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How to Avoid Alert Overload From EDR Solutions

Alert overloadIn today’s chaotic digital sphere, networks are distributed across an increasingly wide range of hackable endpoints. From smartphones and tablets to Internet of Things (IoT) devices—everything gets connected to the network. 

EDR technologies and practices were created for the purpose of providing active endpoint protection and defense. However, if your systems and admins are overloaded with alerts, an EDR strategy might become obsolete. In this article, you will learn how to avoid alert overload from EDR solutions.

What Is EDR?

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a set of tools and practices you can use to monitor endpoints, detect suspicious activity and respond to threats. The term was coined in 2013 by Anton Chuvakin. 

The intent behind EDR solutions is to increase the visibility of endpoint activity and enable faster and more effective response. EDR tools enable you to collect and aggregate data from across your network perimeter. This data is then analyzed and used to provide context to endpoint activity. 

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Why Is EDR Important?

Organizations are amassing data at an amazing rate and much of this data is highly valuable. This makes data an appealing target for cybercriminals and is driving them to create innovative new attack strategies. Traditionally, you could detect these attacks using signature-based methods, based on known attack patterns and tools. Now, however, more comprehensive methods are needed. 

Threat Novelty

EDR solutions aim to solve this issue by incorporating continuous monitoring, machine learning and automation. This combination enables these solutions to detect threats based on traffic and event behavior patterns. This enables solutions to identify threats that have not yet been recorded or seen, ensuring the most advanced protection.   

Early Detection

While behavioral protection is valuable throughout your system, it is a requirement for endpoints. Endpoints are the gateways to your network and systems, making endpoints the starting point of many attacks. Protecting and monitoring these entry points enables you to detect and prevent attacks earlier than internal protections. 

Scalability

Protecting endpoints is particularly important when you consider the rate at which networks are expanding. The inclusion of cloud services and web portals significantly expands the number of endpoints in a system and thus, its attack surface area. Since EDR solutions provide centralized, network-wide protections, EDR is an obvious choice. 

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Features to Consider When Choosing an EDR Solution

While many EDR solutions are similar, not all are created equal. To ensure that you are choosing the right solution for your system and needs, there are several factors to take into account:

  • Visibility—solutions should provide real-time visibility across all endpoints. This includes communications, processes and applications. Solutions should also enable you to review logs during and after events, and audit data for forensic analysis.
  • Threat database—solutions should include a database that aggregates event information and correlates data across your perimeter. 
  • Behavioral protection—solutions should include tools that can identify indicators of attack (IoA), indicators of compromise (IoC), and provide signature matching. 
  • Speed—solutions should provide real-time, accurate alerts and be capable of automated threat responses. A good solution enables you to take action immediately and provides minimal false positives.
  • Cloud-based—solutions that are cloud-based are typically lighter and more effective. Cloud-based protection can cover broader systems with minimal effect on endpoint performance. Depending on your infrastructure, these systems may also integrate more smoothly with your existing systems. 

What Is Alert Overload and How to Deal With It

A typical organization collects security data from hundreds of different sources and devices. This includes Internet of things (IoT) sensors, smartphones, routers, firewalls, switches, web servers and cloud applications. To be functional, this data must be processed, analyzed and acted on in real-time. This is a near-impossible task for most security teams. 

EDR solutions can handle much of the work required to process this data. However, security teams still need to process a significant amount of data in the form of alerts. Unfortunately, the number of alerts created is also often too much for teams, resulting in alert overload

According to a 2019 CISO Benchmark Study performed by Cisco, only about half of alerts are being responded to. Also, only 42 percent of legitimate alerts are addressed and corrected. To benefit from the advanced security that EDR can provide, you must prevent alert overload. For instance, OnPage, an incident alert management platform, mitigates overload through distinguishable, high-priority mobile notifications, ensuring that only critical alerts rise above the clutter in time-sensitive situations. 

Threat Intelligence

Leveraging threat intelligence enables you to benefit from the existing research and recommendations of security experts. When used carefully, it can help you design alert policies that prioritize your most critical and relevant threats. It can also help you ensure that you are adhering to current best practices, reducing your alerts from the start. There are multiple sources of threat intelligence you can use but OWASP and NIST are good places to start. 

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

MDR services enable you to outsource some of your security operations. This creates more time for your security team to focus on higher-level responses and on developing stronger protections.

Centralized Monitoring and Control

Centralized alerting and response centers enable your security team to view, evaluate and act on alert information more efficiently. When these centers incorporate correlation engines, centers can also help reduce the number of alerts by eliminating suspected issues based on broader context. Centralization is commonly achieved with system information and event management (SIEM) solutions. 

Automation

Many of the alerts that your team may be handling are low-level or predictable. Others may be more complex but provide enough information to enable an intermediary, canned response. For these alerts, automation can be a solution. Automated responses can help your team respond more quickly to incidents and can buy them time to evaluate an alert. Automated responses can also help ensure that even if an alert is overlooked, a potential attack is stopped. 

Conclusion

Alert overload is a critical risk that should be handled promptly. If your admins and systems are overloaded, they will not be able to respond to events on time. Late incident response puts the network at risk of breaches. To avoid this, you should prioritize threats and risks. You can use threat intelligence to create alert policies and prioritization. You can also leverage MDR services, SIEM tools and automation for ensuring continual security visibility and control.

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