What Is Endpoint Detection and Response and How Does It Work?

Diligently searching for weak spots in the networks of personal devices that IT departments manage, hackers can be persistent. But for every hacker, there’s a cybersecurity team hard at work trying to stop them. Find out more about Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), and why it’s causing hackers headaches. Then, get a data breach detection tool to make sure your private credentials stay safe.

Written by Anthony Freda
Published on April 13, 2022

What is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?

Endpoint Detection and Response is an automated security protocol that monitors events, like files opened or created, on devices connected to a network. EDR is an emerging technology used to monitor for red flags or other malicious signatures and neutralize threats passing through a network.

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    In the event of a breach, EDR tools send reports to security teams to tell them how and when it occurred. EDR tools also record all activity so that system administrators have as much information as possible to diagnose and deal with the threat. Some EDR security systems can quarantine and repair problems autonomously.

    If you’re wondering what exactly an endpoint is in the context of the EDR definition, it’s the device you’re using right now. It can also mean Alexa, or any other Internet of Things device. In security terms, endpoints include:

    • Desktop computers

    • Laptops

    • Servers

    • Tablets

    • Smartphones

    • Smartwatches

    • Smart home controllers

    • Digital assistants

    • IoT devices

    These devices are called endpoints because they’re the last stop on data’s journey to you — the end user — and because they can provide access to the greater network you’re part of.

    Before you download an EDR security tool, note that EDR isn’t designed to protect individual computers. Rather, EDR helps IT departments and network managers oversee a large number of the endpoints (devices) connected to their network. If just one of those devices is hacked, it could provide a backdoor to the rest. So Endpoint Detection and Response is a way for IT departments to keep the networks they oversee free of malicious traffic.

    Of course, it’s always smart to increase your own security, regardless of the network you’re on. And that involves following best practices like creating strong passwords with a random password generator, updating your software regularly, and using comprehensive cybersecurity software.

    Why is EDR needed?

    Endpoint Detection and Response helps fight increasingly sophisticated hacking techniques. Bad actors constantly search for new exploits to take advantage of cybersecurity infrastructure, but EDR provides enhanced threat detection and allows network security teams to respond to breaches more quickly.

    These days, advanced malware strains threaten every single device — laptops, tablets, and smartphones are all potential open doors for cyber attackers to get through. In a modern networked environment where tablets and phones can get viruses, and even everyday objects like printers and coffee makers can be hacked, IT departments struggle to manage thousands of vulnerable endpoints. That’s a lot of open doors.

    Companies could manage protection with a suite of solutions, but nothing is more effective and convenient than an integrated system that records and analyzes activity automatically. That’s where EDR cybersecurity comes in. The EDR platform gives a security team a picture of what’s happening to the computer under attack, which is invaluable for a speedy response.

    EDR tools can tell the difference between malware and a virus, they can help prevent router hacks, and they can spot fake apps based on suspicious behavior (like editing the registry).

    How does EDR work?

    EDR works by logging events on a device or network and monitoring that information for investigation, reporting, detection, and alerting purposes. EDR solutions also come with software capabilities that automatically quarantine and investigate any threat on a system.

    Unlike an antivirus program that detects and removes a virus or malware, EDR tools usually are designed to provide a more big-picture security solution on an organizational level (but they do also include virus removal tool capabilities). EDR software also includes in-depth analytics tools that can detect hackers using fileless malware.


    EDR monitors network traffic in real time, providing a picture of what's happening on a computer and helping the EDR product (and security team) detect suspicious behavior. If the registry shows changes — say, an app suddenly using 100% memory — the EDR tool might alert cybersecurity. EDR software can detect even minute anomalies, thanks to the cloud-based security archives of previous activity.

    Every new security situation helps to enrich the analytics and improve understanding of a certain malware strain’s behavior, which speeds up the remediation time. However, not every Endpoint Threat Detection and Response solution archives data in the cloud.

    To sum, the EDR detection stage involves:

    • Monitoring a computer’s activity for suspicious behavior

    • Checking that activity against a log of known suspicious behavior

    • Raising an alert if something is wrong

    EDR detection involves monitoring computers on a network for suspicious activity.EDR detection involves checking the activity of computers on a network against logs of suspicious or malicious behavior.


    A virus infection can spread and corrupt other files and devices, so rapid containment is crucial. Segmentation isolates files in sub-networks, putting them out of reach from one another and limiting their connectivity.

    Ransomware and spyware can compromise an organization’s most sensitive data, so it’s essential to guard against these threats with the best security. EDR can act swiftly to place such data safely out of harm’s way, thereby containing the threat before figuring out how to neutralize it for good.

    EDR containment is all about:

    • Limiting the damage of a virus or other malware

    • Ensuring the suspicious file has limited connectivity to the rest of the network

    • Isolating the compromised system or device from the rest of the network

    EDR containment means limiting the damage to a network from an infection on any connected device.EDR containment means isolating an infected file or device to limit damage to a network.


    After detecting and containing a threat, Endpoint Detection and Response tools try to figure out what went wrong and what kind of threat they’re facing. Once the malware has been isolated, EDR systems analyze it to see how it works, adding its characteristics and signatures to a growing analytics sample. Sandboxing can provide an isolated environment for EDR to run tests and help the security team understand how the malware works.

    A thorough investigation can help EDR tools act quickly and effectively to detect and combat similar attacks in the future.

    EDR investigation is where the EDR tool:

    • Experiments with the malware in a closed environment to see how it behaves

    • Examines the goals and mechanisms of the virus

    • Explores the file system where the virus took root to gather data on endpoint forensics

    • Adds its findings to a growing library of reports to help in future attacks

    EDR investigation involves analyzing the threat to see how it works and how it infiltrated the network.EDR investigation involves analyzing threats and recording details to help defend against future attacks.


    EDR Elimination means deleting all traces of the virus and fixing the files it may have interacted with. This is why EDR technology meticulously records a computer’s actions, as the sequence of events leading up to the infection can provide clues to the file’s origin, behavior, and trajectory. Getting rid of the malware completely ensures that no part of the network or file system remains compromised.

    In sum, EDR elimination is how:

    • The virus or malware gets deleted

    • Any infected file or segment of the network is repaired

    • Any copy of the virus is rooted out

    EDR elimination gets rid of the malware completely.EDR elimination means removing the threat completely and repairing any infected part of a network.

    Key Components of an EDR solution

    Let’s take a closer look at the specific components behind effective EDR solutions.

    • Incident Triaging Flow: The software should be able to determine the problems that need immediate expert attention and those that can be dealt with automatically by the software.

    • Threat Hunting: The point of EDR is to catch any malware that slips past security software, and that’s where threat hunting comes in. Human error can also let malware onto your system, so look out for common social engineering techniques that hackers use.

    • Data Aggregation and Enrichment: A rich archive of past security situations can help EDR tools weed out false positives and quickly find effective solutions for containment, investigation, and elimination.

    • Integrated Response: One major benefit of EDR is its integration of many different tools. EDR apps communicate with one another and share functionality, which saves time and preserves the security team’s focus and concentration.

    • Multiple Response Options: Attacks come in many forms, so it’s important that EDR doesn’t follow a single path. The best tools provide different options for how to deal with each step, giving experts more control over potentially troubling situations.

    Protect your data from appearing in leaks

    EDR is deployed by expert IT security teams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about how to keep your devices and data safe. Unfortunately, data breaches happen. And when they occur your personal information might be exposed or even leaked on the dark web.

    Thankfully, Avast BreachGuard automatically lets you know if your email or other credentials have been compromised, helping you change your passwords immediately to reduce the damage. BreachGuard also lets you automatically opt out of sending your data to organizations, making your sensitive info less vulnerable and helping to preserve your privacy.

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    Anthony Freda