Even before the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched the Shields Up cybersecurity awareness campaign, attacks were on the rise.  While high-profile attacks on Colonial Pipeline, Toyota, and JBS grabbed the headlines, countless smaller companies also fell victim to a variety of cyberattacks. 

ClearNetwork’s Managed Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions like our Managed CrowdStrike EDR service help organizations of all sizes to fend off attacks, even zero-day exploits.  Large enterprises, resource-constrained municipalities, and nonprofit entities can all realize significant value from a managed EDR solution.

What is EDR?

EDR stands for Endpoint Detection & Response:

Endpoints = any device connected to a network.  

While we commonly think first of our standard computers, such as laptops and desktop computers, in the modern organization, mobile phones, tablets, heart-rate-monitors, and security cameras can also be included in the category.  Modern EDR often can be deployed on devices that do not support antivirus and expand the security umbrella even further.

Detection  = identification of malicious software or users acting on the endpoint.  

Unlike older technologies, modern EDR technology incorporates artificial intelligence and robust detection algorithms to even detect new attacks and malware based solely on their behavior. EDRs send alerts and technical data for further analysis so that early hints of malicious activity can be used by security professionals to analyze the big-picture health and activity of the organization as a whole.  

Response = Reacting to internal and external threats before they can infect a network.  

An EDR solution continuously analyzes behavior on the endpoint and can immediately act upon known and recognized threats to isolate a device and prevent further infection of the network. EDRs also can allow security professionals to remotely access and remediate endpoint devices directly.

EDR Advantages

Legacy antivirus continues to improve, but EDR surpasses AV in four key categories:

  • Improved Detection Capabilities
  • Superior Local PC Performance
  • Reduced Malware Detection Time
  • Expanded Response Options

We have a more thorough explanation and comparison of EDR versus Antivirus technologies for those who need it, but organizations must recognize that older antivirus (AV) technologies significantly increase risks and potential liabilities.

Three Use Cases for Traditional AV

EDR will be the recommendation for endpoint security in almost every use case and customer.  There are only three conditions where it would be recommended to stick with AV over EDR

  1. Low Computer Use: Companies that don’t need computers or use computers minimally for their daily operation will not suffer significant business disruption from an attack.
  2. No Owned Computers: Some organizations rely on employee bring-your-own-device (BYOD) infrastructure and cloud SaaS resources.  In these cases, the company pushes the responsibility of cybersecurity to their employees for endpoint protection and can use alternative technology for protection.
  3. Minimal Resources: Some businesses in the process of bankruptcy or being shut down will be transferring assets of value to new entities but need to stay in business during the final court proceedings.  While these organizations may be highly vulnerable to attack, they may not have the financial leeway to enact reasonable protection.

Business Risks Avoided by Moving From Traditional AV to EDR

Free and low cost antivirus works fine for individuals that can afford to temporarily lose use of their computers, but professional organizations have additional responsibilities.  There isn’t much price difference between advanced AV and EDR, but the real issue is that saving a few pennies in the short term can result in huge costs later.

IBM estimates that the average US data breach costs $8.6 million to resolve and other cybersecurity companies find that the cost could be even higher at $15.01 million.  Even if a company avoids a data breach, the average cost for a simple cyber attack still reached $133,000 in 2020 and is growing at 15% per year.

These averages include hard costs such as investigation or remediation expenses as well as soft costs such as business losses and reputation damage.  More individuals, business partners, and insurance companies also sue for damages after breaches which adds additional risk.  After all, no executive wants to risk their professional and personal reputation and testify in court to justify why their low-cost endpoint protection was considered sufficient!

EDR reduces business risks in comparison to Traditional AV by:

  • Improving evidence compared to AV
    • AV generally only reports what they block, they do not report on anything else which leads to increases in:
      • Response times for successful attacks
      • Investigation effort
      • Remediation time
    • EDR provides information on potentially suspicious activity that provides:
      • An overall big picture of the activities in an organization.
      • Documentation of attack processes to help respond to an attack.  
      • Improved evidence for remediation and possible legal action
  • Decreasing costs compared with AV
    • AV only protects the local machine and cannot contain costs because:
      • With limited evidence coming from AV tools, a business does not have insight into the endpoint activity from attackers.
      • Without the ability to isolate an endpoint from the network, AV cannot contain attacks or protect other computers in the organization.  AV is boolean and either recognizes malware or ignores an attack.
    • EDR ultimately reduces costs because it
      • Provides communication and evidence for anomalous activities and tracks possible malware and attacks.  This additional information helps investigators act faster and focus only on affected machines.
      • Automatically can isolate a device from the network and prevent malware from spreading to other machines.

Managed EDR versus EDR

Organizations need to be honest with themselves about their resources.  Can they effectively handle their security without assistance?  Even the largest enterprises with the largest budgets understand that outsourcing can provide advantages.  

When evaluating if an organization will benefit from a managed solution, management should consider five key metrics.  If management does not have clarity and satisfactory results for these metrics, a managed EDR solution may help significantly.

1. Cyber Attack Analysis

Does the organization have regular reports regarding the number of attacks on local endpoints?  How many attacks and what type were stopped by their antivirus or endpoint protection software?  If the management team of the business doesn’t know how often they are attacked or by what means, how can they determine if the defenses are sufficient? 

2. Cyber Attack Momentum

For those receiving reasonably good reports of attacks, what is the trend?  Most will find that the number of attacks on corporate infrastructure is increasing.  This global trend cannot be avoided, but if most attacks make it through the firewall and are being stopped by email or endpoint security, then it will be a matter of time before an attack is successful.  

Organizations under siege need insight into the sources and techniques of attackers.  Managed EDR services provide that visibility.

3. Employee-generated Vulnerability

Do employees regularly click on phishing attacks or fail phishing training?  Companies may only have a small number of employees that fall for phishing attacks, but it only takes one bad click to create a ransomware nightmare.

While network segmentation, network monitoring, and other tools also play valuable roles in protecting the organization, most defenses start at the endpoint where strong EDR solutions provide the first line of defense.  Managed EDR solutions can leverage the collective knowledge of experienced security teams to react even more effectively.

4. IT Team Burnout

How burned-out is the internal IT or security team?  Are they spending a lot of time chasing down alerts, remediating malware infections, regularly working overtime, or failing to take vacations?  It can be very expensive to hire qualified, experienced IT security personnel so existing teams often will be stretched thin trying to keep the organization secure while also trying to maintain and optimize IT infrastructure..

Executives need to track or measure team status.  Exhausted personnel cannot perform at their peak and or apply their true level of competence in the event of an attack.  Outsourcing to a managed EDR solution can let dedicated security professionals perform the daily heaving lifting and let the IT team focus on more critical infrastructure issues.

5. IT Team Vacancies

How many open positions are there on the IT Security Team?  Security team positions are difficult to fill because of a general shortage of qualified personnel and an abundance of open positions.  Many experienced security personnel do not like to work in-house because they can become bored with the limited focus of a single organization or frustrated by non-security assignments.

Managed IT security service providers (MSSPs) can recruit the best talent and in-turn offer that talent to their customers at a fraction of the cost. The security professionals in a MSSP that back a managed EDR solution spend all of their time working in security.  

They also deploy their expertise across a variety of organizations which not only provides the variety of experience to keep professionals interested, but also provides insight that can be leveraged across the entire ecosystem.  Full time MSSP security experts identify threats faster, optimize alerts more effectively to minimize false alarms, and respond to attacks more effectively.

Managed EDR Simplicity

Some IT managers hesitate to pursue advanced EDR protection because they know that increased capabilities come with increased complexity.  Unprepared organizations certainly experience difficulty realizing the full value of an EDR solution when they are unprepared for the staffing requirements, setup, or tuning alerts.  

Managed EDR Staffing

EDR solutions require a security team with the time and resources to understand, analyze, investigate, and respond to alerts.  However, IT staffing is difficult and particularly challenging and expensive to retain experienced security professionals.

Surveys estimate that large enterprises receive 10,000 or more alerts a month and most of these are false alerts.  EDR solutions will generate a large percentage of these alerts and inadequate staffing will prevent the reduction of false alerts and will stress IT teams.

The dedicated focus of MSSPs drives experience throughout the organization because of the specialization.  MSSP experts will be faster at installation, alert assessment, alert tuning, and incident response because they have simply done all of these tasks more often and in a variety of situations.  

At Clearnetwork our customers have enjoyed over 20 years of stellar customer service for managed IT security and rely on our decades of cumulative experience.  Our outstanding security team delivers outstanding performance and stellar customer service.

We operate faster and with less mistakes than most in-house teams because we maintain large teams of security specialists.  However, customers will not see increased costs because the costs of the MSSP security specialists are spread out over a larger customer base.

Managed EDR Setup

Without security professionals skilled with EDR deployment, organizations may find their EDR overreacting to false alarms, missing critical alerts, sending too many alerts, or discovering their EDR improperly configured for the endpoint.  Installation requires expertise and internal security teams only have limited installation opportunities.

Clearnetwork’s EDR experts perform many installations over a variety of IT infrastructures and endpoints.  Our experience permits faster installations, less operational disruption, and more effective alert generation from the EDR tools.

Managed EDR Alert Monitoring & Tuning

Even the best installation by the most experienced experts will generate false alarms.  In the beginning security teams need to verify installations have been done properly and also understand the everyday activities of an organization.  

Initial installations favor too many alerts so that no critical alert might be missed.  Inexperienced or understaffed security teams may ignore the wrong alerts to chase down what an experienced analyst would easily see is a false alarm.  

Security teams must be capable of effectively and efficiently analyzing results to react appropriately to true threats and to tune the EDR to eliminate common false alarms.  MSSPs with broad experience use experience gained from previous installations to understand baseline activities faster, eliminate false alarms faster, and contain attacks more effectively.

Clearnetwork manages the security for many different customers and many more endpoints than the average organization.  An attack on any one customer provides information that will immediately be leveraged for the benefit of all other customers to shorten time for discovery and further limit potential damage from an attack.

Business Advantages to Managed EDR 

Opting to outsource EDR management offers organizations the opportunity to benefit from focus, cost savings, and simplicity.  

Focus

Companies might hire security specialists, but those specialists typically will have nothing to do with the mission and core activities of the business.  MSSPs focus 100% on security- all day, every day.  

A MSSP’s 100% focus on security helps them hire and retain security experts more easily.  A customer outsourcing security to an MSSP can allow their internal IT teams to focus on IT projects that deliver true advantages to the organization’s core business goals.

Cost Savings

MSSPs enjoy the scale required to negotiate better rates for software licenses and infrastructure costs.  By spreading infrastructure, licensing, and labor costs over many different customers, we can offer the highest expertise at a fraction of the cost for creating internal security resources.

MSSP security experts also save companies money by reacting faster to attacks and limiting damage and operational disruptions.  In the event of a successful attack or breach, MSSP security experts can investigate faster, produce useful evidence, and remediate devices more quickly than an in-house IT team.

Simplicity

When outsourcing to an MSSP, an organization also outsources the management headaches as well.  The MSSP absorbs the complex accounting rules for the infrastructure, the management of technical teams, and the burden of maintenance and integration.

Additional MSSP Information Resources

While this article focuses on Managed EDR, we have other resources available that talk about MSSPs more generally:

ClearNetwork Managed EDR

Some organizations worry that outsourcing means plugging into a generic solution and being forced to dance to their vendor’s requirements.  Others worry about fly-by-night vendors that will disappear once an attack begins or cheap products that promise a lot and deliver much less. 

ClearNetwork’s Managed CrowdStrike EDR delivers all of the advantages of a Managed EDR solution along with 20+ years of security expertise and satisfied customers.  Our Gartner-leading EDR technology, CrowStrike, is one of the most technically advanced and respected endpoint security products available.  

Our customers enjoy the advantage of Crowdstrike’s scale of 30 billion endpoint events per day that feeds into Artificial Intelligence algorithms to detect attacks and eliminate false alarms faster and more efficiently.  Meanwhile, ClearNetwork’s experts deliver tailored customization for setup, alert monitoring, human response, and customer support.

ClearNetworks also offers many other IT security options to our customers such as:

While not all customers will need the full spectrum of ClearNetwork’s services, all of our customers benefit from our broad security background and immense expertise of our team’s capabilities.  Our knowledge and experience enables a spectrum of solutions to satisfy our customers’ needs at a competitive price.

Taking the Next Step

Every organization wants to be secure.  Using a managed EDR solution helps companies to enjoy much stronger security than they can realize using internal resources or traditional antivirus.   For those wanting to explore technology details and how managed EDR like our Managed CrowdStrike service might benefit their specific organization, reach out to Clearnetwork.  Our experts will explain the offering in the full context of current and future security needs and how to realize the most value from managed endpoint detection and response solutions.