SIEM vs. EDR: What’s the difference?

SIEM vs. EDR: What’s the difference? SIEM vs. EDR: What’s the difference? SIEM vs. EDR: What’s the difference?
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Mikey Anderson

Product Marketing Manager

17th May 2024

Have you ever felt like you’re deciphering a complex code when researching cyber security solutions? With many different product names, solutions that offer similar features, and hundreds of acronyms thrown in for good measure, you can quickly find yourself lost in a sea of jargon.

In this article we'll look at two key technologies often deployed in the battle against cyber threats: Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).

By delving into their nuances, we aim to provide clarity amidst the confusion, helping you make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the right solution for your organization.

Understanding EDR: Enhancing endpoint security

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions are designed to safeguard individual endpoints within a network against sophisticated threats. These endpoints can include remote and on-premises assets like desktops, laptops, and servers.

While modern EDR solutions typically extend support across Windows, MacOS, and Linux platforms, it's worth noting that functionality may vary depending on the operating system.

Unlike traditional anti-virus software that relies on signature-based detection, EDR uses behavioural analysis, machine learning, and threat intelligence to detect and respond to threats in real-time.

Is EDR the same as anti-virus?

No. While traditional anti-virus solutions excel at detecting known malware, they often struggle to identify advanced threats like fileless malware and zero-day exploits.

EDR is a modern evolution of anti-virus software, which is much more comprehensive and has several distinct advantages:

  • Advanced threat detection: EDR solutions monitor endpoint behaviour for suspicious activity and deviations from normal patterns, rather than simply relying on known signatures. This helps to detect previously unseen threats such as zero-day exploits.
  • Response automation: EDR platforms can help to automatically respond to security incidents, helping to minimise the impact of an attack. This can include automated blocking of malicious processes and completely isolating a device from the rest of the network to limit lateral movement.
  • Additional features: In addition to anti-malware, many EDR solutions provide additional functionality to protect endpoints from a variety of threats. This can include content control, external device blocking, patch management and much more.

Having some form of endpoint protection solution in place is a necessity for any organisation to help protect against common cyber threats.

What is a SIEM solution?

SIEM is a centralised platform designed to collect, analyse, and interpret data from various sources across an organisation's IT infrastructure. By aggregating logs and events from networks, applications, systems, and devices, SIEM enables security teams to detect, investigate, and respond to potential threats in real-time.

How does SIEM work?

SIEM solutions correlate security telemetry from lots of different sources to identify patterns that could indicate malicious activity. Security analysts can use a SIEM solution to maintain visibility over an environment, detect threats, and investigate security events using log data.

SIEM plays a pivotal role in enhancing cyber resilience by enabling:

  • Threat detection: By continuously monitoring network traffic and system logs, a SIEM solution detects anomalies and suspicious activities that could be an indicator of attack (IoA) or indicator of compromise (IoC).
  • Incident response: SIEM streamlines incident response workflows by providing contextual information from log data, which helps to speed up the investigation and remediation of security events.
  • Compliance management: SIEM helps organisations comply with regulations and standards such as ISO 27001 and PCI DSS by providing audit trails, log retention, and reporting capabilities.

SIEM solutions usually rely on pre-determined detection rules to help identify threats across a network. If a threat is detected, a SIEM platform will automatically alert you to the security event, provide a detailed overview of the incident and step-by-step remediation advice to help you fix the issue. A SIEM solution will also append any relevant security logs to the incident to help with investigation and reporting.

How to protect your business with Managed SIEM

  • Insights from real-world scenarios that our in-house SOC team investigated.
  • How proactive threat detection works.
  • What to expect from a SIEM solution and how to get value from it.

How do EDR and SIEM work together?

To put this all into context, let’s use a quick analogy.

Using SIEM to monitor logs is comparable to having CCTV watching your building. It can notify you if it detects movement, it might be able to identify particular people or animals, and it records all the footage in case you need to review it later. Having an EDR solution is like a lock on your front door, it works to simply secure the main point of entry.

If you only monitor EDR or endpoint logs, it’s like having a single CCTV camera pointed at your front door. An attacker could simply find another point of entry, as we know modern cyber threats extend beyond the endpoints. So, it’s important to monitor logs from all areas of your organisation.

That’s where SIEM comes in. It can monitor logs from many other areas of your environment, correlating them into a single solution to help you detect threats. A SIEM solution can also utilise an EDR platform as a log source, helping to detect threats that are affecting individual endpoint devices.

Where does XDR fit in?

OK, so you have the basics on EDR and SIEM and you’re ready for another acronym. Here’s a quick recap with the added bonus acronym of XDR, too.

In summary

Ultimately, both SIEM and EDR solutions play important roles in strengthening an organisation's security posture. SIEM provides centralised log visibility and event correlation, while EDR focuses on endpoint protection and blocking threats.

An EDR or endpoint protection solution should be used as a bare minimum for organisations of any size to help prevent a wide range of cyber threats. If you choose to use a SIEM platform for threat detection and compliance, then this can use an EDR solution as one of its many log sources.

SIEM and EDR solutions should be seen as complementary solutions, rather than opposing technologies. They are both component parts of a solid defence-in-depth strategy to help detect and respond to cyber attacks.

Protect your business from cyber attacks

With Defense.com Managed SIEM, your network will be monitored 24/7/365 for suspicious activity, helping to identify threats and prevent breaches. We’ll help you quickly improve your security posture with our fully managed service.