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Qualys Enters Crowded Endpoint Detection and Response Market

The company, already known for its vulnerability management capabilities, announces the acquisition of EDR provider Spell Security and the launch of its own service for managing endpoints and responding to threats.

Qualys, a security firm best known for its cloud-based vulnerability management services, has launched an endpoint detection and response (EDR) service, joining a crowded market of security firms whose products and services have been boosted by companies' shifting their employees to remote work.

EDR allows companies to manage the security of devices and software, detect threats on those endpoints, and take remote action to respond to those threats. The Foster City, Calif.-based company intends to integrate its current capabilities — including the ability to track software and hardware assets, a bespoke software agent, and vulnerability and misconfiguration visibility — with the software and services from EDR provider Spell Security, which Qualys simultaneously announced it would acquire to create a service it calls Multi-Vector EDR.

Qualys' ability to integrate data from its other services and sensors will create a better EDR platform, says Sumedh Thakar, president and chief product officer at Qualys.

"Today we actually have many, many years of developing an extremely robust and scalable cloud platform, and the core of that is multiple different sensors that are collecting telemetry information and bring that information into a single back end," he said during a press event announcing the new service. "We get all of this data, and we able to give very different perspectives into what is happening."

But Qualys has its work cut out for it. In an analysis of the market released earlier this year, Forrester Research counted 12 different major vendors of EDR services and products, with companies such as CrowdStrike, Cybereason, Microsoft, Trend Micro, and VMware's Carbon Black leading the pack. Other, more minor players exist as well.

Breaking into the market will be difficult, says Jeff Pollard, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. He points to CrowdStrike — one of the first companies to pursue EDR — as an example of what it may take: It took years, significant investment, and additional funding through its initial public offering to become a leader in the market, he says. 

"Overall, what Qualys is ultimately going to have to do is prove themselves within that market, with an assessment of their capabilities and joining the ATT&CK framework test groups," he says. "They are adding these capabilities, which is great, but they are adding them late."

In the early 2000s, standalone antivirus products gave way to more holistic anti-malware solutions. Less than a decade ago, new entries into the market — such as CrowdStrike and Carbon Black — integrated response functionality into the agents on devices. 

Today companies are looking for greater visibility into what devices they have deployed, the ability to automate responses, and more analytics that can give security teams more insight into what risks could be threatening the business. Forrester refers to the current market as "enterprise detection and response," but argues that these new capabilities will be the germ of next-generation services, dubbed "extended detection and response" (XDR).

Qualys says its foundation in cloud-connected services that give businesses visibility into the current state of their infrastructure's security will allow it to offer more context to customers.

"Adding context and correlating billions of global events with threat intelligence, analytics, and machine learning results in a truly groundbreaking approach to EDR that not only stops sophisticated multivector attacks, but also automatically orchestrates the appropriate response all from a single solution, thus greatly reducing the time to respond while drastically reducing cost," said Philippe Courtot, chairman and CEO of Qualys, in a statement.

As many companies have shifted their employees to remote work following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, they have lost visibility into their security of a variety of endpoints, says Forrester's Pollard. The shift has made EDR capabilities a much more important way for security operations to handle remote workers. 

"We have shifted from the network being the primary point of visibility to the endpoint being the primary point, and that is also where the response needs to happen as well," he says. "So when you look across pandemic response and the move to remote work, we have to have better visibility into the endpoint."

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