EDR vs. XDR: What is the Difference and Will XDR Replace EDR?

What is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?

Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is an integrated security solution that provides real-time monitoring for endpoint devices. It continuously collects endpoint data, and enables rapid analysis by security teams and rules-based automated response.

EDR solutions detect and investigate suspicious activities on endpoints and hosts. These tools utilize a high level of automation to help security teams rapidly identify and respond to threats.

EDR is a solution built with an “assume breach mentality.” It assumes that breaches on endpoints will happen, and helps security teams detect them, investigate them in real time, and rapidly respond to contain and eradicate the threat before it causes damage to the environment.

What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?

Extended detection and response (XDR) platforms offer cross-layered detection and response. These tools collect and correlate data from several security layers, including emails, endpoints, servers, clouds, networks, and apps.

XDR platforms employ a holistic approach to improve visibility into the entire environment. It helps detect, investigate, and respond to threats quickly and effectively.

XDR platforms collect deep activity data and consolidate it into a unified solution. It eliminates the need to sift through numerous streams of events from many disparate tools. Instead, it offers a single view of data to help security teams easily make logical connections and act on these insights to mitigate threats.

How Do EDR and XDR Work?

EDR is a security tool that monitors endpoints to help detect and respond to cyber threats. It provides the coverage needed to fill in the security gaps left by traditional antivirus (AV). XDR is a technology that centralizes various security points, including EDR, network firewalls, identity and access management (IAM), cloud access security brokers (CASB), etc.

How EDR Works

EDR is a security platform that achieves continuous, real-time visibility into endpoint activity. It uses security logic according to predefined and observed baselines of normal behavior to automatically trace, identify, and respond to suspicious activity. Each user can determine how the platform manages potential threats.

After detecting suspicious behavior, EDR platforms send alerts to specific stakeholders. The platform can also automatically respond to the potential threat by restricting activity, removing the threat, and repairing damages. However, the response scope is limited and human intervention is required to fill in these gaps.

For example, after detecting a threat, the platform sends an alert and responds automatically to isolate all affected endpoints. The platform cannot determine the next phase - it requires human intervention. Data analysts can investigate the threat to understand how the breach occurred and whether additional damage occurred using the data collected by the EDR platform.

EDR platforms do not provide complete network protection. This technology aims to cover a certain security point, filling in the gaps left by traditional antivirus (AV). While AV software does not provide visibility into endpoint activity, EDR employs learned behavior to recognize emerging threats. You can use EDR to supplement an overall security strategy.

How XDR Works

XDR technology employs several methods to protect all network vectors, including cloud applications, endpoints, SaaS providers, etc. It encompasses multiple types of detection across several security points, accessed through an all-in-one platform.

XDR provides centralized access to various security tools, including EDR, CASB, IAM, secure web gateways, network intrusion prevention systems (IPS), network firewalls, and unified threat management. It is not one specific tool consisting of defined parameters. Rather, it offers diverse protection that collects and correlates data automatically from multiple components.

XDR technology can detect and respond to threats across multiple network components. While SIEM centralizes information, XDR centralizes security tooling. XDR also provides similar functionality to EDR, including alerts, data to support human investigations, and automated threat response.

Related content: Read our guide to XDR security

EDR vs. XDR Security

Both EDR and XDR solutions are designed to replace traditional threat response methods. Therefore, EDR and XDR solutions are similar in the following ways:

  • Preventative approach — traditional security solutions typically focus on detecting and resolving persistent threats. EDR and XDR prevent security incidents by collecting in-depth data from the environment, applying data analysis and threat intelligence, and helping security teams identify threats before they do damage.

  • Rapid threat response — both EDR and XDR support automated threat detection and response. This allows organizations to prevent or rapidly remediate cyberattacks to minimize the cost, impact, and damage of cyberattacks.

  • Threat hunting support — threat hunting provides proactive security by enabling analysts to identify and fix potential security issues before attackers exploit them. EDR and XDR support threat hunting by providing deep visibility and easy access to data.

The main differences between EDR and XDR are:

  • Focus — EDR focuses on endpoint protection, providing detailed visibility and threat protection for specific devices. XDR takes a broader view and unifies security across endpoints, cloud computing, email and other solutions.

  • Solution integration — EDR solutions provide best-in-class protection for endpoints, and organizations can manually integrate them with a set of point solutions. XDR is designed to provide unified visibility and threat management in a single solution that simplifies an organization's security architecture.

XDR: The Future of EDR

An endpoint is one of many links in the attack chain. About a decade ago, EDR emerged as a new cyber defense tool, which could be used in incident response programs to see what hackers are doing on an endpoint to gain control.

XDR extends the concept of EDR. It makes it possible not only to log and report what happened on an endpoint — but across the entire attack kill chain. When done correctly, XDR can provide full visibility at every stage of the intrusion kill chain, including the endpoint.

When an organization adopts XDR, it can monitor and account for any step in the kill chain, no matter where it happens. This capability is extremely important in modern, distributed IT environments, with the growing use of cloud computing and the massive transition to remote work.

Here are a few reasons XDR can change the security game, even for organizations who already have EDR. XDR can:

  • Reduce the likelihood cyber threats will have a significant impact on an organization

  • Detect attacks happening in other parts of the IT ecosystem; not just endpoints

  • Be implemented as a unified platform rather than a point solution, making it easier to deploy, upgrade, scale, and manage

  • Reduce the need for training and additional certifications for already overburdened information security teams and SOC analysts

  • Provide visibility into attacker movements in real time, greatly improving cybersecurity agility and effectiveness

Extended Detection & Response

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