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What Is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is designed to protect endpoint devices from cyberthreats like ransomware, fileless malware, and more. The most effective EDR solutions continuously monitor and detect suspicious activities in real time while providing investigation, threat hunting, triage, and remediation capabilities.

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How Does EDR Work?

EDR works by continuously monitoring endpoints for suspicious activity, collecting and analyzing data, and providing real-time notifications of potential threats. Using behavioral analysis, machine learning, threat intelligence feeds, and more, EDR identifies anomalies in endpoint behavior and detects malicious activity, including things basic antivirus will miss, such as fileless malware attacks.

Key Functions and Capabilities of EDR

EDR capabilities vary from one solution to another, but the essential building blocks of EDR include:

  • Real-time endpoint monitoring, visibility, and activity logging: EDR continuously monitors endpoints for suspicious activity, collecting and analyzing endpoint data to enable organizations to quickly detect and respond to potential threats.
  • Advanced threat detection with integrated threat intelligence: Fueled by artificial intelligence and machine learning, EDR uses advanced techniques and threat intelligence feeds to identify potential threats—even previously unknown ones—and raise alerts.
  • Faster investigation and incident response: EDR tools and processes simplify management as well as automate alerts and response to help organizations take action during security incidents, including quarantine and remediation of infected endpoints.
  • Managed detection and response (MDR): Some providers offer EDR as a managed service, combining the advantages of EDR with a team of on-call experts. MDR is a potent option for organizations without the staff or budget for a dedicated internal SOC team.

Why Is EDR Important?

With today’s attack surfaces widening and so many ways for attackers to get inside a network, an effective cybersecurity strategy must account for every threat vector. Endpoints tend to be the most vulnerable parts of an organization, making them natural targets for threat actors looking to install malware, gain unauthorized access, exfiltrate data, and so on.

But what makes a dedicated EDR security solution so important? In short, EDR tools provide visibility, threat intelligence, and incident response capabilities to protect endpoints—and by extension, their users and data—from cyberattacks. Let’s take a closer look:

  • EDR provides visibility and remediation insight beyond basic security like firewalls and antivirus software, enabling an organization to better understand the nature of incidents, their root causes, and how to effectively address them.
  • EDR offers real-time monitoring and detection, including behavioral analysis, enabling an organization to root out evasive attackers and address zero day vulnerabilities before they escalate—reducing the risk of downtime, data loss, and follow-up breaches.
  • EDR uses AI and machine learning to parse integrated threat intelligence feeds, producing insight into attackers’ latest threats, methods, and behaviors so organizations can stay a step ahead in safeguarding their data.
  • EDR saves time and money while reducing the risk of human error by offering centralized management and reporting functions, machine learning-driven threat insights, automated response, and more for efficient, effective security operations.

What Should You Look for in an EDR Solution?

The essence of effective EDR security is improved endpoint protection that eases your team's operational burdens. Ideally, it can accomplish this while also helping you reduce costs. You'll want to look for EDR that offers:

  • Real-time visibility with behavior analytics: Stop threats before they become data breaches with a real-time view of activities and behaviors on endpoints, going beyond basic signature and indicator of compromise (IOC) monitoring that overlooks novel techniques.
  • Rich endpoint telemetry and threat intel: Continuously improve your protection with endpoint telemetry and integrated threat intelligence feeds, giving your EDR tools and security team the valuable insight and context they need for effective threat response.
  • Fast, accurate response and remediation: Look for an EDR solution that leverages intelligent automation to take decisive, rapid steps against endpoint threats, stopping them before they can harm your data, your end users, or your business.
  • The flexibility, scale, and speed of the cloud: Eliminate downtime with automatic updates, keep endpoints secure regardless of their location, reduce your reliance on hardware, and lower your total cost of ownership compared to on-premises solutions.

What Are the Limitations of EDR?

Many cyberthreats begin on endpoints, so effectively protecting them is crucial to secure your workloads, users, and the rest of your network. However, it’s important to recognize some of the limitations of EDR:

  • EDR focuses on endpoints only. Attacks often originate at the endpoint when end users download malicious files, but conventional EDR is blind to many types of attacks, including those on unmanaged endpoints (e.g., IoT and BYOD), cloud applications, servers, and supply chains.
  • EDR may not be fast enough for today’s rapid attacks. Passthrough sandboxes and “detection-first” approaches can allow malicious files and threat actors to access resources before the threats are detected. This limits their effectiveness against sophisticated threats such as LockBit ransomware, which can encrypt 100,000 files in under six minutes.
  • EDR lacks visibility into how attacks move through your network and apps. Because they collect data only from endpoints, EDR tools may lack broader context that can lead to more false positives. Gaining comprehensive visibility requires an extended detection and response (XDR) solution.

Endpoint threat detection and visibility is a key component of a zero trust strategy that also includes a zero trust architecture, identity-based access controls, logging, and analytics.

What’s the Difference Between EDR and XDR?

You can think of XDR as an evolution of EDR that pairs broad-scope data collection as well as threat detection and response solutions with security orchestration. By collecting telemetry from your entire ecosystem—endpoints, clouds, networks, threat intelligence feeds, and more—XDR enables security analysts to conduct faster and more accurate detection, correlation, threat hunting, and incident response than EDR alone.

Learn more in our full article: What Is XDR?

 

How Zscaler Can Help

Zscaler partners with leading endpoint security innovators to provide end-to-end threat detection, intel sharing, remediation, and device posture-driven access control to all on-premises and cloud apps. Tightly integrated with the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange™ platform, our partners offer flexible, reliable EDR and XDR solutions to support your organization through digital transformation and beyond.

Learn more about our endpoint security partnerships with Microsoft, CrowdStrike, SentinelOne, and VMware Carbon Black.

Suggested Resources

FAQs

What’s the Difference Between EPP and EDR?

Endpoint protection platforms (EPP) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) are both endpoint security solutions. Generally speaking, the difference between them is that EPP works to stop threats from reaching an endpoint, whereas EDR works to counteract threats that have already reached an endpoint. In this way, EPP and EDR could be considered the first and second lines of defense, respectively.

What's the Difference Between an Endpoint and EDR?

Endpoints are devices that are connected to and communicate with a network, such as smartphones, IoT devices, desktop and laptop computers, and servers. EDR tools exist to counteract threats that make their way through a network's defenses and onto endpoints. You could think of an endpoint as a body and EDR as its immune system.

What's the Difference Between EDR and SIEM?

EDR and security information and event management (SIEM) are distinct security tools. EDR focuses on monitoring and responding to threats on endpoints, leveraging endpoint-specific data and behavioral analysis. SIEM, meanwhile, aggregates and correlates data from various sources across an organization's IT ecosystem, providing a centralized view of security events to support threat analysis. Both EDR and SIEM can extend their functionality to cloud-based environments.

Is EDR a Firewall or Replacement for Antivirus?

EDR is generally a complement to antivirus and firewall solutions, not a replacement for them, because EDR and firewall/AV have different core functionality. Basically, firewalls and antivirus are there to keep threats out of the network, whereas EDR is there to fend off threats that have already gained access to the network.

Some EDR solutions also include antivirus functionality, which remains an effective measure against known threats.