EDR – More Than An Acronym

Cyber threat actors continue to focus much of their sights and tactics on compromising endpoint devices like workstations, laptops and mobile devices. In line with increased attacks against and compromises of endpoint devices, solutions like EDR have emerged as part of a growing endpoint security discipline. This article goes beyond the acronym, distills EDR into its simplest terms and describes how it differs from other endpoint tools like antivirus software. 

EDR in Simple Terms 

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is a security solution designed specifically for protecting the endpoints on your network. You can think of it as a hybrid digital security guard and a detective who watches over endpoint devices for signs of suspicious activity and investigates those signs. The word “signs” is crucial here because many threats targeted against endpoints are more complex than simply leaving obvious footprints or evidence of intrusion. The ability to watch over these devices is vital, seeing as 70% of cybersecurity breaches originate on endpoint devices.  

Here’s a breakdown of the main capabilities and security functions to expect from a well-rounded EDR solution: 

  • EDR continuously monitors activities on endpoint devices and collects data about them. This includes which programs are running, file activities (like creation, modification and deletion), and communications over the network. It’s like keeping a detailed diary of everything that happens on each device. 
  • EDR has strong detection powers for both conventional malware like viruses and ransomware as well as other suspicious activities that might indicate a security threat. It uses various methods to spot these threats, such as looking for known bad behaviors (like a program trying to encrypt all your files suddenly) or anomalies that deviate from normal activities on the device. 
  • EDR also can take automated action as a response to detected threats. These actions might involve automatically stopping a malicious program from running, isolating the affected endpoint from the network to prevent the spread of the threat, or alerting IT professionals for further investigation and response. 
  • EDR tools provide detailed information about security incidents. This helps cybersecurity pros understand how an endpoint intrusion occurred, what the impact is and how to prevent similar incidents. It’s like having a forensic detective on hand to help investigate each incident thoroughly. 
  • Some EDR solutions also come with advanced features like threat hunting capabilities to proactively search for hidden threats. 

EDR vs. Antivirus 

Smaller businesses, in particular, might wonder whether they are protected against endpoint compromise if they buy the premium version of some commercial antivirus tool. To understand why that might not be enough, here’s a brief contrast between EDR and antivirus.  

Antivirus tools prevent, detect and remove malware (like viruses, worms and trojans), usually based on known signatures or patterns. These tools act like a gatekeeper that stops known threats at the door. EDR offers a broader scope, not just limited to conventional malware. EDR systems, with their behavior-based analysis, can identify suspicious activities or anomalies associated with fileless malware, malware that morphs its code (polymorphic), supply chain attacks and advanced threat groups.  

The response capabilities in both solutions also differ significantly. Antivirus is limited to alerting the user and removing or quarantining the identified malware. EDR comes with a far more dynamic response. Not only can it isolate endpoints, but EDR tools also gather detailed information about the threat and provide tools for investigating the incident. In some cases, EDR responds automatically to contain and neutralize threats in real time. 

While antivirus software is useful for basic protection against known malware, EDR provides a more comprehensive and sophisticated approach to endpoint security. EDR can detect a more comprehensive array of threats, offers more advanced response capabilities, and provides detailed data for analysis and forensics. Think of antivirus as a first line of defense, primarily reactive and automated, while EDR is more like a continuous monitoring and investigation tool. 

How EDR Complements MDR 

Managed detection and response (MDR) is a related yet distinct type of cybersecurity solution that can work synergistically with EDR tools. MDR, on the other hand, offers a broader service that includes experts managing and monitoring the entire security environment (cloud and network), not just endpoints. This means MDR can cover areas that EDR might miss.  

On the personnel and expertise note, EDR solutions, while powerful, typically require a skilled team to manage and interpret the data they produce. MDR can fill this gap, especially for smaller businesses, by providing the necessary expertise to handle alerts generated by EDR systems. 

For growing businesses, scalability is key. EDR solutions can be scaled as the number of endpoints increases. MDR services can adapt to changing business environments and evolving threat landscapes, providing flexibility regarding the level of service and expertise required. Both can scale together.  

When used together, EDR and MDR can offer a cost-effective solution addressing a pivotal part of strong cybersecurity: detecting and responding to incidents. EDR provides the tools necessary for in-depth endpoint security, while MDR brings in the expertise and additional resources. 

EDR is more than another addition to the acronym soup defining cybersecurity solutions. EDR goes beyond traditional endpoint defenses to offer dynamic, behavior-based analysis of endpoint threats.

Nuspire’s EDR meets you where you are to improve endpoint security outcomes. We’ll give your business best-in-breed EDR services that include monitoring, management and automation of existing EDR or help with selecting the optimal future EDR tool for your business.  

Learn more here.  

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