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What is endpoint
security: Do you
have a strategy
to protect your

Author: David Grady

You hear a lot about endpoint security and how important it is for your business. But you might be wondering “What is endpoint security?” and why should I care.

What is endpoint security?

Endpoint security involves securing “endpoints,” or end-user devices, such as desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices. When endpoints aren’t secured, they can be exploited by threat actors to gain access to an enterprise network.

Now that you know the answer to the question “What is endpoint security?”, when was the last time you analyzed your endpoint security? How confident are you that your endpoint security will protect your business against a cyber security attack?

No organization today is immune from a cyber attack. According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 85 percent of breaches involved a human element. So the first step toward endpoint security is acknowledging that breaches are a major security concern for businesses of all sizes. 

Traditional endpoint security isn’t enough

Traditional endpoint security, a.k.a. antivirus (AV), has long been a crutch in the fight against cyber attacks. But AV alone doesn’t cut it anymore.

Traditional AV tools rely on known malware signatures to be effective, but they can’t defend against zero day attacks and new ransomware variants. And because the attack surface continues to grow, cyber criminals have much more room to work with. Think about how many workstations, laptops, mobile devices, IoT sensors and BYO devices litter your IT landscape. Complicating the issue further are the security challenges that arise from employees who are working remotely. Trying to develop an effective endpoint security plan is enough to cause panic.

Easing endpoint security concerns

However, there are steps IT professionals can take to help ease their endpoint security concerns and help to protect their organizations against cyber attacks.

Embrace machine learning

Endpoint security solutions are beginning to leverage machine learning to sift through massive piles of data to identify new malware strands that humans can’t identify with the naked eye or that first-generation analytics tools can’t identify. Machine learning algorithms look for anomalies and other telltale signs to isolate samples of code and determine if they are malicious. As a result, machine learning is becoming an essential tool in combating cyber crime, and organizations should look for endpoint security solutions with this capability.

Integrate threat intelligence

Credible information about possible or likely cyber attacks is only as good as an organization’s ability to leverage it. Understanding how threat actors use different methods to attack different types of organizations is key. Deploying endpoint security solutions that can take in and use dynamic threat intelligence feeds can give a major boost to your organization’s cyber protection.

Demand ease of management

Managing endpoint security isn’t always easy. In an effort to keep pace with sophisticated and creative threat actors, many vendors add complexity to their solutions. But if your endpoint security solutions are too complicated to manage effectively, you need to let your vendors know. Remind them that ease of use is as important as the latest bells and whistles, even when those bells and whistles are highly effective.  

Use a layered defense

Even when updated, endpoint security solutions may not stop all ransomware. Fighting ransomware requires a layered approach, including good overall cyber-hygiene (patching), anti-phishing tools, website filters, and domain name system controls to prevent users from landing on sites suspected of being infected. Backing up data frequently is crucial to weathering a ransomware attack if your systems and data are being held hostage. And don’t forget the importance of user training and phishing awareness campaigns: IT security depends on people, too.

Ask for help

Don’t suffer in silence. Ask your managed security services partner for help in the ongoing management of complex endpoint security solutions, especially if you’re a small or medium business with limited IT and security staff. Outside expertise can help ease the burden you carry in your effort to protect your organization’s data and help you develop and manage your endpoint security.   

Read more about who’s behind the latest cyber breaches in the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report. Find additional answers to your question regarding “What is endpoint security?” and learn how Verizon’s cyber risk management services can help protect your business.

David Grady is an ISACA-Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Chief Cybersecurity Evangelist at Verizon Business Group.