Your network is locked up like the president’s panic room. You have all the network visibility tools imaginable; you have network access controls; you have network firewalls and encryption; you have network intrusion detection and anti-malware. Your business seems completely secure…
But it isn’t.
What you failed to consider when setting up your cybersecurity strategy is the increasing mobility of your workforce. Fewer and fewer of your workers are using your office network to get work done, so by focusing your security around your network, you are leaving your business wide-open to attack. While it is valuable to keep your network closed tight, you also need to consider another type of security for workers away from the office: endpoint security.
What’s an Endpoint?
An endpoint is any device that has access to your network or the data protected by your network. The desktop computers in your office are endpoints, and so are the laptops, tablets, and smartphones your workers are permitted to bring from home. Further, all Internet of Things devices around your office count as endpoints: your smart printer, your smart thermostat, your smart locks, your smart hub, etc. All these devices need protection besides that offered by your network because all these devices are prime targets for cybercriminals – and all these devices will likely spend some time away from your network, thereby becoming vulnerable to attack.
Hackers focus most of their energy on breaking through endpoints to access the network – not accessing the network to reach endpoints. While computers have relatively strong built-in security, many IoT devices have flimsy firmware that hardly holds up to the weakest attack. According to IBM, 40 percent of organizations leave IoT devices vulnerable to attack; by investing in endpoint security, you can avoid being part of that statistic.
What Are the Goals of Endpoint Security?
It should go without saying that the primary goal of endpoint security – as is the primary goal with all security-related endeavors – is: keep the business safe. Still, cybersecurity in general hardly keeps endpoints sufficiently protected against threats. You need a specific endpoint security strategy to ensure your endpoints don’t lead hackers directly to your network’s data.
Generally, your endpoint security goals should be as follows:
- Protect your endpoints from attack.
- Guard your network bandwidth.
- Make your endpoints and network resilient.
Within each goal, there are several smaller objectives. For example, protecting your endpoints requires frequent updating and patching of all software, and guarding your network typically necessitates network monitoring, which will catalogue all endpoints and provide insights into their activity and security. To make your endpoints and network resilient, you must establish a feedback loop to help shore up defenses in the face of increasingly sophisticated attacks. Thorough security takes time, effort, and money, but its outcomes – fewer and less impactful cyberattacks – are essential to business success.
How Do You Optimize Endpoint Security?
Your network is built and run by an experienced and dedicated IT professional or team. However, workers not specialized in IT or cybersecurity operate the bulk of your endpoints. You shouldn’t trust your employees to avoid risks and prevent threats on their own; human error is involved in more than 95 percent of successful attacks. You need to build an endpoint security strategy that ensures protection despite your employees’ best efforts to endanger your business.
Most experts agree that there are three pillars to an optimized endpoint security strategy, which are as follows:
1. Endpoint Hardening
All endpoints should be enabled with the latest technology to defend against attack. Any endpoint used for work should be equipped with up-to-date antivirus and/or anti-malware programs. Isolating user profiles from administrative privileges is also essential.
2. Network Prioritization
Your network should always be able to supply your endpoints with the bandwidth they need to function adequately. This should occur regardless of whether endpoints are within your business headquarters or across the globe. As yet, technology lags behind business needs, but you should be watching for solutions that automatically prioritize endpoints based on application identity and user identity.
3. Endpoint and Network Resiliency
Even during an attack, your endpoints and network should be able to function as usual. By constantly gathering information on the health and security of your devise, you should be able to automatically repair any process that fails, thus ensuring continuous operations.
You aren’t truly cybersecure until your endpoints are secure. The sooner you develop an endpoint security strategy, the better.