Endpoint security includes the strategies and technology solutions that help secure endpoint devices from digital threats and unauthorized access. Ultimately, the goal of endpoint security solutions is to help protect devices, users, and businesses from lost productivity, cost, and reputation.
What is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security refers to securing endpoints, or end-user devices like desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Endpoints serve as points of access to an enterprise network and create points of entry that can be exploited by malicious actors.
Endpoint security software protects these points of entry from risky activity and/or malicious attacks. When companies can ensure endpoint compliance with data security standards, they can maintain greater control over the growing number and type of access points to the network.
How do Endpoint Security tools work?
Endpoint protection strategies and solutions aim to secure endpoints, whether they are connected to the network or have transient interconnectivity.
Endpoint security software may be:
- Centrally managed via agentless technology
- Installed as client or agent on individual endpoints
- Involve a combination of the above implementations
Protection for individual consumers focuses on technologies deployed on the device. Enterprises, on the other hand, should heavily rely on centralized management across the corporate network. This enables the administration of patches, configuration changes, deployment of policy updates, gathering logs, and more.
Why Endpoint Security is important
An endpoint protection platform is a vital part of enterprise cyber security for several reasons. First of all, in today’s business world, data is the most valuable asset of a company – and to lose that data, or access to that data could put the entire business at risk of insolvency. Businesses have also had to contend with not only a growing number of endpoints but also a rise in the number of types of endpoints. These factors make enterprise endpoint security more difficult on their own, but they’re compounded by remote work and BYOD (bring your own device) policies – which make perimeter security increasingly insufficient and create vulnerabilities. The threat landscape is becoming more complicated, as well: Hackers are always coming up with new ways to gain access, steal information, or manipulate employees into giving out sensitive information. Add in the opportunity, cost of reallocating resources from business goals to addressing threats, the reputational cost of a large-scale breach, and the actual financial cost of compliance violations, and it’s easy to see why endpoint protection platforms have become regarded as must-haves in terms of securing modern enterprises.
What are the benefits?
With the right mix of endpoint security tools, strategies, and technologies tailored to their environment, organizations can realize at least several distinct benefits:
- Improve security: This is the most obvious benefit. Enforcing the least privilege and managing vulnerabilities drastically reduces the threat surface. Applying JIT access controls condenses threat windows. Employing signature-based tools keeps endpoints safe from known threats. Implementing this layered strategy drastically drives down the risk of security incidents and data breaches that may arise from external or internal threats.
- Enhance endpoint performance: Eliminating superfluous privileges and hardening devices translates into fewer misconfigurations, incompatibilities, security incidents, and other issues that may cause disruption. Preventing malware infection or endpoint compromised by an unauthorized user also protects against endpoint instability.
- Simplify compliance and audibility: Restricting features by least privilege and hardening practices reduces endpoint complexity. This also makes it easier to perform auditing activities and prove compliance. Implementing security controls like session monitoring and management and vulnerability assessments may also provide instant visibility and reporting necessary for compliance efforts. The more tightly an endpoint system is integrated, and the better the visibility across the endpoint universe, the more straightforward the path to compliance.
- Enable the enterprise: A strong endpoint cyber security posture enables the enterprise in several ways. With the right tools, IT can securely enable more types of endpoints and heterogeneous infrastructure. It can also empower you to pursue business-enabling changes for the environment, including the roll-out of new technologies. For instance, organizations with robust endpoint protection were well-prepared for the seismic shift to remote work during the coronavirus pandemic. Increasingly, cyber security posture is also assessed before entering a partnership with another company. Cyber security posture is also evaluated when companies undergo an acquisition process. Acquiring companies are increasingly sensitive to negative security surprises.
How do you secure and manage an endpoint?
To secure an endpoint, IT needs to ensure that the device can only access your network or company resources if it is used by an authorized user for approved tasks. While access security tools like two-factor authentication can help prevent unauthorized users from using an endpoint to access sensitive data, it’s also important to be able to manage endpoints to protect against internal bad actors.
To manage an endpoint, IT needs to be able to monitor user activity through that endpoint and recognize whether users are behaving suspiciously – before they cause data breaches. Because of the sheer number of endpoints in most organizations, it’s important that IT can monitor and manage all endpoints from one central console. In addition, taking a proactive approach to endpoint management often requires machine learning and behavioral analytics to stop the bad actor immediately and automatically.
Today, endpoint security solutions have come a long way from traditional antiviruses and firewalls. They provide a broader set of defenses to tackle known and unknown malware attacks, security exploits, and post-intrusion consequences.
With a substantial rise in the number of remote and mobile workers, more endpoints are being exposed to attackers. This is increasing the ‘protect surface’ from traditional office environments to endpoints distributed across the globe. Thus, by implementing an endpoint security system, you can ensure that all endpoints, including employee-owned devices, are protected against unauthorized access and potential cyber-attacks. This will safeguard your company’s valuable data and help maintain its reputation in the industry.