Making Sense of Endpoint Acronym Soup: EDR, EPP, and U[S]EM

Endpoint security is an evolving field, with a host of tools designed to protect, manage, and respond to threats in the digital landscape. Among those tools are Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP), and Unified Endpoint Management (UEM). Each serves a unique purpose in the broader security and management ecosystem. In this blog post, we provide an overview of each, including how and why they are important to your IT management and security operations.

What is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?

EDR is an advanced cybersecurity tool that monitors endpoint and network events to detect suspicious activities and provide an automated response. These days, many EDR providers claim to employ machine learning and AI technologies to track patterns and anomalies that may indicate a possible threat. Security analysts typically use EDR tools to investigate the scope of the threat and to conduct rapid incident response. EDR solutions may also provide continuous monitoring capabilities, allowing for real-time threat detection and response.

How Does EDR Work?

The typical workflow of an EDR system is as follows:

  1. Data Collection: The EDR solution collects data from various endpoints, including laptops, desktops, servers, mobile devices, and virtual machines.
  2. Event Analysis: Using advanced algorithms (many proprietary), the EDR system analyzes the data to identify any potential threats, anomalous behavior, or malicious activities.
  3. Alert Generation: If suspicious activity is detected, an alert is generated and sent to the security team for further investigation. Unfortunately, for many security operations staff, there are too many alerts generated. This has led to alert fatigue for many.
  4. Investigation and Response: The security team uses the information provided by the EDR tool to investigate the alert and determine the appropriate response to mitigate or prevent any potential threats. Because many alerts are false positives (see point 3 above), SecOps teams spend time chasing down alerts that are harmless. This also means that malicious actors can hide in the noise.
  5. Remediation: Once a threat has been accurately identified and contained, the EDR system can assist with remediation efforts, such as isolating or quarantining affected endpoints.

What is Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP)?

EPP provides preventative security measures to detect and block threats before they can compromise the system. It generally includes antivirus, firewall, and intrusion prevention systems. EPP is typically used by IT administrators and security teams to ensure that all devices connected to a network are secure and to prevent attacks.

How Does EPP Work?

Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) works by installing security software on a user’s device (the ‘endpoint’), which communicates with a central server. The server holds threat intelligence information and security definitions. When the EPP software detects a potentially malicious file or behavior, it communicates this to the server. The server then checks this against its threat database and, if a match is found, instructs the client software to take a specific action, such as quarantine or delete the suspicious file. This process helps ensure real-time protection against known and emerging threats. Many users will recognize this process with antivirus software.

Despite its numerous benefits, EPP is not infallible. Firstly, EPP is inherently reactive and predominantly effective against known threats, which are registered in its threat database. Consequently, it struggles to identify and mitigate zero-day attacks and threats that are not yet recognized in its database. Secondly, savvy attackers can modify their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to bypass EPP defenses. Furthermore, EPP’s effectiveness is often contingent on regular definition updates, which if not done timely, can leave gaps in the system’s defenses. Lastly, because EPP is device-centric, it may not be able to adequately protect increasingly cloud-based environments.

How does EPP differ from EDR?

While EDR focuses on detecting and responding to threats after they have breached the system, EPP is designed to protect against those threats in the first place. EPP uses a combination of preventative measures such as antivirus software and firewalls, while EDR relies more heavily on detection and response capabilities. Both are important components of a comprehensive security strategy and can work together to provide layered protection.

Unified Endpoint Management (USEM)

Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) is designed to deploy, update, and troubleshoot endpoint devices within an organization. It helps IT teams manage a wide range of devices, including desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, ensuring they are updated and compliant with company policies.

Unified Security and Endpoint Management (USEM) presents an innovative evolution of UEM, integrating both management and security functions, from endpoint and patch management to vulnerability scanning, risk prioritization, and remediation, into a single, cohesive platform. This approach streamlines the process of monitoring, managing, and securing all endpoint devices within an organization’s network. Not only does it enhance the efficiency of IT operations, but it also raises the bar for security, leveraging real-time device statuses to ensure assets have the latest updates or necessary configurations. By unifying security and management within one solution, businesses can anticipate and respond to threats more rapidly and robustly, ensuring a secure and seamless operational environment.

Many organizations will use multiple vulnerability scanning tools to provide fail-safes and ensure they are able to validate vulnerability scanning results. For USEM users that also employ a vulnerability scanner from the unified platform, they can often validate that remediations have already been applied or find vulnerabilities that best-of-breed scanners did not. This is because of that real-time connection to endpoints, providing deep and detailed insight.

The Synergy Between EDR, EPP, and USEM

While EDR, EPP, and UEM might seem like distinct entities, they all work in unison to provide a comprehensive security strategy. EPP provides the first line of defense by blocking known threats, EDR steps in to detect and respond to any threats that slip past the EPP, and USEM keeps devices compliant and prevents exploits by keeping assets up to date while reducing vulnerabilities across the operating system and software applications. Together, they provide a holistic approach to endpoint security, ensuring that organizations are well-equipped to face the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Most organizations have an EPP or EDR system in place. But do you have a USEM solution? It’s unlikely. Why not check out Syxsense’s USEM solution, which offers an unrivaled user experience and leverages the power of real-time device status to ensure assets stay updated and compliant, thereby reducing vulnerabilities? Experience firsthand how Syxsense can revolutionize your endpoint security and management. Schedule a custom demo today.