Whilst remote and hybrid working models proved effective during the global pandemic, they also opened up a range of challenges for IT and cyber security departments. Today’s workplace comprises a combination of office-based, remote and hybrid workers who are increasingly using their personal devices in order to work remotely, from anywhere.
Most organisations implement several security measures to protect their central servers, which are crucial to the operation and sustainability of the company. However, it is just as important to protect endpoint devices. Once compromised, an endpoint can allow a hacker to gain access and take down your entire network, which can lead to the loss of critical data from the server and have a huge, detrimental financial impact on the business.
What is as endpoint?
Endpoints are devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and they’re often the entry point through which a hacker gains access to a network. With endpoints that are connected to an organisation’s central server being a prime target for cyber criminals, it’s important for your IT team to ensure you are adequately protected.
Why is endpoint protection important?
A typical workplace has become more dynamic and fluid than ever before: corporations are increasingly integrating practices that make data access easier for employees, such as remote access.
However, research into endpoint security reveals that the corporate world has still not adopted policies to effectively combat this issue. ‘The Third Annual Study on the State of Endpoint Security Risk’ commissioned by The Ponemon Institute (January 2020) revealed:
- 68% of respondents admitted that the frequency of endpoint attacks had increased over the past 12 months.
- Ineffective endpoint protection is costing companies more than $6 million a year on average in breach detection, response and wasted time.
- An average of 80% of successful breaches are new or unknown ‘zero-day attacks’.
- Antivirus products alone missed an average of 60% of cyber attacks.
Out of all the organisations surveyed, only 48% were dissatisfied or disappointed with their endpoint security measures. Yet, further investigations revealed that up to 55% of those organisations were vulnerable to a data breach.
Endpoints are an easy target
Remote working increases the use of endpoints, affecting the overall network security. Endpoints make it easier to gain unauthorised access because they can be left in a default state or affect the network security posture through misconfiguration. Here are some of the main reasons why endpoints are an easy target.
1) Human error
People can make mistakes occasionally, it’s simply human nature. Endpoints are managed by the employees who use them, so the correct security measures need to be implemented to ensure completely security. But it’s likely that they don’t use the same security measures on their own devices as they would in the office setting.
They might ‘just’ be taking a quick look at their bank account or checking social media, but any website outside of the organisation’s network leaves the entire system open to possible cyber attacks.
In addition, employees often download applications without first consulting the IT team. Even if it’s an approved application, it still moves data around without sufficient monitoring.
Human error is a major cause of security breaches by trusted yet unwitting employees. It can be as seemingly innocent as confidential data being sent to insecure home systems, yet this can result in costly data breaches which can be very damaging to a company’s finances and reputation.
2) Technology updates
Smartphones and mobile devices are often updating to resolve existing issues and bugs within the software. However, with every update, the security should be updated as well. Mobile devices are not under constant on-site network monitoring, so it can be a challenge to keep track of the necessary updates and to ensure that the security on each device is compatible with the current security measures.
3) Insider threats
Anybody who works closely with a network – not just employees – 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, such as contractors or vendors.
One of the more common insider threats is actually as simple as an employee using the same password across various websites, especially while using an endpoint.
Endpoint security is one of the most efficient ways to prevent these weak spots from becoming an actual security threat.
Endpoint protection solutions
Endpoint Protection (EPP) is a security solution that detects and blocks endpoint device-level threats. It can help keep track of who has accessed data, as well as what changes were made, allowing the company to have more control over the data itself.
EPP solutions often combine antivirus capability with personal firewalls, anti-malware, Virtual Private Network (VPN) data encryption and Data Loss Prevention (DLP). EPP technology can also gather logging and alerting information from endpoints for an enhanced view of the current security situation, in real time. Combining these technologies is far more effective than using siloed security products that can’t communicate with one another.
Know and educate your staff
Understanding the users who hold the potential for greatest damage is critical. Monitor IT admins, top executives, key vendors and at-risk employees with greater vigilance, and the critical assets they have access to. This is especially important for companies that have lots of remote employees who visit other locations conducting audits, for example, accountancy firms.
Make sure that you are educating and training your employees to know the risks involved. Once employees are cyber security-aware and can recognise cyber attacks and their potential impact, organisations can significantly improve their security standing.
Endpoint Protection (EPP) is a vital security platform for any business with a growing remote workforce. Organisations with large numbers of remote workers or BYOD devices are at most risk of experiencing an endpoint attack. Personal consumer devices are twice as likely to become infected with malware than their business counterparts. Losing data, or compromising data, could ultimately end in huge financial damages.
All of the reasons discussed in this article prove that maintaining the integrity of a network and preventing any data loss via endpoint devices is of the utmost priority.
Securus has numerous, competitively priced solutions in our security portfolio that offer endpoint protection. Feel free to contact one of our security experts to find out more.