Endpoint detection & response (EDR) is a cybersecurity solution consisting of multiple tools (including AI) that monitor for potential security threats and address them head on. This technology works by constantly collecting information from endpoint devices connected to an organization’s network such as desktops, servers, laptops, or tablets. By “information,” we are mostly referring to contextual activity happening between the endpoint and network like logins, session types, IP address location, accessibility data, etc.
Upon collecting and analyzing the data, the system looks for any irregularities in the events taking place like a strange session type or a login from a random IP address. If it finds anything, it will automatically initiate response functions that contain the incident to that endpoint, investigate the event further, notify the right personnel, and depending on the EDR product(s), possibly even provide insights on how to remediate the incident.
As we’ve previously written about the NIST Security Framework along with the major components found within it, it’s always good for educational purposes to tie the solution back to the original content. That being said, EDR is able to fulfill two of the main functions of NIST we’ve recently written about. There’s the Detect function because the solution provides 24/7 system threat monitoring on endpoints, and the Respond function because the tools in their entirety trigger an automated response to those threats.
Emphasis on a Reliable EDR Solution
Because of the scope of which EDR works, it is primarily used to protect against any attack that would start with unauthorized system access by an external threat actor (cyber criminal), as well as unauthorized access or misuse of a system by an internal threat actor (an employee). The “system” could include a corporate network, individual device, database, or software application.
A robust EDR solution will give your organization full visibility of endpoints, high-level threat intelligence, and a quick response to stop threats from incubating into full-scale attacks like ransomware or malware deployment.
On the surface, implementing EDR software is great purely for the multi-facet security it offers being both a “detect” and “respond” tool. However, if you evaluate this solution on a deeper level, you’ll find that it is able to check off a few administrative and compliance boxes as well, furthering the overall benefit of including it in your cybersecurity program. Below are some reasons to invest in EDR software:
- Protects organizations with threat detections: The 24/7 monitoring and data analysis allows you to spot obscure events that could be malicious threats to your organization’s cybersecurity, allowing the “response” to initiate.
- Efficiently manages potential incidents with automated response: The automated response allows you to contain incidents where they are, prevent lateral network movement, and remediate the incident so no financial or reputational harm comes to your organization.
- Relatively growing underwriting requirement for cyber insurance: As insurance carriers are paying out more cyber & data breach claims than ever before, having proper security controls in place (including EDR) is increasingly becoming a strict requirement by underwriters to issue policies. More information on this can be found in our in-depth analysis of cyber insurance trends and its relationship to EDR solutions.
- An indirect requirement to operate your business: Procurement of cyber insurance is an essential piece of an organization’s cybersecurity program and common regulatory requirement in specific industries. Therefore, you can make the indirect conclusion that because underwriters are denying coverage for not having EDR in place, a business would have to seize operations for not fulfilling the insurance requirement.
- The likely future in direct compliance requirements: Compliance requirements are constantly evolving as new threats are discovered and marketplace solutions are being presented. That being said, EDR is relatively a new concept (coined in 2013) that is expected to be included in many regulatory information-security requirements moving forward.
How is EDR different from MDR?
EDR technology tends to replicate a few common traits of the better-known managed detection and response (MDR) solution. Both are meant to provide organizations with 24/7 threat detection, incident response, and system visibility through data collection and analytics. Both also will use machine learning as a way to find patterns and anomalies in the events taking place and support business security posture with threat hunting tools.
The primary difference is the scope to which each solution runs. EDR is a set of technology and tools you acquire through a subscription or by purchasing a license. Like any software, this means you’ll need to install and manage the system internally. EDR also focuses exclusively on protection of endpoints or devices.
MDR, on the other hand, is a managed-service that you would enroll in where a third-party service provider would handle both endpoint AND network security. Coincidentally, the service provider would likely use EDR technology or similar tools to properly deliver their services but it would operate outside of their client’s network.
Relationship with Zero Trust Architecture
Since Zero Trust Security looks to be the present and future of how organizations will construct their cybersecurity blueprints, it should be emphasized that EDR is a great way to ease into this framework. For example, one of the key elements in Zero Trust is continuous monitoring and access control. EDR does just that through the 24/7 data collection on endpoints accessing a corporate network.
There’s also the concept of micro-segmentation in Zero Trust where you divide your network system into different segments to 1.) secure the entire network by requiring separate security controls at each access point, and 2.) isolate an incident to one or few network endpoints if a breach was to occur. Obviously, because one of the first response actions taken by EDR is automatically containing an incident at an endpoint, it fulfills this Zero Trust requirement perfectly.
Time to Add EDR to Your Program
Now that you’ve learned what EDR is, how it works, what it protects against, and why it’s important to have, you are ready to include this solution in your cybersecurity program. Ascension Global Technology can help you navigate the vast EDR marketplace to find a set of tools right for your organization. Schedule a consultation with one of AGT’s experts today to get started and find more ways to enhance your firm’s security posture.
Written by Cybersecurity collaborator: Jack Pittas