What is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security is the process of securing all of the various devices at the edge of a network. Often referred to as end-user devices (think mobile phones, tablets and laptops), the endpoints of a network can also include data center hardware like servers as well. And although there is some discrepancy on the exact definition, most IT experts agree that endpoint security is fundamentally about addressing the risks associated with the many different types of devices that connect to an enterprise network.
Endpoint security protects desktops, laptops, servers, and fixed-function devices from malicious internal and external threats. And because more and more organizations allow BYOD programs and flexible (remote/field) working, the enterprise network perimeter has effectively dissolved, making endpoint security a critical component of network protection.
Core Components of Endpoint Security
Most endpoint security solutions provide a two-pronged approach, with security software located on a centrally-managed (and accessible) server or gateway within the network AND client software installed on each of the endpoint devices. The server authenticates login attempts from endpoints and pushes software updates to the connected devices as needed.
There is some variation across vendors, but most endpoint security solutions will offer some or all of the following functionality:
- Data loss prevention
- Insider threat protection
- Data encryption
- Application whitelisting or control
- Privileged user control
Why does endpoint security matter to enterprises?
To fully understand the importance of endpoint security, consider the size of your organization: if you’re a large enterprise, you may have thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands of connected endpoints. Tracking, monitoring and securing all of these devices is an astronomical undertaking—for example, think about the complexity of version tracking for every OS in your infrastructure.
At the end of the day, IT needs visibility and control over every endpoint. But this visibility and control isn’t about preventing people from accessing the network, it’s about ensuring the proper level of security for the users who are connecting.
The most common focus of hackers trying to gain access to a corporate network are endpoints, which can often sit outside the control of the corporate network.
5 Best Practices for Endpoint Security
Securing endpoints is vitally important and any negligence can provide the right opening for an opportunistic hacker. Here are the five endpoint security best practices on which enterprises should focus.
1) Enforce Privilege
Follow the principle of least privilege, where only the minimum required permissions are granted to employees.
2) Perform Regular Endpoint Scans
Whenever a device connects to the network, a full scan should be performed to identify and quarantine any malicious threats.
3) Disable Unneeded Ports
Every endpoint should be port restricted and the used ports should be secured; devices using Bluetooth must be disabled when not in use.
4) Use Multi-Factor Authentication
All endpoints should require multi-factor authentication such as one-time passwords, biometrics, or fingerprints.
5) Keep Systems Updated
Maintaining an up-to-date system in terms of hardware and software may be the most important—yet frequently overlooked—measure to endpoint security. If a BYOD program is in place, companies must ensure that they can force updates from the Network Operations Center.