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Cybersecurity evolves with the times and always needs to stay one step ahead of malicious groups that seek to harm organizations and individuals for various benefits. The age of simple protection (such as traditional Antivirus) is long past. In its stead, today, we have EPDR (Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response) as the new golden standard of cybersecurity’s third wave.

In this guide, I will take you through a brief history of old EDR concepts and help you understand what is currently encompassed by the EPDR umbrella. Afterward, we will delve into how organizations should implement EPDR successfully in their own IT systems and how this should go beyond a certain set of technologies and solutions.

As you will see as we move forward, Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response (EPDR) is more than a suite of IT solutions, it’s an approach to cybersecurity and a philosophy in itself. I will help you explore its tenants and find the best ways to apply them to your particular scenario. Here we go!

What Is EPDR (Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response)?

EPDR in cybersecurity stands for Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response and it refers to a new generation of EDR software, enhanced with threat prevention capabilities. As a result, EPDR takes a proactive approach to cyberattacks, whereas normal EDR has a reactive one.

Prevention or Protection in EPDR?

Even though we were the ones to use the term E-PDR for the first time (on our EDR technology page), we noticed that lately, it started springing up online. We couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s picking up, since the entire cybersecurity community could benefit from this becoming the new standard.

But in some cases, we noticed other analysts and cybersecurity experts using EPDR as an acronym for Endpoint Protection, Detection and Response. Protection, in our perspective, is a broad term that encompasses the end goal of any EDR or other cybersecurity solution. The distinction is in how you achieve and increase protection. You may either be proactive, reactive or a combination of the two.

Protection can refer to any basic security component, akin to a traditional and reactive Antivirus engine. The time for that kind of protection has passed.

Let’s see where the EPDR roots began.

The Old EDR Standard

EPDR is probably a new term to your ears (and eyes) right now, but if you’re loosely aware of the main cybersecurity trends of the decade, EDR should ring familiar.

The term EDR first emerged when Dr. Anton Chuvakin from Gartner’s team of IT security experts coined it as “endpoint threat detection and response” for “tools primarily focused on detecting and investigating suspicious activities (and traces of such) other problems on hosts/endpoints“. The acronym for this new category of tools as defined by him was ETDR (Endpoint Threat Detection and Response), or just EDR for short.

Up until that time, the only comparable security term was that of EPP (Endpoint Protection Platform), but EPPs were severely limited in scope and capacity compared to the next generation of EDR solutions. Typically, an EPP was comprised from an Antivirus, a firewall and a data encryption tool. They were basically a fancier-than-most Antivirus, only effective against known threats.

Compared to an EPP, the EDR was a game-changer: it was more effective against unknown threats since it was adding more layers to the cybersecurity mix.

In no time since the concept was launched, considering that threat actors also combined and improved their attack techniques, EDR suites became the best security offering of all cybersecurity giants. Each of the EDR suites that became available on the market was slightly different, depending on the provider. Still, they had one thing in common, as implied by the very name of EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response): each tried to cover the basic functionalities of detecting and responding to threats at the endpoint level.

For history’s sake, let’s just say that EDR was a cybersecurity revolution in its day, at a time when the world was coming to face the fact that traditional reactive solutions like Antivirus are no longer enough.

Why Prevention Is Key and Should Be Added to an EDR Setup

The way EDR was initially conceived, cannot keep up either with the innovation taking place in the other camp, the malware operators’ camp. As the threatscape evolves, prevention needs to take a first seat in the array of cornerstone EDR functionalities.

Since our flagship product, the innovative two-way DNS traffic filtering engine DarkLayer GUARD™, has made prevention our main approach to cybersecurity from the start of our journey, we were naturally the first company to take the lead in putting Prevention in an enhanced EPDR technology.

If the security architecture of an organization is only focusing on detecting threats and responding to them (thus, only on the D & R of EDR), it’s no longer enough. When a new type of threat occurs (and malware operators are getting very creative), simple EDR won’t cut it anymore. Prevention is the only guarantee to making sure your organization won’t make the next headlines of the wrong kind.

The New Threatscape and Why EPDR Is the New Golden Standard in Cybersecurity

In a way, as I keep saying, cybersecurity tends to be a perpetual cat and mouse game, with roles reversed between the defenders and the attackers. The defenders (cybersecurity providers) find a way to block all incoming attacks, so the attackers (malware operators or hackers, as they are more frequently called) need to come up with new ways to reach their targets.

In the past 2-3 years, the research and innovation techniques of attackers have taken an unprecedented upwards curve. IT attacks are becoming increasingly professionalized. Ransomware-as-a-Service is just one example of the trend. With so much to gain from corporate targets, the malicious cyber-attack industry is getting huge investments into innovation as well.

After the attackers innovate, so must the defenders, to stay ahead of the curve. Some cybersecurity attackers succeed and others fall behind, either becoming obsolete or just fallible. It all depends on how much they make R & D a priority. At Heimdal Security™, research and development has always been our main engine to propel us forward, by the way.

EPDR is the latest example of this type of innovation, but in this case, the system of EDR got enhanced with the essential Prevention component, permanently staying ahead of malware operators. In a way, EPDR is breaking the circle, we can say. In a field such as cybersecurity, where there can be no guarantees, Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response is the closest we can all come to make sure hackers cannot take us by surprise.

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Other terms related to EPDR

There are other alternate terms being used instead of EDR, but they don’t really encompass as much as the EPDR standard. Just in case you notice them in your research, here’s a heads-up on what they mean:

  • XDR stands for Extended Detection and Response – it’s similar to the old EDR standard, but only slightly enhanced; not as effective as EPDR though;
  • MDR stands for Managed Detection and Response – this is another category of services, different from both EDR and EPDR, and which involves hands-on assistance from human experts. It’s also something we offer in our portfolio of services, but not to be confused with the EPDR suite;
  • EPP stands for Endpoint Protection Platform – as explained above when covering the history of the EDR concept, sometimes it was used interchangeably with EDR but it actually refers to a simpler platform, mostly containing reactive solutions such as Antivirus.

How to Implement EPDR in Your Organization

EPDR is the best protection you can invest in for the continuous proactive protection and optimization of your IT systems and operations. But while that’s easy to say and understand at a theoretical level, many IT admins and CISOs are still finding it difficult to discern the best way forward for applying EPDR on the ground level.

Here’s all you need to know about bringing your IT systems to a true EPDR standard of safety.

1. Choosing the Right EPDR (Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response Suite)

There are many legit and many would-be EPDR platforms out there. Here is what to pay attention to when you’re surveying them.

  • Cross-interactivity: Does the Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response Suite have cross-interactive components, or is it a static collection of tools?
  • True prevention, not just protection: As mentioned above, the EPDR platform you will choose needs to have Prevention as a key functionality (what the P should stand for), not just Protection;
  • Aimed at securing insider threat as well as external threats: The right E=PDR platform should also cover the insider threat (through PAM – a Privileged Access Management solution) and through something that prevents BEC (Business Email Compromise);
  • Proactive automated patching – patching is still one of the least well-handled areas in the security of organizations worldwide, and as countless studies have show (see the so-called ‘patching paradox’), you can’t really handle it with more human effort and resources. The only solution is having a fail-proof system in-store that automatically manages vulnerabilities with minimal demands on staff time;
  • A strong AI component: although having human expertise onboard of any initiative is essential and will never get outdated, sometimes a well-trained AI system can pick up on clues that pass human attention. A truly innovative EPDR solution is self-improving and self-actualizing chiefly through its integrated AI.

Of course, while I don’t want to deter you from exploring other options, I should mention that our EPDR suite contains all that and more. It’s not only effective in the immediate sense of providing Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response, but it also succeeds to revolutionize the workplace by cutting down on time waste for both system admins and users, boosting productivity and ROI.

2. EPDR Should Be More than a Layered Suite of Security Solutions, It Should Be a Philosophy

But EPDR should be about more than a selection of tools designed to cover various security gaps.

Even if all the conditions above are fulfilled and you have implemented a great EPDR system, you still need to adopt a code of conduct to enforce a security mindset.

Otherwise, you risk aiding hackers to find the crack in your defenses (the crack being an insider threat through reckless behavior) and exploiting it to circumvent your EPDR.

3. The Essential EPDR Approach to Cybersecurity and Its Principles

So, EPDR should be about more than the actual platform and security solutions used and also a mindset or a philosophy. Here are the basic principles that form, in my view, the Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response (EPDR) approach.

#1. Cybersecurity Awareness is Crucial for Business Survival. Start from the Bottom Up

You can’t enforce a set of apparently arbitrary rules upon everyone in your organization if they don’t properly understand why they need to do things a certain way. Have a cybersecurity awareness training twice a year, and have all new hires go through the loops before they start work.

It’s one thing to be told not to click any suspicious link, and another to have it explained to you in greater detail: how a malicious link can harm the organization, how to recognize a suspicious one, and so on.

Make sure the systems used for work help users be safety compliant, instead of making it harder. This is also a great example of how a truly performant EPDR suite can go above and beyond its immediate functionality. Our EPDR suite makes safety by design easy to employ at all access levels in an organization.

#2. The Zero Trust Principle Should Be Applied Unanimously

No one should be exempt from the so-called Zero Trust principle, an approach in which all users are not given any opportunity to harm the organization. Even unintentionally, anyone can have a careless moment and do something risky, so everyone should have basic user accounts, not accounts with admin privileges.

As I say over and over, removing admin rights throughout your organization and handling them afterward through a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution is the immediate best thing you can do for your security.

Unfortunately, some companies feel skittish about removing admin rights for important users (like C-suite executives) and having them ask for permission to install new apps. It feels awkward, so they prefer to leave their accounts as they are, with full privileges.

This paves the way for hackers who want to infiltrate the organization’s systems through a dedicated effort of compromising the high-profile account, through techniques like whaling or spear-phishing.

Don’t get hung up on applying the Zero Trust principle with no discrimination. Everyone will be on board with it once you also get that cybersecurity awareness training underway.

#3. No Matter How Advanced, Any EPDR Technology Will Fail without Cybersecurity Education

Following up on the initial cybersecurity awareness training is the most neglected part of a sound approach to 360 degrees security. People’s awareness of safety tends to fade if they are not periodically reminded of the best practices they need to observe.

Especially for power users, the few who retain their admin rights (so, basically, the actual system administrators), more sessions of cybersecurity education are crucial.

#4. The Threatscape Is Evolving and Cybersecurity (EPDR Included) Has to Evolve with It

Secure the present, but look to the future as well. An EPDR suite that doesn’t evolve with the times is bound to become obsolete sooner rather than later.

It’s important to choose an EPDR platform from a provider that demonstrated their commitment to continuous innovation and improvement. Not to be too self-aggrandizing, but this is the core of our efforts here at Heimdal Security™ and we strongly believe it’s the only way forward.

Thus, we are bringing new developments and innovating techniques into our EPDR suite (like a strong AI-powered analysis engine) multiple times per year. User experience and liberating time for all employees of our customer organizations is also at the forefront of our efforts. This is what the future of Endpoint Prevention and Response looks like.

#5. Aim for Cyber-Resilience and Be Prepared to Weather the Worst

Now more than ever, cyber-security is a matter of business continuity. Disaster recovery plans are great on paper, but they mostly focus only on the hardware aspects of your IT networks.

New and complex threats require recalibrating your mindset, not just your security. The new mindset should be to ramp up your defenses to the max (see the Zero Trust principle above), but also to expect the worst and have a back-up plan.

Here’s how you can recover and your business can survive even if the worst of the worst happens. Besides protecting your systems with top-of-the-line Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response (EPDR), your organizational behavior also matters.

Start with these key actions:

  • Make frequent back-ups of all your data: Even if you lose access to it and never get it back, you should still be able to pick up where you left off (after you change all access points and reconfigure security, of course).
  • Have strict policies for onboarding and offboarding employees: in addition to minimizing the risk for insider threat through dedicated components of your EPDR layout (such as a PAM solution), you need to be careful with how much access you entrust to whom, and to make sure that past employees don’t retain any access points.
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Conclusion:

There are many exciting directions in which EPDR can and needs to evolve. In our approach to it, we are bringing a lot of AI research to perfect all the different layers in our EPDR suite and make sure that every component intelligently collaborates with the others. We think you can’t excel at Endpoint Prevention, Detection, and Response with solutions that just blindly react to stimuli and can’t move to the next level of foreseeing what the criminals will attempt next.

Our other focus, besides heavily fortifying the AI component of our E-PDR suite of solutions, is to improve the user experience and ease of use for all of them. As security gets more complex, solutions also tend to become more difficult to use, and wielding them is an increasingly professionalized affair. But not every company has the interest or resources to have a full-on team of cybersecurity professionals on board, nor should they have to.

That’s where we come in – we believe cybersecurity should not only be cutting-edge performant but that it should also be a breeze to use. Our unified suite of customizable modules and layered solutions achieves perfect simplicity, automation, with a touch of human assistance when needed. That way, your system admins can focus on more productive tasks, time is saved for both them and regular users and there are no more delays in securing every possible security loophole.

Get in touch with someone on our team today to set up your own demo and a free trial of our EPDR (Endpoint Prevention, Detection and Response), and experience the cybersecurity revolution for yourself!

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