A guide to finding the right endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution for your business' unique needs.

Cybersecurity has become an ongoing battle between hackers and small- and mid-sized businesses. Though perimeter security measures like antivirus and firewalls have traditionally served as the frontlines of defense, the battleground has shifted to endpoints. This is why endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions now serve as critical weapons in the fight, empowering you and your organization to detect known and unknown threats, respond to them quickly, and extend the cybersecurity fight across all phases of an attack.

With the growing need to defend your devices from today's cyber threats, however, choosing the right EDR solution can be a daunting task. There are so many options and features to choose from, and not all EDR solutions are made with everyday businesses and IT teams in mind. So how do you pick the best solution for your needs?

Why EDR Is a Must

Because of its ability to monitor for and alert you to malicious activity, EDR solutions can be one of the most powerful tools in your cybersecurity arsenal.

EDR is an endpoint security solution designed to detect even the most subtle cyber threats and allow teams to respond to them more quickly. It provides unparalleled visibility and detection capabilities across endpoints, which means it can often catch threats that perimeter security measures—like antivirus and firewalls—might miss.

Typically, EDR solutions should have the ability to track and analyze endpoint activity and enable analysts to respond when suspicious activity is detected. Along with this functionality, a modern and effective EDR solution can bring many advantages, including:

  • Increased visibility into endpoint activity, all the way down to a granular level that makes it extremely hard for hackers to hide.
  • Protection against known and unknown threats, like zero-day vulnerabilities or threats that can bypass signature-based detection.
  • Deeper threat intelligence and analysis, providing in-depth context for all threat activity, attack chains, and attack timelines—leading to clear, targeted response actions.
  • Faster incident response that can help minimize the potential impact of threats.
  • Adherence to many of today's insurance and regulatory compliance requirements.

How EDR Works

Simply put, EDR solutions capture the relevant events occurring on every endpoint it's installed on. Every login. Every running process. Every bootup and shutdown. It's all monitored and logged to provide a full picture of what's happening at the endpoint level.

That granularity also helps create a baseline of expected endpoint activity. And from that baseline, security analysts or machine learning algorithms can help determine what's "normal" behavior for your organization and what appears to be "abnormal."

For example, if one of your employees opens a phishing email and downloads an attached document, and that document runs a malicious program, EDR will step in to flag that behavior and automatically generate an alert to let your team know that something's wrong.

EDR solutions heavily rely on data collection, which gives analysts a lot of helpful context like who, what, where, when, and how an attack may have occurred. Depending on configuration, some EDR solutions have the ability to isolate host machines when malicious activity is detected to prevent lateral movement throughout the network.

That's really what sets EDR apart from antivirus solutions and why it's a complementary layer in any security stack. EDR technology can analyze billions of events in real time—including comparing indicators of compromise (IOCs), scanning for known threats using traditional malware signatures, and using behavioral detections for threats that might be unknown. And, of course, EDR solutions offer the critical ability of enabling threat response.

Keep in mind, however, while EDRs excel at flagging potential threat actor activity and quickly alerting it, they're not a "set it and forget it" kind of tool. EDR solutions require consistent tuning and close management by security analysts to investigate alerts and verify real threats from false positives.

How to Evaluate Your EDR Needs

Whether it's your first time venturing into EDRs or you're looking for a better-fitting solution, asking the right questions can point you in the right direction. Here's what you should consider as you go through your evaluation process.

Determine Your Organization's Needs:

  • What kind of threats am I most concerned about?
  • Do I have a large number of endpoint devices to manage?
  • Will EDR replace or complement my existing endpoint security investments?
  • How much expertise or time can I commit to operationalizing an EDR?
  • What level of support do I need from my EDR solution or vendor?

Determine Your Technical Needs:

  • How effective is the solution at detecting the threats I'm most concerned about?
  • Do I have a process or workflow to continuously review, tune, and maintain detection rules?
  • What operating systems does the solution support?
  • What does the agent update process look like?
  • Will the solution have any noticeable impact on my endpoint devices?
  • What's the deployment and installation process? Does ongoing maintenance fit within my existing tech stack workflows?
  • Are there known conflicts with other tools in my stack?
  • Beyond detecting and alerting, does the solution provide the response and remediation capabilities I need?

Consider Your Internal Resources:

  • Do I need 24x7 coverage?
  • Can my team support the level of time commitment that's needed to use and finetune the solution?
  • Does my team have the required expertise to deal with threat investigations and incident response?
  • Can I afford an EDR solution right now?

It's important to note that implementing an EDR alone doesn't give your organization EDR capabilities. Cybersecurity professionals are often required to manage your EDR effectively. Without the right team and time commitment, EDR solutions can amass excessive data and alerts, leading to higher costs and overburdening analysts.

If your team doesn't have at least one full-time employee dedicated to triaging, investigating, and responding to alerts, you should consider a managed EDR solution.

Managed EDR vs. Unmanaged EDR

EDR solutions can be either managed or unmanaged, and each option has its own pros and cons.

Unmanaged EDR solutions offer greater control and customization, but you're typically responsible for the setup, configuration, and management of the solution.

  • Completely self-managed with EDR functionality at your fingertips
  • Offers a high level of control and customization
  • Provides deep visibility and data for security teams to act on
  • Requires internal resources for setup, configuration, and management
  • Requires security expertise to parse through alerts and drill down to verify signs of a true threat
  • Creates a lot of noise if not tuned or managed properly

Managed EDR solutions provide all of the benefits of an EDR solution without the need to manage it all in-house—that's typically handled by a third-party vendor. These solutions often provide you with a team of experts who can help with day-to-day management, investigations, and alerts.

  • Access to a team of cybersecurity experts
  • Reduction in false positives and alert fatigue, as malicious activity is vetted for you
  • No need to allocate internal resources for setup, configuration, or management
  • Less control and customization than unmanaged solutions
  • Third-party has visibility into internal data and networks

The right choice will depend on your specific needs and resources. If you have the internal resources to maintain an EDR solution yourself, an unmanaged solution could be the right fit for you. But if you can't support the added time, skill, or headcount, a managed EDR solution is your ideal option.

What to Look For

When you're evaluating EDR solutions, there are a few must-have criteria to consider.


EDR solutions must be able to collect crucial information across endpoints and provide a clear picture of what's happening at any given point in time. This includes continuously monitoring relevant activity on endpoint devices, application-level events, and processes that are running. A good EDR solution should provide visibility into the entire lifecycle of an attack, from initial compromise to exfiltration of data.

Real-Time Detection and Alerting

An EDR solution should be able to pick up on threat activity and present the right data at the right time, allowing security teams to quickly respond to threats and minimize their potential impact. This includes the ability to identify anomalies and suspicious activity, as well as detect known threats using signature-based detection.

Response and Remediation

Timely response and mitigation are an integral part of any EDR solution. Your solution should be able to identify and classify threats accurately. It should also provide actionable intelligence and offer an easy way to mitigate a threat once it's uncovered. In some cases, this includes the ability to kill processes, quarantine files, remove persistence mechanisms, or isolate endpoints.

Compatibility and Integration

Your EDR should seamlessly integrate with your existing security tools without requiring extensive configuration. Compatibility is crucial to ensure minimal impact on endpoint performance, so choose a solution that plays nice with your other tools and has little to no impact on your endpoint users.

Ease of Use

An ideal EDR solution should be easy to roll out and use, with a user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation. It should also be easy to deploy across numerous endpoints in a scalable and cost-effective way.


Some EDR solutions are made for enterprise-sized wallets, so don't be afraid to shop around and select one that fits your budget. Just because something is expensive doesn't make it better, and conversely, something less expensive doesn't necessarily mean it's lower quality.

Automation and Analytics

A good EDR solution will allow you to create your own custom searches and rules to help tune out the noise. If you have an EDR solution that isn't collecting valuable analytics or tuning detections, you're setting yourself up for failure and most likely missing malicious activity.

Threat Hunting

The best EDR solutions should proactively hunt for threats beyond the solution's detection capabilities. That could mean the solution offers a large library of prebuilt detections, or it's backed by a dedicated team of experts who can track down potentially malicious activity on your behalf.

Management and Support

Because EDR solutions require a lot of time and attention, more businesses are opting for a fully managed solution. With managed EDR solutions, you get all EDR functionalities without the headaches and growing pains. Managed EDR solutions typically include access to a team of security experts who can help reduce alert fatigue and false positives, and can offer enhanced visibility and threat hunting capabilities.

Real Threats Demand Real Cybersecurity Experts at the Ready

To address the staffing, expertise, and resource challenges that come with many of today's EDR solutions, businesses and IT teams are turning to managed EDR solutions instead of the traditional self-managed approach.

A managed EDR solution is typically provided as a service, with a vendor managing the EDR infrastructure and providing ongoing monitoring, analysis, and response assistance.

One of the main benefits of a managed EDR solution is the ability to offload the burden of managing the solution to a team of security experts. Hackers don't just work 9 to 5, and that's why managed EDR solutions are often backed by a security team who can provide 24/7 coverage—not to mention help with day-to-day management like triaging alerts, threat investigations, and incident response. Plus, they have the technical know-how to investigate suspicious activity, offer mitigation guidance, and deal with threats in real time, giving you direct access to their expertise without needing to find and retain that talent in-house.

A managed EDR solution typically includes advanced analytics capabilities or an element of verification from a team of analysts, which can help filter out false positives and prioritize the most critical alerts before they even cross your desk. This can help security teams more effectively identify and respond to threats, rather than overwhelming them with the irrelevant noise that can come with self-managed solutions.

Overall, a managed EDR solution can provide non-enterprise businesses with an effective and efficient way to detect and respond to threats, while also addressing common challenges and pitfalls associated with unmanaged EDR solutions.

About Huntress Managed EDR

Huntress Managed EDR is a purpose-built solution backed by a 24/7 Security Operations Center (SOC). By combining extensive detection technology with real cybersecurity experts, we help uncover, isolate, and contain the threats targeting your business—all without the impossible cost and personnel burdens demanded by other platforms.

With actionable threat remediation through easy-to-follow mitigation steps or one-click approval for automated actions, you can act quickly and stop cyberattacks in their tracks.

At Huntress, we believe cybersecurity solutions should alleviate your biggest obstacles, not create more. That's why Huntress Managed EDR was designed with your business' unique needs and challenges in mind.

Still not sure about the right EDR solution for you? Find more in-depth guidance in The Ultimate Buyer's Guide to EDR.

Ready to see Huntress Managed EDR in action? Start a free trial today.

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