What is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?
In This Article
What is EDR?
Dating back to 2013, endpoint detection and response (EDR), or at the time endpoint threat detection and response (ETDR), was coined by Gartner's Anton Chuvakin as a way to describe tools that were primarily focused on detecting and investigating suspicious activities.
Today, EDR can be thought of as a security solution that is designed to continuously monitor endpoint devices to detect, investigate and respond to malicious activity, which can include malware, ransomware and other cyber threats.
As the number and severity of cyber threats continue to rise and cyber attackers use more sophisticated attack methods, EDR has become an increasingly critical component of endpoint security. This stems from its ability to provide detailed forensic information about an attack through its continuous real-time monitoring of all endpoint devices, and its unified and centralized way to detect, investigate and respond to threats.
How does EDR work?
At its core, an EDR security solution works by collecting and analyzing events taking place on an endpoint, including laptops, desktop PCs, mobile devices, servers and even IoT devices, and providing security analysts with the necessary information to uncover incidents that would otherwise go unnoticed.
The first step in this process is installing a software agent on each endpoint that will collect telemetry data on suspicious activity seen on the device. This data is then sent to a centralized database where the solution can enrich the data and perform behavioral analysis to connect events. After the EDR solution has determined that it has detected malicious activity, it will generate alerts for security analysts to review all the information and take the necessary steps for remediation. At the same time, the EDR solution may also perform automated responses based on predetermined triggers. The final step in the cycle is retaining the data to enable future investigations.
Key Features of EDR
While some features can vary between vendors, EDR tools should include the following key components:
- Lightweight agent: Software agents should be lightweight applications that run on the device and enable the collection of data, detection of malicious behavior and response actions to occur. The agent should collect relevant telemetry data such as running processes, connections, open files and other events.
- Automated response: An EDR solution should be able to take in the data from the endpoints and recognize when a known security breach has occurred, then trigger an automatic response such as sending alerts directly to security admins or disconnecting the endpoint from the network.
- Forensic investigation: The EDR tool should capture lots of relevant security information that can help security teams understand how attacks were successful and how their security approach should be changed to ensure that these threats are detected and blocked in the future.
- Real-time and historic visibility: Through the software agent, the EDR tool should be able to collect continuous real-time data and visibility into the endpoints on the network while also providing security analysts with historical data on previously encountered attacks.
- Accelerated investigations and remediation: By providing a complete picture of incidents relating to an alert, the EDR tool is able to reduce response times and simplify investigations by revealing important information such as the root cause or sequence of events. Some tools also score events so that security analysts are able to focus on the events that matter most, further accelerating response times to the most harmful attacks.
Why is EDR Important?
At this point you may be wondering why EDR is important and what makes it different from traditional endpoint security tools like antivirus or next-generation antivirus, which are software programs installed on endpoints to identify and prevent novel or known strains of malware, as well as endpoint protection platforms (EPP), which use anti-virus, data encryption and intrusion prevention technology to serve as a front line of defense to prevent attacks. The main difference between these tools and EDR is that EDR focuses on detection and response while antivirus and EPP focus on prevention.
As mentioned earlier, the number and severity of cyber threats continue to rise with attacks becoming more and more sophisticated. This means that prevention tools cannot prevent 100 percent of the attacks that organizations face. When prevention tools fail, attackers can linger on an organization's network for days or even weeks without detection. Since EDR tools continuously monitor activity on endpoints, they can analyze activity over time and leverage machine learning to detect when these silent failures have occurred and alert security analysts to the breach.
On top of being able to detect breaches, EDR tools also give the visibility required to understand what happened and how it happened. This allows the problem to be fixed in a timely matter so the proper steps can be taken to prevent a similar attackin the future. This is crucial since many times attackers will either create a backdoor to gain access back to the network or use a similar attacks to return within a matter of days.
The shift to XDR
Now that you have an understanding of EDR, it may be important for you to understand what's next. In 2018, a new and more evolved version of EDR was introduced that extended beyond just the endpoint. This became known as extended detection and response (XDR). According to Gartner, XDR is "a SaaS-based, vendor-specific, security threat detection and incident response tool that natively integrates multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system that unifies all licensed components."
Think of it like this: XDR solutions seek to deliver detection and response across all data sources including endpoints, network, cloud and third-party data by combining the capabilities associated with tools such as EDR, NDR, UEBA and SIEM. This combination of capabilities enables organizations to simplify and strengthen their security processes by having a single pane of glass for visibility and management across the enterprise. This also allows organizations to have consistent security policies and collect data across the enterprise allowing the XDR solution to detect sophisticated and distributed attacks, further strengthening an organization's security posture.
XDR extends protection across the entire infrastructure by connecting the dots between siloed security solutions to enable detection and response across networks, cloud workloads, servers, email and more.
How WWT can Help
As attackers become more and more sophisticated and the number of cyber threats continues to grow, organizations need to protect their endpoints to the best of their abilities. WWT can help you understand the latest security solutions and leverage resources and expertise to help you prepare for security threats your organization may face in the future.
By leveraging our Advanced Technology Center, WWT is able to offer you a way to evaluate EDR and XDR solutions through a hands-on, practical approach. This includes product demos, real-world solution comparisons and on-demand labs. On top of this, you can learn how WWT can help your organization strengthen defenses against endpoint attacks by taking our endpoint security workshop.