How to Implement Effective Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Strategies

Your business needs a strategy to detect and respond to cyber-attacks. That includes having the right software, monitoring your network, training employees and using managed IT services.

Effective endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools offer visibility across all your devices. They can detect and alert you of malicious activity by comparing events to threat signatures and established behavioral baselines.

Automated Monitoring

A core feature of an effective endpoint threat detection and response (EDR) strategy is automated monitoring of your network’s endpoints. This continuous data collection allows an EDR solution to learn your organization’s safe and unsafe behaviors so that when something unexpected occurs—such as a sudden change in process behavior or a new software file download—it can alert you quickly.

The underlying technology behind automated monitoring is machine learning, which evaluates billions of events across your network to find patterns that indicate a potential cyberattack. An EDR agent on each endpoint sends telemetry data to an analytics engine that looks for signs of unusual behavior. Then, when a suspicious activity is detected, it can trigger an automatic response, such as logging off the affected user.

EDR solutions also perform automated forensics and analysis, an essential step in identifying threats. This analysis includes sandboxing, which involves containing a suspicious file in a controlled environment that mimics conditions within your network so that you can examine it closely to determine whether it is an actual threat. In addition, your EDR system should support a security analyst’s ability to perform manual threat hunting. This will allow you to identify and respond to a potential attack before it causes damage—such as stolen PII. This enables your team to prevent breaches by finding and remediating threats faster than you would if they were handled by automated detection alone.

Threat Intelligence

Many modern cyberattacks are stealthy and evade traditional endpoint security tools. Threat intelligence, a repository of threat information, can help you identify the signs that a possible attack is underway. It also allows you to investigate threats quickly and effectively to prevent them from spreading.

Your EDR solution should be able to collect and store data on the activities of each endpoint in real-time without interfering with normal operations. This data includes many insights, from system processes to network connections. It can then be compared to threat intelligence to help you determine whether an unknown activity is malicious or simply an anomaly.

This analysis can be automated, but your team should still examine the items flagged for further investigation. These can include a sudden increase in traffic to suspicious websites or from countries with high levels of malware activity.

Once a threat is identified, an EDR solution can automatically perform certain incident response activities, such as cordoning impacted compartments of the network to contain an infection and preventing it from spreading to other parts of your business. It can then gather IOCs to identify a breach’s source and prevent future similar attacks. It can also notify your organization’s cybersecurity teams about the incident to reduce the time it takes them to detect and respond to a cyberattack.

Forensics and Analysis

When prevention fails, detection and response come into play. When malware gets past antivirus and other basic endpoint security measures, a cyberattack is often designed to linger and navigate within your network undetected. This type of silent failure is why it can take an average of 197 days (more than six months) to detect and stop attacks that slipped through the cracks.

To combat these threats, EDR solutions monitor and record telemetry on all your endpoints without interfering with normal system processes. The solution then analyzes that data, looking for abnormal patterns and behavior. It also combines that information with threat intelligence, a repository of threat data, to help analysts spot suspicious activity.

Once a threat is detected, the solution can isolate the infected device or take other automated and manual actions. These can include halting system processes, deleting files or data, and separating the machine from the network. During remediation, the solution can also salvage files and data stored on the device and collect specific knowledge to strengthen your overall network security.

The success of EDR solutions depends on their ability to sift through the massive amount of collected data and flag anomalous activity. A good solution should also be able to provide actionable alerts and avoid creating too many false positives, which can overwhelm security teams with noise and lead to alert fatigue. It should also support forensics by connecting to databases of malicious activity and sandbox environments where files can be tested for negative behavior.

Automated Response

An effective security strategy requires detecting and responding quickly when threats are detected. The ability to do this requires an integrated, comprehensive security platform that combines detection, investigation, threat hunting and response capabilities.

An EDR solution can recognize threats that fit a set of pre-configured rules and automatically take action, such as shutting down an endpoint or sending an alert to staff. For hazards that don’t check the pre-configured rules, an EDR solution can perform real-time analytics and forensics on a large volume of telemetry, searching for anomalies and indicators of compromise. The combination of these activities identifies the threat, its impact on the organization and its current reach, and any back doors created by the attacker.

Threat detection involves looking for any suspicious activity indicating a threat, such as process creation, driver loading, disk access, memory access or network connections. An EDR solution like CrowdStrike tracks hundreds of security-related events to provide complete visibility for detection and prevention.

When an attack evades prevention, the last thing your team wants to do is spend days or months cleaning up after a cyberattack that bypassed your defenses. You must implement an automated response as part of your EDR solution to quickly find and stop these attacks.