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NDR vs EDR: Differences Between Network Detection & Response and Endpoint Detection & Response

laptop computer detecting a threat to the network

A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy typically involves a combination of preventive measures, detection capabilities and response mechanisms that work together to address the evolving landscape of cyber threats. 

Detection and response specifically focus on identifying and mitigating security incidents after they occur. The scope of what gets monitored varies. For example, Network Detection and Response (NDR) primarily monitors and analyzes network traffic and activities. It looks for suspicious patterns and behaviors within the entire network, including traffic between devices, servers and network segments. 

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), on the other hand, is centered on individual endpoints (such as computers, servers and mobile devices). It monitors activities on these devices, including file and process executions, registry changes and system events. NDR is also able to protect certain IoT devices, such as those without screens or that cannot run Microsoft Windows. 

NDR is particularly effective for identifying threats and anomalies that traverse the network, including lateral movement within the network, communication with malicious domains and network-based attacks like distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Whereas EDR is critical for protecting individual devices, identifying endpoint-specific threats such as malware infections, suspicious behavior of applications and insider threats, as well as responding to incidents on those devices. Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) that feature Zero Trust approaches rely on EDR. 

NDR and EDR also differ in other key areas, like how they source and use data and respond to incidents. Here we break down these essential differences: 

NDR and EDR Data Source Comparison 

  • NDR primarily gathers data from network traffic and network devices, including switches, routers and intrusion detection systems. It offers the ability to correlate network-level events and anomalies, providing a holistic view of potential threats. In addition, NDR can integrate with network-focused threat intelligence feeds to further enhance detection capabilities. 
  • EDR collects data directly from the endpoints, such as system logs, process executions, registry changes and file system activities. EDR correlates endpoint data, helping to link various activities on a device and identify complex attack chains. It can also integrate with endpoint-specific threat intelligence, aiding in the identification of device targeting threats. 

NDR and EDR Response Capabilities 

  • NDR can trigger responses at the network level, such as isolating a compromised device, blocking malicious traffic and sending alerts to security teams. It doesn't directly interact with endpoints. Yet NDR enables rapid response to network-based threats, helping to contain and mitigate the impact of an enterprise-wide attack. 
  • EDR solutions have more direct control over endpoints. They can take actions like quarantining malware-infected systems, killing malicious processes or rolling back system changes. EDR facilitates swift response at the endpoint level, allowing for the isolation or remediation of compromised devices to safeguard the network. 

Many organizations find that NDR and EDR make ideal counterparts for providing a holistic security approach. Since both NDR and EDR can be integrated with other security tools, such as Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) systems, firewalls and threat intelligence platforms, they can help to promote a comprehensive security posture. NDR can detect threats that EDR might miss, especially those that involve lateral movement or network-based attacks, while EDR can provide granular visibility and control over individual endpoints. Together, they enhance an organization's ability to detect, respond to and mitigate a wide range of security threats. 

Want to learn more about how NDR and EDR can be deployed to defend your enterprise? Contact us to learn more about Hughes Managed Cybersecurity Services.