Your organizational network consists of a large number of endpoints. But do you know what’s happening with each device? Controlling end-user behavior is impossible. But, with EDR, you can keep track of endpoint behavior.
Operating in the era of ever-expanding attack surfaces, endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions are necessary for organizational cybersecurity. Organizations keep accumulating endpoints and end-users as they grow, and EDR solutions are integral to growth.
If you have any questions related to EDR solutions and their optimal functioning, you’ll find the answer with us. This blog covers each aspect of endpoint detection and response, starting from its meaning and moving on to discuss tips to get the highest returns on investment on your EDR tool.
Table of Contents
What is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a new-age cybersecurity solution focusing on endpoint protection. It provides a proactive approach to cybersecurity by actively hunting for threats within your network perimeter. Endpoint devices are physical ends to a network. Devices like laptops, mobile phones, servers, or IoT devices are the easiest entryways into any network. Therefore, they are also the most targeted by external attackers.
The term “endpoint detection and response” was first used by Anton Chuvakin at Gartner. According to Anton, EDR tools primarily focus on investigations and detection. Blocking and isolating threats are critical but secondary functions of EDR tools. Another signifier of emerging security tools is a high degree of automation that enables SOC teams to rapidly identify and respond to threats.
The biggest selling point for EDR solutions lies in one area – visibility. A correctly configured EDR solution will provide deep visibility into endpoint activity across your network. It’s essential to detect and stop cyberattacks before they cause irreparable damage.
Let’s look deeper into how EDR tools work.
How Does EDR Work?
Successful EDR implementation provides comprehensive protection from cyber threats. EDR security works in multiple layers.
1. Monitoring & Detection
The first step in the EDR security process is threat detection, which is enabled by continuous monitoring and data collection. A software agent is installed in endpoint devices for this purpose.
The agent monitors the endpoint devices round-the-clock and collects telemetry data. It sends the data from multiple devices to a central database, where machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence capabilities collate the data and analyze it within a broader context. The EDR tool establishes a baseline behavior, and any sudden changes or deviations from it are considered anomalies. The deviations get flagged for further analysis and investigations.
Signs of irregular behavior can be suspicious downloads, disabled firewalls, or repeated login attempts from remote locations. EDR contextualizes the signs of suspicious behavior with the chain of events surrounding the red flag and maps the executed processes, easing further investigations.
After the suspicious activity has been flagged, EDR platforms alert IT teams and send detailed reports on the algorithmic findings. That is when IT teams start the triage process. The most critical step in this process is eliminating false positives. Another important step is classifying threats. Threats classified as known malicious activities are immediately sent to the remediation stage. Threats classified as “unknown” are placed for further investigations.
Suggested Reading: Crowdstrike vs Sentinelone: Which One To Choose?
The triage phase is usually the most challenging and overwhelming for IT teams because they are bogged down by a vast volume of alerts that need urgent deep investigations. To prevent overburdening, IT teams must constantly fine-tune the EDR solution and review its performance.
Reducing the rate of false alerts and having a clear triage framework eases the process of threat detection and response for IT teams and enhances the EDR solution’s performance.
3. Threat Investigation
The suspicious activities previously classified as “unknown” move on to the investigation phase. The main focus is determining if the anomalies are benign or indicators of malicious activity.
IT teams investigate each threat using the full-context and mapped chain of events that EDR tools provide. Speed is critical during this phase, and EDR’s AI-based investigation assistance eases much of the load for IT teams.
Today’s advanced cyberattacks move laterally from one endpoint to another, rapidly infecting large parts of the network in a short time. EDR tools accelerate threat investigation and prevent large-scale network damage.
4. Remediation & Response
Automatic threat response and remediation is a central function of EDR tools. Threat response includes stopping any running processes on the infected endpoints, isolating the infected endpoints from the network, and sandboxing suspected files and programs while detailed investigations take place. Certain EDR tools can be configured to automatically save critical files while blocking infection.
Benefits of EDR for Businesses
EDR solutions present multiple benefits to businesses, which is fueling their high demand in the current cybersecurity market. If you are unclear on how your business can benefit from an EDR tool, we have listed several advantages of EDR below.
1. Identify undetected attacks
Do you know that, on average, a business takes over six months to detect and eliminate an attack? Modern cyberattacks like advanced persistent threats (ATPs) are designed to infiltrate your network with stealth and remain undetected for as long as possible.
EDR solutions find these elusive threats through continuous monitoring and behavior-based detection techniques. With a proactive approach to threat detection, EDR tools look for Indicators of Compromise (IOCs).
2. Understand how an attack took place
Knowing the complete story of how an attacker entered the network environment and what the malicious agent did in the moments before being detected provides valuable insights for security experts and threat responders.
EDR tools provide “threat cases” that identify all events that occurred prior to detection, map out the path of attack, and narrow down the probable point of breach. A visual representation of the attack helps threats investigators with speedy and well-informed analysis so that they can create accurate response plans quickly. Also, it helps IT teams identify vulnerabilities and prevent future attacks.
3. Prevent considerable damage with quick incident response
Crippling cyberattacks are a major reason for businesses folding in today’s attack landscape. This is especially true for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Rapid incident response is more crucial than ever before.
Without comprehensive context and backstory, analysts can take six to seven hours to investigate each alert. And they might receive hundreds of alerts in a day, depending on the number of endpoints. EDR tools provide IT teams with guided investigations and proposed remediation actions, empowering them to respond to threats quicker and more effectively.
4. Aid IT teams by minimizing false positives
As we see, EDR tools empower IT security teams in many ways. One of the ways in which EDR reduces the burden on security analysts is by reducing false positives. EDR solutions investigate all suspicious activity before alerting IT teams. If the event is found to be non-malicious after the first round of investigations, the alert is closed, and IT teams are not notified urgently.
Alert fatigue is a common cause of burnout among cybersecurity professionals. A solution that reduces the load by eliminating a huge chunk of false positives and prioritizing alerts based on severity and urgency is a boon for IT teams.
5. Ensure employee satisfaction with flexible working
Providing employees with a flexible and remote/hybrid work environment has become a major factor in employee retention. People value companies that offer freedom of movement. This modernization of workplaces has created a considerable challenge for security teams, though.
Cloud-based EDR tools safeguard your organization and enable secure implementation of flexibility-related policies. With round-the-clock behavior monitoring, you can rest assured that your endpoints and end users are secure even when they are working remotely.
6. Centralize endpoint management with a cloud-based unified system
Managing and configuring a large number of endpoints is highly resource-intensive. IT teams have to work round-the-clock in multiple shifts to accomplish the same results a simple EDR deployment can achieve.
Unified policy management saves time and effort by managing all endpoints at the same time and in the same way. Also, scaling and adding more endpoints becomes much easier with an EDR solution.
Common Endpoint Threats
A crucial step in understanding the value of EDR is knowing the common threats that could attack your business’s IT environment any day.
1. Phishing attacks
Phishing is the most common cyberattack today and cybercriminals’ preferred method of stealing credentials and personal information. Attackers imitate legitimate email senders and trick targets into divulging sensitive information. Phishing attempts also trick email users into clicking on malicious links and fraudulent websites.
2. Fileless malware
Fileless malware is a dangerous innovation in cyberattack techniques. It escapes many antivirus and threat detection tools because it uses legitimate programs to install and execute cyberattacks instead of using known signature-based malware. Fileless malware is a zero-footprint cyberattack that’s impossible to detect using traditional methods. EDR’s behavior-based detection can successfully detect file-less malware.
Cryptojacking is another emerging cyber threat that has increasingly made endpoints vulnerable. Attackers infiltrate endpoints to use the device’s computing and processing capabilities to mine cryptocurrency without the user knowing about it. Although cryptojacking malware is not destructive, it slows down the infected device and can cause rapid system wear and tear.
We have all heard of devastating ransomware attacks on businesses of all sizes. Ransomware types have proliferated in recent years, ranging from crypto-malware, scareware, and doxware to the newer and deadlier Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) attacks. A ransomware attack on a single endpoint can rapidly infect the entire network and cause crippling financial and data loss to the business.
5. Zero-day attacks
Zero-day attacks exploit system vulnerabilities that are not yet discovered or solved by developers. With these attacks, IT teams are often scrambling to solve them after they have begun. It’s impossible to have a response prepared for a vulnerability you didn’t even know until recently. In such cases, EDR’s instant threat investigation and automatic response capabilities truly save the day.
6. Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
When attackers want to cause business disruptions and general mayhem, DoS attacks are their preferred tactic. These attacks overwhelm the device with a flood of artificial traffic and cut off user access. The aim is usually to trigger a full-system crash or exploit existing system bugs.
7. Insider threats
Compromised internal users, or contractors and third parties with network access, are one of the greatest cybersecurity risks out there. Employees who knowingly or unknowingly misuse their access privilege and leak sensitive information pose a grave danger to businesses. EDR security continually monitors end-user behavior and immediately flags any suspicious and anomalous activity.
We have seen the immense benefits and threat use cases of EDR solutions. Now, let’s see how EDR compares to other cybersecurity solutions, like antivirus and SIEM.
EDR vs. Traditional Antivirus – Is It Time to Upgrade Your AV?
Traditional antivirus solutions are an essential component of endpoint devices, to the extent that devices generally come pre-installed with AV software. But, are basic AV solutions adequate protection against advanced cyberattacks? They are not.
Antivirus solutions can only block and prevent known threats and signature-based malware. They cannot detect advanced threats like zero-day attacks, ransomware attacks, or fileless malware attacks. EDR security beats AV by going beyond signature-based detection. It doesn’t matter what kind of malware is used in the attack; EDR detects threats based on behavioral anomalies. Therefore, signatureless threats cannot escape EDR detection.
EDR security also brings several other advanced capabilities to the table, such as sandboxing, automated remediation, and instant threat removal. The forensic analysis capabilities of EDR technology place it several rings above traditional AV solutions. EDR tools conduct extensive post-breach analysis, establish attack timelines, and identify infected systems and processes, making it extremely easy for IT security teams to create accurate response plans.
EDR security is proactive with a futuristic approach to cybersecurity. We know advanced threats will keep evolving into deadlier versions. Our technology needs to stay on par with this evolution. EDR technology constantly keeps expanding its threat database and creates a threat pattern that helps in formulating attack response strategies for the future.
Advanced, intelligent attacks call for an advanced, intelligent security tool against them, and EDR solutions are exactly that. If you’re still using traditional AV solutions for endpoint protection, it’s time to re-think your endpoint security posture.
Suggested reading: 6 Reasons to Choose EDR Over Antivirus
EDR vs. SIEM – Do You Need Both?
This is a common question many business owners grapple with while formulating an organizational security posture. At first glance, EDR and SIEM tools seem to have similar capabilities. They are both detection-centric tools, and their central functionalities are continuous monitoring, data collection, and analysis.
But EDR and SIEM tools are very different. EDR solutions focus on monitoring and threat detection at the endpoint level. Meanwhile, SIEM tools focus on providing actionable security information and event log collection from the entire network infrastructure.
Yes, you need both EDR and SIEM tools for a holistic and multi-layered approach to cybersecurity. The two tools work in a complementary manner with combined capabilities. SIEM provides a big-picture understanding of what’s happening in the network, while EDR provides individual endpoint focus and real-time threat response.
Tips For Leveraging Your EDR Solution
Cybersecurity tools cannot be installed and left alone. They call for constant fine-tuning and maintenance. EDR solutions are no different. Let’s explore the ways to leverage your EDR tool and maximize returns on investment.
1. Reduce false positives with a standardized tuning methodology
Tuning methodologies provide essential insights into the security environment and how alerts fire. Tuning EDR solutions include various steps:
a. Event identification – Seeing what causes an alert
b. Auditing – Classifying normal behaviors versus abnormal ones
c. Proposed tuning – Deciding which alerts should continue and closing the ones that generate false positives
2. Measure and close visibility gaps
Visibility is one of the greatest advantages of EDR solutions. You need to measure the coverage provided by your EDR tool and evaluate how different attack techniques are measured by the tool. MITRE ATT&CK mapping is a good starting point for this activity. Once visibility gaps have been identified, the next step is to close those gaps by customizing focused alerts.
3. Automate low-brain tasks
Repetitive, time-intensive, and labor-intensive tasks should be automated to reduce the workload on IT teams. EDR solutions automate various tasks, which accelerate remediation and threat response. To operate at maximum effectiveness, security teams need to identify the low-risk high-effort tasks that can be automated.
4. Develop critical use cases
Use case development is critical in measuring the performance of your EDR tool and maximizing returns. Use cases help in determining which assets need to be protected and specific attack scenarios that can occur. Ask your team these questions to determine the right use cases:
a. Which assets need to be protected?
b. Which types of attacks need to be monitored?
c. What are the current detection gaps?
d. What is the ideal response time?
ACE Managed EDR + CrowdStrike EDR
Now that you know the critical role EDR tools play within a robust cybersecurity environment, choosing the right EDR tool and deployment strategy needs to be your focus.
ACE Managed Security Services has partnered with CrowdStrike to deliver unparalleled endpoint visibility and next-generation security in a simple, hassle-free manner. CrowdStrike’s Falcon Insight EDR simplifies detection and response with cutting-edge technology. The lightweight agent architecture ensures round-the-clock monitoring and real-time insights without compromising performance and end-user experience.
ACE Managed EDR is powered by a team of experienced security analysts available to you at a moment’s notice. When you choose ACE, you choose hassle-free deployment, 24/7 support, and a customizable security experience.