It really doesn't take long for an advanced threat to compromise an organization's endpoint devices. In a matter of minutes or even seconds, your laptops and mobile devices can be taken over by threat actors to penetrate enterprise networks.
Legacy security tools worked well in years passed but simply don't cut it anymore. This is because legacy cybersecurity solutions are now too slow to keep up with increasingly sophisticated and rapidly evolving threats. They also overburden security teams with a massive volume of false positives.
It's no secret that security teams are more or less ineffective when they are overwhelmed. In response, we have plenty of security solutions that claim to detect, investigate, and remediate threats. However, only one security tool actually does all that it claims to do and much more: endpoint detection and response.
What is Endpoint Detection and Response?
According to Gartner, Endpoint Detection and Response or EDR (also known as Endpoint Threat Detection and Response or ETDR) is a comprehensive security solution that engages in continuous real-time monitoring, threat hunting, and collecting endpoint data with rules-based automated response and analysis capabilities.
The term first coined by Anton Chuvakin is appropriate when you consider the sheer amount of cyberattacks businesses are inundated with daily. In this scenario, security teams can't effectively defend against advanced threats without automation.
In the current threat landscape, security tools that can detect and investigate suspicious activities on endpoints and hosts in real-time and respond to them with a high degree of automation are key to protecting your business and digital assets.
This approach helps add an extra layer of protection that goes far above old-school endpoint security solutions. As EDR technology leverages Indicators of Attacks (IOAs), it's also capable of investigating the whole lifecycle of an endpoint threat in real-time.
This means that your in-house security team will know exactly what happened, how it happened, why it happened, what it's doing right now (on your network), and how to stop it.
EDR is far more advanced than other tools like Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP). This is because EPP just concentrates on prevention at the perimeter. In contrast, EDR focuses on countering advanced threats that have already managed to dodge front-line defenses to penetrate deep into your environment.
How Does EDR Work?
EDR security systems boast the following functions:
- Monitor and collect real-time activity on on-premises networks and endpoint data (logins, disk, memory, traffic, and account activity) that could potentially signal a threat
- Delivers security teams with network files and activity logs
- Advanced analysis of this data in real-time to identify threat patterns to help security teams with the telemetry needed to conduct a complete triage and remediation
- Automatically respond to detected threats and remove or contain them while immediately alerting the Security Operations Center (SOC)
- Implements appropriate remediation tasks, including running a script, blocking an application, or killing a process to terminate malicious activities
- Forensics and analysis tools to research and explore identified threats and initiate searches for more potential suspicious activities
However, it's important to note that not all EDR security solutions work the same way. Most don't offer the same spectrum of managed detection and response capabilities. For example, some EDR tools focus more on the backend through the management console. Others concentrate on performing more analysis on the agent, and some also vary when it comes to data collection times and scope.
Different companies and brands often concentrate on various aspects of a product to set them apart or serve specific use cases. Just like MacOS and Windows are similar but different, you have to choose a platform that meets your present and future demands.
However, all EDR solutions must do the following:
- Alert administrators immediately when a device is compromised
- Boast analytics and anomaly detection features
- Have malware removal features
- Hunt through data and systems for malware
The good news is that all EDR tools also perform the same critical functions like continuous monitoring and analysis. The best option for most businesses is an EDR security solution that seamlessly integrates with different threat intelligence providers.
What Are the Key Benefits of Using an Endpoint Detection and Response Solution?
EDR systems collect monitoring data and provide a complete view of potential attacks. Monitoring endpoints continuously online and offline also eases the burden for security teams when it comes to analysis and incident response.
EDR also provides an opportunity to engage in in-depth research and analysis to understand certain anomalies and vulnerabilities better. With a comprehensive understanding of the root cause of a security incident, you'll know exactly what's going on. This knowledge also helps security teams prepare more efficiently for future security incidents.
In the current threat landscape, being able to visualize potential threats and attack vectors and how they evolve in real-time can also help security teams respond to them effectively. For example, you can disrupt an attack in the initial stages before any real damage is done.
EDR's real-time automated response capabilities also help organizations detect suspicious behavior and stop it before it impacts operations. Furthermore, without EDR and other related security tools, you can't develop a comprehensive understanding of the techniques and technologies used by bad actors.
This knowledge is vital to defending against unauthorized access to enterprise networks and the valuable data and digital assets stored within central databases.
What Is the Difference Between Antivirus and EDR?
Believe it or not, EDR tools are considered a subset of traditional firewalls and antivirus software (which are obviously limited in scope when compared to EDR). Look at it this way, when you implement an EDR solution, you also get next-gen antivirus protection by default.
Antivirus software conducts essential security functions like scanning and detecting known malware, ransomware, and viruses and their removal. EDR capabilities go above and beyond by monitoring, safe listing/deny listing, and more to detect and remediate emerging threats.
As our digital perimeter keeps expanding year after year, traditional antivirus programs can no longer secure the sheer number of devices that access corporate resources. When you add remote working and IoT into the mix, protecting enterprise networks gets even more complicated. A simple signature-based antivirus solution is no match for zero-day exploits or any advanced multilayered threats.
Do You Need an EDR Security Solution?
If your company is still depending on traditional antivirus software, the answer is definitely a resounding yes!
Unlike other security tools, new features and services are continuously expanding the capabilities of EDR solutions. You also have the ability to incorporate other third-party security solutions to boost the effectiveness of your endpoint detection and remediation protocols.
IT departments can better anticipate potential cyber threats with a stack of security tools like EDR solutions and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) tools. Security teams can also achieve complete endpoint visibility into advanced polymorphic threats like zero-day attacks for more effective remediation.
So, while other security protocols make your security analysts wait for the threat to mature before countering it, EDR stops it in its tracks in real-time efficiently and automatically. This approach not only protects your enterprise infrastructure but also helps save significant resources.
Businesses also benefit from a whole host of threat intelligence services and a global pool of continuously updated data on current threats and their characteristics. This approach helps enhance EDR's ability to identify potentially malicious behavior like multilayered and zero-day attacks.
EDR platforms also come with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) out of the box, so it'll be a breeze to automate the whole investigative process. For example, smart algorithms will quickly learn the company's baseline behaviors and use this data, along with data from an extensive range of threat intelligence sources, to interpret findings (and mostly accurately).
At present, the reality is that IT teams and security professionals face increasingly sophisticated and complex cyber threats. They also have to contend with greater diversity in the number and types of endpoints connecting to a network at any given moment. All this makes it vital to automate the analysis and response protocols that EDR solutions provide.