Endpoint Detection and Response: Network and Device Protection

endpoint detection and response

If you’re asking “What is endpoint detection and response?” and are confused about its meaning, you’ve come to the right place to learn about it. It has to do with how you protect your IT infrastructure.

Malicious hackers have to keep up with the rampant pace of innovation—with new devices, networks, and servers. Many new threats have arisen in the last 10-15 years—not least of which is polymorphic code that mutates to sidestep antivirus software and other formerly dependable protective tactics. Added to that, insurance providers are becoming more picky about who they insure for cyber insurance. Many now require evidence that you protect your computers (all desktops, laptops, and servers) with endpoint detection and response (EDR) and not older antivirus software. The result is that directors of IT, chief information security officers (CISOs), and security managers must go on the offensive when it comes to endpoint security. They have to anticipate an attack to avoid falling prey to advanced persistent threats.

In this blog post, we help you become more informed about one of the most crucial aspects of your security posture. It includes an endpoint detection and response definition, sets out the business implications of breaches and the benefits of developing an EDR approach, outlines the capabilities of EDR technology and the costs involved, and explains what security managers can do to establish the context for securing company and customer data.

First, What Is an Endpoint?

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Security professionals use the term endpoint to refer to any electronic device that is connected to other devices through a network. In practice, this refers to desktops, laptops, and servers; as well as communication devices such as cellphones, smartphones, and tablets. And, many often forget that the term also encompasses servers and the network itself.

That’s not all. It also includes operating systems, software applications, versions, configurations, and network settings.

Sagacent CEO, Ed Correia says:

“84% of successful hacks involve the manipulation of the computer users to gain access. Then 70% of those breaches move on to attack the endpoints. Modern endpoint protection, detection, and response—or EDR—is crucial.”

Most cyberattacks originate at the endpoints. This is due in no small part to “alert fatigue”—when employees become desensitized to risks —opening messages and blithely clicking on links, opening files from unknown parties, or sharing login credentials.

What Is Endpoint Detection and Response?

Our endpoint detection and response definition merges both your security team’s methodology and the specialized technology by which your organization’s network of devices is protected from malicious hacks.

Why Are Traditional Antivirus Solutions No Longer Sufficient?

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Traditional cybersecurity solutions like antivirus software have depended on predefined parameters for virus detection as it happens. Antivirus software would probably detect an email with a suspicious attachment named “virus.exe.” But, as more of our lives are lived online; and the number of networks and connected devices increases across government, financial, medical, entertainment, learning, and workplace services and spaces; hackers are changing tactics.

More advanced threats such as ransomware or malware now prove difficult for antivirus software to identify based on definitions alone.

Sagacent CEO, Ed Correia says:

“Reliance on legacy antivirus software alone is only effective with around 10% of the risks of today’s threat landscape. As the market comes up with new devices, web applications, and APIs—and as new networks are created, shared, and accessed—the opportunities for malicious actors continue to expand. EDR offers an offensive security posture, focused on monitoring and prevention—not merely on detection and remediation efforts. It’s a more nuanced approach, deploying various approaches and solutions.”

EDR is a system that incorporates and extends far beyond the capabilities of antivirus solutions. It surveys your network, servers, and individual endpoints to detect and identify cyberthreats before an attack happens. EDR monitors the actual behavior of applications on computers and looks for any unusual activities that indicate possible bad actions. This allows you to arm yourself with information on suspicious behavior and to take immediate defensive action. What Are the Business Implications of Breaches in Endpoint Security?

Imagine the following scenarios in your organization: Company laptops and cellphones without up-to-date operating-system software and applications or VPNs not running at all times, provide an opening for bad actors to exploit. The trend for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) work environments, where employees are allowed to work on non-company owned and secured computers, can often exacerbate both the risk and the stress level for your security team.

  • Lax access control policies—where, for example, the principle of least privilege (POLP) is not adopted. In other words, don’t grant a user account, process, or program more access rights than it needs to accomplish its designated tasks. Neglecting this could lead to the wrong people in your organization gaining access to information they should not have. Depending on their technical ability or awareness of data protection laws, they may not treat this data as carefully as the law requires.
  • Where you cannot demonstrate compliance with industry, domain, international, country or state-wide laws and standards—and a data breach occurs as a result—it can be considered fraud. This attracts lawsuits that can be brought by partners, individuals, or even your insurance provider.
  • Once an organization gains a reputation for being negligent in this way, it is difficult to revert. Further financial implications can follow as your reputation is damaged, clients lose confidence and depart, or lawsuits ensue due to data-handling negligence.

For further information, see Are You Safe to Do Business With?.

What Is Endpoint Detection and Response Technology?

Endpoint detection and response solutions offer the most effective endpoint security currently available and refers to a group of activity alert tools. EDR solutions use a combination of machine learning (ML) and automated intelligence (AI) to monitor your network’s endpoints (devices).

The next sections explain how the technology combines a proactive approach to both “detection” and “response.”

Continuous Collection and Analysis of Endpoint Data

EDR software solutions operate by continuously monitoring network endpoints for vulnerabilities that could allow malicious actors to penetrate the security perimeter. They collate and analyze endpoint telemetry data, such as logs of accessed files, network connections, process executions, and registry modifications.

Detection of Suspicious Behavior from Individual Endpoints

Next, the technology uses algorithms to detect and locate indicators of compromise (IOCS) or abnormal behavior patterns, and identify potential vulnerabilities posed by: Inadvertently downloaded malware or viruses

  • Malicious or suspicious behavior from individual devices
  • Threats such as zero-day attacks, made possible before software vendors have had time to discover errors in their code and release a fix, or before system administrators or device users have had a chance to apply the patch or update

Immediate Prevention Activity

Some EDR solutions will halt suspicious activities in real time, holding them for review until a human agent intervenes. This immediately prevents further damage from viruses or malicious code, for example. And, it creates a less stressful threat-detection process because the most serious threats are highlighted and can be tackled first, in advance of general day-to-day maintenance.

System, Email, and SMS Alerts

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Once the network and its devices have been monitored and suspicious activity or other vulnerabilities detected, it is time to alert the humans. The average time an advanced persistent threat goes undetected is 71 days!

If EDR detects a security event, it will send an immediate and urgent notice to the security team using system, email, or SMS notifications about exploitable vulnerabilities that have arisen since the last scan.

Immediate Remediation Activity by Security Teams

Alerts sent from endpoint detection and response solutions prompt the team to investigate further and remediate the potential threat by acting to remove or reduce risks to data security.

What Are the Benefits of Developing an EDR Approach?

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The benefits of being proactive about the security of your company and customers’ data are self-evident. But, what can the technology offer in particular? The most obvious one is in continuous monitoring. If you are instantly aware of the most immediate risks, then you can take action to eliminate or reduce the them.

  • The volume of alerts that security analysts must investigate can be overwhelming, some of which turn out to be false positives. EDR technology can be trained to reduce alerts, and therefore minimize analysis overload and the alert fatigue security professionals experience. In this way, their attention is then better focused on understanding what is required.
  • Depending on your industry, you may be subject to PCI-DSS, data protection laws, HIPAA, ISO, or SCO; and other regulations and industry standards such as DISA STIG, or NIST SP 800-53. EDR helps you demonstrate compliance with various aspects of these laws and benchmarks.

How Much Does Endpoint Detection and Response Cost?

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The better question might be: How much do I have to spend on prevention and how much on remediation? Prevention is always less expensive.

Here are a few points to consider:

  • Denial of Service (DOS) attacks, for example, can cause delays that can be costly in terms of retrospective remediation activity; fines and other penalties from legal bodies; loss of reputation; and the real-time or subsequent reduction in sales.
  • It is often much more expensive to operate from a reactive posture and then deal with the fallout from a data loss. The less expensive option overall is to invest the time and effort up front to implement endpoint detection and response policies around security, configure software, and establish monitoring and email or SMS alerts to detect risks as they happen.

What You Can Do Right Now To Adopt a Defensive EDR Posture

Once cyber threats and security incidents are identified by EDR, you have options about how you respond. Here are some recommended actions:

  • Arrange regular awareness training for your entire staff—not just those responsible for security—and run update sessions when the compliance legislation and industry standards change. This keeps staff aware of the wider and hard-hitting regulatory implications. And, senior staff will become aware of their personal legal responsibilities.
    • Adopting POLP is a tactic that needs human (rather than technological) intervention and education across your team. It can be supported by activity logs that email alerts to system administrators when particular web applications, databases, servers, or other at-risk systems are accessed.
    • Zero trust. You can also consider a zero-trust architecture (ZTA), a parameterless security approach in which devices and the people who use them are not trusted by default, but must first be verified. In addition, you can use application, network, and storage whitelisting to label system components as good, permitted, or safe.Write, circulate, and enforce internal company policies on access control and login, and other credentials:
    • Establish a schedule for checking, installing, and running the latest software releases, updates, and patches across your system, its network, and devices.
    • Research and get informed about EDR and the software scanners and activity logs that can help you get ahead of potential malicious hacks on your network. This can help you to:
      • Quarantine infected files until they can be verified
      • Block compromised network connections until your engineers can take remediation actionWrite, circulate, and enforce internal company policies on access control and login, and other credentials:

Do You Need Guidance on EDR Solutions and Configuration?

Whatever you choose needs to be able to fit your organization’s size and complexity, integrate with your existing security infrastructure, and offer scalability. Sagacent Technologies can assist you in the following ways:

  • Help you determine which EDR approach and technology solutions to adopt, and how to integrate them with your existing setup
  • Offer guidance on how to configure and optimize your EDR approach if you already have a solution but it isn’t working as well as you need. This can incorporate firewalls, VPNs, DNS filtering, email security, data backup, identity and access management (IAM), multi-factor authentication, dark web scanning, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and security information and event management systems (SIEM)—among others.Generate detailed reports on security incidents and trends, to help your business understand the nature and scope of threats you face and assist you to fulfill your compliance and audit requirements.
  • Provide a comprehensive security audit to assess how EDR is working or could work within your entire cybersecurity environment.

Contact us today with any questions you may have about EDR, or to book a business security assessment.