What Is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Software?

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Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is a next-generation cybersecurity tool that monitors all the endpoints of an organization for malicious activities and protects it from security breaches. These tools use AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms to continuously track endpoints for suspicious behavior, analyze them, and respond to threats in real-time.

Nowadays, hackers are becoming increasingly skilled at circumventing detection based on signatures. Fortunately, EDR solutions are available to handle these types of threats. EDR tools not only perform automated threat hunting and quickly remediate these attacks, but also conduct forensic analyses to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.

How does endpoint detection and response software work?

EDR tools work through a process of information gathering, threat detection, remediation, and investigation.

1. Gathering information

An EDR tool continuously monitors endpoint devices for suspicious activity. It tracks everything from user logins and network activities to file info and more. Security teams often rely on a combination of software agents and agentless solutions to collect this information and log it.

2. Threat detection

Utilizing advanced ML capabilities and behavioral analysis, the EDR software scrutinizes incoming files for malicious content, drawing on historical data to do so. If it finds a suspicious file, it takes measures to contain it.

3. Remediation

When the EDR detects an incoming threat, it flags any suspicious behavior and takes immediate action to combat it. This involves implementing predetermined rules to automatically block malicious activity or temporarily isolate the endpoint to prevent it from contaminating the entire network. Additionally, alerts are immediately sent to the security operations center (SOC) teams to alert them about the situation.

4. Investigation

The information is sent to a centralized cloud database for further investigation. The investigation process involves a comprehensive review of log data and other network information to pinpoint the root cause of the issue and to prevent potential security lapses.

Key EDR software features and capabilities

Though their specific offerings may vary, any decent EDR solution should have ML-enabled detection features, threat intelligence feeds, incident triage, and forensic investigation abilities.

ML-enabled detection features

Advanced EDR tools are equipped with ML detection features that automatically analyze endpoints for suspicious activities. When combined with threat intelligence, it becomes a formidable tool and helps SOC teams investigate in detail the threat vector, its targets, and compromised systems, if any.

Threat intelligence feeds

Threat intelligence feeds provide additional info about suspicious events or activities. This helps teams to perform forensic analysis and take corrective action.

Incident triage

An EDR tool automates the investigation of endpoints and triages security incidents for in-depth review. The system identifies and prioritizes the most critical anomalies and alerts, ensuring that security teams address the most dangerous threats first. This approach saves valuable time and safeguards organizations from severe damage.

Forensic investigation

EDR tools provide comprehensive forensic investigation capabilities to IT teams, allowing them to conduct thorough analyses of security lapses and identify the root cause. This makes EDR tools a vital resource for any security team seeking to enhance their incident response capabilities.

Benefits of EDR

EDR has a lot to offer organizations, including increased visibility, cost savings, remote work security, and rapid response to potential security incidents.

Increased network visibility

Companies can gain comprehensive visibility into their networks through EDR solutions. These solutions continuously monitor endpoints and networks and report them to a centralized location. It allows security teams to conduct a detailed forensic investigation into the events leading up to an incident and also perform a root cause analysis to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Cost savings

The average cost of a data breach can cost companies in millions. Since EDR tools provide continuous monitoring of endpoints, they can quickly detect and counter attacks by cybercriminals. By detecting and addressing potential threats early on, your security team can prevent them from escalating into a full-blown attack, saving your company money — and headaches — in the long run.

Remote work security

With cybercriminals increasingly targeting endpoints, IT security teams face a significant challenge when protecting the endpoints of their remote and hybrid work teams. With EDR services, organizations can confidently adopt modern work practices while keeping their networks secure.

EDR automatically monitors the endpoints, reducing the burden on IT teams, all the while enabling organizations to give employees the work flexibility they need without compromising the entire network.

Prevention first approach

Securing networks is critical to protecting the organization from cyberattacks. But the ease with which hackers can bypass traditional antivirus tools, which only recognize signature-based malware, means that networks are vulnerable to infection with malicious code. One advantage of EDR tools is that they can detect threats that are not even signature-based, making them a valuable addition to any security strategy.

Quick incident response

When endpoint devices are managed and configured manually, investigating attacks takes longer. Since EDR solutions automate the threat discovery process, the response time gets accelerated, enabling an organization to respond quickly to threats and mitigate their impact.

Limitations of EDR

While EDR tools can effectively detect threats, there are certain limitations when it comes to using this technology, including the risk of alert fatigue, the need for more IT resources, and the focus on endpoints.

Alert fatigue

An EDR solution is designed to proactively investigate suspicious activity and alert security teams if necessary. While an EDR provides valuable visibility, it also has the drawback of covering too many endpoints.

The negative impact of this is that security analysts are now faced with the task of triaging, investigating, and responding to all threats as a result of the data that has been collected, leading to the potential for alert fatigue among teams.

Resource requirements

Building upon the previous point, it is important to understand that managing a high volume of alerts demands substantial IT resources, such as time, funds, and bandwidth. This would incur additional costs for the organization.

Focuses only on endpoint telemetry

Critics of EDR point out that EDR focuses only on endpoint telemetry, leaving out the rest of the network. But security incidents do not occur only on the endpoints. Thus, while EDR tools offer valuable insights into endpoint activity, relying solely on them may not provide a comprehensive solution to the problem.

Companies should be aware that, while EDR is very effective at what it does, it’s only one part of a comprehensive network security stack.

3 top endpoint detection and response solutions

Depending on your needs, there are many good EDR solutions to choose from in the market today. Here are a few top choices to consider.

Microsoft icon.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Microsoft Defender is an endpoint solution that can help organizations promptly identify and fix malware attacks from a centralized console. Defender for Endpoint is a user-friendly and intuitive tool ideal for beginners. It is compatible with Windows Server, Windows 10, Linux, iOS, and a host of other operating systems.

Two plans are available, with Plan 1 having limited features and Plan 2 containing the full version. Both are available with Microsoft 365 at different tiers. A free trial is also available.

VMware icon

VMware Carbon Black EDR

VMware Carbon Black Endpoint is a powerful tool for threat hunting and incident response, designed specifically for SOC teams. It gathers detailed data on endpoints, giving security experts real-time information on endpoint activities. This information is stored in VMware Black Cloud, allowing teams to see the entire chain of events, pinpoint the root cause, and leverage aggregated threat intelligence feeds to respond quickly to security incidents.

SentinelOne icon.

SentinelOne Singularity

SentinelOne Singularity is an AI-powered EDR cybersecurity solution that uses next-gen advanced technology to protectively hunt for threats and protect endpoint devices. With the aid of a robust ML model, Singularity helps enterprises detect intrusions in real time and take immediate action against threats. Its automated EDR not only mitigates threats but also expertly isolates networks while providing endpoint auto-immunization for maximum protection.

Bottom line: EDR protects the most vulnerable points of entry

Endpoints are considered one of the most vulnerable points of entry into organizations. And with conventional endpoint solutions proving to be less effective against threat actors, investing in a solution that can defend your organization against sophisticated cyberattacks is essential.

With features like real-time endpoint monitoring, recognizing suspicious activity, automatic quarantine, and in-depth forensic analysis, EDR tools ensure that malware stays out of the network, preserving the organization’s security.

Here’s a review and analysis of the best EDR solutions to help you choose the one that’s right for your organization’s needs and budget.

Susnigdha Tripathy
Susnigdha Tripathy
Susnigdha Tripathy is a full-time writer and editor based in Singapore, and a regular contributor to Enterprise Networking Planet. She has over 10 years of experience writing, editing, and delivering exceptional content for a variety of international technology brands such as Virtasant, a cloud technology company, and Krista Software, a provider of intelligent automation solutions. She has also appeared in ServerWatch and other industry publications.

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