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Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Tools: How They Work and Solutions to Know


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EDR, which stands for Endpoint Detection and Response, is a cybersecurity technology that continuously monitors devices to detect and respond to cyber threats like ransomware and malware. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is a cybersecurity system that monitors endpoints for security threats. The goal of EDR is to detect breaches as they happen and respond quickly to threats. It gathers and analyzes information related to security threats on computer workstations and other endpoints, making it possible to identify security breaches as they happen and facilitate a quick response.

EDR is also known as endpoint detection and threat response (EDTR). It’s designed to protect an organization’s users, devices, and IT assets from cyber threats that get past antivirus software and other security tools. EDR can detect threats like ransomware and malware. It combines real-time monitoring and data collection with automated analysis and response, and can flag files that show signs of malicious behavior.

EDR works by: 

  • Gathering data: Collecting information about security threats from endpoints like laptops, mobile phones, and IoT devices. 
  • Analyzing data: Analyzing the information to find security breaches.
  • Automating response: Responding to threats based on discovered attack profiles.

The global EDR market was valued at $2.87 billion in 2022. It’s projected to grow to $10.79 billion by 2028.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about data security.

Why Is EDR Important?

Evolving threat landscape

Cyber threats are constantly evolving, with attackers using increasingly sophisticated tactics to bypass traditional security measures. EDR helps organizations stay ahead of these threats by providing continuous monitoring, detection, and response capabilities.

Growing remote workforce

The rise of remote work has expanded the attack surface, as employees connect to corporate networks from various locations and devices. EDR helps secure these dispersed endpoints by providing centralized monitoring and management, ensuring consistent security across all devices.

Faster incident response

EDR accelerates incident response by automating threat containment and remediation actions, reducing the time it takes to address security incidents. This minimizes potential damage and business disruption caused by cyberattacks.

Reducing dwell time

EDR reduces the amount of time attackers can remain undetected within a network (dwell time) by promptly identifying and addressing security incidents. Minimizing dwell time is crucial in limiting the potential damage caused by a cyberattack.

Proactive security

EDR helps organizations shift from a reactive security approach to a more proactive one, where potential threats are detected and mitigated before they can cause significant harm. This proactive approach can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.

What Are EDR Tools?

EDR tools are technology platforms that can alert security teams of malicious activity, and enable fast investigation and containment of attacks on endpoints. An endpoint can be an employee workstation or laptop, a server, a cloud system, a mobile or IoT device.

EDR solutions typically aggregate data on endpoints including process execution, endpoint communication, and user logins; analyze data to discover anomalies and malicious activity; and record data about malicious activity, enabling security teams to investigate and respond to incidents. In addition, they enable automated and manual actions to contain threats on the endpoint, such as isolating it from the network or wiping and reimaging the device.

How EDR Works

EDR solutions continuously ingest data from endpoints, including event logs, running applications, and authentication attempts. Here is how the process usually works.

Gathering Data

The first step involves:

  • Ingesting telemetry from endpoints: The solution collects telemetry data from endpoints by installing software agents on each endpoint through other, indirect means.
  • Sending the ingested telemetry to the EDR platform: The solution sends data from all endpoint agents to a central location, usually a cloud-based EDR platform. It can also work on-premises or as a hybrid cloud to help meet compliance requirements.

Analyzing Data

Next, the EDR solution needs to use the data to provide actionable information:

  • Correlating and analyzing data: The solution employs machine learning to correlate and analyze the data. Typically, the solution uses this technology to establish a baseline of normal endpoint operations and user behavior and then looks for anomalies. 
  • Flagging and suspicious activity: The solution flags suspicious activity and pushes alerts to notify security analysts and relevant personnel. It also initiates automated responses according to predetermined triggers. For example, temporarily isolating an endpoint to block malware from spreading across the network.

Responding

Finally, the EDR solution acts on the analyzed data:

  • Responding to threats: The solution also initiates automated responses according to predetermined triggers. For example, temporarily isolating an endpoint to block malware from spreading across the network.
  • Retaining data for future use: EDR solutions retain data to enable future investigations and proactive threat hunting. Analysts and tools can use this data to consolidate events into one incident to investigate existing prolonged attacks or previously undetected attacks.

EDR Security Capabilities

Automated Response

EDR solutions can provide automated responses to threats on endpoints. This is especially important for threats that proliferate quickly and cause significant damage before human intervention is possible.

Automated response capabilities can include actions such as quarantining infected files, blocking malicious network connections, or even completely isolating an affected endpoint from the network. This allows security teams to focus on investigating and resolving the issue without having to worry about containment.

Analysis and Forensics

EDR tools help security teams perform rapid analysis and forensics on detected threats. They provide valuable insights into the nature of the threat, including its origin, how it operates, and how it can be mitigated.

EDR tools can record activity on an endpoint over time, providing a historical log of events that can be invaluable during a forensic investigation. This can help security teams identify the root cause of a security incident, understand the full extent of the breach across multiple endpoints, and develop effective strategies to prevent future occurrences.

Threat Intelligence

EDR solutions integrate with threat intelligence feeds, which provide detailed information about emerging threats and known malicious actors. By integrating this data, EDR tools are better able to detect and respond to new and sophisticated threats.

EDR tools can compare observed endpoint behavior to known threat indicators, improving their ability to accurately identify malicious activity. This also allows them to provide alerts about potential threats that are specific to an organization’s industry or geographical location.

Threat Hunting

Threat hunting is an advanced capability provided by some EDR solutions. This proactive approach to defense involves actively searching for signs of compromise or suspicious activity within an organization’s network that may not have been detected by automated mechanisms.

Threat hunting can identify stealthy and persistent threats such as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) and insider threats that can evade traditional security measures. In addition, security vendors can provide managed threat hunting services carried out by their experienced security experts.

Real-Time and Historical Visibility

EDR solutions provide both real-time and historical visibility into endpoint activity. Real-time visibility enables security teams to react quickly to potential threats, minimizing the window of opportunity for attackers. On the other hand, historical visibility can support forensic investigations and help identify patterns or trends that may indicate a larger security issue.

Multiple Response Options

EDR tools provide a range of response options to detected threats. In addition to automated actions such as quarantining infected files or blocking malicious network connections, EDR solutions can also allow security teams to manually intervene when necessary.

These response options allow organizations to choose the most appropriate action based on the specific nature of each threat and their unique security requirements.

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6 Notable EDR Tools

Below is a quick review of our top 6 endpoint protection tools that include an EDR component: FireEye, Symantec, RSA, CrowdStrike, Cybereason, and our own Cynet Security Platform. For each vendor we explain the context of the EDR module within the broader security solution, and list EDR features as described by the vendors.

Cynet 360 Autonomous Breach Protection Platform
Cynet badges
Solution scope:

The 360 Security Platform is an integrated security solution that goes beyond endpoint protection, offering NGAV, EDR, UEBA, deception, network monitoring and protection.

Delivery model:

On prem, Cloud or hybrid

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Cynet EDR Features:

  • Correlation—leverages the integrated security platform, provides visibility into network traffic and user activity, together with endpoint-specific activity
  • Validation—correlation of all activity signals enables strict validation on any suspicious behavior, reducing false positive
  • Alert—provides full context for rapid and efficient triage, prioritization and onward steps on a single screen
  • Deep investigation—instant access to data from all endpoints, with granular search filters to go beyond the local detected event and view all related malicious activity
  • Remediation—enables control at the host, file and process level—from complete host isolation to surgical actions like scheduled task deletion
  • Automation—enables custom remediation workflows that are applied automatically when a similar incident recurs
  • Threat hunting—provides validated IOCs remediation actions, enabling analysis to hunt for threats across the environment and uncover hidden attack instances
Symantec Endpoint Protection
Solution scope:

Symantec’s endpoint solution includes legacy antivirus, NGAV with emulator for detecting hidden packages, memory exploit prevention, deception technology, device network firewall and intrusion prevention, and EDR.

Delivery model:

Virtual or physical appliance

Product page:

https://www.symantec.com/products/endpoint-protection

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EDR Features:

  • Correlation—leverages the integrated security platform, provides visibility into network traffic and user activity, together with endpoint-specific activity
  • Validation—correlation of all activity signals enables strict validation on any suspicious behavior, reducing false positive
  • Alert—provides full context for rapid and efficient triage, prioritization and onward steps on a single screen
  • Deep investigation—instant access to data from all endpoints, with granular search filters to go beyond the local detected event and view all related malicious activity
  • Remediation—enables control at the host, file and process level—from complete host isolation to surgical actions like scheduled task deletion
  • Automation—enables custom remediation workflows that are applied automatically when a similar incident recurs
  • Threat hunting—provides validated IOCs remediation actions, enabling analysis to hunt for threats across the environment and uncover hidden attack instances
RSA NetWitness Endpoint
Solution scope:

RSA NetWitness Endpoint is a solution focused on EDR capabilities. Malware protection, network monitoring, log analysis and other capabilities are offered as part of the broader NetWitness Platform.

Delivery model:

Physical or virtual appliance

Product page:

https://www.rsa.com/en-us/products/threat-detection-response/endpoint-security-endpoint-detection-response

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EDR Features:

  • Continuous Endpoint Monitoring—visibility into processes, executables, events and user behavior
  • Rapid Data Collection—creates endpoint inventories and profiles in minutes, using a lightweight agent
  • Scalable and Efficient—scales easily to hundreds of thousands of endpoints, storing data in a central database
  • Behavioral Detection with UEBA—baselines “normal” endpoint behavior, detects deviations, and prioritizes incidents based on potential threat level
  • Analyzes root cause and full attack scope
CrowdStrike Falcon Insight
Solution scope:

Falcon Insight is an EDR module as part of the Falcon Endpoint Protection Enterprise solution, which also includes NGAV, threat intelligence, USB device protection, and threat hunting.

Delivery model:

Cloud

Product page:

https://www.crowdstrike.com/endpoint-security-products/falcon-endpoint-protection-enterprise/

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EDR Features:

  • Automatically uncovers stealthy attackers—applies behavioral analytics to detect traces of suspicious behavior.
  • Integrates with threat intelligence—faster detection of the activities, tactics, techniques and procedures identified as malicious
  • Real-time and historical visibility—hundreds of security-related events such as process creation, drivers loading, registry modifications, disk access, memory access, network
  • Fast remediation and real-time response—isolates an endpoint under attack from the network; provides built-in remote execution commands including deleting a fill, killing a process, running a script, restart/shutdown
  • Information collectors—enable analysts to explore file system, list running processes, retrieve Windows event lots, extract process memory, collect environment variables, etc.
  • Remediation actions enable teams to take action to contain or remediate a threat with speed and decisiveness.
Cybereason Endpoint Detection and Response
Solution scope:

A module within the Cybereason Defense Platform, which also includes NGAV and Managed Detection and Response (MDR).

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EDR Features:

  • Threat examination—shows entire process tree, timeline, and all malicious activity across machines for each process
  • Third party alerts—combines EDR data with alerts from firewall and SIEM tools
  • Attack full scope—see all related attack elements, including root cause, affected machines and users, incoming and outgoing communications, attack timeline
  • Customization—custom rules and behavioral whitelisting
  • Guided remediation—execute commands from a complete remediation toolbox on the endpoint, enables access to remote shell
  • Enterprise-wide remediation—responds to threats affecting many machines, by executing remediation actions on all affected machines in one step
FireEye Endpoint Security
Solution scope:

Endpoint solution including an agent with four detection engines, NGAV capabilities, and EDR.

Delivery model:

Appliance or cloud

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EDR Features:

  • Triage Viewer and Audit Viewer—enables analysis of threat indicators
  • Enterprise Security Search—helps analysts find and contain threats
  • Data Acquisition—in-depth endpoint inspection and analysis
  • Exploit Guard—detects and alerts on endpoint exploit processes

EDR Tools Questions and Answers 

What Does EDR Mean?

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a security category defined by Gartner in 2013. It is intended to fill security gaps on endpoint devices like employee workstations, servers, and mobile devices. EDR helps security teams investigate and immediately respond to malicious activities at remote endpoints to contain and mitigate attacks.

Why is EDR Important?

Compared with traditional endpoint security solutions, EDR provides real time information about malicious activity on endpoint devices, automatically responds to some attack scenarios, and shortens response time by security teams. EDR is an essential tool for responding to advanced persistent threats, and any attack that manages to bypass preventative defenses on an endpoint device.

How Does an EDR Work?

EDR systems deploy agents on end-user devices, which are used to continuously monitor activity and network traffic to and from the device. These events are recorded in a central database. EDR tools analyze the data to identify incidents, investigate them, and use the data to find similar threats on other endpoints across the organization. 

Most importantly, EDR allows security teams to immediately see what is happening on the endpoint and take action to contain and eradicate threats.

What is the Difference Between EDR and Antivirus?

Antivirus software can stop threats based on malware, but is not effective against other types of threats. It also cannot protect against malware that evades detection. EDR is able to detect and respond to threats that evade antivirus and other traditional defenses on the endpoint device.

Can EDR Replace Antivirus?

EDR solutions, on their own, do not replace antivirus. EDR is typically part of an endpoint protection platform (EPP), which includes advanced antivirus and anti-malware protection. EDR works together with antivirus – it relies on antivirus to stop some threats, but is able to detect and respond to threats that were not captured by antivirus software.

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