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MDR vs SIEM: Why You Need Both

Kris Kilgard
3 min read
Jan 27, 2022 1:42:37 PM
This post covers:Your Business. Secure. | Managed IT

Updated July 10, 2024

Identifying today's cybersecurity threats and responding to them requires advanced technology. But you might be surprised to learn that your organization would benefit from having both Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions. While they may appear similar at first glance, they serve distinct purposes and, when used together, can significantly enhance an organization's security posture. Before we dig into why you need both MDR and SIEM for your business or organization, let's first explain what each of these technologies delivers.

What is SIEM?

 SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management. It is a solution that provides real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware. The primary functions of SIEM include:

  1. Data aggregation: Collecting log data from various sources such as servers, network devices, and applications.
  2. Correlation: Identifying relationships between different events to pinpoint potential security incidents.
  3. Alerting: Generating alerts for suspected security incidents.
  4. Reporting: Creating detailed reports for compliance and security audits.
  5. Forensics and analysis: Assisting in investigating security breaches by providing historical data and context.

SIEM solutions are invaluable for organizations looking to gain a comprehensive view of their security landscape. They enable the detection of anomalies and potential threats by analyzing vast amounts of data and identifying patterns that could indicate malicious activity.

What is MDR?

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is a service that combines advanced security technology with human expertise to detect, investigate, and respond to threats. MDR offers continuous monitoring, threat detection, and incident response, often with a focus on endpoint security. Key components of MDR include:

  1. 24/7 monitoring: Continuous surveillance of an organization’s network to detect threats in real-time.
  2. Threat intelligence: Using up-to-date threat intelligence to identify and understand new and emerging threats.
  3. Incident response: Providing immediate response to detected threats, including containment and remediation.
  4. Expert Analysis: Leveraging cybersecurity experts to analyze and interpret security data and incidents.
  5. Proactive Threat Hunting: Actively searching for threats that might have evaded traditional security measures.

MDR services are designed to augment an organization's existing security measures by providing advanced threat detection and response capabilities that might be beyond the reach of in-house IT teams.

How SIEM and MDR work together and why you need both

In today's complex threat landscape, having layered security is key. Your technologies should overlap and provide an extreme depth and breadth of protection. While the temptation is there to invest in a single solution, rarely, if ever, will a single solution provide the network security defense an organization needs. Instead of comparing MDR vs SIEM, think of them working collaboratively to give you the deep, flexible, and layered security solution you need to meet and defeat the threats to your network.

Here are seven reasons why having both is essential:

  1. Enhanced threat detection: SIEM excels at collecting and correlating data from various sources to identify potential threats. However, it relies heavily on predefined rules and may miss sophisticated or novel threats. MDR, with its threat intelligence and human expertise, can detect more advanced threats that a SIEM might overlook.
  2. Comprehensive incident response: SIEM solutions generate alerts for suspected incidents, but they often require significant effort to investigate and respond to these alerts. MDR services provide the necessary expertise to swiftly investigate and respond to incidents, reducing the time attackers have to cause damage.
  3. Resource efficiency: Managing a SIEM can be resource-intensive, requiring constant tuning and expertise to handle the volume of alerts generated. MDR services can alleviate this burden by providing dedicated security analysts who manage the alert triage and incident response processes.
  4. Continuous improvement: MDR providers continuously update their threat intelligence and detection capabilities based on the latest threat landscape. This ensures that the organization’s security measures are always up to date, complementing the SIEM rule sets.
  5. Holistic security posture: While SIEM provides a broad view of the security landscape through data aggregation and correlation, MDR focuses on active threat hunting and incident response. Together, they offer a holistic approach to security that covers both detection and response comprehensively.
  6. Scalability: As organizations grow, so does the complexity of their IT environments. SIEM solutions can scale to accommodate this growth by ingesting more data and correlating more events. MDR services, with their expert-driven approach, can scale the response capabilities accordingly, ensuring that security measures remain effective as the organization expands.
  7. Regulatory compliance: Many industries have stringent regulatory requirements for security and data protection. SIEM solutions are excellent for compliance reporting, providing the necessary logs and audit trails. MDR services enhance this by ensuring that incidents are handled promptly and correctly, further demonstrating the organization’s commitment to compliance.

Is it time to bolster your network security?

Network security is never a one and done solution. To truly protect your company and your network data, you need layers of security that together can provide a comprehensive solution. Cybercriminals are working round-the-clock to exploit vulnerabilities in your network--you need security solutions that meet them at every potential entry point. Instead of weighing MDR vs SIEM, leverage them both, as well as other security solutions.


When it's time to get started on the next chapter of your network security, consult with a managed IT provider who has a strong understanding of the current cybersecurity landscape. We are a managed security service provider who values information security as much as you do. Contact us to learn more about MDR, SIEM, and the full selection of security options we offer our clients.

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