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Demystifying Endpoint Detection And Response (EDR) Technology


Did you know? The term Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) was coined around 2013 to describe a new approach to endpoint security. EDR was developed to address the limitations of traditional antivirus solutions by providing enhanced visibility into the activity happening on endpoints in order to catch malware that is successfully able to bypass anti-virus scanners.  In other words, EDR goes further than traditional anti-virus to detect the more ubiquitous behavior patterns of how malware interacts with the underlying operating system.

In today's blog, we outline the importance of understanding endpoint detection and response... as well as answer some of our most frequently-asked questions on the subject.

Understanding Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Overall, EDR solutions provide a more proactive approach to protecting devices by integrating directly with the host operating system to monitor processes and memory and contextualize activity to identify potentially malicious behavior. This equates to more advanced threat detection and automated response rather than only scanning files malware as they ingress an endpoint or executed.

This proactive low-level approach helps organizations enhance their security posture and effectively combat modern cyber threats.

Here are some ways that EDR integrates with the underlying OS to proactively detect threats:

  • Kernel-level integration can intercept and analyze system calls, allowing visibility into the operating system's activities

  • File system monitoring detects and analyzes file-related activities, such as file creation, modification, and execution, enabling the identification of suspicious or malicious files

  • Monitoring an endpoint's network connections and examining packet headers and payloads to detect malicious communication

  • Integrating with the system logs to capture and analyze security events for real-time threat hunting

  • Inspection of memory contents and activity to identify suspicious or malicious processes, and identify advanced attack techniques such as code injection, process hollowing, and other advanced memory-based attacks

  • Using machine learning algorithms for behavioral analysis, enabling the detection of suspicious behavior that may indicate an active attack

  • Integrating with endpoint firewalls to detect and prevent unauthorized or suspicious network connections

  • System-wide monitoring for OS configuration changes such as new registry keys or scheduled tasks, or auto-run entries that may indicate malicious activities or persistence mechanisms

  • Integrating with other security products on an endpoint for cohesive threat detection that includes signature-based detection mechanisms

  • Leveraging sandboxing or virtualization to isolate potentially malicious files, executing them in a controlled environment

How EDR Differs From Other IT Security Technologies

It's worthwhile to compare how EDR compares to other IT security technologies, to understand how EDR both complements standing technologies and extends the defensive capabilities of traditional cybersecurity technologies.

EDR vs. Traditional Antivirus Scanners

Firstly, traditional antivirus scanners rely on signatures to detect malicious files, making them ineffective at detecting new and evolving threats. As such, anti-virus is reactive and visibility is limited to file scanning for already. 

On the other hand, EDR proactively hunts for unknown or advanced threats by their behavior signature or their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP).

EDR vs. SIEM Technologies 

EDR and SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) technologies have distinct capabilities. EDR is centered around endpoint-specific threat detection and response, while SIEM solutions deliver and monitor an entire network of IT infrastructure by collecting and analyzing security events and logs from multiple sources, including endpoints and network appliances.

EDR solutions focus on threat detection and response, while SIEM technologies provide centralized log management, event correlation, and compliance reporting. It's worth mentioning that EDR's close relative - XDR (Extended Detect and Response) - does correlate events across an entire network infrastructure with proactive detection and response capabilities.

EDR vs. Network Intrusion and Detection Systems

EDR focuses on monitoring and detecting threats at the endpoint level, providing visibility into endpoint activities, while NIDS/NIDS solutions monitor network traffic to identify potential threats and attacks by analyzing network packets and traffic patterns.

EDR is highly effective for layered defenses since it can identify threats that bypass network defenses, such as insider threats or lateral movement within the network. However, EDR may be considered a form of host-based intrusion detection (HIDS/HIPS) technology.

EDR vs. SOAR Technologies 

SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) technologies, provide automation and orchestration capabilities across the entire security infrastructure, while EDR is focused on endpoint security.

SOAR technologies, therefore, have a broader scope that includes network, cloud, and application security. EDR often integrates with SOAR platforms to supply endpoint data and alerts for centralized incident management and automation.

The Different Types of EDR Solutions in 2023

There are several variations and extensions of EDR that have emerged over time, including:

  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR): XDR expands the scope of EDR beyond securing individual endpoints to integrate and correlate data from multiple sources (including network appliances such as firewalls, routers, etc., cloud assets, and clusters of endpoints) to provide unified security of an entire IT landscape. This holistic approach enables cohesive real-time threat detection, investigation, and response by analyzing cross-environment patterns and indicators of compromise

  • Managed Detection and Response (MDR): MDR is a managed security service that combines technology, threat intelligence, and specialized IT security expertise to deliver 24/7 protection to an organization's IT infrastructure. MDR providers leverage either EDR or XDR technologies and they often have security operations centers (SOCs) staffed with various tiers of security analysts who actively monitor and respond to security incidents. MDR services are very effective for overcoming resource constraints by outsourcing to highly experienced providers

In the ever-changing world of cybersecurity, knowledge is power:


EDR and its derivatives are next-generation IT security products and services for continuous proactive cybersecurity.  EDR technology is distinct because it integrates closely with an endpoint's operating system to gain deeper insight into low-level system behavior such as processes, and memory activity, and marks a significantly different approach than other defensive IT technologies.

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