Choosing the right MDR partner: key questions to ask

6 minutes read
by Sai Surapaneni on 14 July, 2023

In today's interconnected world, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their attack techniques, posing significant risks to governments, businesses and individuals alike. Cybercrime is estimated to become an $8 trillion ‘industry’ in 2023, going up to $10.5 trillion by 2025. To effectively mitigate these rising risks, it is important to enhance your security strategy and proactively prepare for the ever-changing landscape of cyber threats.

One powerful solution that organizations can rely on is managed detection and response (MDR). This approach offers a comprehensive suite of proactive threat hunting, detection and response capabilities, providing a robust defense against emerging cyber threats. Managed detection and response services go beyond traditional security measures by leveraging advanced tools, technologies and expert analysis to detect and mitigate threats in real-time.

However, not all managed detection and response service providers are created equal as there’s a huge disparity in the MDR offerings. While some MDR services stop at reactively investigating automated alerts, others provide a full range of AI-based predictive tools. Some MDR services only alert their customers to detected threats while others respond to them without the need for customer intervention.

Given the disparity in the offerings, choosing the right MDR solution provide is of utmost importance. Decision-makers must embark on thorough research to find managed detection and response services that precisely align with their unique needs and delivers end-to-end protection.

This blog post will delve into the essential aspects every organization should ask before hiring an MDR partner. By asking these questions and carefully evaluating the responses, businesses can ensure they make an informed decision and forge a partnership that effectively safeguards their profitability, assets and reputation in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats.

In the following sections, we will present a series of crucial questions that organizations should consider when selecting an MDR solution provider. These questions will help you assess the capabilities, expertise and suitability of potential partners, ensuring that you make an informed decision in protecting your business from cyber threats.

So, here’s how to crack the MDR code!

How well does it understand your needs?

To begin with, it is important to first understand that a template-based solution isn’t always the best and not one size fits all. A template can be a good framework, to begin with, but not necessarily the appropriate solution for every problem. A crucial benchmark for a managed detection and response services partner is their ability to comprehend your organization's unique requirements. Look for a vendor that can offer a customized approach. Additionally, ensure they have a deep understanding of your industry and offer enhancements and modules that cater to your specific needs. This is a huge issue since many MDR services do not understand that small and medium business require a tailored solution as much as an industry behemoth.

What tools does it employ?

Evaluate the tools employed by the managed detection and response services. A capable provider should go beyond endpoint security and possess a set of best practices that extend to threat hunting and detection. Look for the presence of tools that it can mix and match to make it a perfect fit for customers’ needs. The tools may include extended detection and response (XDR), security information and event management (SIEM) and security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR). The quality and number of OEM partners of the MDR service collaborate with and its partnership ecosystem can indicate their ability to respond effectively to emerging threats.

How much does it research?

Managed detection and response is an ever-evolving ecosystem that requires continuous research and staying abreast of the latest developments. A reliable MDR service should have a strong research team with access to global cyber threat intelligence networks. Their commitment to assessing adversaries' techniques, conducting breach investigations and understanding malware functionalities will keep both the service provider and their clients one step ahead of potential threats.

How proactive are its detection capabilities?

Threat hunting is the aspect of MDR services and the approaches taken by service providers can be significantly different from one another. While automated processes are common, true threat detection requires human intervention and a hypothesis-based approach. An effective MDR solution provider should combine artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools with round-the-clock monitoring, analysis and investigations to ensure comprehensive security for your organization's assets.

Is it a turnkey service?

The scope of managed detection and response services deliverables differs widely. While some services limit themselves to alerting customers and recommending actions, a true MDR solution provider goes beyond that. Look for a service that assumes the entire burden of your cybersecurity needs, managing detection, response and analysis remotely without requiring constant authorization. They should have the capability to access your technology ecosystem, isolate threatened systems and prevent the spread of attacks in real-time, all without significant capital investment from your end.

Does it field-test its incident responses?

An impulsive response to cyber threats can lead organizations to shut down business processes, which will cost them hours of downtime and also cut into the company’s profits. The experience of an MDR service plays a critical role in its ability to respond effectively to threats. The MDR service provider should have a set of incident responses ready that have been previously tested in real-life situations. This type of testing guarantees the appropriate deployment of responses and is required especially in cloud-based ecosystems, where false positives are common. The incident responses can therefore help conserve valuable resources as well.

How easy is it to work with?

The compatibility between your organization and the managed detection and response services is vital for a successful partnership. A cultural fit is essential since the service will be a virtual adjunct to your business. Look for an MDR partner that dedicates adequate human resources to your organization. This is particularly necessary as it is an important consideration, given that trained security specialists are scarce and high in demand. The partner should offer easy collaboration, proactive support and a simple escalation mechanism. Additionally, long-term stability is crucial to ensure continuity in the partnership.

Traversing through the cybersecurity journey with MDR

As the threat landscape continues to evolve and cyber crimes become increasingly sophisticated, organizations must prioritize their cybersecurity strategies. MDR offers a powerful solution that goes beyond traditional security measures by providing proactive threat-hunting, detection and response capabilities. However, not all MDR solution providers will be suitable for you and before choosing an MDR partner, it should be recognized that MDR is often used as a catch phrase. Organizations should conduct thorough research and ask essential questions to assess the capabilities, expertise and compatibility of potential MDR solution providers.

Organizations can then make an informed decision and forge a partnership that effectively safeguards their company data, assets and reputation. Also important to remember is that cybersecurity is not a one-size-fits-all approach and finding an MDR partner that aligns with your organization's unique needs is crucial. So, crack the MDR code by asking the right questions and selecting a partner who will guide you through the cybersecurity journey.

With the wide range of managed detection and response offerings available, selecting the right partner becomes of utmost importance. Decision-makers must do due diligence and undertake research to identify an MDR service that precisely caters to their unique requirements. For a more comprehensive understanding and in-depth coverage of MDR, we invite decision-makers to explore our white paper. Our white paper goes beyond the surface and offers a bank of knowledge on MDR, expert analysis and actionable recommendations. You can also contact our security expert, Sai Surapaneni, to get answers to your questions on strengthening your cybersecurity measures and gain valuable insights.

Download our whitepaper to unlock the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions and navigate the MDR landscape.


Sai Surapaneni
Sai Surapaneni
Global Practice Head for Enterprise Cybersecurity & Risk Services (ECRS)