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Endpoints are one of the hackers` favorite gates to attack organizations` networks. Check out our top 10 endpoint security best practices to stay safe from cyberattacks.

Using only one connected device can allow hackers to install malware, start phishing attacks, and steal data.

If you put all your eggs in the Antivirus basket and expect to be safe, stop dreaming. Antiviruses are a great corporate endpoint security part of the solution, but they only cover already known threats that have already penetrated the network.

To keep up and take the best decisions for your enterprise`s, customers`, and team`s data protection, make sure you are aware of what modern endpoint security corporate solutions have to offer.

Here’s a video from our YouTube channel explaining Endpoint Security, its benefits, and critical components.

Threat actors can target endpoints with known, unknown, and zero-day threats, no matter if the machines are on or offline, on or off-premise.

Let`s move on and see what are currently the most common threats regarding corporate endpoint security. After that, we will also reveal the ten endpoint security best practices we`ve promised.

Most Common Endpoint Security Risks

All devices connected to a network: laptops, mobiles, printers, etc. can and will be at some point, if not properly secured, hit by endpoint attacks.

The list of potential threats is quite extensive.

  • Hidden threats in emails;
  • Misleading information in data packets;
  • New, unknown vulnerabilities.

For now, we`ll only mention the most common ones:

  • Ransomware attacks are on the rise, as cyber researchers and the daily cybersecurity news show every day. After they manage to breach the system, threat actors encrypt databases and other critical files. Then they show up and demand to be paid for returning the stolen data. This kind of attack is either very expensive for the victim or a further threat to the breached enterprise`s safety. Its reputation is also at stake if customers` personal data are among the stolen data. The hackers’ forums abound in announcements of threat actors selling private data they`ve managed to steal.
  • Phishing attacks are also very frequent because they are easy to launch and have a fair success rate. Threat actors use them to get access to login data, deploy malware, spy on the user`s activity, or gain an access point to a corporation`s network. Lots of big brands already experienced being hit with this kind of attack. Not later than in August last year, 130 organizations, such as T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Verizon Wireless, Slack, Twitter, CoinBase, Microsoft, Epic Games, etc. were compromised in an Oktapus phishing campaign.
  • Device loss is another factor that can cause data breaches. If an employee loses or has his device stolen, the consequences can be devastating.
  • Malware and fileless infections are, besides ransomware, two more dangers your organization’s endpoints could face. Data stealers, rootkits, worms, trojans, and adware are among the hackers` favorite tools.
  • Unproperly managing patches will permit malicious actors to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in the systems and swiftly steal your data.

Even if we all know and understand that endpoint security is no longer optional, it would be wise for us to acknowledge that endpoint security is on the opposite side of the scale from operational flexibility – be discerning when it comes to selecting and configuring your endpoint security platform as you don’t want your users to become an angry mob…

Andrei Hinodache, Cybersecurity Solutions Expert

Top 10 Endpoint Security Best Practices

1. Leave no door open: patch & secure all devices

Make sure that all the devices that connect to your network are professionally secured. Laptops, mobiles, printers, smart watches, servers, you name it. If they are allowed to connect to the enterprise`s network, track them all. Update the endpoints` inventory every time a new device joins the network.

Beware never to miss a software update or the latest patch and upscale your patch management policy. Use an automated patching solution.

Keep track of all devices that connect to your network. Update your inventory frequently. Make sure endpoints have the latest software updates and patches.

2. Strengthen passwords

Can`t think of any situation in which the „the stronger, the better” principle wouldn`t apply. So, use it on your endpoints to: ask users to generate complex passwords.

Using a multi-factor authentication solution is also a good idea to help secure your endpoints.

3. Apply the Principle of Least Privilege (PLP)

Enforcing a least privilege policy helps you stop the potential infection before it gets to the whole system. It also allows you to limit the damage and data loss, as well as track and identify where and how did the breach happen.

Evaluate and decide strictly which users really need to have admin privileges. Avoid letting unauthorized users install executable code onto the endpoints to save yourself a lot of headaches.

4. Encrypt endpoints

Use encryption to add an extra layer of protection to your data. Encrypt the device`s disk or memory to keep the information on it safe even if the endpoint is stolen or lost. Reading the data on it will be either impossible or inaccessible.

5. Enforce USB port access policy

Printers, cameras, external drives as well as endpoints that have USB ports are a simple way of spreading malware or exfiltrating company data. Access to USB ports should be included in the least-privilege policy in order to avoid an attack.

Hackers are still keen on this old-school trick, and the consequences of this method of infecting endpoints were recently in the spotlight, in the Turla attack on Ukraine.

6. Only use VPN access for remote endpoints

As more and more companies turn to a remote or hybrid way of working, enforcing a VPN access policy is a must. Unfortunately, DNS spoofing, DNS tunneling, Man-in-the-Middle and other external attacks could still target your devices. So, to keep in line with endpoint security best practices, you should consider limiting VPN usage by only permitting it at the app layer.

And, of course, as stated above, when we talked about passwords, multi-factor authentication will help keep your data safe.

7. Enforce a safe BYOD policy

Also due to remote or hybrid ways of working, BYOD has gained popularity in the past years. This brings a need to review your internal security protocol.

The safest way to deal with BYOD is to enforce a guest access account policy and strengthen your defense by adding the fourth endpoint security practice we recommended earlier. Encryption will protect the user in case he or she loses the device.

8. White/blacklisting apps

Keep it clean and minimalistic. If the user doesn`t necessarily need a certain app, it is better not to authorize its installation. This will limit the risk of becoming a victim of zero-day vulnerabilities and other threats.

Whenever granting access to any app, restrict its communication possibilities with irrelevant segments.

9. Go with the Zero Trust security model

”Never trust, always check”. That goes for every user, endpoint, app, workload, etc. Access should only be granted after thoroughly checking one`s identity and device. Apply the principle of least privilege with every occasion.

The main tools that you need to build a zero-trust policy are network segmentation, that isolates and prevents infection spreading, workloads security, data usage controls, and multi-factor authentication as we`ve already stated.

10. Keep employees security-wise

As in many cases, education is the key and is a great prevention measure in cybersecurity as well.

Education will help a user spot a spoofed message and avoid a phishing, smishing, vishing, or CEO fraud attack. If users acknowledge what are the risks when they click on a seemingly harmless link and download some benign-looking program, they will think twice before doing it.

This will save them a lot of stress, in the long term. Also, it will save the company a lot of money it would`ve had to pay to ransomware threat groups, for example.

How Can Heimdal Help Upgrade Your Endpoint Security Practices?

DarkLayer Guard™ and VectorN Detection™ make the best team for round-the-clock endpoint protection. So use our unique 2-way traffic filtering engine to reduce the risk of facing Zero Hour exploits, Ransomware C&Cs, next-gen attacks, and data breaches.

DarkLayer Guard™ also supports fully customizable white or black listing. On the other hand, VectorN Detection™ is the only product that enables you to detect 2nd generation malware strains, while also effectively delivering a HIDS at the machine traffic layer.

Malware obfuscation techniques keep changing and becoming more and more complex. So, if you only rely on traditional detection products you are taking a great risk.

DarkLayer GuardTM and VectorN DetectionTM block malware at a traffic level, and this means no communication is engaged with any potential threat actor. Heimdal™’s Threat Prevention Endpoint is designed to work for both remote and on-site teams.

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Wrap Up

Using top security solutions that are up to date with the newest trends and methods is the key to avoid ransomware and other cyberattacks that can affect your business assets and brand image.

So now that you have our top ten endpoint security best practices list, check up and see how many of them are yet to be enforced in your company.

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Author Profile

Livia Gyongyoși

Communications and PR Officer

Livia Gyongyoși is a Communications and PR Officer within Heimdal®, passionate about cybersecurity. Always interested in being up to date with the latest news regarding this domain, Livia's goal is to keep others informed about best practices and solutions that help avoid cyberattacks.