With so many endpoint protection solutions on the market, understanding their different strengths and weaknesses can be confusing and time consuming. This guide provides you with an at-a-glance roundup of the endpoint protection solutions on the market, so you can quickly identify which are the best fit for your business.
What Is Endpoint Protection Software?
Endpoint protection software is a cybersecurity solution that examines files, processes and system activity for suspicious or malicious indicators. Sometimes referred to as an endpoint protection platform (EPP), endpoint protection software offers a centralized management console from which administrators can monitor, protect, investigate and respond to incidents across all endpoints, including computers, mobile devices, servers and connected devices.
How to Choose an Endpoint Protection Platform
Endpoint protection solutions are available to serve all types and sizes of businesses. Key features to assess include:
There are sound reasons why traditional, malware-centric endpoint protection products simply do not provide an adequate level of protection against today’s threats and adversaries. Malware-centric protection does not address the increasingly sophisticated fileless and malware-free tactics used by modern adversaries.
An effective endpoint protection solution needs to solve this challenge by expanding beyond simply identifying and addressing known malware. First, it should protect against both known and unknown malware by using technologies such as machine learning (ML) that do not require daily updates. It should look beyond malware and fully leverage behavioral analytics to automatically look for signs of attack and block them as they are occurring. In addition, the ideal endpoint protection solution should protect endpoints against all types of threats — from known and unknown malware to fileless and malware-free attacks — by combining all of the necessary technologies for ultimate protection.
Because attackers expect to encounter prevention measures on a target, they have refined their craft to include techniques designed to bypass prevention. These techniques include credential theft, fileless attacks or software supply chain attacks. When an attacker is able to gain a foothold without any alarm being raised, it is called “silent failure,” which allows attackers to dwell in an environment for days, weeks or even months without detection.
The remedy for silent failure is endpoint detection and response (EDR), which provides the visibility security teams need to uncover attackers as rapidly as possible. A fully functioning EDR system should tightly integrate with the prevention capability. It should record all activities of interest on an endpoint for deeper inspection, both in real time and after the fact. It should enrich this data with threat intelligence to provide needed context — critical for threat hunting and investigation.
An efficient EDR solution should also intelligently automate detection of malicious activity and present real attacks (not benign activity) without requiring security teams to write and fine-tune detection rules.
3. Threat Intelligence
Attackers move quickly and stealthily, challenging many protection technologies and security professionals to keep up with the latest threats and proactively protect against them.
Threat intelligence enables security products and security teams to understand and effectively predict which cyber threats might impact them. It empowers organizations to anticipate the “who” and “how” of the next attack, and allows security teams to focus on prioritizing and configuring resources so they can respond effectively to future attacks. In addition, threat intelligence provides the information security teams need to understand, respond and resolve incidents faster. The increased efficiency accelerates investigations and incident remediation. This is why security professionals looking at endpoint protection must ensure that they do not focus solely on the security infrastructure.
4. Threat Hunting
Threat hunting plays a critical role in the early detection of attacks and adversaries. It constitutes a proactive approach that is human-led and actively searches for suspicious activities rather than passively relying on technology to automatically detect and alert on a potential attacker’s activity.
Early detection and investigation of such activity allow organizations to stop attacks before they can do damage. Unfortunately, a lack of resources and a shortage in security expertise makes proactive threat hunting unattainable for a majority of organizations.
Understaffed internal teams are unable to monitor 24/7 for adversary activity, and in many cases they are not equipped to efficiently respond to extremely sophisticated attacks. This can result in longer investigation times with fewer alerts being handled in a timely manner, ultimately resulting in longer dwell times and increased risk that attackers will successfully accomplish their goals. Managed threat hunting solves this challenge by providing an elite hunting team that not only finds malicious activities that may have been missed by automated security systems, but also analyzes them thoroughly and provides customers with response guidelines.
5. Vulnerability Management and IT Hygiene
Security starts with closing gaps to reduce the attack surface and be better prepared to face threats. This requires understanding which systems and applications are vulnerable and who and what are active in your environment.
That is why vulnerability management and IT hygiene are the foundational blocks of an efficient security practice and should be part of any robust endpoint protection solution. They provide the visibility and actionable information that security and IT teams need to implement preemptive measures and make sure that they are prepared to face today’s sophisticated threats.
When it comes to vulnerability assessment and management, regular and continuous monitoring is critical to identify and prioritize the weaknesses within your organization’s systems. For example, if you have out-of-date applications, but do not continuously monitor for vulnerabilities, your environment could become a key attack vector for adversaries.
Thus, the ability to discover, patch and update vulnerable applications running in your environment provides a tremendous advantage against attackers. The same goes for IT hygiene. Knowing who and what is on your network can enable IT to work proactively in addressing unknowns or gaps within your security architecture. IT hygiene solutions offer the ability to pinpoint unmanaged systems or those that could be a risk on the network, such as unprotected BYOD or third-party systems.
This solution should also be continuously monitoring for changes within your assets, applications and users. Credential theft continues to be another popular and efficient vector for attackers. Monitoring and gaining visibility into logon trends (activities/duration) across your environment, wherever credentials are being used and administrator credentials created, enables security teams to detect and mitigate credential abuse and attacks that employ stolen credentials.
6. Managed Detection and Response
It takes more than technology to stop today’s advanced adversaries; it also requires expertise and mature processes. Unfortunately, finding, hiring and retaining expert security staff can be challenging in many segments.
Managed detection and response services can reduce IT complexity, drive down costs, enable faster innovation and deliver mission-critical services to organizations, in real time and on demand. Continuous monitoring combined with speed lets organizations manage compliance challenges and budget restrictions while putting up formidable defenses against the most sophisticated adversaries.
Bitdefender was founded in 2001 and has headquarters in Bucharest, Romania. Providing both home and business security products, Bitdefender is best known for their OEM business, licensing out their AV signature technology for use in third party security products. Bitdefender offers endpoint security for business customers via GravityZone.
BitDefender offers GravityZone Ultra, a product that provides advanced protection, extended detection and response/risk analytics. This product incorporates machine learning and other technologies.
Powered by the CrowdStrike Security Cloud, the CrowdStrike Falcon® Platform’s single lightweight-agent architecture prevents attacks on endpoints on or off the network. The CrowdStrike Security Cloud correlates trillions of security events per day with indicators of attack, the industry’s leading threat intelligence and enterprise telemetry from across customer endpoints, workloads, identities, DevOps, IT assets and configurations.
Single Lightweight Agent
Purpose-built in the cloud, provides frictionless deployment at scale and stops all types of attacks while eliminating agent bloat and scheduled scans.
Enables rapid and scalable deployment, superior protection and performance, reduced complexity and immediate time-to-value.
Using world-class AI, the CrowdStrike Security Cloud creates actionable data, identifies shifts in adversarial tactics, and maps tradecraft in the patented CrowdStrike’s Threat Graph to automatically prevent and stop threats in real time across CrowdStrike’s global customer base.
AI-Powered Next-Generation Antivirus
Falcon Prevent™ protects against the entire threat spectrum without requiring daily updates. The best prevention technologies like machine learning, AI, indicators of attack (IOAs), exploit blocking and more are combined to stop ransomware and malware-free and fileless attacks. These advanced capabilities protect the gaps left by legacy AV both on and offline.
Falcon Insight™ prevents silent failure by capturing raw events for automatic detection of malicious activity, providing unparalleled visibility, proactive threat hunting and forensic investigation capabilities. Analysts can instantly see the real-time threat level, organization wide, and unravel an entire attack with the easy-to-use CrowdScore™. Incident Workbench is enriched with context and threat intelligence data for a powerful response action to contain, investigate and remediate compromised systems. Teams can even orchestrate and automate complex workflows with Falcon Fusion for simplified security operations that accelerate incident triage and response. The Falcon Insight Zero Trust Assessment (ZTA) determines endpoint health at scale by identifying and updating sensor policies and OS settings that are out-of-date or increase risk. The assessment scores are shareable across CrowdStrike Zero Trust partners ecosystem for real-time conditional access enforcement.
Industry Leading Threat Intelligence
CROWDSTRIKE FALCON® INTELLIGENCE™ enables full understanding of threats in an environment and the ability to automatically investigate incidents and accelerate alert triage and response. It also eliminates guesswork so you can respond to threats decisively. CrowdStrike Falcon® Intelligence automatically determines the scope and impact of threats found in your environment. A broader set of indicators of compromise (IOCs) for faster, better protection is also provided.
24/7 Managed Threat Hunting
An elite team of security experts proactively hunts, investigates and advises on activity in your environment to ensure threats and high-priority alerts are not missed. Alert prioritization uniquely pinpoints the most urgent threats in your environment and resolves false positives. Guided response provides clarity on an attack and guidance on what to do next.
Vulnerability Management and IT Hygiene
Falcon Discover™ rapidly identifies and eliminates malicious and noncompliant activity with unmatched real-time visibility into devices, users and applications in your network for effective IT hygiene. Falcon Spotlight™ provides always-on scanless vulnerability management to research common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) for examining threat actor profiles and targets, increasing your security posture with zero impact.
Comprehensive Managed Detection and Response
The Falcon Complete™ team of seasoned security professionals delivers proactive management and optimization for ultimate control. Continuous human threat hunting with CrowdStrike’s expert Falcon OverWatch Team is unabated in their mission to identify and stop the most sophisticated threats. The Falcon Complete team monitors your platform 24/7, investigating all critical-to-low severity detections. Comprehensive response and remediation restore systems to their pre-intrusion state without the burden and disruption of reimaging systems.Ratings & Reviews: https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/endpoint-protection-platforms/vendor/crowdstrike/product/crowdstrike-falcon
Eset was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Slovakia with a primary focus of endpoint protection for home, business, and enterprise. Eset offers on premise and cloud endpoint protection modules and professional services.
ESET’s roots are as an antivirus vendor offering solutions for on-premises installations. The original products are now part of a platform that secures Windows, macOS and Android endpoints.
Kaspersky was founded in 1997, with headquarters in Moscow, Russia. As a dedicated security company, they provide solutions for home and business. In addition to having security products for email and network security, Kaspersky provides endpoint security with Endpoint Security for Business.
McAfee was originally founded in 1987, offering both consumer and business security products. In 2021, the B2B-focused McAfee Enterprise business unit was divested and sold to Symphony Technology Group. McAfee Enterprise offers various products such as Virus Scan Enterprise, ENS, and MVISION for endpoint security.
Microsoft was founded in 1975 and is headquartered in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft is best known for their operating system and office productivity suite, targeting both consumer and business users. Microsoft has built various endpoint security features into the Windows operating system and announced Defender ATP in 2016, subsequently enhancing that solution with technology from their 2017 Hexadite acquisition.
Microsoft Defender is relatively new to the EDR and EPP for businesses. space and is continuing to evolve. E5 licensing is needed to access the enterprise dashboard and ATP, which are the capabilities that elevate Microsoft Defender beyond a basic solution.
Palo Alto Networks was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. Best known for their NGFW and network security, Palo Alto also offers Cortex XDR for endpoint security.
SentinelOne was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Mountain View, California. SentinelOne provides endpoint security for business via their Singularity platform, and is best known for their goal to provide fully autonomous endpoint security.
SentinelOne Singularity provides basic alerts and remediates threats that are detected by the solution. The solution is a mix of on-site virtual appliances and cloud-based solutions The company has limited participation in standards-based AV testing.
Sophos was founded in 1985 and Sophos was acquired by Thomas Bravo. Currently, Sophos is headquartered in Oxford U.K. Sophos offers both home and business security. Sophos for business offers endpoint, network, security operations, email, and cloud protections.
Symantec was founded as part of Norton LifeLock in 1982. In 2019, Symantec was acquired by Broadcom Inc. and is now headquartered in Tempe, Arizona. Symantec offers multiple security products including endpoint, identity, information, network and API security.
Trend Micro was founded in 1988 and has headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. Trend Micro provides both consumer and business security products. Trend Micro Apex One is targeted towards business customers for endpoint security.
Trend Micro Enterprise Security for Endpoints provides standard endpoint protection, including anti-malware, encryption and application whitelisting. The solution uses traditional signature-based malware detection, as well as reputation management and analytics.
VMware was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. VMware primarily provides cloud computing and virtualization technology. VMware entered the endpoint security market in 2019 when they acquired Carbon Black.
VMWare Carbon Black is a foundational endpoint protection solution that does not include advanced features such as vulnerability management, device control, advanced threat hunting, rollback, guided investigation or mobile support.
Webroot was founded in 1997, and was later acquired by Carbonite in 2019. OpenText later acquired Carbonite in 2019. Webroot is headquartered in Broomfield Colorado. Webroot provides security products to both consumers and businesses. Webroot business products include Endpoint and DNS protection with Solutions for SMB and MSP organizations.