Enhancing Small Business Security: EDR vs. Antivirus

Endpoint Security

Antivirus software has been a staple in the business world for decades. However, with the increase in threats, breaches and cyber-attacks, more businesses are turning to endpoint detection and response (EDR) software as their primary line of defense. Today, we’ll discuss what these tools are and the reasons why each are used, so that you can make an educated decision as to why you might want to think about upgrading to one of Carmichael’s more secure managed services packages, such as Strongbox or Vault.


What is an Endpoint?

Endpoints include laptops, mobile devices, workstations, servers, and any entry-point to your network. Anything connected to an organization’s network that has an IP address is considered an endpoint. Today, businesses and organizations have more endpoints than ever, which naturally comes with a higher probability of intrusion. Managing substantial amounts of endpoints unfortunately creates more opportunities for malware, ransomware, and viruses to infiltrate a network.  Which, in turn, leads to higher chances for more breaches and data loss.  As you’ve likely heard Tyler say, “Data is your most valuable asset.”

Antivirus Protection – The Basics

Antivirus software is fundamental to your endpoint’s protection. It works by scanning files and systems for known malware signatures and employing heuristics to identify suspicious behavior. Depending on whether the file is potentially malicious, it will block or quarantine it. It is also signature based, which means it can only recognize threats that are known already and detectable. There are two main types of anti-virus, passive and active.

  • Passive Antivirus: Passive antivirus, also referred to as on-demand scanning, performs scans periodically or upon request. It operates in a more reactive manner, waiting for specific triggers like manual scans, scheduled scans, or user-initiated ones. Passive antivirus provides protection against known threats but may not offer real-time defense against emerging or zero-day threats.
  • Active Antivirus: Active antivirus software, also known as on-access scanning, proactively scans files and systems in real-time, automatically detecting and blocking threats as they are encountered. It actively monitors file activity, network connections, and other system operations to prevent malware from executing.


Our most common antivirus software in use here at Carmichael are Microsoft Defender and Bitdefender. Microsoft Defender comes included with Windows devices, and provides baseline protection against common malware threats, such as viruses, spyware, and ransomware.  It also integrates very well with Huntress (discussed later). It continuously scans files, downloads, and websites for potential threats, aiming to keep your system secure. Bitdefender is a third-party antivirus with more advanced features, such as enhanced threat detection, ransomware protection, and additional privacy tools. Bitdefender works on both Windows and MacOS, and we would be happy to consult with your business to see which is the right fit for you.  At Carmichael, both Bitdefender and Microsoft Defender are active solutions (though there are versions of Bitdefender that are passive).


Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

EDR is an advanced security solution that combines prevention, detection, investigation, and response capabilities into one service. EDR solutions continuously monitor and collect data from endpoints, using AI techniques like machine learning and behavioral analysis to identify potential threats. 


Threat Detection

EDR excels in threat detection by utilizing advanced machine learning techniques to identify both known and unknown threats before they start doing damage. Active antivirus will also provide real-time protection by actively scanning files and systems for immediate threat detection. Passive antivirus, however, may not offer the same level of instant defense, as it relies on periodic or manual scans by the user.


Incident Response and Prevention

One of EDR’s primary selling points is its speed of investigation and prevention. Active antivirus software can also immediately block and quarantine threats, but its incident response features may be limited compared to EDR. Passive antivirus focuses on scanning files and systems when triggered, often requiring manual intervention for instruction on incident response and investigation. 


The biggest difference between antivirus and EDR is that EDR provides continuous monitoring of activity on each endpoint, while antivirus solutions only scan for malware when a new file or email is received. This means that EDR can detect cyber threats and malicious activity even if the malware has not been seen before, whereas AV programs can only detect known malware signatures.


Another key difference is that an EDR solution provides the ability to quickly contain and remediate any discovered malware infections. On the other hand, an antivirus can only quarantine or delete infected files. This is a critical difference because with EDR solutions businesses can quickly get rid of any malware or unknown threats that have managed to sneak past the antivirus software, especially if you are deploying a passive antivirus periodically.


How Carmichael can Help

Here at Carmichael, we employ multiple outlets for both EDR and Antivirus software. Our current EDR stack includes Huntress and SentinelOne, both are high-quality endpoint protection solutions with different O/S support. Our team possesses deep expertise in the cybersecurity domain and can guide small businesses in selecting the most suitable security solutions. We will assess the unique requirements and budget of each business, providing valuable insights to help make informed decisions regarding EDR, active antivirus, or passive antivirus. 


We will also handle the implementation and configuration of security solutions, ensuring seamless integration within your existing IT infrastructure. We ensure that EDR, active antivirus, or passive antivirus software is correctly installed, customized, and optimized to provide maximum protection for your company, and with our 24/7 helpdesk (and optional 24/7 Security Operations Center), we will be able to handle any problems or questions you might have.


At Carmichael, our priority is the safety and security of your business, and our employees are happy to help you achieve that, and to educate your employees on how to look for threats themselves. By educating employees about cybersecurity best practices and potential threats, MSPs help small businesses strengthen their overall security posture and reduce the likelihood of successful attacks.

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