Endpoint security isn’t exactly a household term. In fact, unless you’re in the Cyber security field, or have a special interest in the area, it’s highly likely that you’ve never even heard of endpoint security. But that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly important.
But why is endpoint security so important? Endpoint security is how corporations protect their networks against cyber threats, while employees work remotely. Cyber security is of the utmost importance, in order for companies to defend themselves against the growing risks of possible cyber-attacks on network data and other information.
Clearly, any sort of private information within any corporation is kept that way for a reason, whether it’s client information, bank account numbers… anything really. The list could go on and on. But why, specifically, is endpoint security so important? And why is it important that we all know about it? Then this article is for you. Keep reading for ten reasons why endpoint security is so important.
The Top Ten Reasons Endpoint Security Is Crucial
First, we’ll cover the top ten reasons why endpoint security is so incredibly important. Each shows why it’s important that endpoint security becomes more of a focus. They’re not in any specific order; they’re all equally valid points. After this, we’ll talk about important security buzzwords that help illuminate these reasons.
1. More People Working Remotely
The internet has made working from home, or even working from the library/coffee shop/your car, pretty darn easy. Well, as far as accessing data and doing the actual work part goes. There are all kinds of outside factors that make working from home more challenging (like children, for instance), but that’s a whole different subject.
Where many employees were restricted from completing work in an office space, the internet has allowed more freedom in this area. People are able to access their company’s network from just about anywhere. Teachers can now give lessons from home, accountants can audit while on vacation, and even some courts are being held virtually.
Working from home, or wherever, sounds ideal. And, in some cases, it is. But it does open the company’s network to more cyber threats, and the need for a secure network on-the-go is now more important than ever.
2. Endpoints are Easy Targets
Remote working increases the use of endpoints, affecting the overall network security. Endpoints make unauthorized access easy, mostly because they can be left in a default state or through misconfiguration affect the network security posture.
Within an office space, there are various security measures in place to ensure there aren’t any data breaches. And, if somehow those were to fail, then there are also alerts to announce the presence of a potential threat, at any stage in the game.
3. Room for Error… Human Error
We’re people, not machines. We do make mistakes from time to time. Not that computers don’t give us the occasional error messages, but part of the bonus of using technology is that it’s reliable, especially in data storage.
Endpoints are managed by the humans that use them, and in order for them to be completely secure, the operator has to make sure that all of the security measures are in place.
Unless the endpoint users are tech-savvy, then it’s likely that they’re not going to be implementing the same security measures on their own, as they would be in an office setting. Also, we forget things. It’s just part of our DNA.
Endpoint security is a way for systems to be protected, without having to rely on the individuals to do any of it on their own.
4. But Also Human Improvement
But not the good kind of human self-help improvement. The kind of “improvement” we’re talking about is the constantly evolving world of cyber threats, driven by humans. As soon as one door is closed to cyber threats, another one opens.
Cyber threats don’t just pop up on their own. They’re created by humans, and they’re always on the hunt for a new and improved way to beat the security systems that are put in place to prevent them from doing just that.
So, until we can prevent the actual humans from using computers to steal information, then endpoint security will continue to be of the utmost importance.
5. Constantly Evolving Technology
If you own a smartphone or mobile device of any sort for that matter, you know just how often things are updating. Updates are necessary to fix existing issues within software. But, each time there’s an updated version, it’s likely that the security will need to be updated as well.
While the reasoning behind the seemingly incessant software updates is usually beneficial to the user, it can cause problems for network protection. Because mobile devices aren’t under constant on-site monitoring, it can be difficult to keep track of the necessary updates and to ensure that the security on each individual device is compatible with the current security measures.
Unless there’s an IT person that checks each and every mobile device daily to make sure that the security measures are in place and functioning properly, it’s really difficult to know just how protected the entire network is. One weak endpoint can lead to a potentially destructive breach in Cyber security.
6. Endpoints Are Used to Access Other Networks
Although most companies have rules and regulations that set limits as to what their employees can do with their work devices, it’s highly likely that at least one person might be bending the rules. And, as we know, the security is only as strong as its weakest link.
It might be just a quick bank account update here and there, or maybe someone sneaks a peek at their social media. Whatever it is, using websites outside of the network leave the entire system open to cyber threats.
Although a few minutes spent on something unauthorized might seem like it’s not a big deal, the potential outcome could be fairly catastrophic… unless the proper security measures are in place. There are plenty of companies that are prepared for this and have the proper endpoint security measures in place.
7. Leave a Paper Trail
Well… not exactly a paper trail, since we’re talking about the e-world here. But, an e-trail is equally important. There’s a lot of a gray area when data is “changing hands” over a network. It can be difficult to determine who has done what, where they did it, and why they did it.
Endpoint security can help keep track of who has accessed data, as well as what changes were made. This leaves less of that gray area open and allows the company to have more control over the data itself.
This is especially important for companies that have lots of remote employees that go to various locations conducting audits, like accounting firms. Endpoint security can help keep track of the changes to any data that’s kept on the network.
8. Prevent Insider Threats
This doesn’t necessarily mean a co-worker or someone within the company is a potential threat, although they could be. But any party that works closely with a network, such as a vendor or a contractor, can potentially breach security measures.
It can be difficult to maintain the integrity of a network if there are a lot of third parties involved. Using contractors and vendors is necessary for many companies, but it does open up the network to possible security challenges. Endpoint security is one of the most efficient ways to prevent these weak spots from becoming an actual security threat.
Insider threats can also be completely unintentional. Someone can unknowingly cause a breach in security and may not ever know that they’ve compromised the entire system.
One of the more common insider threats is actually as simple as an employee using the same password across websites, especially while using an endpoint. It’s something that so many people do, but it can ultimately compromise an entire network.
Monitoring these types of issues within employees is virtually impossible. It just can’t be done. This is why endpoint security is so important. It’s inevitable that this will happen, so endpoint security can stop any threats as a result of such simple mistakes.
Another key piece of the endpoint security is to make sure that companies and organizations are educating and training their employees to know the risks, so they can hopefully avoid them.
9. Endpoint Protection is Cohesive
There are all different kinds of security measures that can be put into place at various points within a network. But, unless the entire system is designed to work together, there are going to be weak spots. A disjointed system that’s been patched together isn’t much better than no system at all.
Endpoint security systems are created to work together and have been tested to make sure there aren’t any holes or flaws. This isn’t to say that one can’t arise, but it’s less likely with an entire endpoint protection plan that’s actually meant to work as one unit.
10. Prevent Data Loss… and Financial Loss
As we know, networks are growing bigger and bigger as more endpoints are added. A larger network, of course, is harder to efficiently protect. All of the reasons we’ve previously discussed lead up to this final point, that maintaining the integrity of a network and preventing any data loss is the overall goal.
Any single department that’s on a network is open to threats if it’s not protected properly. As we know, this will lead to an upset in data throughout the entire network. Losing data, or compromising data, will ultimately end in a financial loss as well.
Important Cyber security and Endpoint Security Buzzwords
Before we dive into the ten reasons, there are a few keywords that are helpful to know. Again, these aren’t exactly words that are commonly used at dinner table conversations, but they’re all keywords in Cyber security, and more specifically, endpoint security.
Knowing what these buzzwords mean will avoid confusion down the road. These guys will be helpful to keep on the backburner while we continue to navigate the complex world of endpoint security.
This refers to devices that are used by individuals outside of a corporation or organization’s immediate office space. These devices most often include
- Point of Sale devices
- Virtual environments
These devices help employees work remotely and are often referred to as end-users. Endpoints are more susceptible to security threats because they’re not protected within the network’s on-site security measures.
Yes, data is a word we already know and love. And probably use from time to time. But, for the purpose of our endpoint security discussion, we’re going to focus on the kind of data that’s important to various companies and organizations. The kind that you don’t want to be shared all over town. This kind of data can include personal information.
A network is usually thought of as a group that works together, whether it’s people or things. The combined network of an organization’s computer communication mainly focused on the internet and how data from within the company is accessed is called the enterprise network.
When employees work remotely, using their mobile devices, they’re accessing the company’s enterprise network from outside of the office or other workspace, where the enterprise network is typically housed.
If you’re not into computers and technology, this one sounds a little weird and kind of futuristic. Encryption is essentially a secret code that computers use to make data unreadable to anyone that’s not authorized to know the information.
These secret codes, or encryption keys, are done by algorithms. This ensures that each of the encryption keys created is unique, and ideally, not easy to decipher. For the most part, these codes are not easy to crack by just a regular person.
A hacker is an individual, or even a group of individuals, that use computers to access data from networks. Some hackers target individuals and engage in crimes such as identity theft, while others go after data from large companies.
Hackers are modern-day criminals that have made careers of stealing data for all kinds of different reasons. Sometimes, their end game is money, other times it’s specific data they’re after. Either way, Cyber security is incredibly important, and the first line of defense against hackers and cyber threats.
Any action taken to damage or steal data, from an individual or network, is considered a cyber threat. As mentioned above, hackers are often responsible for what’s known as a “malicious act.”
Some cyber threats are even done just to disrupt data in any way. Computer viruses are the most common form of cyber threat, and anyone using the internet is at risk for these. However, data breaches are quickly rising with the increase in porous networks and so many endpoints.
These are a special kind of cyber-attack that finds a vulnerability within a network, and even if it is known or recognized, there isn’t anything that can fix this specific line of threat, yet.
Types of Endpoint Security
There are different kinds of endpoint security that can protect a network that has endpoints in play. To determine what kind of endpoint protection is necessary, it’s important to consider:
- Company size
- Number of endpoints
- Potential growth
- Level of security necessary
- Type of data being protected
- Budget or allowance
- Company rules and regulations
After considering all of these factors, a company can then determine which endpoint protection is best for its own unique network.
Browsers are where a lot of malicious action takes place. Endpoints are especially vulnerable through browsers, so this can open the entire network up to potential threats.
In order to protect endpoints and the network as a whole, browser isolation protection creates an isolated environment for the browser to operate within. Anything that’s done on a browser with this protection isn’t stored within the network and goes away when the session is done.
This is a specific toolset that blocks users from accessing questionable websites through the network. URL filtering isn’t foolproof, but it’s effective in preventing anyone from downloading anything dangerous or harmful. URL filtering should be used in conjunction with other endpoint security systems.
Similar to URL filtering, application control serves as a means to block users from doing things they shouldn’t be, whether or not it’s intentional. Certain functions of applications can be blocked or not fully accessed.
Again, this is something that should be used in tandem with other components. Application control is effective but doesn’t prevent against any attacks outside of the applications themselves.
Network Access Control
Just as the name sounds, this particular form of endpoint protection limits what a user can do while accessing the network. Data access is limited and restricted, as is certain communication. Network access control is efficient in data protection from cyber-attacks through endpoints, but it doesn’t prevent anything potentially dangerous from being downloaded.
This is the simplest form of endpoint security and works best for smaller companies that don’t have the highest security requirements. The software itself is directly installed on each endpoint, which is why it’s not efficient for companies with lots of employees accessing the system through endpoints.
Anti-virus software works in two ways. First, it scans endpoints and looks for any potential threats. Then, if it does find anything malicious, it removes it. But anti-virus software isn’t effective against zero-day threats.