what is endpoint security

Endpoint security is an important part of cybersecurity that aims to protect computer networks by protecting endpoints like laptops, desktops, servers, and mobile devices.

Endpoints are often the weakest part of a company’s security system, and cybercriminals can use them to get into sensitive data and networks.

Antivirus and anti-malware software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems are often used as part of endpoint security solutions to protect against a wide range of online threats.

As remote work becomes more common and more people use their own devices to work from home, enterprise endpoint protection is becoming more important than ever.

In this article, we’ll talk more about what endpoint security is, why it’s important, and what steps businesses can take to protect their sensitive data and systems with good endpoint security.

What is Endpoint Security? 

Endpoint security, also called endpoint protection, is a way to keep malicious activities from happening on endpoints, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

An endpoint protection platform (EPP) is a solution that is used to “prevent file-based malware attacks, detect malicious activity, and provide the investigation and remediation capabilities needed to respond to dynamic security incidents and alerts.”

Endpoint security involves a range of processes, services, and solutions designed to protect endpoints from cyber threats, including traditional antivirus and antimalware software, attack surface reduction techniques, and device-based conditional access.

These tools work together to quickly detect, analyze, block, and contain attacks in progress, while providing administrators with visibility into advanced threats to speed up detection and remediation response times.

What Does It Mean by “Endpoint”? 

electronic gadget

Any device that connects to the business network from outside the firewall is called an “endpoint.” These are some examples of endpoint devices:

  • Mobile devices
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Switches
  • Digital printers
  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems
  • Internet of things (IoT) devices
  • And more (any devices communicating with the central network is considered ‘endpoints’)

Why It’s Important to Protect Endpoints

An advanced endpoint protection platform is crucial for enterprise cybersecurity due to several factors.

First of all, in today’s business world, data is a company’s most valuable asset, and losing that data or access to it could put the whole business at risk of going bankrupt.

Businesses have also had to deal with an increase in both the number and types of endpoints. These factors make it harder to secure business devices, especially with remote work and BYOD policies.

These policies create new vulnerabilities that perimeter security can’t always protect against.

The threat landscape is also getting more complicated. Hackers are always coming up with new ways to get in, steal information, or trick workers into giving up sensitive information. Endpoint protection platforms have become essential for securing businesses today.

This is because threats can be costly in terms of reputation, finances, and resources that could have been used for other business goals. By investing in endpoint protection, companies can avoid these potential costs and keep their systems secure.

What Are the Risks of Not Having Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security risks are no laughing matter. For instance, phishing is responsible for the notorious 2014 JPMorgan Chase data breach, compromising 76 million households and 7 million businesses, as well as the 2014 Sony Pictures attack, resulting in the disclosure of private emails, the release of upcoming films via torrents, and costing the company over $100 million.

When it comes to device loss, it is actually more common than many of us would think. According to TrendMicro, over 40 percent of data breach incidents between 2005 and 2015 were caused by misplaced or stolen endpoint devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

In 2012, a physician’s stolen laptop contained the personal information of over 3,600 patients. Consequently, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, affiliated with the doctor, was fined $1.5 million for violating the privacy rule of HIPAA.

Furthermore, data loss and theft are among the most common causes of endpoint security risks. In 2014, Yahoo experienced a data breach compromising one billion user accounts, the largest breach of its kind.

Approximately 200 million accounts, including unencrypted security questions and answers, were sold on the dark web. This incident triggered a Senate investigation, a $35 million sanction from the SEC, a $117.5 million class-action settlement, and a $350 million reduction in Yahoo’s valuation before its acquisition by Verizon.

Moreover, ransomware extortion poses a significant endpoint security concern. In 2017, the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack affected 150 countries, targeting entities such as Boeing, Deutsche Bahn, FedEx, Hitachi, Honda, Nissan, O2, Renault, Taiwan’s TSMC, and Vivo.

Prior to its halt, the attack managed to extort over $130,000 in bitcoin payments from government organizations in Brazil, China, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The most alarming aspect of ransomware is its ability to spread like a virus and affect virtually anyone, from small mom-and-pop shops and startups to multinational corporations. This distinguishes it from most attacks that deliberately target large enterprises for financial gain.

How Endpoint Protection Works

Endpoint security is the process of making sure that the data and processes of each device that connects to your network are safe. Endpoint protection systems (EPP) work by looking at files as they enter the network.

Modern EPPs use the power of the cloud to store a database of information about threats that is always growing. This keeps clients from having to store all this information locally and do the work needed to keep these databases up to date.

Accessing this information in the cloud also makes it faster and easier to add more.

The EPP gives system managers a centralized console that can be installed on a network gateway or server. Moreover, it allows security experts to control the security of each device from a remote location.

The client software is then given to each endpoint. It can be provided as a SaaS and controlled remotely, or it can be installed directly on the device.

Once the endpoint is set up, the client software can push updates to the endpoints when needed, verify log-in attempts from each device, and manage company policies from one place.

EPPs protect endpoints with application control, which stops the use of dangerous or unauthorised apps, and encryption, which helps keep data from getting lost.

When the EPP is set up, malware and other threats can be found quickly. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is another part of some systems.

EDR lets you find risks like polymorphic attacks, fileless malware, and zero-day attacks, which are more complex. By using continuous monitoring, the EDR system can give you more information and more ways to respond.

EPP systems can be set up on-premises or in the cloud. Even though cloud-based products are more scalable and easier to combine with your current architecture, some compliance and regulatory rules may require security on-premises.

Approaches to Endpoint Protection 

cybersecurity

Endpoint protection lets organizations connect their network to a central control console. The console lets managers keep an eye on possible cyber threats, look into them, and decide what to do about them.

This can be done on-site, in the cloud, or with a combination of the two:

On-site (On-Premises)

For the on-site, or on-premises approach, there is a data centre that is hosted on-site and serves as a hub for the management console. One way to provide security to devices is to use an agent that communicates with them directly.

However, this approach is outdated and has some drawbacks. For example, it can create security silos, which means that administrators can only manage devices within their own area of responsibility.

Cloud

This method lets managers monitor and control endpoints through a central management console in the cloud, which devices connect to remotely.

Cloud solutions use the cloud’s advantage to make sure security is in place behind the standard perimeter. This is done by getting rid of silos and giving administrators more control.

Hybrid

A hybrid method uses both on-site solutions and solutions in the cloud. Since the pandemic has led to more people working from home, this method has become more common.

Organizations have changed parts of their legacy systems to work in the cloud so they can use some cloud features.

How Do I Choose the Right Endpoint Security Solution for My Organization?

Choosing an endpoint protection suite is a challenging decision. The following will assist you in selecting the best platform that suits your protection requirements.

Assessing Your Business Requirements

The first step in selecting the right endpoint data protection solution is to determine your organization’s requirements. Consider the following factors when analyzing and assessing your needs:

1. Scalability and Capacity

The size of your business or organization determines the number of endpoints you require. Thus, capacity becomes a crucial factor. For large organizations, the endpoint solution should be designed to support a large number of users from the beginning.

Scalability is also essential for businesses expecting rapid expansion, regardless of their size, whether they are new startups, SMBs, or established enterprises.

2. Sector

The industry you operate in can influence the level of security you need. Industry-specific regulatory requirements may impact the selection of an endpoint protection platform (EPP).

For example, the government and military sectors must adhere to stringent security policies and requirements. Federal agencies may require specific forms of endpoint security solutions to comply with these regulations.

What to Consider When Choosing an Endpoint Data Protection Solution

1. Detection Rates

Your security software should effectively detect all threats that breach your network. Since most malware is designed to evade detection, it’s crucial to have mechanisms in place to identify and respond to breaches promptly.

Independent test results from reputable organizations like AV-Comparatives can serve as a reliable guide to determine the detection rates of different solutions.

Be cautious of vendors who provide custom-made malware samples for testing, as they may artificially boost their products’ performance.

2. Occurrence of False-Positive Tests

False positives, alerts for files or links mistakenly identified as malicious, can have serious consequences. Even a single false positive can disrupt essential operations.

If an antivirus solution is configured to eliminate or quarantine infected files automatically, a false positive in a critical file can cause the operating system or essential applications to not function. False positives also consume valuable IT resources for investigation.

Therefore, choosing a product with a consistent track record of minimizing false positives will save time and resources.

3. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP is crucial for preventing insider threats and external attempts at data theft. Look for an endpoint protection platform with a proven track record in DLP, particularly if your employees work remotely or in a hybrid environment.

DLP should not impede employee mobility and can be applied at the computer level, ensuring data protection without relying solely on enterprise networks.

4. System Footprint

Evaluate the impact of security software on system resources such as processor load, disk space, memory usage, and network performance. User feedback is valuable in assessing the impact of system scans or updates on performance.

The endpoint protection platform should not hinder the efficiency of your employees’ work or necessitate costly upgrades to older machines.

5. Ease of Management and Maintenance

Pay close attention to this aspect. You don’t want to exhaust yourself rushing from one device to another to configure, administer, upgrade, and maintain security across your environment’s systems.

Look for a solution that offers the capability to manage all endpoints, including desktops, servers, virtual machines, and managed mobile devices, from a central console.

This will allow you to efficiently push out updates, automate routine tasks such as creating and deploying configurations, and generate required reports quickly.

In a Nutshell 

Endpoint security is a method of cybersecurity that protects endpoints like laptops, desktops, servers, and mobile devices from cyberattacks. It is an important part of a company’s general security plan because malicious attacks often start at the endpoints.

Endpoint security solutions generally protect against a wide range of threats using anti-malware software, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and tools to stop data loss. It is especially important in today’s remote work setting, where more people work from home on their own devices.

Endpoint security works best when technology, policies, and staff training are involved. It’s important to know about the latest risks and take a multi-layered approach to security, like updating software regularly, making backups, and using strong firewalls.

There should also be training programs for employees to teach them how to spot and avoid phishing scams and other harmful attacks.

Overall, endpoint security is very important for avoiding data breaches and other security problems caused by malware, viruses, and other malicious attacks that target endpoint devices.

By putting in place effective enterprise endpoint protection measures, businesses can protect their networks, devices, and sensitive data from attacks and make sure their workers can work safely from anywhere.

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