Contributor:  Shilpi Dey, Endpoint Strategist and Product Management Lead, IBM

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about next-generation endpoint security and prevention tools versus endpoint detection and response solutions. Many clients ask the same questions about bolstering their security posture and balancing budgets, including where to start, what to augment, what to replace and, most importantly, where to invest.

Although numerous vendors and analysts have said much on this topic, I think it’s important to distill all this information into a simple (if not necessarily easy) method of categorizing and prioritizing approaches. Back in the day, there were endpoint fortresses of signature-based endpoint protection solutions. Then came solutions focused on encryption, host intrusion prevention, etc. Soon after, the endpoint agent became a behemoth requiring its own set of management controls.

Fast forward to the last few years. As we all know, cybercriminals evolved and the threat landscape changed significantly, warranting a whole new breed of solutions. Enter endpoint detection and response (EDR), a term coined by Gartner, which utilizes lightweight sensors so as not to collide with the agent technologies of the past. EDR technologies look at everything from malicious applications to good applications gone rogue using behavioral analytics, heuristics and threat intelligence.

Illuminating Blind Spots

EDR is a huge boon for threat hunters and analysts because it illuminates a significant blind spot for threat telemetry, especially when combined with a security information and event management (SIEM) solution. Why is that? EDR technology provides analysts with a comprehensive view that helps them determine the who, what and when of an incident. Analysts and threat hunters can use that information to determine exactly what action needs to be taken.

If EDR is so great, why not simply replace all endpoint solutions with EDR? This brings us back to the original question of prevention versus detection and response. It has been said that prevention cannot catch everything. There is an entire industry dedicated to thwarting the latest prevention tools, and malicious actors are constantly morphing their techniques, tactics and procedures (TTPs) to bypass any and all controls organizations put in place.

Applying Endpoint Detection and Response

So where is EDR applicable? One of the key determinations is risk identification: Which endpoints or assets should be classified as high-value assets? Your developer systems? Executive or marketing systems? Or perhaps that server containing critical data? Once these points of risk are identified, putting EDR on those assets is a good first step. EDR technologies often do not lock systems or bring them down — they provide monitoring and visibility.

Then again, for many companies, the value of EDR is not just in those high-value or critical assets, but in monitoring all the endpoints in their organization.

You can use an EDR to analyze the activities occurring on the endpoints and determine the appropriate response. But a tool is only as good as what you do with it. My washing machine has many settings, for instance. Although I’m sure the extra settings will leave my clothes extra clean at the end of the cycle, I tend to stick to one or two that are familiar. Similarly, EDR is only as good as what you do with the information it provides. Make sure your organization’s threat hunter or security professional analyzes the data to make sense of what is happening and determine what to do about it.

Choosing the Right EDR Solution

EDR solutions can help address malware, persistent threats, threat actors, application and process behavioral anomalies, and behaviors deviating from your organization’s baseline. It enables security analysts to forbid or permit file sharing applications on specific domains, for example.

When selecting and deploying an EDR solution, consider whether it integrates with your favorite SIEM in a clear, consumable interface with meaningful information. Also consider the flexibility of the solution’s deployment options. Does it provide a full set of rich capabilities to enable threat hunters to pinpoint root cause and not make these decisions on the analyst’s behalf?

Make sure you know who or what within or outside your organization is going to use the endpoint detection and response technology. What skills do they have? Are they able to scour alerts and make sense of the process mapping and what it means for the organization? How would they use this information to make actionable decisions? Are they able to hunt through your network to see if a given threat exists anywhere else? Are they utilizing automation and investigating new techniques and intelligence sources as part of a robust threat hunting platform?

Of course, you can choose to do this all in-house, given the right combination of talent, bandwidth and threat intelligence to get the job done. Or you can choose to investigate a managed security service that can move the needle faster and stay ahead of the game more effectively and less expensively than internal resources. Instead of chasing threats, an EDR solution helps you focus on supporting your core business.

Schedule a consultation to learn more about how endpoint security can protect your business.

If you liked this blog, you also might like:  Responding to a Cybersecurity Incident – Dos and Don’ts

logo-ibmStay connected online:

Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

IBM Security

IBM's integrated solutions harness security-relevant information from across your organization, and use analytics and automation to provide context and help you detect threats faster, identify vulnerabilities, prioritize risks, perform forensics analysis and automate compliance activities. 

  • Video: Don’t Drown in a Sea of Cyberthreats: Mitigate Attacks with IBM BigFix & QRadar

  • Security teams can be overwhelmed by a sea of vulnerabilities–without the contextual data to help them focus their efforts on the weaknesses that are most likely to be exploited. Cyberthreats need to be stopped before they cause significant financial and reputation damage to an organization. You need an endpoint security platform that can detect threats, prioritize risks and respond within minutes to shut down an attack or vulnerability that could compromise your endpoints.IBM BigFix seamlessly integrates with IBM QRadar to provide closed loop vulnerability management, accelerating risk prioritization and incident response to mitigate potential attacks giving you an integrated threat protection system to keep your endpoints and data secure.For more information, please visit

  • Infographic: A survey of the cyber security landscape

  • Understand the threat landscape to improve your security posture. There’s very little that cyber criminals can do today that’s truly new—and yet, 2015 was filled with serious incidents across the entire industry. View our 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence infographic to learn more, and determine what you can do to improve your security posture.

  • Video: Endpoint Management with IBM BigFix

  • Discover, manage and control your endpoints–in real time. With IBM BigFix, you can find and fix problems in minutes with real-time visibility and control into all your endpoints. Our single-console, single-agent, single-server architecture helps reduce the cost, risk and effort of managing virtually any mix of endpoints—so you can focus on higher value projects for increased productivity.To learn more about IBM BigFix, please visit

  • Video: IBM MaaS360 Enterprise Mobility Management

  • IBM MaaS360 has massively redefined mobile security and productivity for enterprise management. Identity and access, malware protection and a containerized environment that feels native await inside your free 30 day trial. Start managing iOS, Android and Windows phones and tablets today

  • Study: 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis

  • IBM and Ponemon Institute released the 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis. According to this research, the average total cost of a data breach for the 383 companies participating in this research increased from $3.79 to $4 million. The average cost paid for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased from $154 in 2015 to $158 in this year’s study.Read the complete report to learn more. 

  • White Paper: Rewriting the rules of patch management with IBM BigFix

  • Learn how IBM BigFix combines the separate pieces of the patch management puzzle into an intelligent simplified solution.