NDR Versus EDR: The Core Differences

And how they work together to create a synergistic approach to cybersecurity

hand with index finger pointing at a keylock inside a cloud drawing

Network detection and response (NDR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) have several key differences. EDR monitors endpoints, including personal computers, smartphones, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, file servers, and more to mitigate attacks on said devices. An EDR security solution functions by deploying a software agent on an endpoint device to inventory threats such as malware or suspicious activity. This is done by monitoring registry changes and key-file manipulation.

NDR is a key component of the security operations center (SOC) visibility triad, despite often being underappreciated for its role. NDR is so important because the network is the one place bad actors cannot hide. EDR data can be manipulated by hackers to cover their tracks, while network data is much harder to change, making it the ultimate source of truth. When used in conjunction with EDR, NDR functions as a complement to EDR by monitoring the data on the network itself and peering between various endpoints to close visibility gaps.

To keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of cyberthreats, enterprises must deploy a variety of network security solutions within their stack. This includes using EDR and NDR solutions in parallel to minimize blind spots and close visibility gaps. If only one solution is leveraged, attackers can find additional places to hide, increasing their time in the ecosystem and making them more likely to achieve their nefarious goals.

EDR solutions monitor devices to detect threats that have infiltrated them. This requires the solution to be deployed on each individual endpoint, a cumbersome measure that can leave gaps if any endpoints are missed. While visibility into occurrences on each device is imperative to the overall security posture, cyberthreats are getting increasingly advanced. For example, they can detect the presence of antimalware software on an endpoint and automatically take measures to hide the compromise altogether, making it harder to detect a breach in a timely manner. 
Why NDR Should Be a Part of Your Cybersecurity Arsenal 
NDR takes a unique approach to network traffic and threat detection. Advanced NDR platforms can discover what connections are taking place in and out of your network, helping identify compromised servers and where they are working to exfiltrate data. NDR can also be deployed in any environment, including public clouds such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, increasing the security across an enterprise's distributed network. Comprehensive, round-the-clock visibility into network traffic enables real-time threat detection and response capabilities, helping to identify and remove adversaries faster than ever. Some NDR solutions also utilize packet data, leveraging the purest form of data on the network to get faster, more detailed insights into potential threats.

Common Questions About NDR and EDR

There are several common questions that get asked in regard to NDR and EDR. Here are some examples:

  • What roles do NDR and EDR play in XDR?

    Extended detection and response (XDR) solutions culminate in several cybersecurity strategies. They include EDR and NDR as important components of the overall picture, feeding key data into the system. Deep packet inspection (DPI)--based NDR solutions are key to maximizing the effectiveness of your XDR strategy.

  • Do you need both EDR and NDR in your cybersecurity stack?

    The short answer is yes! They work in parallel to provide a holistic picture of the network’s state and the devices connected to it.

  • What is the difference between NDR and SIEM systems?

    Security information and event management (SIEM) systems provide security monitoring by combining data from various sources across your IT environment, including firewalls, routers, and more. SEIM then applies logging mechanisms to detect threats and vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, NDR monitors the network traffic itself to uncover threats and vulnerabilities and traces where connections are made in order to uncover the source of breaches.

Implementing a Robust Security Strategy

NDR and EDR create a synergistic approach to cybersecurity. They work together to minimize visibility gaps and give a holistic view of the network and devices connected to it. This creates a layered defense stance against sophisticated cyberthreats. Each solution must be tailored to your organization’s needs and network environment to best serve your requirements.

NETSCOUT offers an advanced, scalable DPI-based NDR solution in Omnis Cyber Intelligence (OCI). Any network, no matter how large or complex, can leverage OCI’s unmatched scalability and power. By leveraging packet data, OCI provides a detailed view into the most critical information on your network.

Learn more about Omnis Cyber Intelligence.