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EDR vs. EPP vs. MDR

by Juliana DeGroot on Wednesday December 16, 2020

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In this blog we break down the differences between three different types of endpoint protection systems: EDR, EPP, and MDR.

Endpoint security is about protecting the entry points (known as endpoints) of devices in your company infrastructure, such as desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices. These endpoints are the gateways from where malware or malicious entities can enter your company IT system. The endpoint devices can be computers, mobile phones, tablets, or other devices. Endpoint protection offers a series of solutions to monitor these devices, detect any malware and other threats before they gain access, and prevent data leakage resulting from human error. 

The three main types of endpoint protection systems are EDR, EPP, and MDR. Let’s look at them in detail.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

EDR, or endpoint detection and response, is an endpoint security solution that collects and monitors endpoint data and uses an automated response system. It observes and gathers data from endpoints and helps in detecting threats. The data collected from endpoints can also be used to recognize threat patterns. If a threat occurs, EDR can alert the security team and help you contain the threat. EDR also provides analysis tools to search for suspicious activities.

EDR complements your existing technology and provides ways to detect (and even protect in some cases) malicious activity. In case of a breach, it can give robotic forensic findings and help in investigating the attack. As companies introduce more endpoints to their networks (especially with the rise in BYOD policies), it’s crucial to have EDR to monitor all endpoints to manage threats.

While EDR provides visibility, it’s not a complete security solution. Your incident response team needs to work on multiple platforms and deal with false alarms. A more holistic approach to deal with possible risks can be found with an EPP (endpoint protection platform).

Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP)

An EPP is a solution that works on endpoint devices and secures them against file-based malware. It provides detection and remediation tasks that are required for dynamic security processes. Good EPP solutions are cloud-hosted and can monitor and collect activity data. With cloud capabilities, the endpoint agent doesn’t have to create a local database. Instead, it can check the cloud resources. EPP can also take certain remediation actions.

EPP can identify the attacker and can help in improving the data sharing process, which simplifies the company’s security operations. Cloud-based EPP solutions can lower administrative costs, deliver fast time to value, and support agile product improvement. They can provide real-time analytics and detect abnormal behavior even when malicious software attempts to look normal on the outside.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

MDR, or managed detection and response, is a cybersecurity service that detects malicious activity and malware in your network and helps in rapid incident response to take the right remediation actions on time. MDR monitors network security controls and sends alerts whenever it finds anomalies. A good MDR combines artificial intelligence in its methodology to deliver complete threat management.

With advanced detection and response, MDR removes the complexity and cost of having in-house security operations.

EDR vs. EPP vs. MDR

So, what are the key differences and benefits of each of these solutions? Let’s compare the three technologies:

  • EDR: It offers alert triage with remediation options. With regular monitoring, it can contain malicious activity. It helps in threat hunting and lets the security team carry out data exploration activities. It’s used for active threat protection.
  • EPP: EPP merges machine learning into threat detection. It can counter known and unknown threats. Since it’s stored in the cloud, it uses fewer resources and thus is more efficient than EDR. It doesn’t need active supervision and acts as a first-line defense mechanism to prevent threats. EPP is used for passive threat protection.
  • MDR: It employs security monitoring and incident analysis to closely understand the type of threats that might affect your infrastructure. With incident response steps laid out, MDR helps the company take prompt action whenever a security incident happens. MDR uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically contain threats..

Which One to Choose? EDR ot EPP or MDR?

Depending on your needs, you can select any one or a combination of these solutions.

  • Balance the Price and Availability with EDR  - EDR offers intelligence and visibility. It requires some amount of supervision and can be easily managed by a qualified IT team. Experienced personnel can filter false positives and find actionable data to discover threats early on.
  • Minimal Supervision and Threat Detection with EPP - EPP needs minimal supervision and protects the endpoints of your system. Unlike EPP, it doesn’t need constant monitoring. When it’s hosted in the cloud, it has low resource usage and can be accessed from anywhere.
  • Achieve High Availability at Low Cost with MDR - If you don’t want to have maintain an in-house cyber security team but want to monitor the system, MDR is the right solution. With a high incident rate, manual work can be erroneous and costly. MDR can provide an automatic solution that keeps an eye on the network for any malicious activity and in many cases is more cost-effective compared to maintaining an in-house security team.

Endpoints are among the most important assets for companies to monitor for security threats. EPPs are proactive, designed to prevent attacks from common threat sources, while EDR solutions are more reactive, taking the approach of monitoring and detecting threats, issuing alerts, and taking some actions to contain or block threats until your security team can take further action. Many EPPs include EDR features, offering the best of both worlds. For companies that want to outsource vital security functions and take advantage of services like 24/7 monitoring and the ability to detect and mitigate threats that bypass traditional security controls, an MDR solution may be the right choice. The best solution for your company depends factors such as your vulnerabilities, risk tolerance, and budget.

Tags: Endpoint Security, Endpoint Detection and Response, Managed Security Services

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Juliana de Groot

Juliana is the Sr. Marketing Operations Specialist at Digital Guardian. She has been in the cybersecurity space for a combined three years. Prior to joining DG, she worked at Dell and CarGurus.