By Anastasios Arampatzis
As the years roll by, we should expect a further increase in the frequency and severity of cyberattacks. By 2023, cybercriminals would steal an estimated 33 billion data annually, according to a recent analysis by Juniper Research. These statistics illustrate why every business owner should prioritize cybersecurity regardless of company size.
In most cases, company executives only prioritize the security of their networks against cyberattacks once it’s too late. Some companies may need several months to investigate data breaches. That gives cybercriminals more time to spread sensitive information after a breach before consumers, businesses, and others take action to repair the harm.
Even IT specialists often overlook endpoint devices, despite being one of the most vulnerable parts of a business network.
What is endpoint security?
The endpoint devices in your organization are the computers and other devices linked to the network that serves as the backbone of your company. All the electronic devices you have, such as PCs, laptops, smartphones, POS terminals, and smart IoT devices, fall under this category. Your staff’s tools to coordinate and share information are just as likely to be compromised.
“Endpoint security is the set of policies, practices, and solutions defending the endpoints on a network against external attacks from malicious exploits,” notes VIPRE. This policy will ultimately keep all your network’s endpoint devices safe and secure.
The need for securing your endpoints
The endpoints of today’s networks are the weakest link in any organization’s chain. As more and more endpoint devices are added to the company network, cybersecurity programs must adapt to a new set of challenges. Although mobility and accessibility boost productivity, they also present unique challenges for safety and security.
To ensure adequate endpoint security, organizational leaders must draft a policy that applies to a globally accessible network. To make matters worse, many IT and business leaders incorrectly assume that their organization’s infrastructure, technologies, and personnel are sufficient to provide endpoint security. This sounds like a recipe for a significant security disaster. A company’s endpoints provide unique security concerns, and an attacker who gains access to an endpoint through a login and password may wreak havoc on the organization.
If you are still wondering about the necessity of endpoint security, the following points highlighting the importance of protecting your endpoints might convince you.
- More people are working remotely
Because of the internet, telecommuting has become increasingly feasible. Many workers previously needed to be physically present in an office to get their jobs done. Still, with increasingly sophisticated digital tools, they now have greater flexibility in where and when they work. It is now possible for employees in various fields to work remotely from their preferred location and access the company’s network and data from anywhere.
Working from the comfort of one’s home (or any other location) is excellent. Indeed, this is the case at times. However, this increases the company’s vulnerability to cyberattacks, highlighting the importance of providing a secure mobile network.
- Security perimeters have diminished
The perimeter approach to security has long been in use, allowing only endpoints within a specific boundary (such as an organization’s network) to access sensitive resources. Contrarily, access to these resources was denied to endpoints operating outside this boundary. The local endpoint was assumed authenticated since it communicated with a known network port over a known local IP address.
Perimeter security, as it was once understood, is largely irrelevant in modern times. Employees can now log onto the company network from any location as long as they have access to an internet connection, thanks to the widespread availability of internet-connected endpoint devices. This necessitates deploying more sophisticated and nuanced security measures for managing endpoint devices within an enterprise, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), endpoint validation and verification, and complete activity recording.
- Diversity of endpoints as technology evolves
Endpoints, due to their individualized nature, create issues for corporate IT. Unless companies preconfigure endpoint devices, employees will make unique adjustments to each one or bring their own equipment to the office. Because of their individuality, many of these devices won’t be able to provide the level of security required by the organization.
Threats like missing or outdated antimalware software, malware already existing on the endpoint, and unpatched operating system versions are some problems arising from both customized and diverse endpoints. The potential dangers posed by zero-day threats are in addition to these already existing problems.
Therefore, it is urgent to include endpoint validation checks to ensure that an endpoint meets the required setup, configuration, and other system health criteria before being allowed to connect.
- Risky human behaviors
Users frequently add to the dangers posed by endpoint devices. Businesses commonly use acceptable use policies as a set of written policies and procedures outlining the obligations and expectations of endpoint users while accessing business resources. The company is leaving major security decisions to its customers, which is a significant problem. You may be taking some unwanted risks if you rely on your staff, customers, partners, and other users to keep their endpoints correctly configured, patched, and updated.
Although it is beneficial for users to be familiar with acceptable usage policies and best practices, it is risky and unreliable for businesses to rely on individuals to take an active role in endpoint security management. Organizations can improve their endpoint management with the help of technologies that check each system’s setup before approving access and keep an eye on user behavior to catch any suspicious activity.
- Endpoints are used to access other networks
At least one employee is likely violating the company’s rules and regulations concerning using Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace. In addition, we all know that security is only as reliable as its weakest link.
It may seem that wasting a few minutes on something that isn’t approved isn’t a huge concern, but without adequate security measures, the consequences could be rather severe. Many businesses have taken the necessary precautions to ensure endpoint security.
- Prevent data loss, and financial loss
We all know that networks will continue to swell in size when additional nodes are added. Naturally, it becomes more difficult to effectively secure a network as its size grows. All the arguments we’ve made so far led to this ultimate conclusion: avoiding data loss and tampering with the integrity of a network should be your top priority.
Without sufficient security measures, any portion of a network can be compromised. We all know this will cause a data disruption, resulting in severe financial losses.
It’s no surprise that there’s a growing list of solutions for ensuring the safety of endpoint devices. To prioritize improvements, your team will benefit from solutions that report on the current state of security and any dangers that have been identified. We’re not just talking about the devices themselves, but also any other third-party programs that may be running in conjunction with them. The most advanced endpoint security solutions are cloud-based, meaning they can update and reset devices across an entire network without human intervention.
With so many options available, the choice is up to you!
Anastasios Arampatzis is a retired Hellenic Air Force officer with over 20 years’ worth of experience in managing IT projects and evaluating cybersecurity. Anastasios’ interests include among others cybersecurity policy and governance, ICS and IoT security, encryption, and certificates management. Anastasios has written for many publications and is currently a writer for Bora.