EDR XDR difference

Understanding EDR vs. XDR: Key Differences

Andrew Douthwaite

May 30, 2024

Business operations have undergone a massive shift to the cloud over the past decade and a half. This move has made it easier for remote workers to connect to their networks and freed up resources that used to be spent building network server rooms and hiring IT professionals to man them. It’s been seen as a largely positive shift, but not one without potential vulnerabilities. 

Lax policies and user error have made these cloud-based networks a top target for cybercriminals, meaning we’ve got to bolster our defenses. When it comes to solutions, understanding the EDR XDR difference gives us the information we need to make the right choice in proactively protecting our data against potential threats.

If you’re new to the world of cybersecurity, this will serve as a straightforward overview of two of the top technologies used to actively monitor and analyze network activity today. They are popular options because proactive monitoring alerts us to potential incidents with enough advance notice to do something about them. So, what makes incident detection and response such an important part of internet security to get right?

Why we protect our data

The data contained within any business network can be a valuable target for hackers and other bad actors. It often contains personally identifiable information and financial information that can ruin a business’ reputation, result in hefty fines, and potentially even put it out of business. For these reasons, it’s important to closely monitor our networks for potential threats and prepare to act in the case of any breach. Two of the most effective solutions in this space are EDR and XDR. 

The EDR XDR difference

We know that EDR and XDR are both forms of advanced cybersecurity services, but what sets the two apart? They both focus on incident detection and response, but each serves to protect us in different capacities. Before we explore the difference between EDR and XDR, let’s look at what each type of service provides.

What is EDR?

EDR is an acronym for Endpoint Detection and Response. These systems are designed to monitor and protect user devices, or endpoints, across your network. As organizations continue to shift their workforces toward remote work and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, we’ve increased the number of vulnerabilities in organizational networks. Here’s how EDR protects our networks and the data contained inside. 

Endpoint Monitoring

EDR solutions are designed around the monitoring of activities surrounding endpoint devices. Activities monitored may include things like user behaviors and application data logs and anything else that illustrates how the network is being accessed and used on any given day. Having greater visibility into these actions and activities gives us the ability to monitor and defend networks like never before.

Through this monitoring and analysis, EDR software creates a behavior baseline and looks for any deviations from that baseline that may point to a perceived threat. In fact, EDR software solutions actively hunt for threats. 

Threat Hunting

Not all threats follow predictable patterns that can be easily spotted by our in-house security teams. EDR software solutions use known rules and experienced cybersecurity analysts to proactively hunt for advanced threats that might otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late. 

Alerting security teams to these hidden threats in a timely manner can prevent a lot of potential damage. As the sophistication of cybercriminals’ tactics evolve, this adaptive technology is becoming an increasingly important part of data security.

Incident Response and Threat Remediation

If it detects a threat or a breach has occurred, your EDR service makes it easy to quarantine affected devices and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. This timely response mitigates the amount of damage done and keeps downtime to a minimum. It also gives the organization greater insight into how the attack snuck past defenses, as well as how to prevent further attacks in the future. 

You can even design rules that initiate an automated incident response when a predefined set of criteria has been met. By allowing the software to immediately take action when a specific set of anomalies arise, we have even more time to mitigate the amount of damage done. This additional response time is particularly invaluable for smaller security teams or for organizations that deal with sensitive data.

edr vs xdr

What is XDR?

XDR is an acronym for Extended Detection and Response. XDR provides services very similar to that of EDR, but offers extended protection, covering everything from applications to IoT devices. And, as everything from our security systems to the coffee maker in the break room becomes connected to the internet, we’re left with ever greater cybersecurity needs.

Very basically, XDR takes EDR protection to the next level. It provides the same types of advanced threat detection and incident response capabilities as EDR but extends that protection across your entire security stack. This may include your servers, clouds, networks, endpoints and emails. Thus, it provides a more comprehensive security strategy when compared with EDR solutions. 

The EDR XDR differences don’t stop there. Many Extended Detection and Response solutions make integrating other security services easy, providing you with real time reports in plain language, all from one single point of reference. With all the potential weak points in any given network, this condensed delivery is a game changer for security teams of the twenty first century.

Each of these features and benefits serves an important role in network security, but some solutions work better than others for each individual organization. To make the comparison a little simpler, we’re going to lay out the key similarities between the two technologies, as well as ways that XDR can take your network security to the next level.

EDR vs XDR

Now that we’ve looked at the basic features each service provides, it’s time to get down to the EDR XDR similarities and differences. If you’re in the process of choosing between the two, it’s helpful to see a simple breakdown of the key similarities, as well as some of the advantages you’ll get by choosing one over the other.

Key Similarities

As we’ve seen, there are a number of key similarities between these two technologies. Here are some core functionalities that you can expect out of the system, whether you choose to go with EDR or XDR.

Real Time Monitoring – Both options provide real-time monitoring of network systems. This provides timely information that can help security teams stop a threat before it’s had a chance to infiltrate the system and compromise data.

Threat Hunting Ability – Both EDR and XDR feature automated programs that dig deep into data analysis, delivering easily accessible data that helps security teams recognize hard to spot threats. 

Rapid Threat Response – Each of these technologies provides rapid response capabilities in the event of a perceived threat or breach. This allows organizations to halt the attack and remedy any damage that may have occurred.

Advantages of XDR over EDR

As similar as the two technologies may seem, there are some key EDR XDR differences that give XDR a comparative advantage. 

Broader Focus – One key difference you’ve probably noticed between EDR and XDR is that XDR solutions monitor a broader set of data points. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution that covers your whole network instead of just endpoints, XDR wins in this area.

Automated Incident Response – Since XDR has a broader focus when it comes to monitoring, that same broad focus allows for automated incident response over a wider range of potential threats. Rules can be created to launch an automated response to incidents in any of your monitored locations.

Integration of Security Solutions – XDR provides a centralized location to access in-depth analytics, giving you greater visibility into your entire network. Most EDR solutions have the ability to integrate with other cybersecurity services, but with XDR, the whole package is included.

Scalability – Since XDR connects to more points in your security stack, it is easier to scale as your organization’s security needs grow and change. If your organization is in a period of rapid growth, this is an important consideration.

Which Solution is Right for You?

If you’re considering adopting an EDR or XDR solution for your organization, you may be wondering which is right for you. We’ve looked at the EDR XDR differences, but it’s likely you still have some questions concerning which option is a better fit for your business. 

You may already have a security service that you’re relatively happy with but want to expand upon its functionality. On the other hand, you may be building your network security protocols from the ground up. Each of these scenarios can affect which option best meets your needs. Depending on those needs, you may even choose to bundle multiple technologies together. Knowledge is your friend, and understanding things like SIEM capabilities and EDR XDR differences will help to point you in the right direction. If you’ve still got questions, reach out to our experienced team for help. We’ve implemented solutions to meet a wide range of client needs and would love to help you design the perfect solution for your organization.

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