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What Is Endpoint Security? How It Works & Its Importance

Last updated: 12 Apr 2023

Phishing, malware, password attacks, MITM–these and so many more are the threats that organizations and individuals face with any electronic device or cloud-based system. Now, more than ever, IT services are expected to provide 24/7 monitoring in order to create a complete dome of protection around devices. Why do we say that? Because in 2023, cybercrime, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, is up 600%; this includes every type of cyber attack in the books.

With that said, cybersecurity should encompass every point of the cyber realm. It should not just be about protecting data centers but thoroughly protecting all electronic devices, from laptops to smartphones. This is what we call endpoint security.

What Is Endpoint Security?​

At its simplest, the term refers to the measures taken to protect endpoints from cyber attacks. To add a layer of complexity, though, when not properly secured, these endpoints can give cyber attackers entry points to organizational networks. This means that endpoint security does not just secure endpoints but entry points as well.

It is the very nature of endpoints as doorways to networks that makes them so vulnerable and enticing to cyber criminals. If they can breach an endpoint, they can breach the network. Furthermore, every endpoint device used by an employee to sign into a network or resource becomes a target, and with the average business managing 135,000 endpoint devices, there are quite a few target doorways for attackers to try their luck with.

According to Verizon’s threat report, nearly 30% of data breaches resulted from malware installed on endpoints. For businesses, this means that it is in your best interest to provide endpoint security for all your company’s endpoints. For individuals, this means it is in your best interest to take the steps you can take to boost your device’s security measures.

What Are Some Common Endpoints?​

An important question still remains, however: what is an endpoint? Endpoints are end-user devices. Specifically, they are any device that connects to the network from outside the firewall. Below is a list of many of the most common endpoint devices. With all of the latest advances in technology, this list has become rather extensive.

Common Endpoints:

  • Desktop Computers (such as iMac and Lenovo ThinkStation)
  • Laptops (such as MacBook Pros and Chromebooks)
  • Tablets (such as iPads and Microsoft Surfaces)
  • Mobile Devices (such as iPhones and Androids)
  • Printers (such as Laser and Inkjet varieties)
  • Smart Watches (such as Apple Watches and Samsung Galaxy Watches)
  • Scanners (such as OCR and fax machines)
  • ATMs (such as those outside banks and offices)
  • Medical Devices (such as sensors and monitors)
  • Point-of-Sale Systems (such as cash registers and barcode scanners)
  • Switches (such as Bluetooth light switches and thermostats)
  • IoT Devices (such as any device on the Internet of Things, including many new appliances and vehicles)

When you consider that every business will have, at a minimum, dozens of these devices connected to their network, and organizations will have hundreds or thousands of them, you begin to realize that endpoint security is no small task.

How Does Endpoint Security Work?​

Now that we have defined endpoint security, you are likely wondering how it works. The first thing you should know is that endpoint security, endpoint protection, and endpoint protection platforms (EPP) all refer to the same thing–namely, the centrally managed cybersecurity methods and platforms used to secure endpoints.

The most popular form of endpoint security is an EPP. An endpoint protection platform (EPP), which is the term we will use to refer to a system used to secure endpoints, is designed to examine files and system activity. The EPP then compares these files against a cloud-based database of threat information. By storing this information in the cloud, businesses do not need to keep it locally and can have faster access to it.

The EPP, once installed on endpoint devices, provides system administrators with a centralized console that is connected via their network, which they can use to monitor devices. As a managed security service, this centralized console also gives cybersecurity professionals remote access to control device security.

While monitoring is one part of the tool, these endpoint security platforms also use encryption and application control to secure endpoints in numerous ways. For instance, they will push updates to devices when necessary, authenticate login attempts, administer policies, and block the user from opening files or applications that are unsafe or unauthorized.

Types of Endpoint Security​

Among endpoint solutions, the EPP is the frontrunner. However, these come in many types, and the EPP that is best for one organization may not be the best for another. Another thing you need to know is that an EPP can be combined with other cybersecurity tools and can be enhanced with additional technologies. This fact will help you make sense of the following material.

There are three main types of endpoint solutions:

  • Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) – This is a preventative tool used to scan files before they enter the network.
  • Endpoint Detection and Remediation (EDR) – This is actually incorporated into many EPPs and provides the following enhanced security measures: 1) continuous monitoring and scanning of files, 2) greater detail and analysis, 3) detection of non-signature-based attacks, including polymorphic attacks and file-less ransomware.
  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR) – This is another level up and builds on the same measures as EDR. This solution correlates threat information and uses analytics and automation to detect current and future cyber attacks.

When it comes to the real meaning of these three acronyms, it is essential to realize that both EDR and XDR are simply enhancements of the original EPP; you can choose to utilize a simple EPP or select one with EDR or XDR capabilities. Speaking with an IT professional can help you determine the right one for your organization.

Approaches to Endpoint Security​

In addition to those types of endpoint platform solutions, three different approaches can be taken to implement endpoint security, including traditional, hybrid, and cloud-based.

  • The Traditional Approach – This is the on-location method where the organization houses a localized data center to contain the threat information and act as a hub for the platform. The downside to this data center approach is that endpoints can usually only be managed within their perimeter.
  • The Hybrid Approach – As it sounds, this approach is a hybrid of the traditional and cloud methods. It is an on-location approach where certain aspects of the design have been rethought to incorporate cloud capabilities. This solution is usually chosen by businesses that already have an on-location data center.
  • The Cloud-Based Approach – This approach eliminates the need for a data center and allows administrators to monitor endpoints remotely. It is an approach where threat information is stored in the cloud, and the centralized console is connected via the cloud. This approach provides the most flexibility and maximizes security.

Endpoint Security vs. Antivirus Software​

A common misconception about endpoint security is that it can be handled with traditional antivirus software. This is not the case. Antivirus software protects a device from malware attacks, but this is not enough to combat the cyber attacks that businesses face today. Endpoint security, on the other hand, is a predictive method that focuses on the entire strategy needed to meet these attacks, from prevention to detection and response.

Why Is Endpoint Security Important?​

While we have touched on this subject already, allow us to elaborate upon it.

Consider the latest pandemic situation, where remote work skyrocketed, and, with it, the use of personal devices to access networks. Each one of those personal laptops and mobile devices instantly became a doorway into the company’s network. With the rapid shift from in-office devices that likely had security measures in place to personal devices with no real security to speak of, cyber attackers realized they had a new, easy way in, and they took it.

Endpoint security, therefore, is not just about protecting end-users’ devices from malware attacks but about protecting organizations from every cyber attack. If cybercriminals can access the organizational network via personal devices, the company ends up losing.

With endpoint security measures in place, businesses can identify and respond to cyber attacks before they happen. Additionally, the rise of “smart” devices has caused the number of endpoints to become even more significant, and with it, the need for comprehensive IT security measures. This is yet another reason why traditional solutions, like antivirus software, are no longer adequate for protecting organizational networks.

Endpoint security is a vital part of cybersecurity for companies. Finding and eliminating the threat as soon as possible are the keys to securing data; endpoint security platforms can help you achieve that.

Do You Need An IT Assessment?​

For a business looking to enhance its endpoint security measures, the first step is to have an IT security assessment performed. This assessment, conducted by IT professionals, will take a deep dive into every aspect of your business to assess the security risks and weaknesses that may exist.

With that information, you will know whether your company has any security risks and how you can fix them. An IT assessment not only reveals potential weaknesses but helps you stay compliant with regulations. If your company needs endpoint security measures, schedule an IT assessment call with us today.

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