EDR Tools: What They Are & Why You Need Them

EDR Tools
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According to Gartner, by the end of 2023, more than 50% of enterprises will have replaced older antivirus products with combined Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions that supplement prevention with detection and response capabilities.

This is why security teams that use a dynamic, active approach to attack threats in real-time, such as Managed Detection and Response (MDR), thrive when they can work with EDR solutions through a philosophy that unlocks the full potential of these tools, for extended detection and response.

What Is Endpoint Detection and Response?

In 2013, Gartner’s Anton Chuvakin defined EDR  as “tools primarily focused on detecting and investigating suspicious activities…on hosts/endpoints.”

They enable endpoint visibility and automated rules-based detection of advanced threats through real-time registry monitoring, searching for modifications to file structures, and validating signatures. Within these advanced threat detection capabilities, many of these solutions now incorporate machine learning.

Cyber incident response teams benefit greatly from the behavioral analysis ability of endpoint detection and response tools when conducting forensic analysis after a breach.

How EDR Tools Differ from Antivirus Solutions

While antivirus platforms provide an alert during an active attack (sometimes well after the point where an effective defense can be deployed), EDR tools use threat intelligence to preemptively monitor for suspicious behavior that can indicate an attack is coming.

In other words, an antivirus tool supports a reactive response while an EDR tool allows for a proactive approach to cybersecurity for advanced endpoint protection.

EDR Provides Context Behind Alerts

An endpoint detection and response tool can be configured to create a list of acceptable, whitelisted tasks during a specified timeframe. But tasks outside of this window will trigger an alert.

SOC analysts can even configure these tools to alert when a specific command is entered at the command line. Antivirus systems simply provide the alert while EDR security goes a step further to provide the “why” behind the alert.

Endpoint security solutions can analyze the root cause of issues and track suspicious behaviors from the initial incident response all the way through to the final remediation.

How EDR Can Support Incident Response Teams

EDR tools should be a key component in the portfolio of any security operations center, but combining endpoint (EDR) security with MDR can further amplify the effectiveness of these tools.

Example: Identifying and Quarantining Suspicious Endpoint Files

Here’s an example: A forensic engineer can identify a malicious file on an endpoint and share this information with an incident response monitoring team. This team can then use an endpoint detection and response tool to search for other malicious artifacts on the system to determine the depth and breadth of the problem.

If something suspicious is uncovered, the team can pull out an entire registry value for analysis. If an endpoint was changed or a network event occurred, the team can determine exactly when it happened.

This information can then be used to identify and quarantine affected systems.

Example: Identifying and Shutting Down Compromised Ports with EDR

Here’s another example of how these tools provide a significantly higher level of actionable visibility compared to an antivirus platform operating alone.

We recently had a new client come to us that had been previously breached with ransomware. Using EDR tools, we set up instant response monitoring to ensure that all traces of the ransomware had actually been removed.

The very next day, using an EDR tool including a console that ingested all threat feeds and displayed what was happening across the endpoints in real-time, we were able to identify an attacker that was attempting a brute force login, using a remote desktop through an externally facing port.

With this instant notification, we were able to advise the client to immediately shut down that port and eliminate the threat.

Different Organizations Benefit from Different EDR Solutions

There are many names in EDR such as Microsoft, Cylance, VMware Carbon Black, and Palo Alto. But with each tool, there is often a very unique skill set and capability.

An effective strategy is needed to evaluate these tools and employ them as part of a layered digital surveillance and defense plan.

Evaluate Compatibility With Your Network Environment

If you are planning to work with an MDR or MSSP provider, understand that their tools will become your tools. That means you will need to understand how those tools will help protect your endpoints and, ultimately, your network.

Before making a decision, it’s important to evaluate whether an endpoint detection and response solution will perform well in your environment. This can be done by performing well-known attack techniques and identifying what those products catch and don’t catch.

Depending on your budget, a common penetration test – automated or manual – can work well with this approach. Breach and attack simulation platforms are also helpful when evaluating which solution is right for your business.

Implement an EDR Solution Proactively – Not After You’ve Been Breached

EDR is only as effective as when and how it’s used. A proactive security strategy will always be more effective than a reactive one. Unfortunately, some organizations put off adding EDR tools to their security platform until they are breached.

But this can be a serious mistake. If a company is breached, it’s true that their antivirus system may detect that breach eventually. But by choosing a reactive approach, the company must struggle to catch up and respond to the attack.

Incident Response Teams Require EDR Tools for Effective Remediation

Even hiring an incident response team to remediate the breach usually involves installing an EDR tool across all endpoints. Waiting until after a breach occurs to deploy increases costs, wastes time, and affords the attacker more dwell time.

Endpoints Are Crucial – EDR Makes Sure They’re Covered

Endpoints present one of the largest attack vectors in modern cybersecurity. Just as a physician provides proper dressing and care to a wound to prevent an entry point for infection, these tools are essential to shutting down the entry points that can compromise the critical systems circulating data to all points of an organization.

That’s why endpoint detection and response is a must-have requirement for security portfolios facing an ever-evolving threat matrix.

Contact CRITICALSTART to Improve Your Organization’s Security Posture

Investing in appropriate cybersecurity measures for your organization requires careful planning and consideration.

Our experts can help evaluate your current security posture and which tools are best suited to help you improve it – whether that means deploying endpoint detection and response or a managed detection and response solution.

Send us a message or call 877-684-2077 today to get started.

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