What is Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)?

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An endpoint is any device connected to an enterprise network. Security teams have focused on protecting enterprise endpoints from threats and cyberattacks for many years. In the past, desktop and laptop computers were standard endpoints that businesses protected with antivirus solutions. However, the current scale and complexity of cyber threats and the increased volume and diversity of enterprise endpoints mean that companies need more advanced forms of endpoint security than traditional antivirus tools.

 

Businesses around the world are increasingly understanding the value of endpoint security. According to Gartner, the end-user spending for security and risk management will exceed $215 billion in 2024, and companies will spend more than they previously have on endpoint detection and response (EDR) and similar cloud-based security solutions like managed detection and response (MDR).

 

Enterprises are likely to come across numerous EDR solutions from different providers. However, to choose the best EDR solution, knowing more about the current cybersecurity landscape and why endpoint threats are becoming so common is important. By elevating EDR security, enterprises will have a reinforced cybersecurity posture that can withstand the ever-increasing barrage of cyberattacks.

 

Before delving into what to look for in EDR tools and endpoint security solutions, businesses must prioritize understanding what endpoint security is and what the contemporary endpoint security landscape looks like. This will help enterprises know why real-time endpoint threat detection and response is a non-negotiable component of modern cybersecurity stacks. 

 

What is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?

 

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is an area of cybersecurity that focuses on real-time threat detection and remediation of endpoint-related cyber threats. EDR solutions provide real-time visibility into all endpoints, which can help enterprises flag malicious activity or suspicious behavior that may point to advanced threats and cyberattacks. Typically, endpoint security tools protect enterprises from cyber threats like malware and ransomware. However, an influx of new advanced threats and cloud-based vulnerabilities means that security teams must secure enterprise endpoints from all manner of potential threats.

 

EDR security revolves around robust endpoint data collection mechanisms and strategies. The most effective EDR technologies collect data around the clock to uncover endpoint-related security incidents that might have previously gone under the radar. A holistic endpoint protection platform (EPP) should do more than just remediate isolated endpoint threats. It should provide security operations center (SOC) personnel and security analysts with endpoint data that gets to the root cause of advanced threats. 

 

Other key EDR capabilities include advanced endpoint behavioral analysis, threat hunting, automated response to cyberattacks, and bulletproof triage processes to prioritize the most dangerous threats and reduce false positive alerts.

 

How Does EDR Work? 

 

Now that we know what EDR is, let's break down its key processes and activities to understand how it works. 

 

The following is a step-by-step guide to understanding how an EDR solution functions:

 

  • Device Monitoring: EDR tools continuously monitor incoming and outgoing traffic from connected devices to understand what behaviors are expected and what behaviors are suspicious. 
  • Red-Flagging Suspicious Behavior: EDR tools single out suspicious endpoint behaviors and activities. Businesses can now begin investigating the root cause of such behaviors. 
  • Automatic Remediation: Businesses can configure EDR tools to perform specific remediation actions as soon as they detect suspicious endpoint behavior.
  • Threat Containment: EDR tools will cordon off compromised and exploited enterprise network segments so that threat actors can't move laterally or access crown jewels. 
  • Threat Analyses: All the above activities will undergo thorough analyses and investigations to ensure that similar endpoint threats aren't as potent in the future. 
  • Reporting: If the five steps mentioned above reveal a data breach or a significant cyber incident, EDR Solutions will share a comprehensive summary of that information with businesses so they can further optimize their cybersecurity posture.

 

Why is EDR Essential?

 

Why should businesses protect their endpoint devices with a dedicated solution? Endpoint devices aren’t what they used to be. In the past, businesses only had desktops and laptops to protect. In a post-pandemic world, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and remote work options have resulted in the proliferation of various mobile devices connected to enterprise networks. Furthermore, in certain environments, workload-heavy on-premises internet-of-things (IoT) devices also add to endpoint security complexities and needs.  

 

Cutting-edge endpoint-centric threat detection and threat response solutions are also essential because threat actors have evolved. Threat actors now leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to engineer malware and ransomware attacks. Therefore, businesses must leverage automation in their EDR security to keep up with the velocity of new threats. Only automation-driven threat detection and response capabilities can defend businesses from automation-driven attacks.  

 

Businesses require a perfect balance of proactive mechanisms to identify suspicious activities on endpoints and remediation capabilities to bounce back from security incidents. Companies will reap numerous benefits by securing the endpoint pillar in an IT infrastructure with robust EDR solutions. 

 

What Are The Benefits of EDR Solutions?

 

The following are the top 7 benefits of EDR solutions. 

 

1. Comprehensive Visibility Across Endpoints

 

EDR security solutions provide businesses with continuous monitoring capabilities. This allows enterprises to take inventory of all connected endpoints and analyze behaviors to flag suspicious activities. Comprehensive visibility is absolutely essential because even advanced threat detection mechanisms will not be effective unless all endpoints are under the stewardship and visibility of security and IT teams. At the end of the day, businesses can only protect what they can see.  

 

2. Proactive Endpoint Security

 

The volume of connected endpoints and the ever-increasing number of cyberattacks means that businesses can’t always rely on incident response capabilities. Wherever possible, enterprises must focus on addressing vulnerabilities and suspicious behaviors on endpoints before they mature into full-fledged incidents. EDR security solutions leverage complex algorithms and AI/ML tools to find patterns in endpoint behavior and network traffic that might point to potential cyberattacks. 

 

3. Reduces Advanced Persistent Threats

 

Contrary to popular belief, data breaches aren’t always dramatic security incidents. Often, data breaches can go unnoticed for months, sometimes even years. By commissioning robust EDR security solutions, businesses can ensure that their endpoints aren’t victims of advanced persistent threats. The continuous monitoring, complex AI/ML-driven analyses, and anti-malware capabilities that EDR solutions provide ensure that businesses don’t suffer undetected data breaches.

 

4. Augments Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Programs

 

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is an area of enterprise cybersecurity that amalgamates security information from diverse branches of an organization to gather a holistic understanding of past, present, and future security activities, trends, and threats. SIEM programs and solutions are essential to ward off dangerous threat actors. However, SIEM programs are only as strong as the data they leverage. A powerful EDR solution ensures that SIEM programs receive high-quality, contextualized, and valuable endpoint data.  

 

5. Enriches Threat Intelligence Ecosystems

 

Threat intelligence programs are great in strengthening the security postures of businesses as well as larger sector- and geography-specific communities. Threat intelligence programs are vital because certain industries and regions are more susceptible to some threats. In these cases, collaborative security is the best option. Since endpoints are increasingly becoming a prime attack vector for threat actors, businesses must contribute to threat intelligence programs with the highest quality of endpoint data. This collaboration between enterprises, governments, and other agencies can significantly strengthen the endpoint security posture of entire business communities. 

 

6. Advanced Forensics

 

Top-of-the-line EDR security solutions do more than just identify and remediate issues. They allow businesses to conduct deep assessments and investigations into security incidents to find the root cause of problems. Whether it’s tracing the history of malicious files on a mobile device or identifying vulnerabilities unique to iOS and Microsoft Windows endpoints, EDR solutions can help enterprises transcend superficial forms of security and gain an in-depth understanding of the surrounding threat landscape. Advanced forensics can also help businesses stay one step ahead of threat actors, reducing the possibility of zero-day attacks. 

 

7. Enables More Unified Cyber Security Approaches

 

Siloed security solutions can introduce complex problems. Similarly, isolated security tools like the antivirus software of the past don’t provide the kind of holistic cybersecurity that enterprises require. Unsurprisingly, numerous organizations are seeking more integrative and unified security strategies. However, no unified security strategy or solution can be complete without a robust endpoint security component. Whether it’s for convergence with extended detection and response (XDR) or similar holistic solutions, highly integrable EDR security solutions can be game-changing in the long term.  

 

Pros and Cons of EDR Solutions

 

Now that we know the top 7 benefits of EDR solutions, let's summarize its pros and cons. 

 

As mentioned above, the pros of EDR solutions include:

 

  • Better visibility.
  • A proactive approach to device security.
  • More endpoint data to conduct forensics with.

 

EDR can also improve SIEM and threat intelligence programs and potentially reduce overall cybersecurity costs.  

 

EDR solutions also have their fair share of limitations. By being aware of these shortfalls, businesses will know exactly what to expect from their EDR tools and where they might have to commission supplementary cybersecurity tools. For example, EDR tools can potentially cause alert fatigue by wrongly red-flagging certain endpoint behaviors. This can distract security teams from more important issues. 

 

EDR tools, while useful, can also be challenging to install and configure. While vendors may help with the initial installation, in-house security personnel have to tune the tool to the organization's needs, which can be complex. Furthermore, since EDR isn't a holistic security tool, businesses may need to integrate it with other security solutions. This also requires technical skills and understanding, and certain EDR tools may not integrate well with different platforms. 

 

Data is another critical challenge when it comes to EDR tools. EDR tools collect vast amounts of endpoint data, which can sometimes overwhelm businesses, especially if there aren't robust AI/ML tools to analyze this data. Failure to analyze endpoint data is entirely counterproductive and a waste of cybersecurity investments. Lastly, the cloud-based nature of EDR tools means that there's always the risk of accidental data exposure, which can cost companies millions in legal damages and reputational loss. While these are worst-case scenarios, they are still important possibilities that enterprises should prepare for before commissioning an EDR solution. 

 

What Are Some Key Features To Look Out For In An EDR Solution? 

 

There are countless EDR solutions available in the market. According to Grandview Research, the endpoint detection and response market is on track to reach almost $17 billion by 2030, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 24.9% since 2023. It’s evident that a shortage of EDR solutions is not the challenge. The challenge lies in finding the right EDR security solution. The following are the seven most important capabilities and features businesses must look for in a potential EDR solution.

 

1. Rapid Incident Response and Remediation

 

Every minute of an undetected data breach or an unpatched vulnerability puts a company at increased risk. The optimal EDR solution must be able to identify abnormalities in endpoint activities, identify potential incidents, and remediate data breaches and vulnerabilities at incredible speeds. There’s no room in the modern world for sluggish cybersecurity solutions.

 

2. Continuous Monitoring

 

When it comes to endpoint security, businesses can’t afford to conduct periodic security scans. They must commission an EDR solution that offers continuous 24/7 monitoring. By doing so, companies can track endpoint activities in real-time, identify potential attack vectors, trim down their attack surface, and decrease the likelihood of significant data breaches.   

 

3. High-Quality Telemetry

 

The efficiency of an EDR solution largely depends on the quality of threat data that it draws from. Therefore, businesses should choose EDR solutions that leverage high-quality telemetry from all connected devices as well as other diverse internal and external sources. While external threat data is useful and important, the organization-specific context provided by internal threat data is the cherry on top of the cake.  

 

4. Strong Cloud Moorings

 

The vast majority of enterprises have shifted from on-premises IT infrastructures to public, private, or hybrid cloud models. Therefore, enterprises must choose EDR solutions that are cloud-based. Cloud-based and cloud-compatible EDR security solutions will outperform and outlast less cloud-friendly competitors. Furthermore, by choosing cloud-based EDR solutions, businesses can integrate EDR with other parallel cloud security tools and programs.

 

5. No Endpoint Performance Compromise

 

The increase in enterprise endpoints is a security complexity. However, enterprises must not forget that remote work and the proliferation of connected mobile devices also bring myriad advantages, including productivity, morale, and efficiency. Since endpoints will likely continue to increase and boost operations, businesses should only choose EDR solutions that have no performance trade-offs. 

 

6. Scalability

 

Modern enterprises must be able to scale their operations rapidly and ad hoc. Scalability is one of the primary reasons why enterprises shift to cloud-based infrastructures. A business’ EDR security solution must be equally scalable. It would be an unnecessary complexity if a business had to go through multiple hurdles to add new features or components to its EDR security solutions. Simple and seamless scalability is a must. 

 

7. 24/7 Support 

 

Threat actors work around the clock to bypass the enterprise fortifications, and that’s why it’s so important to have EDR security solutions that offer continuous monitoring. It’s also vital to commission an EDR solution from a vendor that provides 24/7 support. Choosing a vendor with a robust backend infrastructure, good industry reputation, and strong customer service is essential to keeping enterprise endpoints secure. 

 

Conclusion

 

Threat actors view endpoints as prominent attack vectors to breach an organization’s defenses and exfiltrate data. The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed remote work and bring-your-own-device models, resulting in the proliferation of enterprise endpoints. Cybercriminals have also evolved their tactics and now use AI/MI tools to deploy large-scale attacks against endpoints. EDR security solutions have never been more critical, and their importance is only going to keep increasing. 

 

The most significant benefits that EDR solutions can bring businesses include comprehensive visibility across endpoints, proactive security scanning, reduced advanced persistent threats, boosted SIEM programs, a more robust threat intelligence community, better security forensics, and a more unified cybersecurity approach. 

 

Businesses should choose EDR solutions that feature rapid response and remediation, continuous monitoring, high-quality telemetry, strong cloud compatibility, zero performance trade-offs, scalability, and 24/7 vendor support. If businesses choose an EDR solution that ticks the above boxes and more, they can benefit from transformative endpoint security advantages and significantly boost their overall digital strength and security.

 

Is your IT the best it can be?

Categories: Security, Cyber Security, Network Security, Proactive Network Security, IT Security, Endpoint Detection and Response, EDR, Cybersecurity, MDR vs EDR, EDR vs MDR

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