Endpoint security (or “endpoint protection”) focuses on protecting endpoints (laptops, desktops, mobile devices, etc.) from potential cyber threats. Cybercriminals can target a weak entry point and infiltrate an organization’s network, so endpoint security solutions protect endpoints from such attempts.
- What is endpoint security?
- The different types of endpoint security
- How to optimally address them to protect your business-critical data from cyber attacks.
Throughout the article, we will use the terms “ endpoint protection ” and “endpoint security” interchangeably to address tools that businesses can use while protecting endpoints.
How does endpoint security work?
Endpoint security examines files and processes entire systems to detect malicious activity and mitigate its effects on the enterprise network.
Endpoint security typically combines different security measures – firewalls, antivirus, intrusion detection and prevention tools, etc. – to provide security teams with immediate access to up-to-date threat intelligence and form a comprehensive protection strategy. The ultimate goal of endpoint security is to create multiple layers of defenses against attackers.
This objective can be achieved through three main approaches:
- · Security of endpoints in the facilities
The on-premises approach relies on a locally hosted data center that is used as a hub for the management console. The console will protect the endpoints through an agent installed on all endpoint devices.
This approach is considered a legacy model that has several drawbacks; For example, it requires creating security silos, as administrators can only manage endpoints within their perimeter.
- · Cloud endpoint security
The cloud-based approach allows administrators to monitor and manage endpoint protection through a centralized management console located in the cloud.
This approach provides more flexibility as all endpoint devices connected to the cloud can be accessed remotely. Cloud-based methods eliminate the need for security silos and improve administrator reach.
- · Hybrid endpoint security
The hybrid approach combines on-premises security solutions with cloud-based security solutions. As the modern threat landscape has evolved to include bring-your-own-device (BYOD) attacks and remote devices, enterprises must adapt legacy architecture to the cloud to ensure critical cloud capabilities.
Endpoint security solutions that use the cloud to collect and store a database of threat information alleviate the burden on endpoints associated with the local storage and maintenance required to update security databases.
Additionally, a cloud-based approach is faster and allows for virtually infinite scalability. However, larger organizations may need on-site security for regulatory reasons. For them, a hybrid approach can bring the most benefits. As for small and medium-sized businesses, a cloud-based approach may be the most suitable.
Why is endpoint security important?
Endpoint security is a vital component of corporate network security. Endpoints store sensitive data, allow employees to do their jobs, and host your company’s digital services. Cyber threats against these endpoints can damage data integrity, confidentiality, and availability.
With remote work on the rise, endpoint security is more crucial than ever. Remote devices are often not protected by network security controls, especially employees’ personal devices used for business purposes. A robust endpoint protection platform is imperative to protecting those devices and ensuring no data breaches occur on your network.
What is endpoint security: types of endpoint security
As businesses often employ multiple device endpoints, it is critical to ensure comprehensive protection for all of them.
- · Traditional antivirus software
Antivirus is a basic element of endpoint security. Identifies potential malware and viruses and blocks them at the vulnerable access point. The antivirus does not require extensive technical expertise to configure. It is usually delivered in ready-to-use software and can be installed with a single click. However, antivirus is limited in countering advanced threats. You can only attempt to block a potential attack once the malware has interacted with the protected network.
If the threat is sophisticated enough, it can evade antivirus and spread across the network.
- · Internet of Things (IoT) Security
Internet of Things networks have been growing rapidly over the past decade. Every new IoT device adds potentially vulnerable endpoints for malicious parties to exploit. IoT security solutions ensure that IoT devices are readily available and secure and that data integrity is maintained while data is transferred over the IoT network.
IoT security focuses on mitigating data breach attempts, fixing vulnerabilities, data mishandling, and malware attacks.
- · Application control
Application control classifies network traffic based on type, security risk, resource usage, and productivity levels. Its goal is to detect incoming traffic early enough to mitigate threats on protected end-user devices. It allows businesses to easily track traffic quality and route following their pre-built network protocols.
- · Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Data loss prevention (DLP) ensures your most critical data is protected from exfiltration. The two key components of DLP are adequate employee information (anti-phishing training) and the use of anti-malware to protect entry points from cybersecurity threats.
- · URL filtering
URL filtering relies on a default list of safe URLs to filter access attempts and only allows traffic to and from approved sites. While useful, URL filtering should be combined with other security tools to ensure that only legitimate users access essential data.
- · Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
EDR focuses on threat detection to identify emerging threats before they infiltrate your network. Unlike traditional antivirus solutions, EDR proactively looks for suspicious network behavior through advanced automation capabilities. Such endpoint solutions collect data from all endpoints, analyze it in real-time, and present your security teams with alerts and recommendations to provide comprehensive system-wide protection.
- · Extended Detection and Response (XDR)
While EDR focuses primarily on endpoint protection, XDR extends detection and response capabilities to cover endpoints, cloud services, and the entire enterprise network. Additionally, XDR enables rapid multi-domain telemetry analysis and advanced alerting to further enhance your investigation and remediation capabilities.
XDR relies on advanced endpoint security software to protect complex and hybrid environments. Enterprises can often order the endpoint protection solution as part of a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering to ensure easier remote management through a centralized management console.
- · Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP)
Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) combine multiple endpoint protection solutions: antivirus, intrusion prevention, disk encryption, data loss prevention, and more to protect endpoint devices and counter dynamic security incidents. These cybersecurity solutions allow companies to detect and mitigate various cyber threats while monitoring the entire threat prevention process from a centralized console.
- · Network Access Control (NAC)
Network access control (NAC) manages which users and devices can access your network. It also assigns permissions to the segments they interact with and implements firewalls between active users, devices, and business-critical sections of the network.
- · Browser isolation
Browser isolation ensures that each session on the enterprise network runs within an isolated environment. This way, security threats delivered via downloads will only affect the session in question.
- · Endpoint encryption
Endpoint encryption is an essential component of any corporate network cybersecurity strategy. Protects business, personal, and mobile data by encrypting it and then requiring a decryption key to access that data. This way, even if the perpetrators gain access to your network, they will not be able to read the sensitive data unless they have the decryption key.
- · Protection against internal threats
Insider threats arise within your organization. It is essential to control who accesses specific network areas, monitor their operations, and ensure that all sessions are carried out properly. It is recommended that you use a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) security solution to assist with access management and ongoing monitoring.
- · Security in the cloud environment
When your company conducts business through cloud services, all users, individual devices, and client software form a cloud perimeter that requires endpoint protection. You can deploy cloud firewalls and cloud-based web filtering tools to control which users and devices can access your company’s cloud resources.
- · Email gateway
A secure email gateway (SEG) is an endpoint security solution that monitors and inspects traffic on your email system. The tool checks each instance for possible cyber threats. When it detects a suspicious link or attachment, SEG prevents access to the malicious email to protect the network.
- · Sandboxing
Sandboxing allows companies to create an environment that mimics typical end-user operating systems and isolate it from sensitive areas of the enterprise network. Such endpoint security software can work with most endpoint types as it can target specific applications. It is especially beneficial for countering evolving zero-day threats.
What are the benefits of endpoint security?
Endpoint protection solutions protect individual devices, PC systems, and cloud environments to strengthen your entire network against malicious actors. Even if data protection is the most critical, it presents businesses with several benefits.
- · Protection of critical data
First, endpoint security protects your essential data from malicious attacks. It enables comprehensive monitoring and management of data access while nullifying cyber threats.
- · Cost-effectiveness
Data breaches can cost companies several hundred to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the company and the severity of the breach. Having reliable endpoint protection can save you money by eliminating the need to manually initiate data recovery, troubleshooting, and threat prevention.
- · Improved productivity
Endpoint security ensures that all business-critical files are easily available and secure, meaning your employees won’t waste time searching for or retrieving a specific file. Additionally, automatic threat detection will allow your IT security team to focus on ongoing projects instead of fighting constant threats.
- · Easier endpoint security management
The way endpoint protection works ensures complete visibility and control over your endpoints. This can reduce a significant amount of management and administrative overhead.
Opting for a robust solution will allow you to eliminate most manual auditing and management tasks while automating endpoint provisioning, registration, management, updating, and decommissioning.
- · Improved business resilience
A data breach can still occur even if you have ensured complete security across your entire network. If that happens, endpoint solutions connected to digital forensic incident response capabilities will be able to identify and remediate any affected data. Additionally, modern endpoint security solutions often provide built-in data protection and backup features, allowing for immediate data restoration after an incident. This can minimize (or eliminate) downtime, keep your brand image intact, and ensure a steady revenue stream.
Endpoint Security vs. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
Endpoint security is a broad term that encompasses all approaches to protecting endpoints on your network.
Endpoint detection and response is one approach to a complete endpoint security strategy. So, in summary, EDR tools can be considered key components of your overall endpoint security plan.
What is the main difference between endpoint security solutions and antivirus?
Like EDR, antivirus tools can be a cog in your endpoint security strategy. However, most antivirus (or antimalware) solutions are designed to protect individual devices (for example, a casual user may install antivirus on their own device, but would rarely opt for full endpoint protection software, especially if your home network is small).
Endpoint security solutions, on the other hand, extend beyond traditional antivirus solutions to include top-level protection features (advanced persistent threat identification and detection, threat investigation and response, device management, malware prevention, etc.). data loss and more).
Most advanced endpoint security tools will help recognize and counter sophisticated threats through machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)–powered features.
Choosing the best endpoint security solution: What should you look for?
What makes endpoint protection important is its ability to cover large attack surfaces while maintaining costs and the need for minimal manual management. In the best case.
Every business should do its due diligence and choose a solution that optimally fits its specific needs and preferences.
Here’s what you should look for in reliable endpoint security solutions.
Ideally, you should opt for security software capable of detecting all threats trying to access your network. While detecting each threat is challenging, you can check independent real-world test results from trusted organizations to compare rates.
A “false positive” refers to the detection of a file or attachment that is not actually malicious. If your antivirus solution is configured to immediately delete or quarantine potentially infected files, a false positive can render your operating system or critical applications unusable.
Easy to use
Here, businesses should look for a solution that provides a centralized console to manage all endpoints (desktops, virtual machines, servers, mobile devices, etc.) to easily push updates, quickly create reports, and automate routine tasks (such as creating and configure implementation).
Your security solution can impact memory usage, disk space, processor load, and overall network performance. However, severe system slowdowns are not a reasonable price for security. Especially if your business is based on a hybrid environment (on-premises and remote work), it is recommended to opt for a solution with a minimal system footprint.
Problems arise, even with the most robust solutions. It is crucial to look for security software backed by a broad knowledge base to cover many scenarios. Additionally, if you are facing a very specific problem and can’t find the solution on your own, it should be easy to contact the provider and ask for more help.
Organizations need advanced endpoint security controls to mitigate evolving cyber threats. With
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