In enterprise networks, endpoint devices refer to end-user devices such as laptops, servers, desktops, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and mobile devices. Such devices enable users to access the corporate network, and are therefore indispensable for day-to-day operations.
Endpoints also, however, expand a company’s attack surface, since each one can be exploited by malicious threat actors to launch cyberattacks via ransomware, phishing emails, social engineering, and so forth. That’s why endpoint security should be a part of every organization’s cybersecurity risk analysis and management plan.
What Is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security is the practice of assuring that all enterprise endpoints are reasonably secure from cyber-attacks.
Endpoint security is part of corporate network security, but only one part. Network security solutions secure networks and protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (the “CIA Triad”) of data. So network access control, vulnerability assessment, policy enforcement, threat protection, and data encryption are all part of network security.
Endpoint security solutions such as Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) protect endpoints. They examine files and data as those things enter the enterprise network, and block the use of insecure, unauthorized, or unsafe applications. They also encrypt endpoints to prevent data loss and provide centralized visibility, management, and operational control.
The main elements of endpoint security platforms include:
- Device protection
- Network controls
- Application controls
- Data controls
- Browser protections
Why Is Endpoint Security Important?
Until recently, most security teams focused their budgets and resources on network security. Over the past few years, however, the digital transformation of business processes, the pivot to remote work (and remote devices), and the accelerated use of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) have all led to an explosion in the number of endpoint devices attached to enterprise networks.
These devices create numerous cybersecurity threats. They can leave organizations vulnerable to malicious threat actors using sophisticated tools to install ransomware or steal data. This is why advanced endpoint security solutions are now more critical than ever.
Another driver of endpoint security is the need to protect sensitive data and prevent data loss. In today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive digital landscape, high-quality, relevant, and timely data allows organizations to innovate, serve customers, and strengthen their competitive position.
A data breach can put all of that at risk. Moreover, the average total cost of a data breach is now estimated at $4.24 million, which can be a business-killing expense for many organizations. An endpoint protection solution can protect data, user devices, and ultimately, organizations.
Endpoint Security, Antivirus Solutions, and Firewalls
Endpoint security should be seen as a step taken along with more traditional cybersecurity measures such as antivirus software and firewalls. It is most definitely not a substitute for either one.
Unlike traditional antivirus programs, endpoint security software looks at the enterprise network for holistic, end-to-end security at every entry point. Every new endpoint that enters the network perimeter is automatically added to endpoint protection.
Firewalls are essential to network security since they scan incoming web traffic and block hostile attacks, but they are not sufficient to protect endpoints (especially since so many endpoints are used remotely). To monitor or control external connections, endpoint security solutions are essential.
What Are the Different Types of Endpoint Security?
Organizations can leverage different types of endpoint security software, such as:
- IoT devices
- Email gateways
- Cloud perimeter
- Enterprise applications
Some endpoint security solutions also provide:
- URL filtering
- Endpoint detection and response
- Network access control
- Browser isolation
- Endpoint encryption
- Advanced/actionable forensic analysis
- Quarantine protection
Advanced solutions include additional features like:
- Anti-malware and antivirus protection
- Integrated firewall
- Insider threat protection
- Centralized endpoint management
- Disk encryption to prevent data exfiltration
- Near real-time zero-day threat detection with machine learning-based classification
Endpoint Security Detection and Response
“EDR” offers better visibility into the threat landscape and detects advanced threats such as zero-day attacks and file-less malware. The phrase “endpoint threat detection and response (ETDR)” was initially suggested by Gartner in 2013. ETDR was eventually shortened to EDR.
An EDR solution performs continuous real-time monitoring, collects and analyzes endpoint activity data, and automatically responds to threats based on predefined rules. It also notifies security teams of dangers that were identified, removed, or contained.
EDR should be a part of every organization’s endpoint security strategy. In addition, these five best practices can contribute to robust endpoint security:
Deploy Multiple Forms Of Security Protection
These must include:
- Antivirus software
- Mobile device management
- Mobile security solutions
- Intrusion detection tools
- Internet security and filtering
Implement Centralized Management and Control
As the number of endpoints increases, manual management is both impractical and impossible. To streamline management and security, a single, centralized solution is essential.
Get Full Device Coverage
The endpoint security tool must monitor and protect every device and operating system on the network. Even one device left out of the security perimeter can create serious security issues that may lead to a data breach or malware attack.
Data protection tools can secure endpoints and prevent data exposure and breaches through:
- Data encryption
- Data loss prevention (DLP)
- Network segregation
- File integrity monitoring
- Data access governance
User Security Training
User awareness is a critical component of endpoint security. Users should be taught how to securely use their devices, protect them from physical and digital threats, prevent data leakage, assess cyber risks, and report lost or compromised devices.
In addition to these five strategies, strong endpoint security requires:
- Continuous device monitoring
- Continuous threat detection and updated threat intelligence
- Robust incident response and remediation processes
- Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for security maturity
Keep Your Business Secure with ZenGRC
Continuous and effective endpoint security requires a robust platform to detect threats and help mitigate endpoint cybersecurity risks. Reciprocity’s ZenGRC is such a platform.
ZenGRC equips security teams with world-class tools to reveal threats across the endpoint ecosystem. It also provides a comprehensive view of the control environment to address critical tasks affecting network endpoints at any time.
ZenGRC also eliminates the burden of endpoint security through automation functionality for your follow-up tasks and alerts so you can concentrate on the mission-critical tasks of risk evaluation and mitigation.
To learn more about this comprehensive, centralized platform for endpoint threat detection and risk management, schedule a demo here.