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XDR vs SIEM: Cost-Efficient Cyber Security for Today's Decision Makers

Published: November 10, 2023
Updated: January 19, 2024
In a nutshell:
CISOs and IT leaders are tasked with the critical responsibility of safeguarding their organisations against an ever-increasing array of threats, all while striving to optimise costs and drive business growth. This is where Unified Extended Detection and Response (XDR) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) come into play...
According to BCG’s Annual Cybersecurity Survey 2023, 62% of CISOs said that controlling cyber security spending and costs is a critical issue.

XDR: The Unified Defender

XDR, or Extended Detection and Response, represents a significant advancement in the realm of cyber security solutions. It’s essentially a comprehensive platform designed to safeguard your organisation against an evolving and increasingly sophisticated landscape of cyber threats. In simpler terms, think of XDR as an intelligent and vigilant digital guardian for your organisation.

Key Differentiator to SIEM: XDR offers a unified approach to threat detection and response, consolidating data from various security layers for comprehensive insights. These insights can support cyber security professionals with incident response, vulnerability assessments and user behaviour analysis.

XDR in Microsoft

Microsoft 365 Defender employs XDR technology to safeguard end-user environments. Leveraging the power of AI, it seamlessly integrates signals from various sources, including endpoints, identities, applications, data, and email. This intelligent combination allows for the automated analysis of threats spanning multiple domains, allowing the creation of a comprehensive attack overview presented in a unified dashboard. XDR is integrated in vital products such as Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Microsoft Defender for Identity, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 and Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps.

Benefits of XDR

360-Degree Threat Visibility: XDR provides a holistic view of your security landscape, enabling early threat detection and more effective incident response.

Cost Efficiency: By unifying security tools and processes, XDR simplifies your security infrastructure, reducing complexity and the associated costs.

Operational Efficiency: Automation and orchestration features in XDR solutions streamline security operations, minimising manual tasks and labour costs.

Scalability for Growth: XDR is adaptable to your organisation’s changing needs, allowing you to expand your security infrastructure as your business grows without incurring substantial additional costs.

In a nutshell, XDR is a sophisticated, all-in-one cyber security solution that streamlines security measures, enhances your threat detection and incident response capabilities, and offers long-term cost savings.

Opting for an all-in-one security technology stack, like that offered by Microsoft, means you can consolidate your security technologies whilst also offering your team the advantages of enhanced user experience and a more cohesive comprehension of your business data. By thoroughly assessing your current tech landscape and pinpointing opportunities for consolidation, you can pave the way toward a more efficient, scalable and cost-effective tech environment, maximising ROI. 

It provides the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your organisation is well-protected against today’s dynamic cyber threats, without the financial burden that traditionally accompanies such security measures. It’s a modern and strategic approach to cyber security that empowers you to focus on growth and innovation, knowing that your digital assets are safeguarded.

SIEM, which stands for Security Information and Event Management, is a foundational technology in the field of cyber security. It serves as the nerve centre of your organisation’s digital security efforts, allowing you to monitor, analyse, and respond to security-related events and incidents effectively.

Key Differentiator to XDR: SIEM serves as a centralised platform for collecting, analysing, and correlating security data from various sources across your network.  These sources may include system logs, anomaly-based alerts and endpoint detection and response (EDR) logs.

SIEM in Microsoft

Microsoft Sentinel stands as a cloud-native solution, playing a pivotal role in both Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration Automated Response (SOAR).

According to the Forrester’s The Total Economic Impact™ of Microsoft Azure study, Sentinel is 48% more cost-effective and provides a deployment speed that is 67% faster compared to traditional on-premises SIEM systems.

This solution combines advanced technologies such as AI and automation to empower security defenders, detect and investigate threats, and ultimately enhance the overall cyber security posture of organisations.


Benefits of SIEM

Centralised Log Management: SIEM provides a single pane of glass for monitoring and analysis, simplifying threat detection and compliance reporting.

Early Threat Detection: Real-time data analysis and alerting capabilities in SIEM help you identify and respond to threats before they escalate, minimising potential damage and related costs.

Compliance Assurance: SIEM simplifies compliance reporting, reducing the overhead involved in audits and ensuring you avoid costly fines.

Data-Driven Growth: SIEM’s data analytics capabilities offer actionable insights that enable informed decisions, promoting business growth while maintaining security as a priority.

A SIEM ultimately serves as the backbone of your organisation’s cyber security strategy. It offers a centralised platform that not only monitors and analyses your security landscape but also enables proactive responses to security events. A SIEM is more than just a tool; it’s a strategic asset that guarantees the integrity and resilience of your digital operations.

While both aim to protect organisations from digital threats, XDR and SIEM each offer distinct advantages and their approaches are fundamentally different. Here, we will dive into the differences between XDR and SIEM, whilst highlighting that the advantages of these solutions are not mutually exclusive.

1. XDR vs SIEM: Data Scope and Integration

XDR: XDR provides a unified view by integrating data from various security layers such as endpoints, networks, email, and more. This comprehensive scope ensures early threat detection and a holistic view of your security landscape.

SIEM: SIEM centralises logs and data from a wide range of devices, applications, and network sources. It focuses on log management and correlation, making it an excellent tool for compliance and in-depth analysis.

2. XDR vs SIEM: Threat Detection and Response

XDR: XDR is strong in real-time threat detection and automated incident response. It excels at identifying potential threats quickly and orchestrating a swift response, reducing the time attackers have to operate undetected.

Defender for Endpoint’s endpoint detection and response capabilities deliver advanced attack detections in near-real-time, offering actionable insights. Security analysts can efficiently prioritise alerts, obtain a comprehensive view of breach scope, and initiate response actions to effectively mitigate threats.

SIEM: SIEM is adept at correlating events and identifying patterns that may indicate security incidents. It’s valuable for historical analysis and forensic investigations. While it can detect threats, its strength lies in its ability to provide a comprehensive overview of your security landscape. Once you’ve configured Microsoft Sentinel to gather data from across your organisation, the next step is to sift through this data to identify security threats in your environment. Fortunately, Microsoft Sentinel offers templates that assist you in establishing threat detection rules, streamlining this process for you.

3. XDR vs SIEM: Real-time Monitoring

XDR: XDR continuously monitors your digital environment in real-time. It’s particularly suited for organisations that need immediate threat detection and response.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint offers a comprehensive, 360-degree perspective of the security landscape. It empowers security analysts to detect threats, including those exploiting legitimate software, ports, and protocols for entry, across all security layers. This visibility encompasses understanding the attack’s details, such as its methodology, entry point, impact on other entities, origin, and propagation. The additional context provided, along with the necessary analytics to comprehend it, is indispensable for a prompt and effective response to threats.

SIEM: SIEM also offers real-time monitoring, but it is often used alongside other security solutions for immediate response. Its strength lies in long-term monitoring and historical data analysis. The near-real-time (NRT) analytics rules in Microsoft Sentinel provide accelerated threat detection, closer to that of on-premises SIEM solutions. This capability allows for reduced response times in specific scenarios, enhancing the overall efficiency of threat mitigation.

4. XDR vs SIEM: Alerting and Notifications

XDR: XDR typically provides immediate alerts and notifications when it detects suspicious activities. These alerts are often highly automated and geared towards immediate incident response. You have the option to set up Microsoft 365 Defender to send email notifications to specified recipients for new alerts. This feature allows you to designate a group of individuals who will promptly be informed and can take necessary actions based on the severity of the alerts. For users of Defender for Business, you can configure email notifications specifically for individual users, rather than roles or groups.

SIEM: SIEM can generate alerts, but it is generally used for longer-term analysis. It is capable of issuing alerts, but it might not be as automated or immediate as XDR.

Within Microsoft Sentinel, you have the capability to relate alerts with your incidents. This feature allows you to add or remove alerts manually or automatically, adjusting the composition of existing incidents during the course of your investigation. This function enables you to refine the incident scope as the investigation progresses.

5. XDR vs SIEM: Compliance and Reporting

XDR: While XDR can contribute to compliance efforts, it is not the primary tool for compliance reporting. Its focus is on real-time threat detection and response. Microsoft Defender for Cloud simplifies your fulfilment of regulatory compliance requirements through its regulatory compliance dashboard. It consistently evaluates your hybrid cloud environment, analysing risk factors based on the controls and best practices aligned with the standards you’ve implemented across your subscriptions.

SIEM: SIEM excels in compliance reporting and audits. It is often used to demonstrate adherence to regulatory standards and simplify the process of generating compliance reports. Microsoft Sentinel is a cloud-native solution, consolidating and processing audit data into a unified location within your Azure tenant with safeguarded administrative rights. It also generates reports on administrative actions conducted within Sentinel. All signals converge into a single source hosted and operated within your cloud environment, enhancing resilience and availability at a heightened level.

6. XDR vs SIEM: Cost Efficiency

XDR: XDR simplifies security infrastructure, reducing complexity and associated costs. It offers cost savings through streamlined operations, automation, and consolidation of security tools. Microsoft Defender for Storage empowers you to protect your data comprehensively, implementing granular controls at scale. You have the flexibility to enforce consistent security policies across all storage accounts in a subscription or tailor them for specific accounts to align with your business requirements. Additionally, you can manage costs effectively by selecting the desired level of protection for each resource.

SIEM: SIEM is a valuable investment, particularly for organisations with a strong focus on compliance and long-term data analysis. However, it can be complex and might require more extensive customisation and management. Microsoft Sentinel provides a fully managed and cost-effective data archiving solution for retaining logs over several years to meet compliance requirements and for incident investigation purposes. The archive data can be stored for a duration of up to 7 years. Retrieving information from archived logs involves asynchronous search jobs, incurring costs based on the data scanned.

In essence, when contemplating XDR vs SIEM, and the costs associated with them, the choice depends on your organisation’s specific needs and priorities. XDR is ideal for organisations seeking immediate threat detection and response, while SIEM excels in long-term monitoring, compliance reporting, and historical analysis. Many organisations find value in using both solutions in tandem, utilising Microsoft 365 Defender and Sentinel, leveraging the strengths of each to create a robust and comprehensive cyber security strategy.

SIEM Plus XDR: The best of both worlds


SIEM plus XDR: Comprehensive Threat Detection and Response

By integrating these two, organisations achieve the best of both worlds. Real-time threat detection by XDR complements SIEM’s ability to provide context and historical data, enhancing the speed and effectiveness of incident response. The combination ensures that security incidents are identified and addressed promptly while providing a broader context for forensic investigations.

SIEM plus XDR: Redundancy Reduction and Cost Efficiency

Integrating XDR and SIEM reduces redundancy in security tools and processes. Fewer tools mean lower licensing fees, reduced training costs, and streamlined operations. This consolidation is inherently cost-effective, as it minimises the overhead associated with maintaining multiple standalone solutions.

Furthermore, the enhanced automation and orchestration features of XDR further contribute to cost-efficiency. These features reduce manual intervention, lower labour costs, and optimise resource allocation.

SIEM plus XDR: Enhanced Visibility and Threat Correlation

XDR and SIEM offer different perspectives on the security landscape. XDR provides real-time visibility and detection, while SIEM delivers historical and contextual data. By integrating these two, organisations gain a holistic view of their security posture.

This combined perspective enables better threat correlation and pattern recognition. Threats identified by XDR can be cross-referenced with historical data from SIEM, providing insights into the tactics, techniques, and motivations of attackers. This holistic approach empowers organisations to pre-emptively protect against emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

SIEM plus XDR: Compliance Simplification

For organisations subject to regulatory compliance, the integration of XDR and SIEM simplifies the compliance process. SIEM’s robust capabilities for generating compliance reports and audits complement XDR’s real-time threat detection and response.

The combination ensures that organisations can not only meet compliance requirements but also strengthen their security posture in the process. This dual benefit is particularly cost-effective, as it minimises the resources required for compliance management.

CISO Challenges: CISOs face the dual challenge of safeguarding organisations against evolving cyber threats while optimising costs.

XDR vs. SIEM: XDR integrates data for real-time monitoring, immediate threat response, and cost efficiency. SIEM excels in compliance reporting, long-term monitoring, and historical data analysis.

Integration Benefits: Integrating XDR and SIEM provides comprehensive threat detection, reduces redundancy and costs, enhances visibility and threat correlation, and simplifies compliance.

Strategic Approach: The integration of XDR and SIEM offers a strategic and modern approach to cyber security, focusing on growth and innovation while ensuring effective protection against dynamic cyber threats.

For those that want to benefit from the capabilities of both SIEM & XDR technologies, get in touch today for information into our multi-award winning, 24/7, Managed Security Operations Centre.

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