Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a critical component of modern cybersecurity strategies. As cyber threats become more sophisticated and complex, organisations need advanced tools to monitor and respond to security incidents in real time. In this article, we’ll explore what EDR systems are, how they differ from regular anti-malware software and the pros and cons of using EDR.
What is Endpoint Detection and Response?
Endpoint Detection and Response is a cybersecurity technology designed to detect and respond to advanced threats and attacks. The use of advanced technologies allows it to detect threats that have bypassed traditional anti-malware solutions. EDR systems monitor endpoints such as laptops, desktops, servers, and IoT devices for suspicious activities and behaviours that may indicate a security breach.
EDR systems use advanced threat intelligence, behaviour analysis, and machine learning algorithms to detect potential threats and respond to them in real time. They provide detailed information on the attack vectors, timelines, and root causes of security incidents. This allows security teams to respond quickly and effectively to mitigate the impact of an attack. Moreover, extended analysis capabilities provide the teams with information useful for improving the security within the perimeter.
When it comes to incident response, EDR shows another edge of its supremacy. Aside from the ability to detect novice threats, it also orchestrates a response for all protected areas. This gives no less efficiency boost than the use of heuristics. Simultaneous symmetric or asymmetric response to a threat nails down the probability of successful malware unfolding. Even if something managed to get away from the EDR’s attention, it will most likely have troubles trying to keep going.
How are EDR systems different from regular anti-malware software?
While regular anti-malware software focuses on identifying and blocking known threats, EDR systems are designed to detect and respond to previously unknown threats and attacks. EDR systems provide a higher level of visibility and control over endpoint activities. This, together with analytic information allows security teams to identify and respond to attacks that may have gone undetected by traditional antivirus solutions. Other from different principles of functioning, EDR differs from legacy AVs with a line of architecture features.
|Category\Solution||Legacy AV||EDR system|
|OS||Most commonly – Windows, rarely macOS.||Client – mostly for any OS. Controlling unit – Linux or cloud-based.|
|Components||Only the exact program, sometimes with a small add-on that brings additional functionality||Client part, installed on the systems, and a server part, installed on a dedicated server. The latter may be substituted with cloud services.|
|Key detection mechanism||Database-backed detection.||Heuristic system.|
|Controls||User interface; each computer has its own, separated program instance.||Interface is present only to the server part, some actions may be done through a console command.|
|Controlled area||Only the system the program instance is running in.||All systems running the client part and connected to that server.|
Pros and Cons of using EDR systems
Like any cybersecurity technology, EDR systems have their pros and cons. Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages of using EDR systems.
- Advanced threat detection. EDR systems use advanced threat intelligence and behavioural analysis to detect and respond to advanced threats and attacks that may have bypassed traditional antivirus solutions.
- Real-time response. EDR systems provide real-time alerts and notifications, enabling security teams to respond quickly and effectively to mitigate the impact of an attack.
- Forensic data. The system generally provides detailed forensic data. This information is useful for be security incident investigation and identification of the root cause of an attack.
- Improved visibility. EDR systems provide a higher level of visibility and control over endpoint activities, enabling security teams to identify and respond to attacks that may have gone undetected by traditional antivirus solutions.
- Cost. EDR systems can be expensive, especially for smaller organisations with limited budgets. Options that offer cloud computing services generally cost even more.
- Complexity. EDR systems can be complex to deploy and manage, requiring specialised skills and expertise.
- False positives. As we mentioned, EDR systems rely upon heuristic detection systems. They are prone to generate false positives, as behaviour patterns should be updated quite often. These detections require security teams to spend time investigating “threats” that are actually benign.
- Privacy concerns. EDR systems may collect sensitive information about endpoints and user activities to conduct the checkups. It raises privacy concerns among employees and customers.
EDR systems and zero-trust
Zero-trust cybersecurity policy is an approach to cybersecurity that assumes that all endpoints, users, and network traffic are potentially malicious and should be treated as such. This approach emphasises the need for strong authentication, access controls, and continuous monitoring to detect and respond to security incidents in real time. Using a zero-trust policy is probably the most efficient way to counter zero-day vulnerability exploitation. Despite having certain disadvantages, it has become a more and more popular option among corporate-grade security solutions.
Endpoint detection and response systems were the first systems where the zero-trust policy saw massive usage. It was needed to make the former more efficient and hard to evade than common antiviruses, guided by the trusted software lists. Other detection and response systems, aimed at protecting larger networks or specific parts of the one applied zero-trust as their default mode.
Is EDR worth using?
EDR systems offer a lot of advantages, but their negatives are making it less than convenient for certain categories of users. First of all, EDR is a no-go option for home users. Even if you have several devices under a single network, it may be too much. It is not cheap and requires a lot of computational power, and cloud-based solutions are even more expensive. Moreover, home users are less likely to be attacked with a sophisticated malware sample. Classic anti-malware software, like Loaris Trojan Remover, will surely be enough to retain the security of the system(s).
Small businesses, however, will likely have enough financial resources to afford to have this system. And for a much bigger scale of network compared to one at home EDR is much more suitable. Meanwhile, legacy AVs start underperforming in such conditions, having fewer capabilities for controlling extensive networks.
Large organisations, that have non-homogeneous networks and often use WAN setups, should opt for EDR systems as well. Obviously, the diversity of devices requires a more complex approach for their scanning and forming a response. Some EDR vendors offer the ability to adjust the protection system for a larger number of devices, but it may be more optimal to use XDR. The latter is a step-up system that provides complex protection to all possible network units.