A significant portion of cyberattacks target endpoints, either individually or as gateways to the larger company network. Unfortunately, this is not a singular threat, but a layered issue. Hackers exploit software vulnerabilities, the DNS, or even user accounts to get their way. This is why your enterprise needs endpoint security.

But what is endpoint security? What does it consist of? And is it the same thing as EDR? Let’s find out.

What is an Endpoint?

Wikipedia lists 10 possible pages with definitions for the term endpoint. The one I and you, the reader, are interested in is situated in the larger context of information security, narrowed down to endpoint security in this case. Bearing this in mind, an endpoint can be defined as any remote computing device that receives incoming communications and sends outgoing messages to the network it is connected to.

Types of Endpoints

An endpoint and a device are nearly perfect synonyms in cybersecurity. Common examples of endpoints that you might find in your organizations include:

  • desktop computers,
  • laptops,
  • smartphones,
  • tablets,
  • servers,
  • and IoT devices.

IoT Devices as Endpoints

The latter type of endpoint can be considered a separate category all in itself, as the Internet of Things (IoT) contains many kinds of devices. However, the term is conventionally linked to smart ecosystems, be it those of corporate offices or regular homes. Thus, some instances of endpoints that are IoT devices in your company are:

  • thermostats,
  • biometric scanning devices,
  • security systems,
  • cameras,
  • and

In addition to this, your business can operate with several other types of IoT devices, depending on the industry you are in. Smart machines designed for assembly line automation, healthcare and diagnosis, or transportation workflow optimization are just a few examples of how the Internet of Things coexists with the modern workplace. Statista predicts that a total of 50 billion IoT devices will be in use on the globe by 2030, which is more than double the 22 million recorded in 2018.

What is Endpoint Security?

Now that we’ve established what an endpoint is, the definition of endpoint security is fairly simple. Endpoint security deals with the protection of the many devices connected to a network. It not only enhances a company’s cybersecurity but ensures that the entity is compliant with regulations that apply to its field as well.

Why is Endpoint Security Important?

Access to data in an enterprise setting is becoming increasingly fluid nowadays as the definition of the modern workplace is constantly shifting. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the sole driving factor behind this. The migration of jobs and the information associated with them into the digital world began quite some time before.

In recent years, employees have become progressively mobile as more businesses incorporated work from home and BYOD policies into their environment. While this is an indisputable win in terms of staff satisfaction and productivity, as well as for the company culture as a whole, it comes with its own set of challenges. Endpoint security aims to tackle exactly those.

The Role of IoT in Endpoint Security

A subcategory of endpoint security that is important to consider when discussing the concept is that of IoT security, as we have already established IoT devices are, in fact, endpoints. This subcategory poses particular concern in terms of endpoint security due to its dynamic nature and management technique. According to the Internet of Things Wikipedia page,

“There are a number of serious concerns about dangers in the growth of IoT, especially in the areas of privacy and security, and consequently industry and governmental moves to address these concerns have begun including the development of international standards.”

Remotely controlled IoT machines are often the preferred targets of cyber attackers that want to use them for their nefarious gain. Besides being exploited as vulnerable entry points into your company system, they can also become part of the framework of infected machines known as a botnet. Hackers will then use them to carry out many different attacks. Therefore, the discussion on endpoint security should not be limited to computers and mobile devices but should cover the Internet of Things as well.

Endpoint Security Components

Endpoint security has evolved a lot since the very first antivirus software entered the cybersecurity space. Over the last several years, the concept developed from a basic strategy into a more advanced and comprehensive type of digital defense. This includes next-generation antivirus, firewall, mobile device management, traffic filtering, vulnerability management, access governance, and email protection.

#1 Next-Generation Antivirus

Although the first computer virus, or at least a proto-version of it, appeared as early as 1949, the first heuristic antivirus made its way onto the market in 1987. Initially designed to combat computer viruses alone, it has since then evolved greatly over time to cover a wide variety of threats of the malware persuasion.

As its name implies, next-generation antivirus (or NGAV for short) is its most modern counterpart to date. NGAV rises above traditional AV by using a combination of behavioral analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning algorithms, and advanced exploit mitigation. It is thus the superior detection and response solution for your endpoint security.

#2 Firewall

An essential component of endpoint security, a firewall is a network security system intended to prevent unlawful entry into both public and private systems. Its main purpose is to control incoming and outgoing queries depending on preset rules. As a defensive measure, it comes as both hardware and software. The latter is generally included in modern NGAV solutions, but it can also feature an individual installer depending on the vendor you choose.

#3 Mobile Device Management

Mobile device management (MDM) is a relatively newer cybersecurity concept that deals with the administration of mobile devices within a network. This includes most smartphones and tablets, but depending on the situation it can even cover laptops or computers. If your company has an active BYOD policy in place, MDM is a must for your endpoint security.

#4 Traffic Filtering

Next-generation antivirus software and its integrated firewall do quite a bit of traffic filtering for your network. However, this is not enough when it comes to holistic endpoint security. To keep up with advanced threats and efficiently hunt them, your enterprise endpoints and the network they operate in need a DNS security solution with HIPS and HIDS capabilities.

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The two acronyms stand for host intrusion prevention systems and host intrusion detection systems. Modern variants of the two scan incoming and outgoing traffic at the level of the Domain Name System (DNS). In this way, it blocks malicious queries and thus effectively protects your enterprise against several cyberattacks, including ransomware.

#5 Vulnerability Management

Outdated software is a huge liability for your enterprise. As per the analysis of a sample size of 163 million endpoints, 55% of all programs installed on Windows devices run on older versions. This creates gaps in network security known as vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit for their gain.

Vulnerability management is thus an integral part of endpoint security, as it deals with the recurring practice of identifying, categorizing, prioritizing, and mitigating gaps in software security. The simplest and most efficient way to achieve it is by utilizing an automatic software updater that installs patches as soon as they are deployed by their respective 3rd party developers.

#6 Access Governance

Controlling who and what enters your company network is essential to endpoint security, which is where access governance comes in. One facet of it consists of privileged access management or PAM for short. What this does, in a nutshell, is allow your system administrator to control which accounts have elevated privileges and which don’t, and for how long. While doing this manually can become quite time-consuming, PAM solutions exist on the market nowadays and they allow sysadmins to approve or deny escalation requests on the go.

Application control is another indispensable part of access governance. While PAM takes care of network access on the user side, AC handles application permissions. In this way, files that are not previously approved by the IT department won’t be able to execute themselves in your enterprise system, thus reducing the risk of malicious code injection.

#7 Email Protection

Last, but certainly not least, securing electronic communications within your company is a must for endpoint security. Therefore, you should invest in enterprise-grade email protection that does more than what your email provider is capable of in terms of spam filtering and malicious behavior detection. In this way, you will ensure that cyberattack attempts don’t slip through the cracks when it comes to outgoing and incoming messages.

EDR vs Endpoint Security: Is It the Same?

Now that we’ve established what components go into endpoint security, I’m sure you can’t help but wonder, is it the same thing as endpoint detection and response (EDR)? To an extent, yes. However, endpoint security is much more complex than traditional EDR. It comes closer to the concept of endpoint prevention, detection, and response, abbreviated as EPDR.

EPDR is the modern golden standard for cybersecurity, replacing EDR in this capacity due to its focus on prevention on top of detection and response. In a cyber-age when threats become more and more advanced after the fact mitigation can no longer cut it. This is where Heimdal™ Enhanced EPDR comes in to help.

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The Heimdal™ EPDR suite of cybersecurity solutions incorporates our threat prevention module, as well as patching, privileged access management, and a next-generation antivirus that will cover all your bases at an enterprise level. By adding state-of-the-art DNS traffic filtering, vulnerability management, access governance, threat detection, and incident response to your network, you will stop cyber attackers in their tracks before they even start to consider targeting your business.

Wrapping Up…

Endpoint security is a multifaceted affair. Consisting of practices of prevention, detection, and response persuasion, it has more in common with EPDR than it does with EDR. Nevertheless, endpoint security is an ever broader concept than that. While it does include many elements of the former, it also focuses on other relevant areas such as email protection. For this reason, it is a recommended course of action for your enterprise’s protection.

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