What is Endpoint Security?

In this article, we’re going to get you well acquainted with the ins and outs of endpoint security. But before we dive into that topic, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about endpoints in general. In the world of IT, an endpoint is a physical device (like a smartphone, a desktop computer, an embedded device, or a server) that connects to a network system.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of endpoint security – its definition, its components, and how it works to protect devices and networks. Our aim is to equip you with the knowledge you need to implement effective endpoint security solutions that will allow you to protect your devices and data.

Endpoint security refers to the measures taken to secure endpoints – that is, the entry points created by devices like laptops, desktops, or mobile phones. So what are these endpoints being protected from?

In short, cybersecurity threats. IT departments employ endpoint security tactics to prevent their network devices from being exploited by malicious individuals or destructive hacking campaigns. Endpoint security systems can protect these endpoints on either a network or the cloud.

Historically, endpoint security has consisted of traditional antivirus software. But these days, endpoint security solutions can provide comprehensive protection from sophisticated malware as well as evolving zero-day threats. Organizations of all sizes, large and small and everything in between, are at risk from cyber threats. Endpoint security is often seen as the frontline defense against these threats, and it’s a great place to start upping your security posture.

How It Works to Protect Devices and Networks

Endpoint security solutions have been developing in complexity in tandem with the advancements in cybersecurity threats. Today, robust endpoint protection systems are designed to be able to quickly detect, analyze, block, and remediate attacks that are in progress that could be damaging to your organization.

In order to do this, endpoint protection systems collaborate virtually with each other and other security technologies that are part of your vulnerability management solutions. This gives administrators speedy visibility into any advanced threats, allowing for both faster detection and shorter remediation and response times.

Why Is Endpoint Security Important?

In recent years, the volume and sophistication levels of cybersecurity threats have grown steadily. This has prompted the need for more advanced and comprehensive endpoint security solutions. In fact, cybercrime (harmful maneuvers involving anything from data hacking to embezzlement) is up 600% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly every industry out there has been forced to embrace new solutions and adapt quickly to this changing landscape. That’s where endpoint security comes in. In today’s world, data comprises most companies’ most valuable assets – so to lose that data or access to it—could put an entire business at risk.

Add to that the cost of reallocating resources to address threats, the cost to a company’s reputation should a large-scale breach occur, the actual financial repercussions of compliance violations… it’s easy to see why endpoint security is now considered a must-have.

Risks Associated with Unprotected Endpoints

Endpoints are not just laptops and desktop computers anymore. If a device is connected to a network, it is considered an endpoint, meaning that all of these devices fit the bill:

  • Tablets, such as an iPad or Surface
  • Mobile devices, including smartphones
  • Smart watches
  • Printers
  • Servers
  • ATMs
  • Medical devices

In the world of remote work and the bring-your-own-device workplace, the number of individual devices connected to any given organization’s network can quickly increase to tens or even hundreds of thousands.

Unfortunately, mobile and remote devices make excellent entry points for threats and malware, so they are often preferred targets of potential hackers or adversaries. Without a robust endpoint protection system, there may be thousands of unguarded portals to your organization’s network out there.

Endpoint Security for Compliance and Data Protection

Per the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act of 2022, which President Biden signed into law in March of that year, companies and IT departments have certain responsibilities when it comes to protecting themselves and their data from cyberattacks as well as reporting successful attacks if they do occur.

With endpoints being one of the highest risk places for hacking to occur, it’s important to monitor and maintain compliance across all endpoints in your network. Endpoint security is a powerful tool when it comes to helping organizations remain on top of their compliance responsibilities and protecting important data.

Types of Endpoint Security Solutions

With every additional endpoint device that is connected to a business’ network, cybercriminals gain another potential avenue to infiltrate that network. For that reason, it’s important to employ robust endpoint security measures that allow network administrators to identify and manage the device access of different users.

Different Types of Endpoint Security Solutions Available

Some common examples of endpoint security strategies include the following:

  • Antivirus software
  • Web filtering
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs)
  • Patch management
  • Encryption for data and email
  • Network access control on a “need to know” basis

Network admins can put these policies and solutions in place in order to mitigate the threat potential that comes with high numbers of endpoint devices. They will be able to set policies so that end users can access only areas of the network that are necessary for fulfilling their job responsibilities. Then, if a device is infiltrated, only some information will be at risk.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Solution

Each of these solutions comes with its own pros and cons list, but generally speaking, a suite of protections that integrate portions of each of these strategies is the preferred method. Putting in place policy settings like web filtering and data encryption can be highly effective and easy to implement.

Admins should always make sure that every device that’s connected to the network has up-to-date antivirus software as well as the most recent patches and updates for relevant applications. Patch management and zero-trust architecture are important pieces of a complete endpoint security solution.

Best Practices for Endpoint Security

Given the degree of impact any cyberattack can have on your company, it’s crucial to apply the best practices of endpoint security. The number of data breaches, as well as the average cost of each data breach, has been escalating significantly since 2020. This is why it’s essential to ensure that your organization is well protected.

Tips for Implementing Best Practices

The good news here is that you may already be employing many of the key pieces of a robust endpoint security strategy – many of them are simply essential IT practices. One of the most important things to consider is keeping your users up-to-date and educated. Ensuring that every user understands the importance of these endeavors is key to those users actually following and facilitating the strategies you will be putting in place.

Examples of Common Best Practices

Some of the most common best practices in the world of endpoint security include (but, of course, are not limited to) the following:

Investing in intelligently automated systems can help you achieve many of the best practices and strategies that we have mentioned in this article.

Final Thoughts

Endpoint security is a no-brainer for any business that wants to protect its resources and data – in other words, every organization out there. That’s why it’s important to understand the vulnerabilities that end users present and create, as well as how to mitigate them. Minimizing the avenues through which cyber attackers can infiltrate can be achieved with a robust endpoint security solution that includes the best practices we’ve covered in this article.

FAQs

What is the difference between antivirus and endpoint security?

Antivirus is one component of endpoint security, but it’s not the only one. A truly robust endpoint security system will also involve patch management, vulnerability management, zero-trust architecture, and more.

How does endpoint security work in a remote environment?

It’s especially important to employ endpoint security in a remote work environment where users may be bringing their own devices or relying on smartphones to access the network. Admins can use RMM (remote monitoring and management) tools to execute endpoint security solutions in the remote environment.

How often should endpoint security be updated?

The general rule of thumb is to check in on your endpoint security every quarter, but the exact timeframe of endpoint security updates will depend on the software you’re using and the automation strategies that you have in place.

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