Managed SIEM vs. Managed Firewall vs. MDR

Despite the billions of dollars enterprises collectively spend on cybersecurity each year, malware remains a huge problem. On average, Google found 600-800 sites infected with malware each week as of January 2021. Many small businesses don’t have the resources or talent they need to protect themselves from the rising threats of malware and ransomware, which is where managed services providers come in. Managed security information and event management (SIEM), managed firewall, and managed detection and response (MDR) are all great options, but which one is right for your business?

Choosing between managed SIEM, managed firewall, and MDR

What is managed SIEM?

Security information and event management (SIEM) is a type of software that provides real-time monitoring and analysis of cyber threats. Managed SIEM is an alternative to deploying the software on-premises where a third-party MSP hosts SIEM software on their own servers and deploys it to clients via the cloud. Then, they set up 24/7 monitoring on their end to identify and remediate security threats.


  • Cheaper and faster deployment
  • Reduces the need for 24/7 internal staff
  • Third-parties often have access to better technology than non-tech companies
  • IT specialists are expensive and hard to come by


  • Data is stored off-site and companies may not get full access to it
  • Has the potential for a “one-size fits all” approach rather than a customized experience

What is managed firewall?

Firewalls are network security systems that monitor incoming and outgoing traffic and block anything that meets predetermined rules. However, these platforms aren’t something companies can set up once and forget about; they require continuous maintenance and upkeep, and some organizations outsource this. Managed firewall services ensure that companies have clear firewall rules and can modify those rules when necessary. The third-party service provider will also install necessary updates and patches and proactively monitor the firewall, providing detailed reports and analysis.


  • Outsources the complicated maintenance associated with firewalls
  • Ensures updates and patches are installed in a timely manner
  • Faster intrusion detection thanks to proactive monitoring
  • Can sometimes block zero-day vulnerabilities
  • Can ensure state of the art technology


  • Poorly managed firewalls can block legitimate activity
  • Can be more expensive than traditional firewalls

What is MDR?

Managed detection and response (MDR) differs from traditional Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) by taking a more proactive approach to security than simply monitoring existing technologies. Instead, MDR teams search out threats and alert organizations of any threats currently on the network or that are trying to get in. MDR adds an extra layer of security beyond traditional preventative measures and allows organizations to focus on their day-to-day routines.


  • More effective against zero-day threats
  • Faster response times than in-house teams
  • Eliminates the need for organizations to have large, expert in-house teams dedicated to threat hunting 24/7
  • Combines human intelligence with cutting-edge technology


  • Outsourcing cybersecurity can lead internal employees to be lax about it
  • Gives the MDR team access to secure information, which customers could see as a vulnerability

Proactive vs. reactive approach

Managed SIEM and managed firewall services take a more reactive approach to cybersecurity than MDR. Because they’re monitoring the network, managed SIEM and managed firewalls can only act when they detect an attack or vulnerability on the network. MDR teams, on the other hand, actively seek out threats and remove them before they can escalate. Reactive cybersecurity tools are great for preventing known threats and malware, while proactive options are necessary for zero-day attacks.

Keep in mind that a purely proactive approach may not be necessary for every business. In reality, businesses of all sizes need both types of security to protect themselves. Heavily regulated industries like healthcare or finance might require a higher level of cybersecurity, but small businesses also aren’t immune to cyber attacks. In fact, small businesses were involved in 28 percent of data breaches in 2020.

Fulfilling compliance regulations

For businesses that must adhere to compliance regulations, where the third-party managed services provider (or MDR team) stores their data is just as important as where the company stores their data. MDR is crucial for companies where the loss of data, mainly personally identifiable information, could result in agency fines or civil suits. Not all companies store this kind of data.

MSSPs that handle managed SIEM and managed firewalls often focus heavily on regulatory compliance because many of their clients don’t have internal cybersecurity teams. Therefore, it falls to them to ensure the company’s compliance.

Weighing the costs of each

MDR, managed SIEM, and managed firewalls all have different resource costs, and what your business needs will depend on what you have and what you’re willing to spend. Each of these options can be fairly expensive, especially if you’re paying for 24/7 monitoring. However, options like managed SIEM might be worth the cost since traditional SIEM is both expensive and time-consuming to implement.

It’s also important to note that these solutions don’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing; they could be partial solutions covering nights and weekends, so you don’t have to employ 24/7 staff. Therefore, on-site staffing requirements will vary from business to business. Some businesses may want to outsource the entire process, in which case they wouldn’t need any in-house experts. However, many organizations prefer to have at least one in-house security administrator to improve communication with the third party and ensure that all processes align with the company’s needs.

Read next: Surviving 2021 with Zero Trust Security