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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 end-user 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.

One of the first places businesses look to defend their organizational networks is endpoint security, which is frequently referred to as cybersecurity’s front line.

Why is Endpoint Security Important?

An endpoint protection platform is important to corporate cybersecurity for various reasons. 

  • In the current business environment, a company’s data is its most prized possession. Losing this data or access to it can seriously jeopardize the company’s survival. 
  • Businesses now face challenges due to the increased number and types of endpoints. This complexity is further heightened by remote work and BYOD policies, which render traditional perimeter security less effective and introduce new vulnerabilities. 
  • The threat environment is also evolving, with hackers continually devising new methods to infiltrate systems, steal data, or trick employees into revealing confidential information. 
  • Considering the potential costs, including diverting resources from business objectives to tackle threats, the reputational damage from a significant breach, and the financial penalties for non-compliance, the importance of endpoint protection platforms in safeguarding contemporary businesses is increasingly recognized.

What is an Endpoint?

A device becomes an endpoint once it joins a network. The rise of BYOD and IoT trends has led to a dramatic increase in the number of devices connected to a company’s network, often numbering in the tens or even hundreds of thousands.

Examples of endpoints include a variety of devices like:

  • Tablets;
  • Mobile phones;
  • Smartwatches;
  • Printers;
  • Servers;
  • ATMs;
  • Medical equipment.

Endpoints, particularly mobile and remote devices, are often targeted by adversaries due to their vulnerability to threats and malware.

The range of mobile endpoint devices has expanded beyond Android devices and iPhones, encompassing modern wearable watches, smart devices, voice-controlled digital assistants, and various IoT-enabled gadgets.

Today, we find network-connected sensors in vehicles, aircraft, healthcare facilities, and oil rig drills. With the diversification and evolution of endpoint types, the security measures safeguarding them have had to evolve and adapt accordingly.

How Does an Endpoint Security Solution Work

Endpoint security solutions examine files, processes, and systems for suspicious or malicious activity.

They offer a centralized console that enables sysadmins to investigate and respond to potential cyber threats. This improves visibility into an organization’s network of endpoints, simplifies operations, and enables a faster response to threats.

An endpoint security solution can have an on-location, cloud, or hybrid approach:

On-premise: involves a hub for the management console that is hosted locally in a data center and that communicates with the endpoints via an agent.

Cloud: administrators can keep an eye on and control endpoints using a management panel in the cloud, which devices connect to remotely.

Hybrid: a hybrid strategy combines on-premises and cloud technologies. Since the epidemic expanded remote working, this strategy has become more common. To make use of cloud capabilities, organizations have modified parts of their legacy infrastructure.

Once set up, the EPP swiftly detects malware and other threats. Additionally, some solutions incorporate an Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) component.

This EDR capability enables the detection of advanced threats, including polymorphic attacks, fileless malware, and zero-day attacks. The EDR solution enhances visibility and provides diverse response options through continuous monitoring.

You can choose EPP solutions in either on-premises or cloud-based models. Cloud-based products offer greater scalability and easier integration with existing architectures, but some regulatory or compliance rules might necessitate on-premises security.

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

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. 

#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, 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.

#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 can scan incoming and outgoing traffic at the DNS level.

This way, malicious queries are blocked and thus companies are effectively protected against several cyberattacks – ransomware included.

#5 Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability management is 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 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. 

MDR – Managed Detection and Response is a cybersecurity service that offers businesses a staff of professionals who watch over their endpoints, networks, and cloud environments and react to cyber threats around the clock.

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-premises 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’s 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 – at a glance, you’ll see info about the most important aspects of all the Heimdal modules in a certain timeframe.

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Wrapping Up

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. 

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Andreea Chebac

Digital Content Creator

Andreea is a digital content creator within Heimdal® with a great belief in the educational power of content.

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