What is Endpoint Security and How Can it Protect Against Cyber Threats?

What is endpoint security?

Endpoint security protection is designed to form part of an organisation’s cyber security programme. Due to the increasingly sophisticated attacks taking place, it is an essential tool in a company’s security toolbox.

The specific job of endpoint security is to ensure that all endpoint devices – such as desktops, laptops and mobiles – are secured against cybersecurity threats. Endpoint devices can easily be used as entry points for cyber criminals and, in a similar way to your physical premises’ entry points, protection measures should be implemented to prevent malicious attacks.

What constitutes an endpoint device?

Any device that is connected to a network is classed as an endpoint. As a greater number of employees utilise BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), often working from home, together with the increase in IoT (Internet of Things), the number of devices connected to an organisation’s network is increasing. Managing the security of this ever-growing number of devices can cause a severe headache.
The types of endpoint devices that need securing is vast, but the more common ones include:

  • Laptops
  • Servers
  • Mobile devices
  • Tablets
  • Printers, copiers and scanners
  • Smart watches
  • Internet of Things devices
  • Medical devices
  • Digital assistants
  • ATM (cash) and POS (point of sale) machines

As the different types of endpoints have evolved, so too, have the security solutions required to protect them.

What are the differences between anti-virus protection and endpoint security?

Anti-virus software is designed to safeguard a single endpoint. Endpoint security software, sometimes referred to as Endpoint protection platforms or EPP, will monitor and protect the entirety of an organisation’s network, which can usually be managed from one location. EPPs usually consist of an integration of endpoint protection technologies.

As you’d perhaps expect, the protection level of an EPP is greater than anti-virus solutions, providing protection not only from viruses but other forms of malicious attack. Anti-virus software relies on the user to manually update databases or to allow such updates to be made by the system. If these updates don’t occur, endpoint devices may remain at risk. EPP software updates devices automatically, it can also include sophisticated behavioural analysis enabling previously unidentified threats to be discovered via the detection of suspicious behaviour patterns.

What are the differences between firewalls and endpoint security?

Whilst a firewall will monitor incoming and outgoing internet traffic, identifying whether it should allow or deny the traffic into your network, endpoint security protects and monitors data on individual devices. Firewalls alone are no longer sufficient as traffic often goes through alternative networks due to home and remote working, and therefore devices are vulnerable to attack. Endpoint security enables businesses to ensure protection wherever devices are used, but it doesn’t stop firewalls from being an important part of its security regime.

What are the key components of endpoint security?

Any endpoint security solution should offer all-round protection to devices and corporate networks. Essential features of such a solution will include:

  • Anti-Malware – This will ensure that infections and viruses, worms and other malware is detected, and prevented.
  • Data Encryption – Full Disk Encryption (FDE) will protect data against unauthorised access and potential breaches, it should also support encryption of any removable media.
  • Firewall and Application Control – This type of security enables network segmentation and blocks traffic based on security policy and application-specific rules.
  • Behavioural Analytics – As ransomware and other malware have unique behaviours, endpoint protection can detect and respond to attacks.
  • Compliance – Bring your own device (BYOD) and remote working make it harder to enforce compliance. Endpoint protection should evaluate devices and only allow those that comply with organisational policy to connect to corporate networks.
  • Secure Remote Access – As with compliance, it is essential that devices used by employees who work remotely, or on a hybrid basis, are secure. Endpoint security solutions incorporate a virtual private network (VPN) or similar secure remote access solutions.
  • Sandbox Inspection – Endpoint solutions extract and inspect files in a sandboxed environment to identify and block malicious content so that it doesn’t reach the endpoint device. This protects against attacks via phishing, vulnerability exploitation and more.
  • URL Filtering – Malicious links are often used in phishing attacks, so this helps prevent these threats by blocking malicious and inappropriate websites.

What should I consider when choosing an endpoint security solution?

As with most IT solutions, the endpoint security solution that you choose will depend on your specific organisational needs. Factors that should be considered when choosing a solution include employee numbers, their locations, device ownership and data sensitivity.

As businesses grow, they may find it more difficult to manage IT and security for all their devices. By utilising a security solution that centralises controls and protection for all endpoint devices, you not only ensure peace of mind, but also minimise the risk of malicious infiltration into the corporate network.

If employees occasionally work from home, remote offices, or whilst travelling, it is essential to implement an endpoint security solution to protect devices whenever and wherever employees attempt to connect to their networks and resources.

There has been a significant increase in employees using their own devices (BYOD), particularly mobile phones and laptops. When using their own devices, if there is no endpoint security solution, the employee puts the entire corporate network at risk of cyber-attacks.

All data is important, but some organisations will handle particularly high-value intellectual property or sensitive data. Such companies are unlikely to be fully protected by antivirus software alone as attacks can come from many sources, not just viruses. Protecting critical data will enable them to meet compliance requirements as well as preventing data loss or corruption and the resulting financial and reputational damage that this can cause.

What are the first steps to implementing a suitable endpoint security solution?

Mintivo has access to the IT security and protection that you need for your organisation, its networks and devices. Give one of our experts a call to discuss your concerns, and we’ll recommend the best solutions for your situation. Please get in touch.

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