What is EDR?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) can detect threats that exist in your networking environment and then respond to them. It can analyze the nature of the threat and give your IT team information regarding how it was initiated, which parts of your network it has attacked, what it is currently doing, and how to stop the attack altogether. 

An EDR solution further protects your network by containing the threat and keeping it from spreading. EDR can protect your organization from threats, whether you use a fully in-house system or incorporate a cloud platform.

With a full understanding of EDR and how it can bolster your security measures, you can choose the best EDR for your network. Incorporating EDR can improve the security of both the devices connected to your network and your overall IT system.

Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) vs. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

EDR aims to target advanced threats that, because they are engineered to get past primary defenses, have gotten inside your environment. On the other hand, an EPP targets threats as they hit the perimeter of your network. It is nearly impossible for an EPP to catch all threats and prevent them from penetrating your system. Therefore, an effective endpoint security plan often includes both EDR and EPP.

 

Key Components of EDR Security

EDR security provides an organization with a center for collecting, organizing, and analyzing data from the endpoints connected to it. It can coordinate responses and alerts to imminent threats. This involves the incorporation of three elements:

  • Endpoint data collection agents
  • Automated incident response
  • Analysis

Endpoint data collection agents monitor endpoints and collect data. This includes data involving processes, how much activity occurs on the endpoint, the connections of the endpoint, and the data transferred to and from the endpoint.

Automated incident response works by incorporating rules that have been designed by the IT team to identify threats and then trigger an automatic response. The automated response can both recognize the threat and determine what kind of threat it is. It can then perform a response, such as send an alert that the endpoint’s user will be logged off.

Analysis involves analyzing endpoint data in real time. This enables the EDR system to diagnose threats quickly—even if they do not necessarily match preconfigured threat parameters. Analysis also uses forensic tools to examine the nature of the threat and how the attack was executed after it has been dealt with.

Detection

Detecting threats is at the base of any EDR solution. The issue is not whether your system will face a threat; it is a matter of what happens after it gets past your perimeter defenses. Once the threat has penetrated the edge of your environment, it is essential to detect it so it can be contained and then eliminated. This can be a challenge, particularly if you are facing complicated malware that is capable of getting behind your defenses by appearing to be safe before revealing its underlying, malicious purpose. Detection is therefore essential to securing your system post-penetration.

To accomplish this, an EDR solution uses continuous file analysis. As it examines each file that interacts with the endpoint, it can flag those that present a threat. In many cases, a file appears safe, at first. However, if it starts to exhibit threatening behavior, your EDR can send an alert to let the IT team and other stakeholders know.

To detect threats, EDR uses cyber threat intelligence, which detects threats that fit a constantly changing fabric of tools hackers employ to undermine cybersecurity systems. Cyber threat intelligence leverages a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and large data storehouses of threats that have attacked in the past and are currently evolving. It then analyzes the information and uses it to detect threats that are targeting your endpoints.

 

Containment

Once a malicious file has been detected, the EDR solution contains it. A malicious file's objective is to infect a maximum number of applications, processes, and users. To prevent a threat from spreading throughout the network, an EDR system can implement segmentation. This involves isolating specific areas of the network, keeping them separate from others to make it difficult for a threat to infiltrate adjacent network elements. However, this may not be enough. Therefore, in addition to segmentation, an effective EDR solution also contains the threat itself.

Containment is particularly important when it comes to ransomware. Because ransomware can effectively hold an endpoint hostage, it needs to be contained to prevent other endpoints from getting infected.

 

Investigation

After a threat has been detected and contained, the EDR must investigate the nature of the threat. This can produce helpful, actionable insights the IT team can use to bolster the organization’s overall security measures. For example, if the threat easily got through the network’s perimeter, there may be a crucial vulnerability that needs to be addressed. Weaknesses like these can be identified during the investigation.

In other cases, the problem could be with the device. It could be older and therefore more vulnerable to certain types of attacks. Perhaps security measures you have in place for some devices do not work as well as they do for others. Insights like these can also be revealed during the investigation.

The investigation often depends on sandboxing. With sandboxing, the file is contained within an environment designed to simulate the conditions within a section of your network. Once confined to this safe, secluded area, the threat's activity can be closely monitored and analyzed. In this way, the EDR can be used to study the threat's behavior, taking note of how it reacts in various situations. This information can then be conveyed to the cyber threat intelligence system to help it evolve to address future threats.

 

Elimination

Eliminating the threat is the culmination of the previous steps: detection, containment, and investigation. While the other facets of EDR provide critical knowledge about the threat, that information is useless if it is not employed to eliminate it and similar threats in the future. The elimination process depends on gathering critical information about the threat and then using it to execute an action plan.

For example, the system has to figure out where the threat came from. Information about the threat's origin can be used to enhance future security measures. The system also needs to pinpoint the applications and data the malicious file affected or tried to attack, as well as whether the file has replicated itself to continue its attack.

Elimination leans heavily on visibility. Visibility into the origins of the file and how it behaved during the attack enables you to adjust security protocols to protect the rest of the network. In some EDR systems, you can opt to return an infected endpoint to how it was before the attack occurred. In this way, you can get your system back up and running, which can reduce the impact of the threat on the organization’s productivity.

 

How EDR Works

After your EDR system has been installed, it makes use of algorithms that analyze the actions of the different users on your system. This enables it to store information regarding the activity taking place on each endpoint. In this way, an EDR acts almost like a friend, sensing when something is not quite right about someone’s behavior. When activity on an endpoint goes against an established pattern of behavior, the EDR can detect the anomaly and take action.

To accomplish this, an EDR collects data then filters and analyzes it, looking for evidence of malicious files. If something is detected, an alarm is triggered, and this initiates an investigation. During the investigation, the algorithms identify the source of the attack, pinpointing how it got through the system's perimeter. 

To make it easier for analysts to examine, the data is parsed and consolidated into smaller categories. Once determined that a threat has indeed affected an endpoint, the user is notified of the next steps. If the system identifies a false-positive, the alert is canceled, and what was learned is recorded to help more accurately address future threats.

How Fortinet Can Help

The Fortinet FortiEDR system provides threat protection in real time, covering endpoints both before and after infection. FortiEDR shrinks the attack surface, blocks malware from entering your network, addresses threats as they occur, and provides users with automated responses. With FortiEDR, breaches are automatically stopped as they happen. This eliminates unnecessary interruptions to business while freeing up your IT team to focus on other important initiatives.

 

FAQs

What is EDR?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) can detect threats that exist in your networking environment and then respond to them.

Why is EDR important?

EDR is important because threats, as they get more sophisticated, can penetrate edge security. With EDR, you can detect, contain, and eliminate the threat even if it has gotten past the perimeter of your system.

What is the difference between EPP and EDR?

EDR aims to target advanced threats that, because they are engineered to get past primary defenses, have gotten inside your environment. On the other hand, an endpoint protection platform (EPP) targets threats as they hit the perimeter of your network.

Can EDR replace antivirus?

EDR, in most cases, cannot completely replace antivirus software. EDR is designed to work side by side with other preventative measures like antivirus software and firewalls.