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. 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. Living in the era of remote working, BYOD (bring your own device) policies, and smartphones as work devices, every one of them can be an entry for viruses, malware, or ransomware.

This is when the discussion about Endpoint Detection and Response – or EDR – versus Antivirus – or AV – as solutions for all these problems comes by.

In this article, we will analyze the features of EDR vs. Antivirus, the differences between them, and why your organization needs an Endpoint Detection and Response solution even if you have an AV installed.

EDR Definition

Endpoint Detection and Response is a multilayered, integrated cybersecurity solution designed not only to detect malware but also to defend your systems when under attack. In order 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.

Often EDR (that is centered on response and reducing damage in case of a breach) is part of an Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) that handles the preventive security measures.

EDR Features

To achieve their goals, the two cybersecurity solutions display a number of features that enables them to fight threat actors.

What EDR can do:

  • can triage security alerts after analyzing them so certain threats can be remediated automatically, as setted up by your security team, and only the most important ones will need human intervention.
  • can gather and analyze data from endpoints giving you important information about the threats you are facing and threat patterns or trends. Can use the same data to preview unknown, future threats.
  • can do real-time treat hunting, identifying and responding very fast to threats that bypass traditional Antivirus.
  • offers support in case of an incident, assisting in forensic analysis too.
  • offers multiple options of response for different types of attacks (isolate and quarantine, eradication, sandboxing, etc.)

Antivirus Definition

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 them from the system.

Traditionally AV solutions use a signature matching process to identify malicious code – compares files against a known database of malware -, or heuristic analysis – based on behavior. More evolved AV solutions – Next Generation Antivirus (NGAV) – base malware detection on AI, making them more efficient.

Antivirus Features

Although there are some similarities between EDR and traditional Antivirus, Antivirus alone is a less comprehensive solution.

What Antivirus can do:

  • detects 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.
  • can do an integrity scan and discover if certain files from the device have been tempered by malware.
  • can identify malware that aims to acquire larger, administrative access on a device using rootkit detection.
  • can discover malicious code in real-time by scanning and monitoring recently-accessed files.
  • can help in the mitigation of some threats by removing malware infections, stopping malicious processes, and quarantining suspect documents.

EDR vs. Antivirus: Differences

We can spot a few major differences between EDR and Antivirus:

The focus of an AV solution is centered 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.

Due to the signature-base detection system, some newest, fileless malware – attacks that execute in memory without creating binaries in the file system, usually used by ransomware operators – can bypass Antivirus, while EDR understands that not all contemporary attacks are file-based.

Because malware varieties are so numerous, it is nearly impossible to have them all in a list of signatures, on the other hand, 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 also help in threat hunting and digital forensics.

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.

Why You Need an EDR Solution

A good Endpoint Detection and Response solution will usually incorporate Antivirus functionalities, offering fuller protection against a wider range of threats.

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?

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It offers you prevention features, threat-hunting, and remediation capabilities in an easy-to-deploy solution.

This product uses Machine Learning and AI-driven intelligence to prevent advanced ransomware, insider threats, admin rights abuse, APTs, software exploits, brute force attacks, DNS and DoH Vulnerabilities, phishing and social engineering, and any other known or unknown threats.

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Wrapping Up…

Evolution is the key word: as threats continue to evolve, your cybersecurity measures need to do the same.

From this point of view, Endpoint Detection and Response is the obvious response in the debate 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.

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