By JG Heithcock, General Manager of Retrospect, Inc., a StorCentric Company
Endpoints – or any internet-capable device that is connected to the network – are a ubiquitous feature of modern computing infrastructure. However, with the addition of each desktop computer, laptop and smartphone to the network (among all the other types of devices) comes increased vulnerability to cybersecurity and data protection threats.
Even though endpoint protection is an important consideration for any organization aiming for a comprehensive security and data protection strategy, it’s easy to take those desktops and laptops for granted until something happens. Those endpoints need solid data protection because lost work and downtime are too expensive to downplay or ignore, but effective protection is often overlooked in favor of other approaches. The most common endpoint mistakes include:
1. We use Dropbox for Endpoint Protection
Dropbox is a great tool for keeping businesses in sync, and it can seem reasonable to treat it as an endpoint backup system as well. However, problems can arise when a device is lost, broken or compromised.
Because users focus on getting their work done rather than ensuring every file they need is in Dropbox, important files might actually be stored on their desktop or in a downloads folder. This might be because they are waiting to move it into Dropbox once it’s ready for others to see, for example, since Dropbox is excellent at alerting everyone when a file changes.
While saving final or near-final work might make sense to some, losing a set of important documents when a laptop is lost or stolen represents a potentially major problem for the business in question. The user might need to spend days or weeks recreating work they already did, and that’s not including the downtime for reconstructing the user’s personalized environment. The bottom line is that Dropbox is a file syncing tool, not an endpoint protection strategy.
2. We Already Image Endpoints
Imaging tools help organizations to quickly deploy a complete environment to a set of endpoints. By maintaining a single image, every environment can be provided with updates and applications without manually managing every instance.
If users only use their endpoints for web-based work or editing documents that reside on a server, they are well-placed. If they have a personalized environment or do local work, the business is susceptible to downtime and lost work. Reimaging might only take an hour, but recreating work or personalizing an environment takes days or weeks.
Endpoint protection, therefore, should work in tandem with imaging tools. The base image can be used as the template and then protection can focus on the user’s folder, where their work and application settings are stored. When something does happen, reimaging followed by a restore will mean minimal downtime and no lost work.
3. We Use a Shared NAS Folder
A network-attached storage (NAS) shared folder is an excellent tool for collaboration between teams, and it can seem reasonable to treat it as your backup system as well. Until you lose an endpoint.
Rather than using shared NAS folders as backup, make sure your team picks up the habit of backing up every drafted copy of work in a dedicated system and only rely on shared NAS folders to enable access to each other’s work. Shared NAS folders provide quick access to your local network because the NAS is on-site and don’t need to be synced down from a cloud service, but they do not offer protection from hardware failure, ransomware or accidentally missing one file when moving from folder to folder.
4. We Don’t Have the Time and Resources
Small businesses often don’t have the time and resources to devote to a strong endpoint protection strategy. Not only are business owners prioritizing other activities that keep their organizations moving forward, they are unlikely to have the IT resources and expertise in-house to devote to endpoint protection.
That’s why business backup is so important. Any small business that feels short on time now would see that challenge increase if one of its main laptops was lost, stolen or damaged beyond repair. Yet, for most people, it’s actually a matter of when, not if, this happens. While larger businesses are better placed to manage and absorb disruption, downtime and lost data can actually drive a small business out of existence altogether.
While small business owners will probably have insurance for their car, house, health and other aspects of their business, their endpoints and the data residing on them also deserve protection.
5. It’s Too Expensive
For those running a small business, every dollar counts and choosing how to allocate that limited capital can determine whether a business thrives or fails. When thinking about endpoint security, consider how much time is actually worth. Since salaries are such a significant part of any business’s budget, wasting time through downtime and or lost work can get very expensive very quickly.
Small businesses should be looking for solutions designed specifically for their needs. The flexibility of today’s backup ‘as-a-service’ offerings, for example, offer a familiar subscription-based payment model that’s convenient for smaller organizations and can reduce the need for upfront capital outlay.
As businesses increase their reliance on convenient technology and remote working, their endpoint exposure will increase. That means improving endpoint protection and avoiding the most common mistakes will also become a more important part of running a modern business in today’s highly connected world.