An Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) is a security solution designed to detect and prevent threats at the endpoint level.
Endpoints are the devices that connect to the corporate network at the “end”, i.e as a point of access. These include devices like computers, tablets, smartphones, servers and IoT devices. In a modern enterprise environment, the variety and number of endpoints have exploded due to the proliferation of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), remote work, cloudification, and IoT devices.
Endpoints are often the target of initial attack vectors, like phishing, malware, or exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated software. Once compromised, an endpoint can be used to move laterally across a network, escalate privileges, or exfiltrate data. The growing number of endpoints and the security compromise “potential” has rendered traditional perimeter-based security less effective and made EPP more important as a first line of defense against various threats.
EPPs typically provide a range of functionalities including:
- Antivirus and Anti-malware Protection – Protecting against known viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malware.
- Firewall – Controlling network traffic to and from the device to prevent unauthorized access.
- Intrusion Prevention Systems – Identifying and stopping behavior that indicates a threat, such as unusual data transfers or changes to the system.
- Data Encryption – Ensuring data is unreadable to unauthorized users. This is especially important for devices that hold sensitive information.
- Data Loss Prevention – Identifying and protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access and enforcing security policies to prevent data leaks.
- Application Control – Preventing unauthorized or risky applications from running.
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) – A more advanced feature that continuously monitors and responds to threats. EDRs record endpoint activities and events, providing forensic data that can be used to understand the scope of a breach and to prevent similar future attacks (see below).
Within an EPP, these technologies are controlled and monitored from a centralized location. This makes them easier for IT to manage and also reduces friction, which results in better security posture and organizational buy-in.
An endpoint is any remote device that serves as points of access to an enterprise network. Endpoints communicate back and forth with the network to which they are connected. Examples of endpoints include:
- Computers – Desktops and laptops for employee use
- Mobile Devices – Smartphones and tablets used for both personal and work purposes
- Servers – Servers that operate as an access point and provide services to other computers or networks.
- Peripheral Devices – Devices that provide additional functions, like printers.
- IoT Devices – Sensors, medical devices, trackers, smart cameras, and more.
In the past years, the number of endpoints in use has been growing. Due to their vulnerability, this trend demands the attention and actions of security professionals.
Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) are both endpoint security elements, but they serve different purposes and operate in somewhat different ways. Here’s how they compare.
An EPP is primarily focused on prevention. It aims to stop threats before they can execute and cause damage. This includes stopping known malware, blocking malicious URLs, and preventing the exploitation of known vulnerabilities. EPPs operate based on a database of known threats and heuristics. However, while an EPP is effective against known threats, it can struggle with new, unknown threats that don’t match any existing signature (zero-day threats).
On the other hand, EDRs are primarily focused on detection and response. EDRs operate by dynamically identifying threats that have bypassed the initial defenses, understanding the scope of the breach, and responding to contain and eliminate the threat.
To do so, EDR systems typically include continuous monitoring, threat intelligence, behavioral analysis to identify activities that indicate a threat (such as unusual data movement or changes to critical system files), and response tools. When a potential threat is detected, EDRs provide tools to investigate, contain the threat, isolate endpoints, and recover. EDRs constantly evolve based on the data they collect and analyze.
EPPs and EDRs complement each other. If a threat bypasses the EPP, the EDR can detect, quarantine and stop it.
EPP vs. EDR: A Comparison Table
|Detection and response
|Database of known threats and heuristics
|Behavioral analysis, threat intelligence and continuous monitoring
|Static, providing a consistent level of defense against known threats
|Dynamic, adapting to new information and activities on the network
EPPs help maintain the security and integrity of a network. Top EPP benefits for security and IT professionals include:
Comprehensive Protection Against Malware and Attacks
An EPP aims to prevent known threats from penetrating the network. By maintaining a large database of threat signatures and employing advanced algorithms, it can block a significant volume of attacks. These include viruses, worms, spyware, and more. As a result,EPPs reduce the security risk to the organization.
Meeting Regulatory Compliance Requirements
Many industries are subject to regulations that mandate certain levels of security and data protection. EPPs can help organizations meet these requirements by providing security and compliance management features.
As organizations grow, so do their networks and the number of endpoints. EPP solutions enable protecting an increasing number of devices without a significant increase in complexity or cost.
Visibility and Control
EPPs provide visibility into the security status of all protected endpoints through a single system. This allows for better control over the network and the ability to respond quickly to potential issues. This visibility can also provide valuable insights into the security posture and help in making informed decisions in a simplified manner.
Support for Remote and Mobile Workforces
With the rise of remote work and mobile device usage, protecting endpoints outside the traditional network perimeter is a fundamental requirement. EPPs can provide protection regardless of where the endpoint is located.
An enterprise browser extension safeguards applications, data, and devices from web-borne threats and risks, while ensuring a high-quality user experience. By integrating directly into the browser, an enterprise browser extension provides granular detailed visibility for precise risk detection. When a risk is detected, enforcement capabilities range from disabling risky web page features to terminating entire web sessions. An enterprise browser extension is particularly effective in organizations where employees browse the internet, using managed and unmanaged devices and accessing sanctioned and unsanctioned SaaS apps.
An enterprise browser extension complements EPPs, since these tools do not cover browsing activity and security. At most, EPPs monitor web traffic with a local TLS proxy, limiting coverage to the URL/hostname level or basic DNS filtering. As a result, EPPs cannot ensure protection against threats and risks such as malware that is not on-device, phishing, malicious in-app elements, browser extensions, browser configurations, unmanaged devices, sensitive file upload that isn’t to knowns URLs/hostnames, sensitive data upload and download.
Together, EPPs and enterprise browser extensions can protect against external threats that risk the device, from the browser and anywhere else.
Learn more about enterprise browser extensions here.