What is EDR?

EDR stands for Endpoint Detection and Response, and it’s a security solution that monitors an endpoint, detects any security issues or potential threats, and then performs a set series of actions based on predefined rules. This article will discuss what the primary purpose of EDR is in an IT environment, and the main functionality you can expect from a next-gen EDR solution for your business. Let’s get started!

What is EDR used for?

The main reason why businesses have Endpoint Detection and Response technology is to monitor their endpoints, and collect data to see if there are any potential or active threats. This is why some people refer to EDR as EDTR, which stands for Endpoint Detection and Threat Response. Modern EDR solutions will continuously look over all the communications and data from any endpoint, whether that’s laptops and desktop computers, or tablets, mobile phones and even servers and virtual environments, and then analyze the data to see any issues.

If something unusual or anomalous is spotted, or perhaps if a known threat signature is detected, EDR solutions will usually be able to take action, (the response part of the acronym), which could be sending an alert to the right member of staff or technician, or even removing or isolating the threat autonomously. Some EDR tools will also have incident response tools such as forensic analysis that can create a database of threats to get greater insight into attacker behavior and support other businesses.

What should be included in EDR?

EDR solutions will regularly provide the following four key capabilities, which can keep your business proactively prepared in the face of a cyber threat on any of your endpoints:
Detect security incidents: Run scans, monitoring and checks to ensure that security threats are found in the first instance. Some EDR systems might rely on signature-based detection, but this leaves gaps when it comes to zero-day attacks and unknown threat patterns. Instead, more recent EDR solutions will use Machine Learning or anomaly-based detection to be able to see with greater accuracy when something is a threat.

Contain the incident at the endpoint: Prevent the threat from moving any further into the network or making any lateral moves. Ideally, you want to ensure that the threat only impacts the single endpoint which it attacks the network through. Of course, your attacker will be trying to fly under the radar and go unnoticed so they can continue the next stage of their plan. The more sophisticated the attack, the more invisible it will appear.

Investigate security incidents: Find the cause of a threat and uncover information regarding the threat to support the user. As an EDR solution is continually collecting data, they are best placed to provide greater information as to why it occurred. Event data that an EDR system might collect includes new processes, driver loading, registry changes, any access to disks, as well as network connections that have been made. The EDR should find Indicators of Compromise and Indicators of Attack, and many new EDR tools will be able to assess these with context to uncover the greatest risks.

Provide remediation guidance: Support the business or user in mitigating the threat in a timely manner, and giving steps for resolution with the least harm. This could be allowing the EDR to perform script executions, launch search and destroy features, or set host restore points. If you have a strong incident response plan in place as a business, you can integrate your EDR with your SOAR tools (security orchestration, automation and response) to make decisions ahead of time, such as how you want to restore damaged files or back up encrypted data.

What are the benefits of an EDR solution?

As part of a comprehensive security stack, an EDR solution is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal. Cyberattacks against endpoints are growing all the time, and were estimated as a $9M per attack problem, even in 2019, before the rise in cybercrime due to COVID-19.

One of the main benefits of EDR is visibility, as companies often have literally thousands of endpoints, and it’s impossible to manually stay on top of monitoring these for threats without the help of technology. If just one endpoint is compromised, in a connected cloud or hybrid network, you’re never more than a few lateral moves away from sensitive customer information. EDR will not only show you which endpoint is under attack, but it can often show you the path of other impacted endpoints and data.

This in turn enables much faster response time when there is an incident. It’s well known that the longer the dwell time the more severe the consequences of a cyberattack for the company, and EDR makes it easier for organizations to know near-immediately when there is a potential breach, or suspicious behaviors. As EDR isolates the attack at the endpoint, this also limits the damage while the best course of mitigation is being decided upon.

On top of this, having the forensic understanding of what’s occurred inside your network is also a really huge benefit of EDR. Often an attack may occur, and even be mitigated with little damage, but the trail of how it occurred just goes cold and you don’t finish the situation any more informed or better off than you were beforehand. As EDR provides greater insight into where an attack originated and why, you can put resources in the right place, whether that’s updating your patch schedule, increasing employee education, or making smart changes to cloud policy settings or identity and access management protocol.

Atera integrates with Webroot and Bitdefender to help secure your IT environment and manage client environments like a pro! If you have any questions about securing a hybrid environment, give us a shout – we’d love to help.

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