If you’ve ever been concerned about your business’s digital security, you might be wondering: what is endpoint security? It’s two big words with huge ramifications for your business, profits, digital safety and more.
Endpoint security platforms safeguard endpoints on a network, including end-user devices like desktops, laptops, servers, tablets, mobile devices and virtual environments from malware, viruses, intruders and any assortment of malicious online and offline threats.
Each device connected remotely to your businesses’ network is a potential entry point for security threats. These platforms can ensure the security and stability of these enterprise networks. However, there’s a lot more to it than just endpoint protection. We’ll break down a few of those features later on in this guide.
Endpoint Security Helps You:
- Protect against malware and other threats
- Diagnose and treat issues
- Manage your IT infrastructure and roles
- Manage devices
- Prevent data loss
Protect against malware and other threats
The sophistication and frequency of cybersecurity attacks have steadily increased in recent years. On average, infections cost businesses $2.4 million annually, and costs continue to climb as newer and more advanced malware (such as ransomware) spreads. One of the cardinal goals of endpoint security is that it proactively defends against a myriad of digital threats.
By utilizing vast libraries of “samples” (think of these as tissue samples carrying diseases), security can often identify a threat before it can infect your infrastructure, and give IT managers time to take precautions. Databases and proactive monitoring are crucial components that defend against:
Another technique consistently monitors files for discrepancies. File monitoring can prevent timed releases of malware or illegitimate software installs. This idea goes hand-in-hand with device management, which we’ll cover further down.
In the event of a zero-day attack (a previously unknown software vulnerability that remains hidden until an attacker uses it to gain access), endpoint protection leverages historical and gathered intelligence to mitigate threats before significant damage occurs.
Diagnose and treat issues
What is endpoint protection if it can’t diagnose issues and then treat them? Removing a threat and ensuring it doesn’t spread is a technique called “quarantining.” Quarantining involves moving infected files to a safe “sandbox” (a clean digital environment that has no access to the rest of the system) and analyzing them. It also includes deleting malicious executables before they can be run.
In some cases, such as zero-day scenarios, pulling from historical data and previous infection criteria can mitigate (and in some cases prevent) critical exploitations.
Manage your IT infrastructure and roles
Device management and user hierarchies are key features of endpoint security because they can mitigate a more dangerous threat: intrusion. Cyber attacks aren’t simply malware and malicious payloads. They’re often the result of an enterprising hacker exploiting the faults in your security and infrastructure (or tricking your users), and then attacking from the inside. High profile cases of infiltration have begun to surface, with credit card giant Capital One being the victim of one of these attacks.
Thankfully, good security can help mitigate these attacks. How? Through a solution often known as access levels. Valuable data and critical infrastructure should not be available to all users, and access levels can help assign roles and hierarchies to users, resulting in different system access levels, from the top down.
For example, let’s say one of your interns is tricked into handing over their username and password. Luckily, the hacker won’t get far, as the intern has been given only limited access to the system. They can’t export data, see valuable reports or even interact with the system’s backend infrastructure, thus limiting the amount of damage they can do.
Devices are the bread and butter of any business these days. Very few organizations can scrape by without utilizing a workstation, laptop or a company-issued cell phone. The trick is to carefully manage these devices because every one of them is a potential intrusion point.
Endpoint protection can help secure your equipment and prevent:
- Unauthorized application or certificate installations
- Data theft
- Device theft
Usually, system administrators will set a list of software that can be installed on any given system. Then, they can set an app to continually monitor for users trying to install something that doesn’t match with the group policy.
Data and device theft is also a major concern for any organization. Endpoint protection leverages encryption to make it nearly impossible for hostile actors to steal data. Even if they have access to a device, endpoint systems almost always allow for remote data wipes and issue tracking.
Prevent data loss
Data loss is a very real issue for employees and IT managers. If a drive fails in a work-issued laptop, then that data is gone. Or if the device is stolen, it’s an even bigger liability.
Endpoint protection seeks to remedy this by encrypting data from the get-go, and then backing up that data – either offsite or to an encrypted local storage device. Roll-back features also allow users to restore encrypted data up to a certain point, just as long as they have the proper encryption keys. In the case of data theft, encrypted data is useless to an attacker without encryption keys.
In the case of data theft, encrypted data is useless to an attacker without encryption keys.
Is Endpoint Security Perfect?
The short answer is: no. With news of major data breaches, crippling malware and more, it’s been proven time and time again that no system is perfect – but you’re much, much better off with endpoint protection than you are without it.
Endpoint security does far more than prevent hackers and malware from compromising your business. They also prevent unauthorized access by your employees, help secure and recover devices, and give you greater control over your systems in the event of hardware or software failures.
How Do I Know I’m Ready For Endpoint Security?
There’s plenty of reason to start using endpoint protection. If you have:
- Large numbers of users
- Sensitive data
- A diverse pool of vulnerable devices
- Have been the target of hacking or social engineering attacks in the past
- Are worried about data loss
Then you are an ideal candidate for using an endpoint security system.
How Do I Select the Right Endpoint Protection?
Finding the right solution isn’t always a straightforward question because of your unique business needs. First off, you should consider your requirements; what you absolutely need to have in your security application. If you don’t know where to start, you can read our helpful endpoint security requirements guide.
After assessing your needs, pay attention to your wants. What do you want this software to do for you, that isn’t essential, but would be nice? Unlike your needs, these should be flexible, and you should be willing to budge on features.
Finally, there’s cost, which will be a major determining factor. Determine a budget and factor that into your final decision. Once all of that is out of the way, you’re still not out of the woods yet, because now you’ve got to complete a request for purchase (RFP). RFPs are long and involved processes that require weeks, even months, to complete. Though this isn’t specific to endpoint security, we have a guide on completing an RFP yourself.
If you’ve still got questions, we’re standing by with answers and personalized software recommendations. Just call (877)-692-2896, or email [email protected].