Skip to main content

What is EDR?

Endpoint detection and response refers to a category of tools that continuously monitor threat-related information on computer workstations and other endpoints. The goal of EDR is to identify security breaches in real time and to develop a rapid response to potential threats. Endpoint detection and response – sometimes known as endpoint threat detection and response (ETDR) – describes the capabilities of a set of tools, the details of which can vary depending on implementation.

What do smartphones, security cameras, smart fridges, and servers all have in common? They’re all endpoints that cybercriminals can potentially use to gain access to networks, data, and applications and cause serious damage.

There has never been a more important time to keep endpoints secure. Cybercrime remains on the rise, and the ramifications of a breach - legal, reputational, operational and financial - are increasingly severe. Add in the ever-expanding range of endpoints, especially thanks to the Internet of Things and new ways of working and connecting to corporate systems, and it’s clear that an overarching approach to endpoint security is, increasingly, a business essential.

For many organizations, that means endpoint detection and response, or EDR for short, and it’s no surprise that it’s gaining traction in the cybersecurity marketplace. As of 2022, the global market size for endpoint detection and response tools was less than $3 billion, according to Grand View Research, but this is expected to grow at an annual rate of 22.3% across the rest of the decade.

This blog answers some of the key questions around endpoint detection and response (EDR): what is EDR in security, how does it work, why is it so important in the modern business landscape, and what should you look for from a prospective EDR partner?

What is EDR in cyber security?

The EDR term was first coined in 2013 by Gartner, and since then, it has become a commonly used method of keeping data, applications, and systems safe by preventing threats and intrusions through endpoints.

The precise details and capabilities of an EDR system can vary depending on the implementation. An EDR implementation may involve:

  • A specific purpose-built tool;
  • A small component of a broader security monitoring tool or
  • A loose collection of tools used in combination with each other.

As attackers continuously evolve their methods, traditional protection systems may fall short. Cyber security experts consider EDR a form of advanced threat protection.

An overhead shot of office workers. Endpoint security is an essential aspect of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy

How does EDR work?

Any endpoint can be secured through EDR, from the computers, laptops and smartphones employees use daily to the on-premises servers in the data center. EDR delivers real-time visibility and proactive detection and response of all these endpoints through this four-step process:

Endpoint data collection and transmission

Data is generated at the endpoint level and typically comprises communications, process execution and logins. This data is anonymized and sent to the centralized EDR platform; this is normally based in the cloud but can also work on-premise or as a hybrid cloud, depending on the specific needs of the organization.

Data analysis

Good endpoint detection and response tools will use machine learning to analyze this data and perform behavioral analysis on it. This establishes a baseline of regular activity so that any abnormal activity can more easily be detected and identified by means of comparison. Many advanced EDR services will also use to add further context to the information based on real-world cyberattack examples.

Suspicious activity alerting

Any suspicious activity is then flagged up to security teams and any other relevant stakeholders and automated responses are initiated based on predetermined triggers. For example, the EDR solution may automatically isolate a particular infected endpoint to proactively prevent malware from spreading across a network before manual action can be taken.

Data retention

While the alerts allow security teams to take any response, recovery, and remediation actions, EDR solutions archive all the data generated in the threat discovery process. This data can be used in the future to inform investigations of existing or prolonged attacks and to help spot threats that may previously have been undetectable.

Why is endpoint detection and response so important in modern business?

Endpoints are one of the most common and vulnerable vectors for a cyberattack, which is why cybercriminals regularly target them. This risk has only increased over the last few years, where the rise of remote and hybrid working means there are more devices across more internet connections accessing corporate systems and data. These endpoints often will have a different level of protection than corporate devices working within the office would have, vastly increasing the risk of a successful attack.

At the same time, the number of endpoints that need protecting continues to expand at pace. The number of IoT-connected devices worldwide is, according to Statista, estimated to reach more than 29 billion by 2030, triple the amount that were connected in 2020. This gives would-be attackers more opportunities to find a vulnerable device, which is why EDR is so important in extending advanced threat detection to every endpoint, regardless of the size and scale of the network.

Additionally, remediation to address a data breach can be difficult and expensive, and perhaps this is the single biggest reason why EDR is necessary. Without an EDR solution in place, organizations can spend weeks deciding what actions to take – and often, their only solution is to reimage machines, which can be very disruptive, reducing productivity and incurring financial loss.

What is the difference between EDR against traditional antivirus software?

The key difference between EDR and antivirus lies in each system's approach. Antivirus solutions can only act on threats and anomalies that they know already exist, and they can only react and alert security teams to the problem once they find a threat that matches one within their database.

Endpoint detection and response tools, on the other hand, take a much more proactive approach. They identify new exploits as they are running and detect suspicious activity by an attacker during an active incident.

What is the difference between EDR and XDR?

Traditional EDR tools focus only on endpoint data, providing visibility into suspected threats. As security teams' challenges – such as event overload, narrowly focused tools, a lack of integration, skills shortages, and too little time – continue to evolve, so do EDR solutions.

On the other hand, XDR, or extended detection and response, is a more recent approach to endpoint threat detection and response. The “X” stands for “extended” and represents any data source, such as network, cloud, third party, and endpoint data, recognizing the limitations of investigating threats in isolated silos. XDR systems use a combination of analytics, heuristics, and automation to generate insight from these sources, enhancing security compared to siloed security tools. The outcome is simplified investigations across security operations, reducing the time it takes to discover, investigate, and respond to threats.

What should you look for endpoint detection and response tools?

EDR capabilities vary from vendor to vendor, so before selecting an EDR solution for your organization, it’s important to investigate the capabilities of any proposed system and how well it can integrate with your existing overall security capabilities.

The ideal EDR solution is one that maximizes your protection while minimizing the effort and investment required. You want a solution that supports and adds value to your security team, without becoming a time sink. We recommend looking out for these six key attributes:

1.Endpoint visibility

Visibility across all your endpoints allows you to view potential threats in real-time so you can stop them immediately.

2.Threat database

Effective EDR requires significant data collected from endpoints and enriches it with context so that analysis can identify signs of attack.

3.Behavioral protection

EDR involves behavioral approaches that look for indicators of attack (IOAs) and alerts relevant stakeholders to suspicious activities before a breach occurs.

4.Insights and intelligence

EDR solutions that integrate threat intelligence can provide context, such as information about the suspected attacker or other details about the attack.

5.Rapid response

EDR, which facilitates a rapid response to incidents, can prevent an attack before it becomes a breach, allowing your organization to continue operating normally.

6.Cloud-based solution

A cloud-based endpoint detection and response solution ensures zero impact on endpoints while enabling search, analysis, and investigation capabilities to continue accurately and in real-time. EDR solutions like the Kaspersky Next EDR Optimum are ideal for preventing business disruption against complex and targeted threats, gaining comprehensive visibility across the network, and managing security from a single cloud-based management platform.

Related Products:

Related Articles:

What is EDR?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is critical in a world of rising cybercrime, expanding networks, and new ways of working. Explore EDR in detail here.
Kaspersky Logo