Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Endpoint Detection and Response, or EDR, is a form of technology that provides continuous monitoring and response to advanced cybersecurity threats against enterprise networks and systems. EDR is a subset of endpoint security, which takes a holistic approach to protecting corporate networks and data when employees access the network remotely via laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Because these assets are at the end of the chain that connects a user to the company’s tech stack, they are referred to as endpoints.

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What’s the difference between endpoint security and EDR? 

Endpoint security protects each endpoint on an enterprise network from vulnerabilities, hacking, and other cybersecurity threats. Endpoint security is responsible for ensuring the overall safety of endpoint devices and the corporate network. 

Endpoint detection and response focuses specifically on frameworks used by security personnel to identify, investigate, and resolve advanced threats and sophisticated cyber attacks that are likely to compromise multiple endpoints.

What is endpoint detection and response (EDR)?

Endpoint detection and response is advanced threat awareness and prevention designed to mitigate the dangers that come from endpoint devices. EDR tools are designed to track endpoint diagnostics (logs, software downloads, possible malicious code) and provide detailed information that will help security teams identify, diagnose, and resolve security threats that compromise endpoint devices. These threats include:

  • Using unprotected Wi-Fi networks, where attackers can spy on Internet sessions
  • Losing a device or having it stolen 
  • Phishing campaigns and corresponding malware
  • Weak passwords (or no password at all)
  • Lack of control over company data

EDR goes a step further than endpoint protection, which is no longer enough for enterprise network protection: it’s proactive as well as defensive. EDR platforms remediate threats automatically and alert security administrators, who can perform manual remediation tasks and halt attacks as they’re occurring. These threats and attacks include misused credentials, database breaches, and ransomware

Learn why free antivirus software won’t cut it for your company at TechnologyAdvice.com.

History of EDR

Endpoint detection and response is a comparatively new technology and topic in the IT world: The Internet wasn’t even available to enterprises until the 1990s. Security providers began offering endpoint-focused solutions in the 2000s. The term Endpoint Threat Detection and Response (ETDR) was coined in 2013 by a Gartner analyst, who wrote, “This name reflects the endpoint (as opposed to the network), threats (as opposed to just malware and officially declared incidents) and tools’ primary usage for both detection and incident response.” The term changed to EDR in 2015.

EDR meets a need that very quickly developed with the advent of endpoint-powered workforces: businesses suddenly required security for their systems and networks, which struggled against the barrage of cyberattacks that developed in the early 2000s. It is especially important for largely remote teams, which significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How does endpoint detection and response work?

Endpoint detection and response platforms perform these key functions:

  • Collect endpoint and network data about traffic, disk and memory info, logins, and account activity
  • Provide files and event logs for security teams
  • Alert security operations centers (SOCs) and security analysts when the system detects anomalies or attacks 
  • Analyze the endpoint and network data collected so that enterprises can view patterns of both abnormal and normal traffic
  • Perform remediation tasks, such as killing a process, blocking an application, or running a script to halt malicious behavior
  • Allow security teams to look through files, event logs, network connection & configuration

A simplified day in the life of an EDR solution

  1. A threat actor, such as a strain of malware or ransomware, targets one of an enterprise’s endpoints.
  2. Endpoint data is collected and sent to the enterprise’s data lake or cloud database for analysis.
  3. Advanced big data analytics reveal an abnormal pattern in the day’s endpoint traffic. 
  4. An alert is automatically sent to security or DevSecOps teams.  
  5. The EDR platform does one of two things:
    1. Automatically remediates the threat.
    2. Allows security teams to handle the threat manually.
  6. The threat actor’s behavior is stored in the database so that the system remembers what the malicious pattern looked like and uses it to evaluate future threats.

How EDR works.

Why is EDR important?

Current endpoint-based workforces require security that keeps up with sophisticated threats to networks and devices.  EDR fills a hole in security approaches because it’s more than just prevention: the best EDR solutions provide the ability to halt an attack or mitigate its effects once it’s already occurring. 

Endpoints are a major security risk to enterprises, as are the employees who use them. Not only do employees sometimes make poor password and device management choices, but they also present the greatest weakness in combating phishing attacks. EDR helps mitigate the high risk of compromised endpoint devices and networks by collecting important data and using it to halt attacks and breaches.

To clearly visualize EDR, watch Endpoint Detection And Response (EDR), Explained 

Top EDR solutions

Popular Endpoint Detection and Response solutions include:

Read more about enterprise EDR tools: Top Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) Solutions


This article was updated October 2021 by Jenna Phipps.

Forrest Stroud
Forrest is an experienced, entrepreneurial and well-rounded professional with 15+ years covering technology, business software, website design, programming and more.

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