We know what you’re probably thinking or have thought at some point. “Yet another security tool that my business needs?” We get it. It’s a lot to take in and implement but when juxtaposed against the ever-growing list of cyber threats out there, it only pales in comparison.

Think of it this way. There are thousands of hackers and tens of thousands of different viruses, exploits, and tricks out there looking to separate you from the data, money, and systems owned under your business. There’s never enough you can do to protect yourself, but taking active steps is the best way to mitigate risk.

One crucial component of that effort is endpoint detection and response software.

What Is EDR Software?

F-secure.com
Source: F-secure.com

EDR software is a cybersecurity solution that monitors and analyzes endpoint data in real-time to discover and prevent malicious attacks. An endpoint is any device that transmits or receives data on a network. You use these devices every day, including:

Endpoint detection and response solutions usually work in conjunction with other cybersecurity solutions, such as firewalls, antimalware software, and user/entity behavior analytics platforms, to provide a comprehensive protective barrier between malicious actors and your valuable assets.

What Are the Functions of Endpoint Detection and Response Software?

Purplesec.us
Source: Purplesec.us
  • Malicious activity detection
  • Malicious activity investigation
  • Automated response
  • Post-activity threat analysis and reporting

There are four core capabilities of endpoint detection and response software. However, some platforms incorporate functions from other solutions like antivirus protection. If you’re looking for EDR, these are the functions it must provide.

Malicious Activity Detection

The foremost function of an EDR solution is activity detection, specifically malicious activities. EDR uses signature and contextual analysis to weed through thousands upon thousands of actions taken by endpoints to detect these malicious behaviors that pose a threat to your network security, data, and assets.

These behaviors can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Extracting data to unknown/untrusted devices, such as phones, laptops, or external hard drives
  • Injecting malware onto a network
  • Altering administrative permissions (permission elevation)
  • Deleting sensitive/valuable data

This is only the baseline functionality of the EDR platform. Detection is useless without action.

Malicious Activity Investigation

Not all suspicious activity is malicious. Sometimes, systems get it wrong and flag activity that’s unusual but is warranted. First, the EDR software takes steps to investigate the activity, which is where it employs its contextual analysis. If the activity warrants additional investigation, the platform typically alerts a security analyst and allows them to take it from there.

If the activity is a clear-cut violation of the safety standards, the EDR software typically moves onto a programmed, automated response detailed in the next function. Otherwise, an administrator or analyst has to take outside action to remedy a violation or perhaps create an educational experience for the owner of the endpoint.

Automated Response

As mentioned before, if an activity is a clear violation of the parameters set by security administrators, then the EDR platform takes the prescribed automated remedy to the situation.

These responses include all kinds of remedies, including:

  • Logging out users
  • Denying access to the endpoint
  • Killing the streams of network traffic
  • Stopping malicious processes
  • Isolating off segments of the network that are connected to the endpoint

These responses give security personnel the time they need to further mitigate the damage of the malicious activities.

Post-activity Threat Analysis and Reporting

Now that the threat is eliminated and/or prevented from restarting by removing user and device access, the EDR platform analyzes and curates a report of the instance.

This report includes a rundown of all of the malicious activities, assets exposed or exploited, and the responses are taken to remedy the situation. Using this report, security personnel can develop updated protocols, improve security postures, and educate users about the risks associated with that malicious activity.

Additionally, the best EDR platforms take away information from this situation and automatically learn from it to develop better contextual awareness and response capabilities.

What Is the Difference Between EDR and EPP?

Criticalstart.com
Source: Criticalstart.com

Sometimes, these terms are used interchangeably, but they’re quite different. While endpoint detection and response software deals more in breach and activity detection to protect the rest of the network, endpoint protection platforms deal more in guarding the endpoints themselves.

EPPs are meant as a first defense since they guard the doors into your network. Some EDR platforms provide some endpoint protection capabilities but they operate more as a reactive solution rather than a proactive solution like an EPP.

After all, it’s better to prevent a breach than take steps to mitigate the damages of one.

The best security situation is to use both solutions to protect your networks, data, and assets from the threats posed by endpoint access.

Does Your Small Business Need Endpoint Detection and Response Software?

In the era of remote and hybrid work, endpoints are more spread out than ever before, leaving your networks potentially exposed. It’s important to couple your EDR with an EPP so you can minimize the likelihood of endpoint breaches while providing a reactive framework for eliminating the threats that happen to make it through your outer defenses.

Think of how many laptops your small business owns that are in various locations outside the office.

  • How many do you think are improperly handled?
  • How many do you figure are left unattended?
  • How many do you suppose are accessed by unauthorized individuals?
  • How many are used to access risky websites or unprotected networks?

So many “what ifs” are addressed by the use of EDR and EPP software.

Things to Look Out for When Using EDR Software

Like any cybersecurity tool, there are strengths and weaknesses to endpoint detection and response software. There are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re running prospective software through your trials and even after you’ve adopted a solution.

If you don’t keep these concerns in mind, you might face breaches you’ll never know about until it’s too late.

Keep An Eye on False Positives

This is a key issue to watch out for when looking for and using EDR software. False positives are a time-consuming and productivity-draining ordeal. They draw your attention away from real potential threats, use up precious security resources, potentially cause you to lower your guard, and even frustrate employees who are being constantly thwarted in their work.

Eventually, if given enough roadblocks, employees may even look for ways to circumvent your EDR platform to get work done, which can lead to an increase in the risk of breach.

Make Sure You Keep a Human Eye Monitoring the Software

While EDR relies on automation to carry out detection and initial response protocol, this isn’t enough to ensure adequate protection. False positives or contextual analysis are frequent issues when dealing with cybersecurity.

What may look suspicious may have a legitimate function that hasn’t been built into your security protocol. Make sure you have your employees checking in with your EDR software consistently and clearing security activity alerts.

What to Do When You’re Looking To Upgrade Your Perimeter

On a final note, EDR software isn’t the end-all, be-all of your endpoint protection. It’s meant to compliment your security infrastructure, not replace it. You’ll still need to use a virtual private network (VPN), upgrade your firewalls, employ antimalware software, and use security analytics platforms to adequately protect your business within a traditional network perimeter.

Your defenses are only as strong as your weakest point, so why not make sure it’s as strong as it can be?