What is Endpoint Detection and Response?

Defining Endpoint Detection and Response

Endpoint Detection and Response, or EDR, is a set of technologies designed to monitor, record, and display large sets of data related to activities occurring on endpoint systems. This data is collected in a centralized repository for review and analysis. Endpoint detection and response is primarily a forensic capability that will monitor for attacks as they occur or allow an analyst to triage post exploitation activity to determine how a compromise occurred. If an active compromise is discovered, many EDR solutions include capabilities to quickly respond and potentially recover from this malicious activity.

Why is Endpoint Detection and Response Important?

The goal of any organization is to prevent compromises before they occur. Unfortunately, with Zero-Day exploits and increasingly sophisticated attacks this is not always a possibility. Therefore, when an environment is compromised it’s crucial to have as much historic context as possible in order to reconstruct the full details of the attack. In this way an organization can learn from its past weaknesses to help further enhance its security posture. With a fully deployed endpoint detection and response solution you can actively monitor for and quickly respond to attacks as they occur while reviewing endpoint activity for previously undetected compromises.

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How has Endpoint Detection and Response Evolved?

The adoption of endpoint detection and response had its beginnings as an on-prem technology with a limited set of events recorded from endpoints. Customers were generally required to purchase a dedicated server or series of servers to act as the controller and repository for recorded data.

EDR technology is now continuing to evolve with modern architectures with many deployments now including the option to no longer require on-prem controllers. Instead a new breed of cloud-based collectors are becoming increasingly utilized. These cloud EDR systems allow organizations to monitor their endpoints while both on and off the corporate network and over geographically dispersed areas. Modern EDR is also greatly increasing the depth of activity and events that are collected. This allows analysts greater insight into all aspects of what has occurred on an endpoint when reconstructing an attack timeline.

What are the Key Capabilities to look for in an Endpoint Detection and Response Solution?

There are many important factors to consider when reviewing an endpoint detection and response solution.

  1. First is ease of deployment and maintenance. How quickly can an organization deploy this solution to their endpoints and can it be done with minimal effort and limited downtime? Ideally an EDR solution should be deployed quickly and painlessly so analyst can begin monitoring for malicious activity.
  2. Is there limited impact on the performance of the endpoint and network traffic? Endpoint users’ activity should not be hindered by the use of an EDR agent and network traffic should not be greatly impacted.
  3. Next it is important to consider what activity the solution is monitoring and how long is the data available for. Endpoint detection and response technologies should monitor and record a wide range of events occurring on the endpoint. This limits the chances of malicious activity going undetected. Since many advanced attacks also take place over a series of days, weeks, or in some cases months, it is also important for the solutions to retain the data for a long enough period to complete a full reconstruction of the attack timeline.
  4. Finally, what are the response capabilities of the solution? In the event of unwanted activity being discovered, what tools does the analyst have at their disposal to terminate, recover, and prevent this situation from reoccurring?