Improving Incident Response: XDR vs EDR

BY

Devin Partida

|

June 30, 2021

A lot of cyberattacks target an endpoint, a remote computing device, or system that communicates with a larger network. Everything from workstations and servers to smart phones and IoT devices can be considered an endpoint.

Attackers start there because they tend to be more susceptible and they can often exploit various vulnerabilities and weaknesses to acquire more expansive access—sometimes it’s easier than one might expect.

That’s precisely why many security strategies employ endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions. But there’s another practice, which can vastly improve incident response, called extended detection and response (XDR).

XDR vs. EDR

Built to scale, endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems are advanced, real-time security solutions for massive and corporate networks. Small businesses can use them too.

They secure endpoints by offering a fully integrated and multi-layer protection tool. Comparable computer security solutions include application security, network security, internet security, and cloud security. Endpoint systems start at the endpoint, by proxy extending protection to the rest of the network.

Real-time endpoint monitoring fuels action, allowing security teams to detect threats and deploy rapid, rule-based responses. They are meant to increase visibility and allow security teams to maintain control during an attack, as well as leverage a strong, reliable response.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is remarkably similar, but it simplifies security management even more, especially for large and corporate networks. The monitoring and visibility are expanded to include an organization’s full infrastructure, which stretches far beyond endpoints. Also included are cloud infrastructure and systems, mobile devices, IoT, and just about anything synced with the corporate network.

By comparison, XDR focuses primarily on security integration, connecting and seamlessly engaging with all devices, data, and systems across the network. When it comes to incident response, it allows security teams to identify and protect against much more sophisticated attacks.

While they are separate paradigms, they still have a lot of overlap. They’re both preventive, offering a continuous and rapid response to potential security threats. Moreover, the real-time capabilities make it possible to identify vulnerabilities and take action before they can be leveraged by would-be attackers—meaning they’re also preemptive.

The best way to break down the difference is that one specifically protects endpoints (EDR) and the other extends protection to the rest of the network (XDR).

The Importance of Automating Incident Response

Even with the most sophisticated tools available, human analysts need breaks and sleep. Burnout is a real problem, and it happens even more when you’re in front of a screen all day.

At the same time, cyberattacks—and the actors carrying them out—are growing smarter and more sophisticated with each day. With each evolution the attacking side goes through, the defending side must do the same.

XDR and EDR solutions are two ways to ensure that happens.

Rapid Response Through Automation

The two endpoint solutions enable security automation through continuous, real-time incident monitoring. They also empower security professionals and protect all related systems, data, and access points. It takes the pressure of active monitoring away from your personnel, delegating it to a more effective and always-on, rule-based system.

Instead, security professionals can spend most of their time building their experience and understanding of sophisticated attacks and planning remediation for when events do occur. The automated technologies will flag and notify all related parties as soon as a problem is detected, whether it involves a potential system or endpoint weakness, or a direct attack from outside the network.

Automation alone is more effective than any human, and it can operate to scale and without a performance drop, indefinitely. What’s more, combining machine learning with these solutions for incident response can significantly enhance the rule-based capabilities.

But even more benefits can be realized by training your entire workforce.

Building Support Through Incident Response Training

Incident response training is a critical aspect of a strong security program, and it involves teaching your personnel, including regular users, administrators, and cybersecurity members, the particulars of threat detection, as well as how to respond. They should be able to identify and avoid all potential threats, including phishing, malware, ransomware, and beyond.

EDR solutions especially can empower the average workforce by incorporating and alerting more than just systems administrators and security personnel.

Did someone receive a questionable email? The security system can send out mobile and email alerts to avoid the threat—educating workers in the process—and take action by dropping it into quarantine.

Is someone connecting an outside device to the corporate network? On-screen notifications can be pushed to the device to explain why this is a problem and why access was denied. Follow-up communications can also be used to ensure these mistakes don’t happen again.

Comprehensive Endpoint Security Solutions

Similar in nature, both EDR and XDR are designed to provide real-time and automated threat detection, empowering faster and more accurate incident response to potential events, vulnerabilities, and beyond. They are designed to support and protect enterprise networks along with all devices, systems, and access points connected to them.

Strong endpoint security is a must in today’s hyper-digital world as hackers grow more sophisticated with their attacks. Comprehensive endpoint security systems, like EDR and XDR solutions, are the best answer to that.

About the Author

Devin Partida is the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com. She covers topics related to cybersecurity, smart tech and big data.

Devin Partida

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