Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

June 16, 2018 11:23 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Defending endpoints these days is no simple task. The number of endpoints in a network is always increasing and the threats targeting these devices seem to evolve every minute. With numerous vendors offering multiple solutions, organizations are left to figure out the best security provider to partner with for the most comprehensive endpoint security solution.

A data breach responders toil to identify the cause of the breach; combine forces to contain its damage; and collaborate on remediation.

This is yet another reason why the field of incident response is an upside down one; because data breaches don’t define victim companies, how they respond to them does.

And this is also why installing a so-called “endpoint detection and response” or “EDR” tool, though not a silver bullet, will soon likely become a critical aspect of every company’s cybersecurity defenses.

Why Use EDR Tools?

EDR tools improve a company’s ability to detect and respond to outsider and insider threats; enhance a company’s speed and flexibility to contain any future attack or anomaly; and help a company manage data threats more effectively overall.

Not only can EDR tools gather and warehouse important data such as system events, network activities and indicators of compromise (IOCs) and then investigate that data in real-time with comprehensive forensic and analytic capabilities, EDR tools also serve a broad range of other more far-reaching purposes, such as:

EDR tools act in concert with traditional signature-based antivirus solution, which are no longer enough to defend against data breaches. EDR solutions can supplement traditional signature-based technologies for more fulsome behavior-based anomaly detection and more powerful visibility across endpoints.  For example, Advanced Persistent Threat Attacks or “APTs” are stealthy, sophisticated, targeted and relentless (typically) state sponsored attacks, which use customized targeted malware that can bypass traditional signature based off-the-shelf antivirus products. An EDR tool fills this void by providing insights into an APT attack as well as internal lateral movement of attackers while concurrently performing system/application scans to, for instance, monitor and contain the use of stolen credentials (an oft used APT tactic) across an internal network.

Installing an EDR tools helps mollify and soothe the multiple constituencies impacted by any data breach. Should a cyber-attack occur, in addition to government-mandated notifications (such as state regulatory notifications), the need to make a host of other important notifications will also arise.  Installing an EDR tool by an incident response team after a data breach (as a so-called “leave behind”) is an effective and proven means of impressing these corporate constituencies.  For example:

Corporate Customers, Partners and Third Party Vendors. Corporate customers, partners and third party vendors will want to know all relevant facts relating to the cyber-attack, especially: if their data has potentially been compromised; if services will experience any disruption; the nature of remediation efforts; if there are any official or unofficial findings any investigation; or if there is any other information which can impact their operations, reputation, etc. These constituencies may ask for weekly or even daily briefings and may also have contractual language establishing their rights when a cyber-attack occurs, which can include: i) notification within a certain amount of time (as low as thirty minutes); ii) on-site inspections; and iii) even the option of an independent risk and security assessment of the victim company (at the victim company’s, and not the customer’s, expense). Installation of an EDR can help calm these constituencies and demonstrate the seriousness and professionalism of a victim company’s response.

Employees. Employees will undoubtedly become concerned and anxious about a cyber-attack, not only because their personal data may have been impacted but also because the future of the company (and their respective jobs) may be at risk.  By installing an EDR, a victim company will impress its employees and employees will feel more secure (especially after an attack).

Board of Directors. Increasingly, cybersecurity receives board level attention and scrutiny.  After a data breach, a board of a victim company will require briefings, reports and may even hire its own independent investigator to review the findings of any digital forensic investigation.  Installation of an EDR can demonstrate to a board the seriousness, thoughtfulness and expertise of a victim company’s response.

EDR tools allow corporate IT departments to focus on running their business operations, as opposed to the exhausting and distracting imposition of staying current with data breach trends and developments. Developing in-house incident response expertise is a Herculean task – not only because hiring in-house incident response experts is a tremendous challenge, but also because the data breach landscape remains in a constant state of flux.  Becoming an expert on malware and the latest data breach techniques is simply not realistic for even the most technically-erudite company.  The best EDR developers not only have an understanding of the latest malware exploits but they are also threat research and development organizations, solely dedicated to gathering the latest data breach intelligence.

EDR solutions are not a substitute for, but can rather act in tandem with, other security measures. EDR tools are complimentary to a variety of other security measures and solutions, including data loss prevention solutions, security information and event management (SIEM) products, network forensics tools and other enhanced security appliances.  Just like adding cameras to a home security system does not jettison the need for powerful and reliable locks on all doors and windows, adding an EDR tool to an IT security system does not jettison the need for anti-virus protection, encryption, two-factor authentication and other more traditional security measures.

The Future of EDR

During the past few years, incident response professionals have witnessed the genesis of a brand new marketplace of dedicated incident response solutions known as EDR tools.  A common complaint about traditional data breach protection toolsets is that they do not detect quickly or nimbly enough to counter the more sophisticated and clandestine data breaches that have begun to afflict public and private companies. EDR tools have emerged to pick up the slack.

Typically installed within an entire attack vector including domain controllers, database servers and user workstations, the innovative real-time “intelligence feeding” of EDR tools will become the standard for corporate cybersecurity.

In addition, EDR technologies provide a richer depth of behavior based anomaly detection and visibility into information relevant for detecting and mitigating advanced threats of all varieties.  For example, regulated financial entities and SEC filing public companies must detect, identify, investigate and mitigate advanced forms of malware but they also must combat internal threats and malfeasance.  By providing instant aggregate threat information and decreasing the so-called “dwell time” of targeted attacks, EDR solutions enhance enterprise visibility and can become a useful tool for countering insider threats, conducting internal investigations and improving regulatory responses.

For instance, most internal investigations kick off with manual data acquisition, file-system forensics and log file analysis on data aggregated and collected after the triggering event.  By providing proactive continuous monitoring and recording of all activity on endpoints and servers, EDR tools reduce the need for such “after-the-fact” data collections.  Thereby EDR tools can dramatically decrease the cost, complexity and time of traditional internal investigations and regulatory response while simultaneously accelerating the identification of not just the root causes and attack vectors of data breaches but also root causes of other types of unlawful behavior, such as theft perpetrated, or operational disruption caused, by a “bad leaver.”  An EDR tools can also impresses regulatory examiners by providing real-time and comprehensive responses to regulatory requests.

Unfortunately, like any other technology product marketplace, the EDR marketplace is not only complex but it is also replete with cybersecurity jargon and high-tech assurances.  In the coming weeks, I will attempt to sift through all of the noise and offer guidance on EDR toolkit selections in plain English, from my perspective as a seasoned incident responder of over 20 years.  My posts will help corporate executives identify the right EDR product for their company and offer a valuable resource for understanding current EDR solutions available in the marketplace.

FireEye EDR

FireEye Endpoint Security is a comprehensive single-agent security solution to protect on-premise and remote endpoints against known and unknown threats. Traditional endpoint protection leaves gaps as it tries to address modern threats. FireEye Endpoint Security improves security visibility and the quality and relevance of your threat data to address these gaps and give you:

  • Fully integrated malware protection (antivirus (AV) defenses), remediation, behavior analysis, intelligence and endpoint visibility
  • Triage and Audit Viewer to conduct exhaustive inspection and analysis of threat indicators with integrated
  • Enterprise Security Search to rapidly search for, find and determine actions of suspicious activity and threats
  • Data Acquisition to conduct detailed in-depth endpoint inspection and analysis over specific time frame
  • Exploit Guard to detect, alert, and prevent attacks attempting to misuse or exploit applications

The combination of endpoint detection and response (EDR) and other capabilities into a single integrated FireEye solution gives analysts a way to quickly inspect, search and analyze any suspicious activity on any endpoint enabling them to adapt a defense based on detailed threat information in real time.

FireEye Endpoint Security (HX series), which includes detection and response capabilities, seamlessly extends the threat intelligence capabilities of other FireEye products to the endpoint. If a FireEye product detects an attack anywhere in the network, endpoints are automatically updated and can be inspected for IOCs.

FireEye HX can be deployed on premise for endpoints inside and outside the corporate network. It helps security teams detect, contain and understand the nature and purpose of known and unknown threats using features such as:

  • Triage Viewer and Audit Viewer to inspect and analyze threat indicators.
  • Enterprise Security Search to rapidly scan for, find and contain threats.
  • Data Acquisition for in-depth endpoint inspection and analysis.
  • Exploit Guard detect and alert on endpoint exploit processes.

Learn more about FireEye Endpoint Security, detection and response capabilities, and about how FireEye can protect your endpoint.

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This post was written by Prime Research Team

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