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

The endpoints, or outer perimeters of your network, have no doubt multiplied over the last two or three years as your mobile workforce has expanded. Providing security for these endpoints has become a challenge due to these ever-increasing numbers requiring both security monitoring and updates.

While every security vendor touts its own proprietary technology, the two leading advanced endpoint security technology categories are Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR).

This article explains what EPP and EDR are, how they differ, and why a blended endpoint security solution offers the best protection for your network.

What is Endpoint Protection (EPP)?

EPP is an integrated security solution that detects and blocks threats at the device, or endpoint, level. Endpoint protection is a critical facet of security for many types of endpoints, including devices such as smartphones and printers. 

The EPP solution involves a combination of anti-malware, antivirus, personal firewalls, data encryption, data loss prevention (DLP), and intrusion prevention (IPS). Standard EPP is fundamentally preventative, identifying threats based on the latest known malicious file signatures and threats. 

Emerging EPP solutions are evolving that utilise extended detection techniques and can provide a framework that enables data sharing between more than one endpoint protection technology. This is a more effective approach than employing various siloed security products that cannot communicate with one another.

As we are all aware, cyberattacks are on the rise, and they are becoming more sophisticated. Information Technology (IT) teams must be vigilant in protecting data and systems from the constant threat of attack. Endpoints are often the entry point through which hackers gain access, making endpoint breaches a critical area of concern.

What is Endpoint Detection Response (EDR)?

EDR is an enhanced endpoint security solution that integrates continuous real-time monitoring with the endpoint data collection and rules-based automated response and analysis functions. EDR detects and investigates suspicious activities on hosts and endpoints. It utilises sophisticated automation to enable cybersecurity teams to identify and respond quickly to threats.

The main tasks of an EDR security solution are to collect and monitor activity data from endpoints. It analyses this data in order to identify threat patterns. Once it identifies a potential threat, it responds automatically to remove or otherwise contain those threats while also notifying security personnel.

Another way of looking at it is that EDR provides visibility at endpoints, allowing security teams to “see” these outlying network points. Visibility enables the system to alert on any attacks that may be occurring outside the reach of firewall or IDS/IPS rules.

Some additional benefits of EDR include unified security management. All your essential devices, fixed endpoints, and servers are manageable and visible through the EDR system. With the ever-expanding remote work environment, protecting mobile endpoints has become business-critical. 

Gaps in endpoint security can occur quickly as more devices, apps, and data move across multiple endpoint connections. An EDR closes those gaps, securing the network while simplifying endpoint management.

Main specs of Endpoint Protection (EPP)

More detailed specifications of EPP include the following:

AI-powered Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV)

This type of antivirus employs Content Pattern Recognition Language (CPRL), machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to safeguard endpoints against malware. CPRL effectively detects and blocks polymorphic malware as well as malicious websites and attack channels.

Cloud Sandbox

The EPP integrates with a cloud sandbox. It submits files to the sandbox for real-time analysis. From there, administrators can see the submitted objects’ details and behaviour activities to include graphic visualisation of the complete process tree. Analysis results automatically synchronise with EMS.

Automated Endpoint Quarantine

When security events occur, the EPP automatically quarantines the threat through an automated, policy-based response. For instance, it quarantines a compromised endpoint automatically, thus containing the incident and preventing a significant outbreak.

Application Firewall

The application firewall enables your security team to monitor and choose to allow or block application traffic per category for consistent traffic control. The technology leverages any IPS, anti-botnet, and application control intelligence already present and prevents the use of unwanted applications like HTTPS messaging apps and proxy apps.

Application Inventory

Application inventory is a feature that enables visibility of your organisation’s installed software. Software inventory manages licenses and improves security hygiene at the same time. 

Any time a non-business app is installed on a user device, a vulnerability is introduced that increases the chances of network compromise. Security teams can reduce that threat by using inventory data to identify and remove any unnecessary out outdated software applications. 

Endpoint Detection Response

Main specs of Endpoint Detection Response (EDR)

More detailed specifications of EDR include the following:

Discovery with Proactive Attack Surface Risk Mitigation

An EDR should have advanced automated attack surface policy control, vulnerability assessments, and Internet of Things (IoT) security. When combined, these features allow your security team to perform the following:

  • Discover and control any rogue devices (such as unprotected or unmanaged devices) or IoT devices
  • Track ratings and applications
  • Discover and then mitigate system or application vulnerabilities using virtual patching
  • Reduce attacks with risk-based, proactive policies

Malware prevention and Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV)

Antivirus systems have evolved so that it’s possible to employ a machine learning antivirus engine to stop malware before it has a chance to execute. This is called cross-OS NGAV capability. 

It is configurable and designed as a single, lightweight unit, enabling users to assign anti-malware protection to any endpoint group without any additional installation.

NGAV works in real-time, receiving and analysing intelligence feeds continuously from a cloud database. Thus, it provides endpoint protection both on and offline. Finally, another helpful feature is USB device control.

Detect and defuse in real-time

EDR works in real-time, which means it can detect and respond to a breach quickly and automatically. It detects and immediately defuses advanced attacks like file-less malware, protecting data and often preventing breaches altogether. As soon as it detects the threat, the system blocks all outbound communications and access to any file systems or process requests.

These responses prevent malicious agents from doing damage by way of Command and Control (C&C) communications, data exfiltration, file tampering, and ransomware encryption. At the same time, the EDR continues to gather event-related data and classify incidents. 

When combined, this functionality aims to eliminate data breaches, prevent ransomware damage, and enables business continuity even on compromised devices.

Respond and remediate

With EDR, you can orchestrate incident response operations with the aid of tailor-made playbooks that have cross-environment insights to streamline your incident response. The rollback of malicious changes from contained threats is also supported.

Automate incident classification and amplify the signal-to-alert ratio

The benefits of standardising incident response procedures using playbook automation are huge. This feature allows you to optimise your security resources by automating incident response actions like terminating malicious processes, removing files, notifying users, reversing persistent changes, isolating applications and devices, and opening trouble tickets.

Such automation enables a contextual-based incident response using incident classification and the endpoint groups (or subjects of the attacks). Patented code tracing allows you to gain complete visibility of the attack chain and any resulting malicious changes. After these actions, EDR initiates automatic rollback and clean-up of any malicious changes while preserving system uptime. 

Investigation and forensics

EDR has a guided interface with data enrichment, whereby the interface automatically enriches data with details regarding the malware pre- and post-infection. The purpose is to perform forensics on the infiltrated endpoints. Such a guided interface provides best practices, guidance, and suggestions for the next steps for security analysts.

This investigation is automated and creates only minimal interruption to end-users. Because it automatically defuses and blocks threats, security analysts can hunt as needed and on their own time.

Additional capabilities of EDR

EDR is a holistic endpoint security solution delivered via the cloud. In addition to behaviour-based, next-generation protection, and risk-based vulnerability assessment, EDR includes additional features and capabilities.

An EDR solution lets you bring your security and IT teams together to defend your organisation and quickly manage threats and system vulnerabilities. They can discover, prioritise, and mitigate misconfigurations and other risks before they become the source of a breach.

When it’s needed, your security operation will have expert threat level monitoring, analysis, and support at its disposal. The system will automatically investigate and remediate complex threats when an attack occurs, alerting you in real-time. The system will apply established best practices and decision-making algorithms.

Security across platforms and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

A robust EDR system provides security for Windows as well as non-Windows platforms like Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android. Further, it integrates with APIs to automate and streamline workflows. This feature simplifies endpoint security management because it provides a centralised view, or “single pane of glass,” for endpoint management, configuration, and deployment.

EPP vs. EDR comparison

EPP vs. EDR comparison

While EPP and EDR are often bundled together as one system, there are differences between them. EPP solutions identify signatures and other attributes that notify security teams of a threat. EDR solutions add an extra layer to that defence by employing threat hunting tools that detect behaviour-based endpoint threats. 

Furthermore, the added functionality of EDR does not make an EPP a redundant tool. Rather, they combine to create a holistic, robust endpoint security solution that handles traditional and advanced security threats. 

Both EPP and EDR depend on the other’s functionality. It’s only together that they create a holistic, comprehensive endpoint security solution. In addition, the endpoint protection market is vague when it comes to system requirements and industry needs. So, EPP vendors add EDR capabilities to their product solutions and vice versa.

An EDR solution requires a team of security experts to investigate and analyse threats. On the other hand, EPP software runs with little to no supervision after it’s been installed and configured.

Given their unique attributes, these two systems complement each other. EDR, as robust as it is, will never make EPP obsolete. Modern organisations and enterprises are wise to combine both into their cybersecurity management strategy.

Main benefits of EPP

An EPP detects malicious activity using several methods. Below are the key benefits of an EPP:

  • Antivirus and Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV).
  • Behavioural analysis: EPP solutions set the baseline of endpoint behaviour and identify behavioural anomalies, even when there’s no known threat signature.
  • Data encryption, potentially with data loss prevention capabilities.

EPP solutions provide passive endpoint protection, and they use the following tools:

  • A personal firewall that protects the endpoint.
  • Sandboxing tests, which test for malicious behaviour of files by executing them in a virtual environment before running them in the live environment.
  • Signature matching, which detects threats using known malware signatures.
  • Static analysis, which analyses binaries and searches for malicious characteristics before executing using machine learning algorithms.
  • Whitelisting and blacklisting, which blocks access or only permits access to specific IP addresses, applications, and URLs.

Main benefits of EDR

Most EDR solutions provide the following four main capabilities:

  • Security incident containment is part of an EDR solution that blocks security incidents at network endpoints, which prevents attacks from spreading across the network.
  • Threat detection is an EDR’s ability to detect malicious activity and other anomalies on endpoints, which is more than just scanning for file-based malware only.
  • Incident response is an EDR capability that assists in prioritising security incidents, which, in turn, helps security teams respond to attacks faster.
  • Forensic incident investigation is simplified by building a central repository of endpoint data and then preparing it for analysis.

EPP vs. EDR: Key takeaway

Securus communications strongly recommend adopting EPP as your initial line of defence, then migrating to a combination of EPP and EDR for robust endpoint protection

Although EPP prevents threats before they arrive at the endpoint, you should never assume your enterprise is fully protected. The defensive approach of EDR by using complementing security systems that communicate with each other in real-time provides further fortification of your network.

In addition, EDR gives IT administrators visibility and operational tools to efficiently respond to advanced attacks and zero in on compromised endpoints within the security perimeter. EDR reduces the time it takes to detect an attack and initiate defence protocols.

Conclusion

In review, standard EPP tools provide excellent security capabilities such as anti-malware/ransomware, firewall security and risk-based security policies. EDR tools offer advanced features like security incident detection and forensics and investigation. EDR solutions can also revert endpoints to their pre-infected state. 

Both tools are therefore essential when it comes to endpoint protection. EPP efficiently prevents the majority of attacks, while an EDR solution captures and neutralises any that slip through the perimeter. Together, they offer a holistic and effective security solution.

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