What Is Endpoint Security?
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.
What Is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security (or endpoint protection) refers to all the strategies, practices and software products used to prevent malware, viruses, data breaches and all the other cyberattacks that might impact a network’s endpoints. 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.
And now, to be more precise…
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,
- and IoT devices.
IoT devices 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:
- biometric scanning devices,
- security systems,
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.
IoT devices pose a particular concern in terms of endpoint security due to their 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.
How Does an Endpoint Security Solution Work
Endpoint security (or protection) solutions make use of cloud-based threat information databases to give security administrators rapid access to the most up-to-date threat intelligence without requiring them to manually update their systems. The key benefit is that all threats are noticed and responded to faster – or automatically, I should say.
Endpoint security solutions continuously monitor the files, applications, processes and system activities within a network, looking for any malicious signs and indicators of compromise, and can be easily integrated into a company’s environment.
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.
Endpoint Security Components
Endpoint security has evolved a lot since the very first antivirus software entered the cybersecurity space in the 1980s. 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, by using behavioral analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning algorithms, and advanced exploit mitigation.
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, and, as a defensive measure, it comes as both hardware and software. The latter is generally included in modern Next-Gen AV 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 firewalls 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.
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, malicious queries are blocked and thus companies are effectively protected against several cyberattacks – ransomware included.
#5 Vulnerability Management
Outdated software is a huge liability for any 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, and this 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 another must for endpoint security. Therefore, you should consider investing 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.
Endpoint Security Types
Endpoint security solutions can be divided into 3 main types: EPP, EDR and XDR.
EPP stands for Endpoint Protection Platform and primarily focuses on antimalware capabilities. Similar to an antivirus, EPP scan and inspect files as soon as they enter a network, checking for any malicious signature matches.
EDR – Endpoint Detection and Response – solutions go a bit further, and offer more granular visibility and analysis. Moreover, they go beyond signature-based detection, being able to detect threats like fileless malware and ransomware, polymorphic attacks etc.
XDR (Extended Detection and Response) solutions employ state-of-the-art technologies to provide even more visibility, gathering and correlating threat data using analytics and automation to help detect current and potential incidents.
How to Choose the Best Endpoint Security Solution for Your Company
If choosing the best endpoint security solution for your company seems a complex task, let me make it easier by telling you that there are certain factors you should always take into account. You can enjoy premium security if you can cross them off the list.
- On-premise or cloud-based? Keep in mind that cloud-based endpoint security solutions offer extra flexibility and scalability.
- Advanced detection capabilities – a good endpoint security solution should have cutting-edge detection capabilities, as well as the ability to stop malware at the entry point.
- Sandboxing – sandboxes ensure that suspicious files are quarantined and investigated in a secure environment, that does not affect the rest of your network.
- Automation capabilities and swift response time – these go hand in hand. The more automated an endpoint security solution is, the faster it will detect and respond to threats.
- 24/7 monitoring – an efficient security solution should, of course, provide 24/7 monitoring and recording of all the activities that happen on all your endpoints.
- Easy-to-use interface – an easily understandable user interface is a great addition to the visibility that endpoint security solutions provide, allowing you to quickly understand the status of your company’s network.
How can Heimdal™ help you secure your endpoints?
The Heimdal™ EDR suite of cybersecurity solutions incorporates threat prevention, 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.
Consisting of practices of prevention, detection, and response (EPDR), Heimdal’s EDR suite is the modern standard for cybersecurity, due to its focus on prevention on top of detection and response.
The simple and easily understandable dashboard is a fantastic bonus – in a glance, you’ll see info about the most important aspects of all the Heimdal™ modules in a certain timeframe:
Hackers are continuously coming up with new ways to get access, steal information, or trick people into giving out important information, so the threat landscape is becoming more complex each day.
In these circumstances, and given the reputational cost of a large-scale data breach, as well as the actual cost of non-compliance penalties, it’s easy to understand that endpoint security is and will continue to be mandatory for any company.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions and suggestions for us and don’t forget to sign up for a demo if you’d like to try our EDR suite!