed monitoring systems, such as email security, network visibility, cloud workload protection, and identity and access management. Security teams can detect more threats and respond more effectively while seeing fewer false positives since they have a more complete picture of what’s happening across the entirety of their company’s IT infrastructure. XDR tools can be native (limited to a single vendor’s offering) or hybrid (open to integration with other best-of-breed vendors).
- What is SIEM? Combining security information management and security event management functionality, SIEM logs data from systems such as antivirus software and intrusion detection. Native analytics capabilities are limited, though plug-ins powered by machine learning make it possible to do things like model typical user and device behavior to better detect suspicious activity. In addition, companies may need multiple SIEM tools to gain full visibility into the threat landscape that they face.
- What is SOAR? As the name implies, Security Orchestration and Response focuses on automating remediation and response efforts, and triaging more complex threats. The primary goal is to minimize the need for human intervention and streamline a company’s overall approach to security. Since SOAR tools are set up to ingest data, they can serve as standalone products or as an add-on to a SIEM tool. Many companies opt for the latter, since SOAR tends not to emphasize event logs or analysis.
XDR vs. SIEM vs. SOAR: Key Differences
Basically, XDR, SIEM, and SOAR all aim to do security event analysis and response. The difference is in how each toolset approaches the problem. The easiest way to understand these differences is to compare each type of tool side by side.
SOAR vs. SIEM
In several respects, SOAR and SIEM are meant to complement each other. SIEM tools serve as a log of security events and provide alerts and analysis to security teams; SOAR tools take in data from many sources, including but not limited to SIEM tools, and enable automated threat responses. Essentially, SOAR takes action on the information that SIEM provides.
The combination of logging and analysis from SIEM and automated response from SOAR can be powerful: It makes it possible for security teams to focus their efforts on high-priority tasks that require more problem solving and critical thinking than incident response. On the other hand, the tools are only truly effective if they are fully integrated — and even then, they may not provide visibility into the full spectrum of point solutions across IT and security infrastructure and applications.
Unfortunately, integrating SIEM and SOAR solutions can prove to be complex and costly. In addition, the limitations posed by the types of data sources that SIEM tools can process makes them susceptible to false positives. If SOAR systems are set up to take action on the information they get from SIEM systems, this may result in a lot of automated incident responses that require a manual override.
SIEM vs. XDR
XDR is designed to provide that full spectrum of visibility. This closes a critical gap that’s present with both SIEM and SOAR, which tend to pull data from security monitoring tools as opposed to endpoints themselves.
In addition, XDR brings threat detection, investigation and response into a single, centralized solution. This goes a step further than SIEM, which primarily logs and analyzes incidents and can only act upon them if a plug-in or add-on has been enabled. Finally, XDR’s next-generation analytics capabilities can uncover “low-and-slow” cyberattacks that are meant to go undetected for months and manifest over time — something that legacy SIEM tools may not be able to do. In fact, companies with XDR technologies in place are said to identify data breaches 10% faster and spend 9% less to mitigate a breach than companies without XDR in place.
That said, today’s most sophisticated SIEM tools can do things that XDR cannot. XDR focuses largely on threat detection and response. SIEM offers capabilities such as log management, data retention, and regulatory and standards compliance — all of which are outside the purview of what XDR can do.
SOAR vs. XDR
The XDR emphasis on detection, investigation, and response likewise gives XDR a leg up on SOAR, which is designed primarily to focus on response. XDR also extends automation beyond threat response to automate root-cause analysis and workflow creation. Workflow automation scripts help security teams set up custom alerts and response processes, where SOAR tools typically require more manual development and deployment of response playbooks.
At the same time, the “O” in SOAR stands for orchestration. Like XDR, SOAR provides visibility into security threat data coming from multiple sources. Orchestration takes this a step further to help companies simplify security operations by setting priorities and allocating resources where they best fit. This isn’t always the case with XDR tools.
Finding the Best Fit for Your Business
In a 2021 report, Forrester suggested that XDR is “on a collision course” with SIEM and SOAR, since XDR is positioned to pick up where each has typically fallen short. The comparisons above seem to illustrate this point: While SIEM use cases emphasize detection and SOAR use cases focus on response, XDR aims to do both.
However, as is often the case with threat detection and response, an integrated whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is especially the case here because XDR is new to the market and unlikely to replace either SIEM or SOAR within the next few years, Forrester said. In other words, XDR works well on its own but is more powerful when combined in a best-of-breed integration with SIEM and SOAR tools.
This is the philosophy behind the Mimecast-Netskope-Rapid7 Triple Play. The Triple Play offering brings together point monitoring solutions such as Mimecast Email Security, Cloud Gateway and Netskope Intelligent Security Service Edge and integrates them with industry-leading XDR, SIEM, and SOAR tools from Rapid7. Through their integration, the vendors’ systems share information in near real time. This reduces human intervention and custom-built data integration tools, which have made working with SIEM and SOAR a challenge in the past.
The Bottom Line
The differences between today’s XDR, SIEM, and SOAR tools show that a company’s best option for cybersecurity threat detection, analysis, and response is to make the most of all three. As companies explore their options, it’s important to consider tools developed with an open architecture model, such as a hybrid XDR solution. Since open architecture doesn’t rely solely on proprietary technology, companies can integrate best-of-breed tools such as Mimecast’s products and threat intelligence on email, the source of 90% of today’s cyberattacks. This ensures that the integrated suite of XDR, SIEM, and SOAR tools can leverage the data they need to offer the best protection against today’s cybersecurity challenges. Learn more about Mimecast’s integration strategy.
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