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September 24, 2019
EPP vs EDR: What's the Difference and Why You May Need Both
September 24, 2019
An endpoint is one end of a communication channel. For example, when one system communicates with another, the point of communication occurs on both endpoints. Endpoints are a gateway into a network or an application. Consequently, they are one of the most vulnerable elements in an application’s architecture, and bad actors commonly use them as an entry point to launch cyber attacks. Organizations use EDR tools to gather data on endpoint activities and to understand how attackers exploited which vulnerabilities to infiltrate into the organizational environment. Anti-Virus (AV) software programs and firewalls tools can protect against common threats. Organizations who face more advanced threats require more specialized security tools such as EDR and EPP.
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What is EDR?Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a category of security tools that are designed to monitor and record activity on endpoints, detect suspicious behavior, security risks, and respond to internal and external threats.You can use EDR solutions to track, monitor, and analyze data on endpoints to enhance the fortification of your environment. In some attack types, the attacker will use cyber attacking techniques to gain access to the network via specific endpoints. The attack may then become an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT), which is a technique used by bad actors to gain access to a computer network and remain undetected for long periods.Generally, EDR tools do not replace traditional tools like antivirus and firewalls; they work beside them to provide enhanced security capabilities. Also, these tools protect endpoints so they can be considered a part of a broader endpoint security tool set. In other words, antivirus software only protects end-user devices while EDR provides network security by authenticating log-ins, monitoring network activities, and deploying updates.
The Capabilities of EDR solutionsEDR solutions differ by what capabilities and functions they use to provide endpoints security. However, they all share the same primary purpose; alerting the user on suspicious activity and investigate threats in real-time to study the root of the attack and stop it. EDR tools consist of three main mechanisms to fulfill this function:
- Continuous endpoint data collection—aggregates data on events such as process execution, communication, and user logins. This involves continually monitoring all events at the endpoints.
- Detection engine—performs data analysis to discover anomalies and detect malicious activity on endpoints. This step is crucial for sifting through events to identify genuine security incidents.
- Data recording—provides security teams with real-time data about security incidents on endpoints, which they can then use for investigative purposes. This can help inform endpoint protection strategies.
The Limitations of EDRIn many cases, merely providing better visibility is not enough. To achieve complete organizational security, your Incident Report (IR) teams still need to deal with multiple platforms and false alarms and to handle the restoration process themselves. IR teams often struggle to find the attackers that infiltrated the protection layers before they cause damage. To deal with all potential risks, a more holistic approach is needed, a platform which can be a solution to all types of threats. EPP (Endpoint Protection Platform) is the platform to achieve this goal.
What Is EPP?An Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP)1 is an integrated security solution designed to detect and block threats at the device level. To achieve this, EPP tools contain other security solutions such as:
- Data encryption
- Personal firewalls
- Intrusion prevention (IPS)
- Data loss prevention (DLP) Traditional EPP solutions are preventative by nature, and typically uses signature-based approach to identify threats. The latest EPP solutions have, however, evolved to utilize a broader range of detection techniques.
Comparing EDR and EPP solutionsIt might seem like the distinction between EPP and EDR is straightforward, but it is not that simple. Traditionally, EPP is defined as a first-line defense mechanism, effective at blocking known threats. While EDR is defined as the next layer of security, providing additional tools to detect threats, analyze intrusions, and respond to attacks. The difficulty in distinguishing between the two comes in the increasing convergence of EDR security tools and EPP security tools. EDR was initially positioned as a solution for large organizations with dedicated cybersecurity centers who can use the inputs provided by EDR to fight intrusion to their network. Now there is a growing acceptance that EDR capabilities are a necessity for all organizations of all sizes.
Holistic Endpoint Security Solution- The Best Of Both WorldsEDR providers began to incorporate aspects of EPPs into their products, and EPP providers to integrate basic EDR functionality in their solutions as well. As a result, EDR is widely considered as a subset of EPP. Nowadays, companies such as Symantec and Cynet2, offer a more holistic security solution that combines EDR security and EPP security tools to provide active and passive endpoint protection. What we are seeing as a market trend is that EPP vendors are now adding EDR capability into their products. Interestingly EDR vendors are extending the scope, adding EPP capability. Companies such as Cynet and Cylance realized that EDR and EPP complement one another and added EDR security features3 to their holistic EPP solutions.
ConclusionTraditional EPP solutions covered more basic features such as anti-malware scanning. Whereas EDR solutions covered more advanced capabilities like detecting and investigating security incidents, and the ability to remediate endpoints to pre-infection state. Organizations within the security industry have used EDR and EPP as two of the main tools to provide endpoint security. Today, organizations have realized the two solutions complement each other. Organizations offer EDR security as part of their EPP solution or as part of a more holistic security suite.
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