Agent vs Agentless Security

Deciding between agent or agentless security? Discover the advantages and disadvantages of both agent types and which is the right fit for your business.

What’s the Difference Between Agent-Based and Agentless Security?

If you are responsible for securing any type of device, the chances are that you have run into agent-based and agentless security options. Both secure critical infrastructure, but have several key differences which we will dive a bit deeper into.    

Agent-based security protects devices and must be installed per device or server. Agentless security, on the other hand, does not require any agents to be installed and is very lightweight. 

Agentless solutions are flexible and more cost-effective, while agent-based solutions provide deeper insights with a clear snapshot of what’s going on at any given time. 

The new hybrid work model revolutionized the way access was given to critical cloud resources and applications as 77% of remote employees are using unmanaged, insecure “BYOD” devices to access corporate systems. 

The need to secure remote employees from external attacks has made agentless access an ideal use case, however, agent-based security offers a more comprehensive solution that many organizations continue to use. 

That begs the question. Which option should a network administrator go with for better server and application control? Let’s weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both agent-based and agentless security. 

Agent vs Agentless: Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Agent-Based Security

  • Runtime security to protect workloads
  • Detect application and operating system failures quicker
  • Less risk for any downtime 
  • Protects all infrastructure types (bare metal, virtual, cloud) 
  • Greater visibility 
  • Higher level of security
  • Patching of systems  
  • Do not require a central host  

Disadvantages of Agent-Based Security

  • Operations are complex and capital intensive
  • Must be installed on every server 
  • Longer time to deploy
  • Requires a lot of maintenance 
  • Is not scalable 

Advantages of Agentless Security

  • No agent installation required
  • Takes up less bandwidth
  • Lightweight and flexible 
  • Scalable 
  • Lower costs
  • Instant deployment
  • Cloud-based 

Disadvantages of Agentless Security

  • High risk for downtime
  • Limited system visibility   
  • Dependent on cloud APIs
  • Does not offer runtime security 

Agent or Agentless: Which Solution is Better?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Both agent and agentless security have their own advantages and disadvantages. Overall, agent-based monitoring is more secure and robust in terms of data collection but must be manually configured on each device with further maintenance required down the road. 

Agent-based protects cloud and on-prem environments from external threats.

One drawback of agent-based security is that deployment takes a lot longer and must be managed per user and device individually, however, the security controls are much tighter. 

The type of security solution you choose will ultimately depend on your organization’s infrastructure, level of data collection required, and network environment. In terms of simplicity and scalability- agentless security far outperforms its counterpart. 

Secure Remote Workers with Perimeter 81’s Agentless ZTAA Solution

Keep your network safe and ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive data with Perimeter 81’s Zero Trust Application Access (ZTAA) solution 

Secure application access for remote workers and third parties with unlimited bandwidth and total network visibility. Automate user authentication with major IdPs and assign specific privileges in order to reduce the attack surface. Protect your critical infrastructure from anywhere with ZTAA.  

Agent vs Agentless Security FAQ

What is agent and agentless security?
 Agent-based security requires the deployment of agents on network devices, while agentless security can be instantly deployed without any manual configuration.
What is agentless security?
Agentless security is a type of security that does not require agents to be deployed. It can be less resource-intensive and is easier to manage.

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