EDR vs. Antivirus: Choose the Best Security Solution for Your Endpoints
Nowadays your business and your data need a carefully thought protection suit for at least two reasons.
First, cybersecurity threats are becoming more numerous and more sophisticated as time goes by. Just think that 450.000 types of malware are noticed day by day. You are compelled to stay up to date with the newest malicious software and ahead of cybercriminals in an efficient, sustainable way.
Second, the vulnerability of a network is directly linked to the number of endpoints connected to that network. We are living in the era of remote working, BYOD (bring your own device) policies, and work smartphones, so every one of them can be an entry for threats.
In this context, the traditional Antivirus (AV) seems to struggle to stay ahead. And more and more businesses implement Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions to protect their assets and data. But what is the best choice for your endpoints? And is it the AV old news?
This article will focus on the EDR vs. Antivirus debate, highlighting the features of the two solutions, the differences between them, and how they can help your cybersecurity posture.
Endpoint Detection and Response is a multilayered, integrated cybersecurity solution designed to detect malware and defend your systems when under attack. To do that, EDR provides a series of tools that can collect data from endpoints, identify the origin of an attack and how it spreads, isolate an infected endpoint, and stop malicious processes.
EDR is centered on response and reducing damage in case of a breach. Often, this solution is part of an Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) that handles the preventive security measures.
To achieve its goals, EDR solutions display several features that enable them to fight threat actors.
What EDR can do:
- gather and analyze data from endpoints giving you important information about the threats you are facing and threat patterns. It uses the same data to preview unknown, future threats.
- do real-time treat-hunting, quickly identifying and responding to threats that bypass traditional Antivirus.
- offer support in case of an incident, assisting in forensic analysis too.
- provide multiple options of real-time response for different types of attacks. It can choose to isolate and quarantine, eradicate, sandbox, etc.
- integrate with your other security tools. EDR solutions are compatible with the rest of your security programs.
- triage security alerts after analyzing them. Certain threats can be remediated automatically, as established by your security team. While only the most important ones will need the intervention of a SOC team.
An Endpoint Detection and Response solution can offer you a wider range of protection than the AV. It also comes with a clearer visibility into the type, dimension, and goals of threats.
But EDR solutions also come with a few flaws:
- To implement an EDR solution, your company will need additional time for all the tools and components and a number of employees working on it.
- You will have to always keep the system up to date. This way the EDR will be at its maximum capacity and efficiency.
- Your company will have higher costs with such a cybersecurity solution.
Antivirus is the first layer of protection in endpoint security, and it’s primarily designed to identify malicious software that has infected a device. It does this by scanning systems and files for known malware (trojans, worms, ransomware) and, if it finds any, removes it from the system.
Traditionally AV solutions use a signature matching process to identify malicious code – comparing files against a known database of malware -, or heuristic analysis – based on behavior. More evolved AV solutions, like Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV), base malware detection on AI, making it more efficient.
Although there are some similarities between EDR and traditional Antivirus, AV alone is a less comprehensive solution.
What Antivirus can do:
- detect known threats based on their signatures like file hashes, command and control domains, IP addresses, and similar features.
- use heuristic detection or anomaly detection to identify malware based on unusual or malicious functionality.
- do an integrity scan to discover if certain files from the device have been tempered by malware.
- identify malware that aims to acquire larger, administrative access on a device using rootkit detection.
- discover malicious code in real-time by scanning and monitoring recently accessed files.
- help in the mitigation process by removing malware infections, stopping malicious processes, and quarantining suspect documents.
Although AV is a necessary cybersecurity solution, and sometimes even comes built into the OS, the traditional Antivirus has some known flaws:
- Can’t detect new malware until the malware’s hash is added to a list of hashes. The AV solution will consult this list in order to recognize threats.
- Is powerless regarding attacks that don’t use malware. Sometimes ransomware or advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks use non-malicious software that will never be detected by AV.
- The ever-growing list of malware takes longer and longer to be consulted by security solutions.
- The security scan of an antivirus is periodical, not continuous. In consequence, there is a delay between the infection time and the moment of detection.
- Can take only a limited number of response actions. When a threat is detected, the AV will block, quarantine, or delete it.
- Does not resolve any associated issues with a malware infection. After deleting a virus, the AV will not be capable to remediate connected problems or additional malware.
EDR vs. Antivirus: Differences
We can spot a few major differences between EDR and Antivirus:
The main difference between EDR and Antivirus is that some newest, fileless malware, can bypass Antivirus. The AV’s signature-base detection system doesn’t spot signature-less threats and attacks and it’s efficient only against known malware. Meanwhile, EDR understands that not all contemporary attacks are file-based and can stop more sophisticated threats. EDR tools can identify these attacks’ behaviors, notify administrators, and let them take appropriate action. Additionally, it may be useful for newly emerging threats that the larger security community has not yet identified.
Because malware varieties are so numerous, having them all in a list of signatures is nearly impossible. Also, since signatures only focus on a few file characteristics, malicious code can change its characteristics – polymorphic malware – and infect a device without triggering the Antivirus. Endpoint Detection and Response solutions have deeper visibility into file modification and creation process of malware, which can help in threat-hunting and digital forensics.
Additionally, it takes less time for the EDR to react when a threat emerges. There is no need for action, if something looks fishy, this security solution will protect you. Time is also saved because the way EDR operates does not require a list to be updated and uploaded.
An AV solution focuses on the files that are introduced into a device, aiming to discover the malicious ones. An EDR solution has a wider focus, collecting data from the endpoint and analyzing it, all without ignoring the context.
Although AV can remove or assist in removing more basic malware, EDR has a real-time response if an incident occurs. Its efficacity relies on how fast this security solution can respond to a threat without human intervention.
The EDR solution has been created especially for the moments when an endpoint is breached. If in the AV case, an attack means that you have no control over the infected endpoint, EDR allows you to control the damage, take all necessary measures to fight the threat actors, and investigate the incident.
The Antivirus is easier to use and lighter on your systems and your budget, too. But has a lower range of protection than Endpoint Detection and Response. The occasional scanning of the AV is replaced by 24/7 monitoring in the EDR case.
EDR vs. Antivirus: The Best Solution for You
A good Endpoint Detection and Response solution will usually incorporate Antivirus functionalities but will offer fuller protection against a wider range of threats. EDR will enhance your security posture with data gathering, monitoring, and analyzing.
While the AV focuses on reactions to threats, EDR is a more proactive solution. EDR will identify a threat before becoming an issue, unlike the traditional Antivirus. An Antivirus is usually one program whit more simplistic goals.
Here are a few security benefits that EDR provides:
- you will have better and deeper visibility of the security of your endpoint, as a whole, using the data-collecting feature of your EDR solution.
- EDR will provide a fast, efficient, and integrated response in case of a security breach, as you will not need to switch to another cybersecurity solution for mitigating an attack
- the impact and cost of an attack will be greatly reduced as you can automatize some threat response procedures with the help of an EDR solution.
How Can Heimdal® Help?
Heimdal’s Endpoint Detection and Response combines six cybersecurity solutions in one compact agent. This is a time saver that will not delay your systems. It offers you prevention features, threat-hunting, and remediation capabilities in an easy-to-deploy solution.
It incorporates our Next-Generation Antivirus, Threat Prevention, Ransomware Encryption Protection, Privileged Access Management, Application Control, and Email Security
This product uses Machine Learning and AI-driven intelligence to prevent advanced ransomware, insider threats, APTs, software exploits, brute force attacks, DNS and DoH Vulnerabilities, phishing and social engineering, and any other known or unknown threats.
- Next-gen Antivirus & Firewall which stops known threats;
- DNS traffic filter which stops unknown threats;
- Automatic patches for your software and apps with no interruptions;
- Privileged Access Management and Application Control, all in one unified dashboard
Evolution is the key word: as threats evolve, your cybersecurity measures must do the same. From this point of view, Endpoint Detection and Response is the obvious response in the debate on EDR vs. Antivirus as a cybersecurity solution.
EDR will better protect you from modern, more sophisticated, malware, will have a faster response in case of an attack, will assist the IT team in the forensic actions, and will provide them visibility through information and context to build a better defense system against the unknown number and type of threats that are out there.