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Endpoint protection (how and why your assets can be a vector)

Security is vitally important to every organization, keeping customer and business data safe. As more businesses shift to work models outside the traditional office workplace, such as hybrid and remote work, endpoint devices are emerging as one of the biggest vulnerabilities in the business security chain.

According to this research, up to 70% of successful network breaches have their origins in endpoint devices. Endpoint security can help ensure that your business provides a safe and secure working environment for employees, customers, and company data. 

What is endpoint security?

Endpoints are the devices that connect to a business computer network, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and so on. Endpoint protection is ensuring these devices are secure and cannot be used as entry points for cybercriminals seeking to gain unauthorized access to sensitive assets and data. 

While remote connectivity is crucial for organizations that utilize cloud solutions and SaaS to allow employees to work remotely, a cyber-attack on these services could jeopardize data and sensitive data. Endpoint security prevents malicious hackers from accessing client servers by using encryption, application control, and other security features. 

Why is endpoint protection so important?

Modern cyber attacks rely on endpoint devices as an entry point because they are the user interface of an IT system. Access to endpoints can mean critical data is vulnerable and can allow lateral movement across other machines within the organization that is being targeted. Around 70% of businesses have experienced at least one endpoint attack that was successful in compromising IT infrastructure/or data. 

Organizations using cloud-based services to allow employees to use their own devices can be more vulnerable to endpoint device security issues. Each endpoint device may run on a different operating system and is connected to shared resources such as email, databases, and CRM applications. While data stored in the cloud may be secure, the cloud provider isn’t responsible for the devices connected to the service. 

Data breaches aren't merely about paying a ransom or shutting down your business while an attack is taking place. A cyber-attack response, mitigation, and investigation are all costly, and there may also be legal or compliance penalties if your company hasn't complied with data protection regulations. This might ruin your reputation and adversely affect your firm's future business. 

Common attack vectors in endpoint security

Employees

The people who work within a business are important to the success of the organization but they can also be the biggest threat to endpoint protection. Employees can either inadvertently jeopardize endpoint protection, through careless behavior when it comes to opening files or files, or accessing data on unsecured internet connections. 

Endpoint devices are vulnerable to being lost, hacked, stolen, or phished, and because employees are in charge of using mobile devices, laptops, or BYOD, the security of your business network is in their hands. This is why it is vital to ensure employee security awareness training is implemented across the entire organization, to create a human firewall as your first line of defense against endpoint security events. Strong, clearly set policies are also important, to ensure devices are used appropriately to prevent data breaches and loss. 

Lack of visibility

All devices that connect to your network, regardless of the operating system, location, or platform, must be tracked and monitored. Company-owned computers, printers, and IoT devices as well as user devices including laptops, tablets, and phones used by your employees as part of a BYOD program should be included. Assets that aren’t tracked and monitored can be a vector for cyber threats as they are potentially outside the network security of your business. 

In addition to keeping unauthorized people from accessing any of these devices, find out what is not supposed to be accessing your network, who has excess access privileges than they need, and which devices have become infected. Even if you don't have a unified endpoint management system in place and must manage several, disparate management systems, this degree of visibility and control is critical to ensuring the security of your endpoints.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT is one of the most popular attack vectors in endpoint security, and it appears to be growing. More enterprises than ever are embracing the IoT as a method for connecting people and facilitating workflows, but this is problematic as IoT devices rarely have cybersecurity protection on their firmware or software, and updating security doesn’t occur often. 

An enterprise network can become an entryway for hackers when IoT devices are connected to it. Hackers may use them as a route to more lucrative targets or plant living threats on them. Next-generation endpoint protection will provide control over IoT devices while also allowing for updates and improvements, scheduling them, and notifying the IT team to execute them or do so automatically. 

Mobile devices and BYOD

Endpoint device security issues are likely to be faced by companies that allow employees to bring their own devices to work, such as laptops and smartphones. There is a strong potential for devices being used that are not secure or the business is not aware of. 

An endpoint device might have its own operating system and access to shared resources such as email, databases, and CRM software. A small business may rely on cloud-based services that can be accessed from any internet-connected device. Even if the data stored in the cloud is protected, the cloud provider is not responsible for protecting the endpoint system. Next-generation endpoint encryption ensures data loss prevention and better visibility across mobile devices. 

Endpoint ports

The most direct route in endpoint security attack vectors is to target the ports themselves. USB ports, in particular, are rarely paid the attention they deserve; in fact, hackers often use infected physical data drives to transfer viruses directly. Endpoint security, on the other hand, offers port control, which monitors the drives connecting to endpoints to prevent malware from installing itself. 

Applications 

Applications are often neglected as a source of endpoint security risks, even though they are frequently the source of the most significant problems. Employees frequently download applications without first consulting your IT security team, and even if the application is authorized, it still transfers data without monitoring. Hackers might use your applications to move around your network undetected. 

Secure your business assets with endpoint protection

In today’s super-connected digital world, it can be a challenge to protect your organization against malicious activity, especially when it comes to endpoint devices. It is vital to take a multi-layered approach to security across your corporate network, including endpoint security solutions, vulnerability scanning, and advanced threat detection. In the long term, an organization with robust security technologies in place is less vulnerable to endpoint protection failures. Talk to the cybersecurity experts at ThreatAdvice today and find out how their comprehensive cybersecurity platform can ensure your business is always secure.