The increasing number of exploits, ransomware and lack of threat intelligence in organizations has resulted in a less effective endpoint threat detection and response. A recent Endpoint Security Report have shown that 42 percent of all endpoints are unprotected at any given time, and that 70 percent of security breaches originates in endpoints.
Endpoints are considered to be the most vulnerable part of the network. Hackers can exploit these network-connected devices without raising any suspicion or utilizing too many resources. Companies should include endpoint security as a critical component of an effective cyber security strategy.
What Is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security is the practice of securing end-user devices against cyber attacks. Devices like computers, laptops, mobile phones, servers are considered to be endpoints. They are the entry point of any network.
Endpoint security solutions identify system vulnerabilities, protect systems from attacks and ensure that businesses are able to mitigate breaches. Over the years, endpoint security has evolved from basic antivirus solutions and firewalls to next-gen, modern solutions that employ artificial intelligence algorithms, advanced automation technologies and predictive analytics software.
Why Endpoint Protection Is Important
End user devices and applications are becoming a critical security concern in any organization. Any device with access to your corporate network resources is a potential target for hackers. IT security teams have to deal with the emerging trends of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobile and remote work environments, as well as a wide range of networked devices.
According to a Ponemon Institute research, almost 60 percent of enterprises have suffered from attacks that originated from endpoints in the last year. This is an increase of 20 percent compared to last year’s attacks.
External attacks are the obvious threats and they are indeed a serious challenge, but insider threats are also a huge concern. Insider threats can be employees who disable or intentionally manipulate critical applications that secure data and devices in an organization. Careless or malicious employee behavior can put critical information at risk and cause malware infection, damaged drivers and registry files, or disabled services.
7 Tips to Boost Endpoint Security
1. Identify your endpoint
The first step you should take to secure endpoints is cataloging and assessing vulnerabilities. Once you have this data, you can enable network access only to the approved devices and prioritize the most risky and sensitive endpoints. Keep in mind that any endpoint in the network demands protection.
2. Data Access Policy
Many businesses do not have the basic protocols for data storage, access, and usage. Any company striving to secure its information must outline the data classification levels. For example, data can have a public, restricted or critical access in case of personal or financial information. A company should define which employees and departments can access each type of data. This can be done with user authentication procedures, such as two-factor authentication. The protocol should notify admins directly of any security breach.
3. IoT Security
IoT devices and printers often have default settings and passwords, which makes them an easy target for attackers. To limit this vulnerability, change passwords regularly release software updates, and maintain the hardware and firmware of all your systems and computers. Windows users, for example, can use automatic deployment rules (ADR) to update or patch their computers.
4. Data encryption
Encrypt critical and restricted data stored on premisses or in the cloud. You can encrypt entire hard drives or specific files, depending on your needs. In addition, to secure data in transit, update all web communication to secure HTTPS protocols. Encrypt emails using Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) or S/Mime encryption. Access remote desktops via Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
5. Enforce Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy
A Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy determines the level of support an IT department can provide for computers, smartphones and tablets owned by employees in a corporation. For example, a BYOD policy can include a list of allowed apps and devices in the network, the data they can access, and the websites they can visit. Companies with sensitive information should provide their own laptops or smartphones with restricted and authorized apps and message encryption features.
6. Advanced and Automated Endpoint Protection
Basic solutions for endpoint protection such as antiviruses and firewalls have been in the marketplace for many years. While antiviruses are good in catching known threats using a blacklist, they are struggling to detect sophisticated types of malware. Firewalls also have their own vulnerabilities. This is why advanced endpoint detection tools use automation to adjust to ever-evolving threats like fileless malware and phishing attacks.
Make sure everyone in the organization knows how to avoid cyber security threats and risks. Businesses should invest in educating their employees about basic security practices, such as secure password tips and how to identify phishing emails. This type of education should be conducted frequently because of the ever-evolving threats.
The basic requirements for a small company may consist of a decent firewall and an antivirus solution. However, for midsize and large enterprises, implementing the above tips can enhance endpoint security, decrease the threat of ransomware or viruses and prevent block threat actors. In the long term, a company that has successfully established endpoint security, will not be so vulnerable to endpoint attacks.
Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.