What Is the Difference between EDR and Antivirus?

EDR

You’ve probably heard of the term antivirus if you use computers or devices. Antivirus is an outdated term that describes software that shields your system against computer viruses. Computer viruses, of course, are malware that can corrupt or delete your files.

But nowadays, the term antivirus is used to describe security tools that detect and protect against all types of malware, from computer viruses and worms to adware, spyware, Trojans, etc. A more accurate term for antivirus would be anti-malware software, but the term antivirus has stuck for many people.

What is EDR?

So, what is EDR in cybersecurity, and what do the letters stand for? EDR is short for Endpoint Detection and Response. Cybersecurity guru Anton Chavukin came up with the term “endpoint threat detection and response” in 2013 to describe software focusing on potentially malicious activities at hosts or endpoints.

EDR collects data from endpoint devices to understand cybersecurity threats and help organizations enhance network defenses. EDR, in combination with integrated anti-malware and anti-exploit capabilities, strengthens security, reduces dwell time for potential infections, and protects employees, businesses and endpoints from cybercriminals.

What Is the difference between EDR and Antivirus?

The most significant difference between modern antivirus software and EDR is scale. You buy consumer anti-malware tools to shield your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet from malicious software. Meanwhile, you buy EDR to defend hundreds or even thousands of endpoint devices against malware.

In addition, EDR offers better reporting than typical antivirus software. With EDR, security admins know the history of endpoint threat activity. Whenever there is cause for concern at an endpoint, admins can isolate, quarantine, or remediate a potential threat. They don’t have such options with regular anti-malware tools.

EDR is suitable for BYOD

The right EDR system can protect both company-owned and employee-owned devices in an organization with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. While a BYOD policy can attract employees, raise morale, and save a company considerably on technology expenses, risks are involved.

For example, should an employee’s personal device be stolen, critical data could fall in the wrong hands. An unprotected device could also prove to be a threat vector for phishing, Trojan, or ransomware attacks.

Devices that serve work and personal use are also more likely to be exposed to malware when an employee visits websites, opens links, downloads programs, or browses social media on personal time. For these reasons and more, many companies with BYOD policies believe that robust EDR tools are indispensable.

Changing Trends

There was a time when consumer attacks were the primary focus of cybercriminals. But as the 2020 State of Malware report explains, hackers are focusing less on attacking individuals and significantly more on attacking organizations. After all, an organization is where the money is.

The most obvious example of this shift is the rise in ransomware attacks against businesses, hospitals, educational institutions, charities, and government bodies. EDR tools that can remediate ransomware attacks by recovering data from backups and reduce downtime are a big part of the solution against more skilled and dangerous online criminal groups. Simple antivirus software just doesn’t cut it for large-scale robust security.