A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Endpoint Detection and Response

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Nick G.
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Nick G.

Updated · Aug 16, 2023

Nick G.
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Statistics shows that cybercrime has risen by 10% in the past year. Moreover, in 2023, the global annual cost of this menace is expected to reach $8 trillion. 

Cybersecurity has become a crucial component of all businesses and organizations. They need to keep their data safe. 

MFAs and 3FA tools can help, but Endpoint Detection and Response may be a great option if you’re looking for a comprehensive security solution. 

In this article, learn about Endpoint Detection and Response and how to implement this tool. 

Defining Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

EDR is a cyber security solution that protects endpoints

Endpoint Detection and Response, or EDR, is a security solution that gives real-time visibility to endpoint activities within a modern IT infrastructure. 

EDRs are more powerful than the usual antivirus. It can wipe out various types of malware and other cyberattacks.

Endpoints are workstations, laptops, servers, or cloud systems. An EDR continuously monitors them to detect and respond to threats. 

EDR doesn’t just block individual threats after they appear. It gathers and analyzes suspicious activity and deals with them through automated containment measures to minimize their impact.

Through EDR’s data analysis, users can learn how these attacks occur, behave, and spread throughout a system to stop them better. 

This makes EDR effective in detecting Advanced Persistent Threats (APT), exploit chains, and ransomware (with a reported 623 million cases in 2021, statistics say). 

EDR is not one colossal security wall. It’s a set of tools designed to detect, investigate, and treat security breaches. The tools' assemblage determines the EDR’s capabilities.

💡 Did You Know?

Anton Chuvakin from Gartner, Inc. invented EDR in 2013. In his blog, he introduced the term "Endpoint Threat Detection and Response", referring to the tools designed to detect and investigate any suspicious activity or evidence of such on hosts or endpoints.

What are EDR Tools?

EDR tools vary per system. There’s no concrete rule on the number of mechanisms used in EDR security. 

Be that as it may, the most basic EDR system always has three major groups: data collection, threat detection, and analysis.

Data Collection

These are software that collect data ad infinitum. They constantly scour endpoints, gathering user and device information on processes, files, performance, and behaviors.

Threat Detection and Containment Engine

This part of the EDR system analyzes the data gathered from those endpoints, finds anomalies, and reports them. 

Additionally, if a black hat hacker happens to get through, the engine also launches automated containment procedures to neutralize threats.

Data Analysis Engine

The third component investigates anomalies in real time. They provide insights into the threat’s path and behavior to establish a baseline of regular activity. 

Like wheels in a cog, EDR tools have different roles. However, they work harmoniously to prevent attacks from damaging the infrastructure. Each one cannot function without the other.

How does EDR Work? 

EDRs help cybersecurity teams to automate their defenses, deploying quick responses to emergencies. The system’s learning mechanism also prevents attacks in the future.

EDR strengthens a network’s defenses by enacting 7 steps

Here’s how EDR works: 

  1. Monitors data. After installation, the EDR begins looking for threats, continuously gathering data, and inspecting every endpoint’s and user’s behavior. 
  2. Analyzes endpoint behavior. The security solution learns about the endpoints’ behavior, processes, and functions. It filters and checks the data it collects. As a result, it remembers what’s safe and unsafe, catching what’s out of the ordinary.
  3. Detects anomalies. Once it detects an unknown or suspicious activity at an endpoint, the EDR flags the threat, raises the alarm, and simultaneously initiates an investigation.
  4. Deploys automated remediation. EDRs are preconfigured to deal with suspicious activity. They launch quick containment operations to remediate the situation. 
  5. Isolates affected areas. The security solution also confines affected areas of the network to stop any cyberattack from spreading.
  6. Tracks the path of attack. The algorithms compile a path backward, identifying the attacker’s entry point or where the infrastructure has been breached.
  7. Packages the data for review. Finally, EDR packages all data on the attack into categories for engineers or analysts to review.

EDR vs. EPP

EDR is often interchanged with EPP (Endpoint Protection Platform) because they seem to do similar things. To understand an EPP’s nature, here’s a short video describing its functions.

Title of the video: What is an ENDPOINT PROTECTION PLATFORM?

Embed code:

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EPP has almost the capabilities as EDR. Both are robust security solutions focusing on endpoint cases. However, EPP acts more as a preventative measure compared to EDR.

Here’s a quick comparison between the two solutions:

Endpoint Protection Platform

Endpoint Detection and Response

First-line of defense

Second-line of defense; helps investigate and contain breaches that haven’t been dealt with by EPP

Efficient at identifying traditional and unknown threats

Analyzes endpoint and user behavior to pinpoint abnormal activity

Prevents threats passively

Actively monitors endpoints, seeks out threats, and deploys automated remediation to deal with them

Secures one endpoint at a time

Investigates and provide critical information on attacks spanning multiple endpoints

Doesn’t need active supervision

It has active threat detection but needs users to interpret the data it has analyzed

EDR and EPP work well together to complement one grand endpoint security system. EPP solution works best in conjunction with other detecting bodies to prevent attacks.

EPP is better suited to a network’s first line of defense. It responds well to common threats like ransomware, malware, and zero-day exploits. This is especially helpful considering that 29% of malware attacks target enterprises. Hence, whatever EPP misses, EDR can pick up.

EDR vs. XDR vs. MDR

EPP isn’t the only security solution confused with EDR. When discussing endpoint protection, security experts often mention MDR (Managed Detection and Response) and XDR (Extended Detection and Response). 

Aside from sounding the same, EDR, MDR, and XDR are all employed in in-depth cybersecurity management strategies in businesses and organizations. They have similar functions, but a few key differences set them apart.

EDR, MDR, and XDR differ in scope and special features

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

MDR has the same features as EDR in monitoring, investigating, removing, and preventing threats. However, it has wider coverage. Its broader scope includes multiple endpoints, clouds, networks, and other data sources.

MDR also comes with a dedicated security team that manages it 24/7. Its large coverage allows security teams to act on malicious activities in several domains. These cybersecurity professionals actively work with MDR to hunt threats, help categorize those identified threats, and guide responses and remediation. 

As a result, there’s no need for an organization’s staff to learn about an EDR and operate it themselves. 

Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

If MDR has a wide scope, XDR goes even further. The most extensive of the three solutions, XDR broadens EDR features to protect the entire infrastructure, not just the endpoints.  

XDR combines endpoints, cloud resources, and network monitoring. The security solution enhances visibility, providing a comprehensive view of the entire security landscape. This way, it can find the most obscure cyberattacks. 

It also improves the entire infrastructure’s data ingestion, investigations, and workflows. Additionally, it hastens the detection, remediation, and prevention of attacks, dramatically reducing the common risks encountered by plain EDRs.

XDR is also bundled with cybersecurity professionals who manage the system, which provides the same services as MDR.

EDR vs. AV

Antivirus Software (AV) is the most popular way of locating and neutralizing cyber threats, so much so that around 89% of desktop users have an antivirus suite.

This accessible cybersecurity system caters to everyday users. It scans a device through a signature-based detection program to identify and remove malicious applications or codes. It can also prevent cyber attacks before they damage the device. 

Unfortunately, antivirus is also the lowest form of endpoint protection. In contrast, cyberattacks are rapidly evolving into a more sophisticated menace. 

This traditional system that looks into patterns or signatures is no longer adequate for more advanced malware and cyberattacks. For example, there’s no way an antivirus could block the multiple zero-day attacks that happened to Microsoft in 2021.

In general, EDR and traditional antivirus have overlapping security capabilities. However, EDR constantly learns and analyzes behavior– destroying threats proactively and comprehensively. An antivirus solution doesn’t stand a chance against more dangerous cyberattacks. 

⌛️ In a Nutshell:

An Antivirus and EDR fundamentally differ despite their overlapping functions. An AV is traditional, accessible, and provides a reactive approach to defending your system. EDR tools are more advanced, far-reaching and offer a proactive solution in dealing with threats.

Importance of Endpoint Detection and Response

Reliable endpoint security is vital nowadays, especially if a company wants to boost its protection against data breaches. 

According to recent statistics, 65% of global IT professionals agree that the severity of data breach attacks has risen. With this and organizations transitioning from having a few workstations to connecting hundreds or thousands of endpoints, EDRs have become indispensable.

Aside from shielding against data breaches, EDR solutions provide more benefits to an organization than other threat eliminators. Here are some of them: 

  • Gives the infrastructure’s endpoints visibility. As EDR constantly collects and analyzes data to report threats, it gives users a complete view of all the endpoints and their current state.
  • Automates containment procedures to neutralize threats. EDRs have rapid response times to cyber threats because they can be automated or predefined ahead of time.
  • Has real-time data investigation. The flagged threats are also investigated for users to understand how they happened.
  • Learns how to hunt threats. Data gathered and analyzed enables the EDR to learn about the endpoints and their daily operations to identify what’s amiss.
  • Reduces the chances of false alerts. Since it learns behavior from endpoints and users, EDR remembers a suspicious activity flagged as non-malicious. This reduces false positives over time and prevents alert fatigue in the long run.
  • Supports EPP and identifies previously undetected threats. EDR works well as a bigger, second-tier security system to EPP. It can filter what EPP can’t identify. This gives your network an extra layer of protection.
  • Uses cloud-based unified management. Managing EDR is easy and centralized. All the endpoints have the same configuration process, and they’re all managed together.

👍 Helpful Articles:

Knowledge is crucial when it comes to online safety. The more you know, the safer you are. 

For that reason, go beyond learning about EDR tools, and expand your knowledge in cybersecurity with these helpful articles:

Wrap-Up

Cyberattacks have become more prevalent each year as they grow in sophistication and complexity. Businesses face this daily, as it only takes one successful attack to cost unfortunate enterprises millions.

With this grim reality, it’s no wonder that organizations have scrapped traditional antivirus software and opted for comprehensive EDR solutions to protect themselves. 

EDR is not only crucial to securing endpoints and data. Overall, it protects employees and the customers they serve. It helps keep the entire organization afloat by keeping its networks free from anything that harms it.

FAQs.


Does EDR prevent attacks?

An Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) prevents attacks by monitoring endpoints, collecting data, and detecting suspicious activity. It’s flagged, investigated, and eventually studied by the EDR solution to prevent further attacks of that exact nature.

What is the difference between EDR and DLP?

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a cybersecurity solution that detects attacks like unauthorized access and malicious applications or codes. Meanwhile, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a system that protects stored data from unauthorized access or usage.

How is EDR different from antivirus?

Antivirus Software (AV) uses a traditional signature-based system to detect malicious activity. On the other hand, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) employs a more comprehensive and advanced system to track down cyber-attacks and prevent them from happening again.

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