Protecting Your SMB: Traditional Antivirus vs. Next-Gen EDR vs. XDR

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Net Friends

Antivirus vs. EDR vs. XDR

Protecting Your SMB: Traditional Antivirus vs. Next-Gen EDR vs XDR thumbnail

Protecting Your Business

In our digital age, every realm requires a steadfast protector. You are no stranger to this necessity if you are vested in cybersecurity for your business. In your journey towards more secure systems, you are likely to meet three prominent warriors in the field:

  • Antivirus
  • Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)
  • Extended Detection & Response (XDR)

But how do they differ, and which one will make the strongest ally for you? This article explains the key characteristics of each, guiding you to choose the right solution for your needs.

The Classic Guardian: Antivirus

If you are just beginning your cybersecurity journey, an antivirus is your first point of contact. Antivirus uses signature-based detection, referring to a database of known threats. When it encounters a file, it cross-references this database to see if the file matches any known threats. If it does, the file is flagged as malicious and blocked.

This type of cybersecurity protection has been around since 1987 when John McAfee created the first commercially available tool called VirusScan. And like any decade’s old security technology, many countermeasures and threats evade detection by all antivirus tools.  

"Antivirus is akin to an experienced scout, armed with an exhaustive checklist."

Traditional Antivirus description micrographic
Traditional Antivirus
Considerations to keep in mind...

While this approach offers simplicity and ease of management, its effectiveness relies heavily on regular database updates. If the database does not include a novel threat, the antivirus will not recognize it, making it reactive rather than proactive. Antivirus tools also require a lot of system resources and are notorious for causing computers to run slow. Since antivirus systems rely on time intensive system scans, most viruses or malware execute their malicious payload before an antivirus tool has had a chance to detect them.

The Bottomline:
Antivirus offers simplified, signature-based protection, but its reactive nature falls short in the face of novel threats.

The Emerging Knight: Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)

In the early 2010s, cybersecurity researchers and experts were aware of the gaps in antivirus software’s armor. The rise of phishing attacks and ransomware, both of which bedeviled traditional antivirus protections, needed an innovative approach than just looking for a one-to-one match of a piece of malicious software with something identified in an ever-increasing database.

New cybersecurity software companies created novel tools that could detect these more amorphous attacks, and by 2013 the term Endpoint Threat Detection & Response (EDR) term was coined by Gartner. EDR operates differently from antivirus. Instead of relying on a pre-existing database, EDR analyzes system activities and recognizes suspicious patterns in behavior. (Do not worry, it is not like Starnet from the Terminator movies; it works for you, always.)

Next-Gen EDR description micrographic with Net Friends logo
Next-Gen EDR

EDR is akin to a private detective, focusing on behavior rather than relying solely on an existing database. By doing this, EDR can proactively detect potential threats that a signature-based system might miss. While it may generate more alerts, it is also capable of detecting risks sooner. This makes it a promising balance between the simplicity of antivirus and more robust effectiveness.  

The Bottomline:
EDR uses a behavior-based approach, offering proactive threat detection at a price point that's more accessible to SMBs.

Extended Detection & Response (XDR) – Taking Cybersecurity to the Next Level

As we journey deeper into the realm of cybersecurity, another formidable guardian steps forward: Extended Detection and Response (or XDR), an evolution of EDR offered by Palo Alto Networks. Much like EDR, XDR also prioritizes safeguarding your digital domain, but it takes a step further by incorporating enhanced detection and response capabilities, scanning network, applications, and even the cloud.  

Imagine XDR as the Captain America of cybersecurity, embodying the strength and unity of an elite team of defenders. Just as Captain America thrives as part of a team, XDR acts as an all-encompassing defender against threats, unifying endpoints, cloud services, and networks into a formidable defense strategy.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) description micrographic with Net Friends logo
Extended Detection & Response (XDR)

Similar to how a team of superheroes collaborates to overcome challenges that no single hero could face alone, XDR excels at gathering and enriching data from all available sources. This data is carefully contextualized to minimize false positives and enhance the identification and response to detected attacks.

The Bottomline:
If your business runs in a multi-layered digital environment, where network connections, applications, and cloud resources all play a crucial role, XDR might be the solution that aligns with your evolving cybersecurity needs.

The Verdict: Matching Needs to Solutions

There is no universal cybersecurity solution. Each organization's needs will dictate whether antivirus, EDR, or XDR will be the most suitable choice. It is about finding a balance between the level of protection needed, the complexity your organization can handle, and the budget at your disposal.

Business Takeaway:
Your cybersecurity tool should reflect your specific requirements. Make an informed choice by comparing antivirus, EDR, and XDR.

Cybersecurity is a dynamic landscape, continually evolving as new threats appear and existing ones morph. Whether you choose to enlist antivirus, rely on the vigilant EDR, or venture into the advanced realms of XDR, the central goal remains; safeguarding your systems and precious data from potential harm.

As you navigate the complexities of securing your digital landscape, remember to evaluate your organization's unique needs and thoughtfully weigh the diverse range of solutions. Aligning your choice with your specific requirements, you can expertly armor your digital domain against the ever-changing array of challenges that lie ahead.

If you need some guidance to help you make an informed choice, schedule a call with our team. Net Friends is happy to help!

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