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EDR vs EPP: Key Features, Differences, and How They Work Together

What is EDR?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) was originally proposed by Gartner’s Anton Chuvakin, referring to endpoint security systems capable of detecting and investigating suspicious activity on hosts and endpoints.

EDR systems are typically deployed as an agent on endpoints, although some solutions are agentless. They monitor and collect endpoint activity data, identify threat patterns, and provide both manual and automated forensics capabilities to identify suspicious activity on endpoints.

When a threat is identified, EDR systems can automatically contain or remove the threat, and alert security personnel to enable further security action.

What is EPP?

The goal of endpoint protection platforms (EPP) is to prevent attacks on endpoints, from threat vectors like malware, zero-day vulnerabilities, and fileless attacks.

EPP uses several methods to detect attacks. It matches malware and other file-based threats using a database of known threat signatures; uses blacklists or whitelists to block or allow applications, URLs, ports, and addresses; and provides a sandbox where files suspected of malware infection can be safely executed and tested. Advanced EPP also uses behavioral analysis and machine learning to report unusual or suspicious activity on endpoints.

EPP provides software agents deployed on endpoints, but usually has a cloud-based management component that collects and analyzes data, allowing security analysts to access it from a central interface.

EPP solutions are commonly packaged together with EDR solutions.

Although most contemporary EPP platforms incorporate optional EDR solutions, here we will compare the two.

Key Features of EPP and EDR Solutions

Key Features of an EPP Solution

Endpoint protection platforms focus on prevention. As a first line of defense, they protect against threats like malware, basic phishing, and automated attacks.

Key features include:

  • Threat signatures—a legacy antivirus capability, which detects threats by matching them with known malware signatures.
  • Static analysis—analyzes suspicious binary files, typically using machine learning techniques, to detect malicious features.
  • Behavioral analysis—even in the absence of known threat signatures, EPP solutions can analyze endpoint behavior and identify anomalous patterns that require investigation.
  • Whitelist and blacklist—blocks or allows access to specific IP addresses, URLs and applications.
  • Sandbox—tests for malicious behavior by running files in a virtual environment before executing it normally on the endpoint device.

Key Features of an EDR Solution

When EPP fails, endpoint detection and response can capture threats that have crossed the first line of defense. This allows IT security teams to identify breaches, isolate affected endpoints, and initiate automated or manual responsive actions.

Key features of EDR systems include:

  • Threat detection and alerting—detects malicious activity and unusual processes on the endpoint and alerts security teams.
  • Incident investigation—enables forensic investigation by centrally collecting security events and traffic data from multiple endpoints.
  • Incident containment—prevents common security incidents from spreading, by automatically isolating infected endpoints, and preventing threats from spreading throughout the network.
  • Incident response—enables security teams to perform responsive actions on endpoints, such as wiping and reimaging a compromised endpoint or resetting passwords.

EDR vs EPP: What’s the Difference?

EPP operates independently of supervision, passively preventing known and often unknown threats. It is considered a front-line threat prevention tool that protects through endpoint isolation with no visible endpoint activity.

EDR, on the other hand, is an actively-used incidence response solution for security teams. It assists the operator by investigating and containing active breaches, actively detecting threats, and responding to those that are undetectable to EPP. It aggregates cross-enterprise endpoint data and generates information on multiple endpoint attack data and context.

Modern cybersecurity strategies operate in an “assume breach” model. They ensure that if and when a breach occurs, there are effective means to respond to an attack. While EDR assumes a breach has taken place, EPP aims to prevent a threat from hitting an endpoint.

Whereas EPP solutions indicate intrusions by detecting familiar signatures and attributes, EDR employs behavior-based threat-hunting tools, thereby adding an extra layer of defense. And, while EPP requires minimal supervision following successful installation and configuration, EDR requires security experts to investigate and analyze potential threats.

The two solutions complement one another and should be used together for effective endpoint security. Thus, many EPP solutions include EDR technology as a feature or bundled product.

EPP vs EDR: Which Should You Choose?

Why Choose EDR?

Endpoint detection and response provides intelligent detection and visibility. Experienced staff can filter false positives, find actionable data, and detect threats early. Most importantly, EDR makes it possible to respond to attacks on endpoints if other security measures fail.

Why Choose EPP?

EPP performs monitoring and threat detection provides monitoring and protection for endpoints. It requires little oversight and is easily managed by a qualified IT team. Unlike EDR, it does not require regular monitoring. If hosted in the cloud, it uses fewer resources and can be accessed from anywhere.

Endpoints are one of the most important assets for enterprises to monitor security threats. While EPP is reactive and designed to prevent attacks from common threat sources, EDR lets your organization respond faster and empowers security teams to take action and contain or stop the threat.

A combination of both EPP and EDR is best for most enterprise organizations. Many EPPs recognize this, by including an EDR feature as part of their platform. The best solution for your organization will depend on factors such as vulnerability, budget, and tolerance to risk for specific endpoints and the network at large.

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