First what is EPP?
Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) aim to prevent traditional threats like known malware and advanced threats like fileless attacks, ransomware, and zero-day vulnerabilities. An EPP detects malicious activity using several techniques:
- Signature— detecting threats using known malware signatures
- Static analysis— analyzing binaries and searching for malicious characteristics before execution using machine learning algorithms (also known as “pre-execution analysis”)
- Behavioral analysis— EPP solutions can determine the baseline of endpoint behavior and identify behavioral anomalies, although there is no known threat signature (also known as “post-execution analysis”)
- Allowlisting and blocklisting— blocking access or only permitting access to specific IP addresses, URLs, applications, and processes.
- Sandbox— testing for malicious behavior of files by executing them in a virtual environment before allowing them to run
EPPs typically provide passive endpoint protection employing the following tools:
- Data encryption, potentially with some data loss prevention capabilities
- Antivirus and Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV)
- Host-based firewall protecting the endpoint
EPP Products do a good job at protecting an endpoint but their “field of view” is limited to the endpoint itself and their ability to take intelligent corrective action is somewhat limited, hence the opportunity for EDR and XDR.
What is EDR — Endpoint Detection and Response?
The term “EDR” describes emerging security solutions that detect and investigate suspicious activities on hosts and endpoints, using a high degree of automation to enable security teams to identify and respond to threats quickly. The key difference between EDR and EPP is the word “Response”. EDR is designed to provide intelligent response (can be Human based or Artificial Intelligence based or both) to a threat detected by the endpoint client.
The primary functions of an EDR platform are:
- Continuous monitor and collect activity data from endpoints that could indicate a threat,
- Analyze this data to identify threat patterns,
- Automatically respond to identified threats to remove or contain them,
- Notify security team or SOC team when threat is recognized, and
- Act as a forensics and analysis tool to research identified threats and search for suspicious activities.
With that in design, EDR provides increased visibility compared with traditional cybersecurity solutions and responds to advanced forms of cyber-threats, such as:
- Polymorphic malware,
- Fileless Attack,
- Advanced persistent threats (APTs), and
- Phishing or Social Engineering Attack.
Extra: New Capabilities of EDR
EDR is also recognized as an “essential component” for transitioning to zero-trust architecture. “No blindspot” is one of the reasons organizations deploy EDR to ensure they can monitor activities running inside workloads.
Additionally, new investigative capabilities in some EDR solutions can leverage AI and machine learning to automate the steps in an investigative process. These new capabilities can learn an organization’s baseline behaviors and use this information with various other threat intelligence sources to interpret findings.
XDR — Extended Detection and Response
As the name hints, XDR tools represent an extension of traditional EDR platforms. XDR aims to break down conventional security silos and deliver detection and response across all data sources. So not only does an XDR platform digest and analyze feeds from endpoints (like EDR), but it also takes feeds from the firewall and cloud infrastructure(s) providing a much more connected “holistic view” of the threat landscape allowing it to provide larger scale responses to emerging threats.
As such, according to Palo Alto Networks:
“XDR provides a far more robust view across networks, cloud workloads, servers, and endpoints. One of the limitations that we see with focusing solely on EDR (endpoints) versus XDR (endpoints, cloud, networks, etc.) is that it requires the security team to do the work manually that XDR automates.”
While its competitor, Checkpoint, defined XDR as:
“XDR solutions integrate security visibility across an organization’s entire infrastructure, including endpoints, cloud infrastructure, mobile devices, and more,”
“This single pane of glass visibility and management simplifies security management and enforcement of consistent security policies across the enterprise.”
“a SaaS-based, vendor-specific, security threat detection and incident response tool that natively integrates multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system.”
All in all, XDR tools focus on security integration and aggregating data from across organizations to provide the context needed to detect sophisticated and distributed attacks. Still, XDR products are limited today on the capabilities they can deliver.
This integration of detection systems helps us determine a more accurate picture of past attacks as well as attacks in progress which is especially critical as networks become more distributed and more external services are incorporated and provide system access.
Therefore, the cybersecurity industries are looking into XDR, which was designed to fill this information gap. Unlike EDR, it can provide visibility into every phase of an attack, from the endpoint to the payload. By integrating XDR into your security platform, you can examine the information from across your systems.
Palo Alto, Checkpoint, Gartner, TechCrunch