EDR vs Antivirus
The dangers of malware extend past a common computer virus. Malware can be used to steal personal information, pirate software, and damage hardware. Malware also has the potential to create worms that spread quickly online, infecting multiple devices in a short amount of time.
In fact, there are more than 450,000 types of malware reported every day.
Cyber criminals often use malware in large-scale attacks like distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) or ransomware. Two ways of detecting and intercepting malware before it spreads are antivirus (AV) and endpoint detection and response (EDR).
In this EDR vs AV guide, we'll explain what sets each apart and how you can incorporate them into your cybersecurity management strategy.
What is antivirus?
Antivirus, also known as antivirus software, is designed to detect and remove malware from devices. It scans the system for malicious code, identifies any threats, and removes them before any damage can be done.
For example, antivirus software can monitor incoming files, emails, and web downloads for signs of malware. It also scans websites to ensure they are safe to enter without the risk of a virus or other malicious code.
To accomplish this, antivirus software generally uses a signature-based detection method to detect malware. Signature-based antivirus is the most common type of antivirus software. It looks for patterns or “signatures” associated with known malicious code and blocks any files that match these signatures from being installed on your device. Other types include behavior-based detection and heuristic-based detection, but these options are generally used in EDR as well.
Antivirus solutions are typically cloud-based, which allows for real-time protection against new threats as they emerge in the wild.
What is EDR?
Now that you fully understand the antivirus definition, let’s move on to EDR. EDR takes a more proactive approach to protect network endpoints from malware.
EDR solutions monitor the behavior of all applications on an endpoint or network device to detect suspicious or anomalous activity that could signal an attack occurring.
They also include response capabilities such as automated containment, remediation, investigation, and rollback options in the event of a security breach. Let’s discuss how each of these procedures works:
- Containment: Containment refers to the process of preventing a malicious actor from being able to access and spread their malware. EDR solutions can help contain an attack by blocking malicious processes, disabling network connections, or otherwise preventing them from performing certain actions on your system.
- Remediation: Remediation involves taking action to clean up any damage that has already been caused by an attack. This includes restoring data, removing malicious files, and undoing any configuration changes.
- Investigation: Investigation is necessary to determine the cause of the attack and uncover any underlying vulnerabilities that need to be addressed for you to prevent similar attacks in the future. EDR solutions can provide detailed reports about what happened during the attack, which can be used to inform your security strategy going forward.
- Rollback: In some cases, it may be necessary to roll back changes that have been made because of an attack. EDR solutions can help with this process by providing the ability to quickly revert any system configurations or files that were changed during the attack.
For example, EDR can recognize when an application is exhibiting behavior that could indicate a malicious attack.
It can then respond to this threat by isolating the application or device from the network and running scans or isolation protocols to prevent further infection
EDR systems are typically integrated with existing security solutions such as antivirus, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems for added protection.
Finally, EDR solutions can also be used to detect malicious activity that antivirus software may miss. These solutions are often cloud-based and offer advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities to improve detection accuracy.
How do both methods support cybersecurity defense?
Both antivirus and EDR schemes are essential for protecting your network from threats. While antivirus software provides a reactive approach to defense, EDR offers a proactive solution that can identify malicious behavior before it becomes an issue.
Using the two methods together will help ensure that any potential threats are identified quickly and addressed appropriately.
For example, let's say an employee opens a malicious email attachment that contains malware. The antivirus software will detect the threat, remove it, and alert IT staff of the issue.
At the same time, EDR will recognize any suspicious activity associated with the threat, such as trying to access restricted data or opening certain files.
It can then isolate the application or device from the network and provide additional security measures to ensure no further damage is done.
What are the pros and cons of antivirus?
Antivirus software is a great defense against existing threats, but it can't protect against new or unknown ones. It also requires regular updates to ensure its effectiveness.
In the conversation of antivirus vs endpoint protection, here is how AV measures up:
- Antivirus software can detect and remove malicious code quickly.
- It's often free or very affordable.
- The software is also easy to install and use.
- Antivirus is not always effective towards new threats.
- It requires regular updates to stay effective, which isn't ideal for growing organizations.
- Antivirus software can slow down system performance due to resource usage.
What are the pros and cons of EDR?
EDR offers more protection than antivirus software but can be more difficult to set up and maintain. The advantages and drawbacks can be best explained below.
- EDR is more effective at detecting new threats that existing antivirus solutions may miss.
- It can identify suspicious behavior quickly and respond with automated containment measures.
- The solution also uses a cloud-based platform for real-time threat detection.
- EDR requires additional setup time and resources to implement.
- It can require ongoing maintenance to keep the system up to date with emerging threats.
- EDR solutions are usually costlier compared to traditional antivirus software.
How can EDR and antivirus work together?
EDR and antivirus software can work together to provide more comprehensive protection for your network. By combining the two solutions, organizations gain better visibility into their networks and the ability to detect and respond to threats quickly.
Particularly, antivirus software should be a front-of-the-line defense against malware attacks.
EDR should be used to augment existing security tools and provide an additional layer of protection.
For example, if antivirus software detects a malicious file like spyware, EDR can be used to determine the extent of the attack and feed diagnostic behavior analysis to IT and cybersecurity teams.
This approach can prevent spyware from analyzing user keystrokes to steal personal and financial information.
EDR can also hybridize well with other tools, like security information and event management (SIEM).
To see how these two aspects interplay, read our e-book, SIEM vs EDR: Why Using Both Gives You a More Complete Picture of Cybersecurity Threats.
EDR vs. antivirus: The final verdict
When it comes to antivirus vs EDR, there is no clear verdict on which is the superior cybersecurity measure.
Antivirus software and EDR are two important tools to protect organizations from malicious attacks. By using these solutions together, companies can identify suspicious behavior quickly and respond with containment measures before any damage is done.
The combination of the two provides an effective defense against known threats while still being able to detect and analyze new ones as soon as they appear.
However, it's important to keep in mind that no security solution is foolproof, and it's essential to invest in comprehensive security measures such as firewalls and user authentication protocols like ConnectWise MDR (managed direction and response).
ConnectWise's next-generation EDR solution provides AI-powered monitoring, a security operations center, complete response remediation, and enterprise-grade EDR technologies to protect companies from the ever-evolving threat landscape.
Managed SOC is especially effective for MSPs because it allows all the added security benefits without the cost of entry to set one up in-house. Combined with the value of EDR, this can make a great solution for MSPs to stand at a higher standard of security.
We have a product that does just that in ConnectWise MDR. MDR stands for managed detection and response, and serves as a service that combines the benefits of EDR and a SOC for MSPs. With this support, companies can stay ahead of threats or respond to them quickly and effectively. Contact us today to learn more about how to keep your organization safe.