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Managed Antivirus vs. EDR: Key Differences to Remember

Although there are some notable similarities between managed antivirus protection and endpoint detection and response (EDR) software, there are notable key differences between the two. It’s critical for managed services providers (MSPs) to understand these differences when deciding which solution is best suited to their customers’ needs. This article will give you insight into both solutions to help you make an informed choice between managed antivirus and EDR.

What is managed antivirus protection?

Antivirus software is designed to protect computers from viruses. An antivirus solution is “managed” when it’s installed, updated, and monitored by an IT provider. Instead of running antivirus independently, a business using managed antivirus has an IT professional install the software on employee workstations, servers, computers, and devices, schedule scans, and use it to monitor the health of the network.

Cyberattacks are constantly evolving, which is why utilizing a managed antivirus option can help ensure a team continuously stays up to date with the latest threats and new viruses. With new threats emerging every day, managed antivirus relies on tracking known threat signatures, which must be regularly updated on the endpoint.

With managed antivirus, updating and scanning activities are taken out of your customers’ hands, freeing up their time and mitigating the risk of human error. By utilizing a managed antivirus solution, your MSP will help ensure that when software detects malware or viruses, the source is quarantined immediately. This reduces the likelihood of the virus or malware causing extensive damage, giving your MSP and your business time to rectify the issue.

How does EDR work?

EDR solutions are tools designed to help identify and examine suspicious or malicious activity across all your endpoints. This technology has been growing in popularity for a number of years now, with many organizations choosing to incorporate EDR into their IT security strategy.

EDR solutions work by installing agents on business endpoints, which allows the IT team to gather data on network behavior via these endpoints. This information is collected on a central database for analysis. Advanced analytics within the EDR solution work to identify patterns and anomalies. If it detects suspicious behavior, the EDR solution can send automatic alerts so you can investigate or take further action.

EDR solutions are generally considered to provide more comprehensive network security than traditional managed antivirus solutions. They’re more effective than antivirus tools at combating advanced threats to endpoints—which is increasingly important as our modern workplaces grapple with more and more endpoints every day.

EDR brings a lot to the table, including a range of capabilities that many managed antivirus software programs don’t offer. For example, EDR doesn’t use traditional signatures. Instead, it collects data on numerous activities across an endpoint and performs analysis to identify and remediate threats. EDR uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to track potential threats and act on your behalf to remediate and even roll devices back to their pre-attack state—delivering results with both speed and accuracy.

Weaponized documents provide a good example of how an EDR solution works. If an individual makes the mistake of downloading an attachment from a phishing email, the malicious document will attempt to exert control over the server by launching a script so it can download a ransomware payload. An EDR tool will log and monitor this behavior and, if it has alerting functionality and is configured to do so, it will send you an alert. An advanced EDR solution will quarantine the ransomware and rollback the endpoint to a known safe state. Some, like SolarWinds® EDR, even allow you to disconnect the infected device from the network—minimizing the risk of other devices becoming infected.

A powerful EDR solution can have an enormously positive impact on your wider network. Many legacy antivirus solutions and network firewalls focus on defending against potential external threats. Modern threats, however, are increasingly advanced and utilize lateral movement to infiltrate a network. This means once a malicious program infects an endpoint it will endeavor to spread and infect other network components. This move might slip past a traditional antivirus solution—which is why effective endpoint security tools are essential.

Endpoint protection tools can also defend against internal attacks. Internal attacks are especially prevalent among corporate networks, where sharing between devices is common. When an EDR solution identifies suspicious activity, it will block its source and help prevent a potential attack from infiltrating your wider network. One of the great benefits of EDR is it can use AI to act autonomously, delivering a rapid and reasonable response to malicious activity before infection spreads.

Can EDR replace managed antivirus?

Because modern EDR solutions include antivirus, they can effectively replace managed antivirus solutions. Every single day, hundreds of thousands of new malware variants are discovered. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and the changing state of the marketplace has shown that antivirus solutions are struggling to compete.

Cybercriminals are constantly trying to make their activities less vulnerable to antivirus solutions, which means traditional antivirus tools are becoming increasingly obsolete. To combat the latest threats and ensure their security is as robust as possible, your customers may want to consider replacing their managed antivirus programs with an EDR solution.

Managed antivirus vs. EDR: which is best for you?

As antivirus software becomes less effective against a variety of today’s threats, MSPs looking to keep up with the competition and offer top-notch security would likely benefit from an EDR solution. First, an EDR tool will allow you to deliver more robust and proactive security services. The demand for advanced security is growing, so you can stand out from the pack by demonstrating your implementation of a comprehensive and sophisticated security strategy.

Endpoint security tools can help your MSP develop more comprehensive offerings for your customers. EDR tools can act autonomously, eradicating the need to send data to the cloud or await a response. This means you’re better placed to rectify potential security issues before they do extensive damage. If, for instance, ransomware tries to encrypt files on a customer’s device, an EDR tool can isolate the malicious behavior and rapidly recover the endpoint. This process helps you reduce lost productivity, prevent downtime, and keep your customers happy.

Perhaps most importantly, endpoint security tools can significantly reduce the risk of a major breach occurring. A large-scale breach can have a drastic impact on your customers and damage your reputation as a reliable provider. By using appropriate endpoint protection tools, you can protect both your customers and your business.

Picking the right endpoint protection software

N-able Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) is a comprehensive remote monitoring solution that consolidates a variety of IT management tools into one powerful dashboard. It includes a range of layered security capabilities, such as password and documentation management, remote monitoring, network device monitoring, network discovery, patch management, automation and scripting, and backup functionalities—all from one central location. On top of that it includes managed antivirus capabilities, and gives you advanced endpoint protection capabilities by running SolarWinds Endpoint Detection and Response too—meaning you can pick which solution works best for each customer.

To help prevent cyberattacks, N-able RMM offers near real-time file analysis, meaning the system can continuously analyze data. This replaces time-intensive, recurring scans typically used in managed antivirus. N-able RMM uses a signatureless approach to combat the latest threats, so that it doesn’t have to wait for daily definition updates to arrive. RMM also offers offline protection—artificial intelligence data is stored on the endpoint, which means it can be protected even when offline. To give N-able RMM a try today, you can access a free trial here.

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