MDR vs EDR: What You Should Know

Cybersecurity is of utmost importance in today’s world. With 2,200 cyber attacks every day, it matters more than ever to have the right security posture. There are a variety of security approaches and strategies available, and choosing the right one can have a serious impact on an organization’s security posture. 

Today, we’re focusing on MDR vs. EDR. We’ll look at what each one is, how they work, the advantages and disadvantages, and how an organization can choose the right one for them. 

The Basics: What Is MDR and EDR?

To start, let’s look at what MDR and EDR are and the key differences between them. 

What Is MDR? 

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is a security as a service offering, rather than a software solution. MDR is a cybersecurity service that goes beyond traditional security measures to provide comprehensive protection for an organization’s IT infrastructure. It combines advanced technology that’s available with human experts that monitor, detect, and respond to cyber threats in real-time. 

Unlike traditional security measures that focus only on prevention, MDR actively hunts for potential threats, investigates the nature of these threats, and takes swift actions to mitigate them. This approach ensures a more proactive and robust security posture. MDR is able to guard against a wide range of cyber threats including malware, ransomware, and sophisticated attacks. 

What Is EDR? 

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a cybersecurity solution focused on monitoring, detecting, and mitigating threats at the endpoint level. Endpoints can include laptops, desktops, and mobile devices. EDR tools continuously collect and store data from endpoints to identify unusual patterns or behaviors that may signify a security breach. 

Utilizing machine learning and analytics, EDR solutions provide real-time alerts and allow security teams to investigate and respond to threats promptly. Unlike traditional antivirus software, EDR offers a more comprehensive and dynamic approach to endpoint security, giving organizations an extra layer of defense against cyber threats.

Key Differences

MDR and EDR have some key differences that are apparent when they’re compared side-by-side: 

CapabilitiesDetection and response as a serviceThreat detection24/7 monitoringThreat remediationDetection and response for endpoint threatsPreventative techniquesIntegrates with other solutions
BenefitsMalware protectionScalableAccess to expertiseProtects endpointsMalware protectionEliminates unknown threatsEndpoint visibility
LimitationsNot all solutions are equalNo visibility of cloud threats

MDR vs EDR: How They Work

The Functioning of MDR

With MDR, an organization doesn’t need to increase its staffing or security capabilities. Instead, the organization hires an MDR team that takes care of security. That team will install the necessary software and let the organization use its hardware. The MDR team also provides expertise on security measures. It combines threat intelligence with human expertise. MDR can also work with the cloud, including integrating a cloud-delivered SecOps platform. 

The Functioning of EDR

EDR is something that an organization can implement and install. With machine learning and anomaly detection, EDR can provide an in-house security team with active alerts about potential threats. Modern EDR truly sets itself apart with a focus on active monitoring and the ability to identify abnormal or suspicious activity—and respond appropriately. What’s crucial is that EDR can go beyond known threats and help mitigate newer threats. That being said, EDR is reliant on endpoint agents. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Both MDR and EDR can be powerful security solutions. Each one has its own unique advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering before choosing which one might be the best fit for an organization. 

Advantages of MDR

MDR has many advantages, including the access to cybersecurity expertise. Three crucial advantages, though, are its comprehensive threat management, cloud-based solutions, and scalability. Comprehensive threat management helps organizations cover prevention, detection, response, and mitigating damage. MDR is a start-to-finish approach to security. 

MDR is also available with cloud-based solutions for organizations that are migrating to the cloud. It can help protect large amounts of cloud data. In addition, MDR is scalable. It doesn’t require an organization to increase staffing or resources, which means it can grow with an organization. 

Advantages of EDR

Endpoints can include anything like laptop and desktop computers, smartphones, tablets, Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, servers, and more. That’s why 70% of all security breaches begin with an endpoint. EDR also is self-contained within the endpoint. So when one of those breaches happens, it’s not able to spread as quickly or effectively. EDR also focuses on real-time monitoring to detect threats—even threats that experts haven’t yet identified or understood. 

Disadvantages of MDR

No solution is perfect, and MDR has its limitations. One is that not every MDR solution is the same. Some companies offer higher end solutions that are far more effective than others in protecting a network. That leads to a disadvantage of MDR: cost. Finding an excellent MDR solution typically requires spending more. MDR also runs the risk of false positives, where an alert happens for something that isn’t a threat—leading to wasted time and resources. 

Disadvantages of EDR

EDR also comes with a few disadvantages. The main disadvantage is in its name: EDR is limited to only endpoints. While the majority of breaches happen with an endpoint, not every breach does. This necessitates using other security solutions as well. EDR also comes with high false-negative rates, where organizations run the risk of missing threats. 

Use Cases

Ideal use cases can help illuminate which solution works best for different circumstances. These are the ideal scenarios or circumstances for both MDR and EDR. 

Ideal MDR Scenarios

No industry or organization is immune to cybersecurity threats, so there are many organizations that could benefit from MDR. Those that particularly benefit from it are those that are struggling to attract IT and security professionals, want to mature the security response, and want to stay on top of the latest threats in its industry. 

Ideal EDR Scenarios

EDR benefits all industries, so the types of organizations that particularly benefit from EDR are those that have lots of vulnerable endpoints. When the endpoints seem to be the ideal target, prioritizing endpoints makes sense. Organizations that are in the early stages of creating cybersecurity plans can benefit from EDR because it’s affordable and simple to use. 

MDR vs EDR: Making the Choice

MDR and EDR both provide great benefits to organizations. So how can an organization choose the right one? These are a few guidelines that can help an organization choose: 

  • EDR requires a team to run it. If an organization doesn’t have the capabilities, MDR might be the better choice. 
  • MDR comes with a higher price tag. Organizations looking for security at a lower cost may choose EDR. 
  • Companies working in the cloud should lean toward MDR because of its cloud capabilities. 

If both options provide excellent benefits, sometimes the best solution is to choose a third option that provides the best of both options—like MXDR from Ontinue. 


Overall, security matters, and MDR and EDR are two different solutions that can both work to improve an organization’s security posture. Understanding the differences between the two can make a huge difference in choosing the right one for an organization. 

If an organization wants both MDR and EDR, it might benefit from MXDR from Ontinue. MXDR provides the benefits of both in one comprehensive solution. 

 Download the guide to learn more about how Ontinue’s unique MXDR service based on an intelligent, cloud-delivered SecOps platform can solve your 3 biggest security challenges.