EDR vs Antivirus: What's the Difference?

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and antivirus solutions are both forms of endpoint security. But traditional antivirus programs (AKA, legacy antivirus or legacy AV) are a basic form of cybersecurity. They are limited in their capabilities: though they can identify and remove known issues in file and operating systems (e.g., malware, trojans, ransomware), antivirus programs are ineffective against more advanced or zero-day threats. 

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) or Endpoint Threat Detection and Response (ETDR) is a real-time endpoint security solution that applies continuous traffic monitoring and data collection as a basis for automated threat response. 

EDR is critical for securing the growing number of devices extending company networks, especially as remote work arrangements become commonplace. EDR can work in conjunction with VPNs to reinforce the security of remote access endpoints.

Effective EDR platforms must include specific tools to be effective, including:

  • Endpoint data collection: Monitoring endpoints and collecting data about activities that may be linked to potential threats, such as network connections, file transfers, processes, etc.
  • Data analytics: Using AI/ML-assisted analytics to parse collected data and identify potentially malicious activity in real time. 
  • Automated remediation: Applying pre-configured rulesets to identified issues, allowing for rapid response and limiting the need for human intervention.
  • Integrated dashboards: Providing the security team with comprehensive and understandable information necessary for threat hunting, identification, and remediation.

What Is Antivirus?

Antivirus programs are the lowest baseline of endpoint protection. Antivirus software programs scan files, web pages, and other software and applications for the existence of known threats (e.g., malware, trojans, ransomware) using existing threat databases. While they can identify and remove known issues in file and operating systems, antivirus programs are ineffective against more advanced or zero-day threats. 

What's Better: EDR or Antivirus?

EDR is a far more advanced security solution than antivirus software. Practically speaking, organizations applying EDR can expect the following benefits when compared to using an antivirus software alone:

Improved Historical and Real-Time Visibility

Because EDR solutions constantly collect and analyze data, they provide comprehensive visibility into the vulnerabilities of corporate systems. Security teams can quickly view numerous security-related events, from network connections to user logins to disk access and driver loading. Teams can monitor attackers’ efforts in real-time as if they were looking over their shoulders.

Proactive Incident Detection

EDR systems apply advanced analytics, often using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to convert collected data into actionable intelligence. Because AI and ML can quickly isolate patterns in data, AI-enhanced EDR gives security teams rapid, accurate assessments of abnormal behavior that indicate potential threats. 

As AI/ML algorithms learn from their efforts, EDR accuracy improves, limiting the number of false positives and allowing the team to triage quickly and prioritize remediation efforts. AI/ML tools also effectively identify as-yet-unknown (“zero-day”) threats. 

Rapid Threat Remediation

Organizations can create rulesets that drive automated responses after identifying a potential threat. Not only does automated remediation help harden systems against attacks, but it frees security team members to pursue other tasks that require a human touch. Moreover, EDR tools isolate identified threats at the endpoint (“network containment”), minimizing their ability to damage company services or exfiltrate sensitive data. 

The global shift to remote work arrangements has increased cybersecurity risks beyond experts’ initial estimates. To address the growing number and severity of cyberthreats, CISOs and security analysts must look beyond traditional antivirus tools. 

Cloud-native CylanceOPTICS® provides on-device threat detection and remediation across your organization—in milliseconds.