How important is endpoint security management for organizations? If you ask security managers, not that much. A recent poll shows that it is not a concern for 60 percent of organizations. Around 49 percent of the poll’s respondents say that endpoint security is nonexistent for them, while 11 percent regard it as a lowest-priority matter.
This state of endpoint security is a disaster waiting to happen. Endpoints refer to any device that is literally an end point of a network. These can be mobile phones, workstations, desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones, IoT devices, wearable smart devices, as well as virtual environments, among many others. Everyone who uses the internet or deals with a digital file or task uses an endpoint device. In other words, not having endpoint security is akin to recklessly using connected devices exposed to various cyber threats.
Is endpoint security complex?
Why don’t most organizations readily implement an endpoint security management system? Is it too complex and costly? Unfortunately, it is no longer as simple as it used to be in the past. Back then, endpoint security focused on computers, which meant the installation of antivirus, malware protection, firewall, and (sometimes) VPN in every computer.
Nowadays, endpoints are way more than their numbers from a couple of decades ago. Based on numbers from Statista, there will be over 40 billion connected devices by 2030, and most of these are IoT products. Only around a quarter of them are computers and other conventional web-connected devices that have cybersecurity software tools installed in them. Most devices have limited storage, RAM, and processors to bear their own security tools.
The complexity of endpoint security at present stems from the nature of the endpoint devices in use and their overwhelming numbers. The multitude of connected devices now ranges from smart cameras to small IoT appliances used for office management or supply chain control, wearables, and tracking and automating devices employed in various scenarios. They have different operating systems and some devices are not compatible with others. It is a challenge to secure all of them and coming up with a system to effectively cover all possible attack surfaces.
Organizations typically have several of these connected devices, and sometimes they are no longer being monitored because they may have already been forgotten or there is no one to keep track of them. These ignored, forgotten, and un-updated (OS/firmware) connected devices can become vulnerabilities exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to networks and cloud resources.
Certainly, endpoint security management has become more complex and difficult over the years because of the evolving nature of endpoint devices and their overwhelming numbers. There are no generic cybersecurity plans that work for all organizations operating different kinds of endpoint devices. Endpoint security management would have to be specific to particular situations to be effective and efficient.
Modern endpoint security solutions
What’s encouraging to know is that there are existing endpoint security management solutions that can approximate the specificity and reliability needed to address the varying needs of organizations. These are comprehensive cybersecurity solutions that involve a combination of security tools or controls, including next-generation antivirus, data leak protection, device access management, and threat detection and response tools.
Modern endpoint protection veers away from the conventional system of installing a cyber defense application in each and every device connected to the network. Instead, it brings together various security controls suitable for different categories of devices. Commonly referred to as endpoint detection and response (EDR), it serves as a platform to consolidate security information or alerts generated at different points of a network and by several security apps and enable unified, prompt, and efficient responses to threats.
Endpoint detection and response tools address the different ways through which threat actors use endpoints in making their way into enterprise networks and IT resources. They are designed to detect and block file-based malware attacks, examine network activities for malicious operations, and facilitate incident investigation and remediation. EDR tools also examine process executions, the communication between endpoints, user logins, and data movements to discover possible anomalies.
Modern endpoint security solutions automate most of the attack detection, investigation, and remediation tasks to achieve continuous protection. They help block malware infection by automatically scanning email attachments and file downloads, implementing runtime protection against file-less attacks, and keeping track of phishing sites and schemes in real time.
Moreover, the top-tier endpoint security platforms take advantage of shared threat intelligence and cybersecurity frameworks to boost attack detection and remediation capabilities. They are built to collaboratively work with other cybersecurity providers, cyber threat information institutions, and others that readily provide threat information and insights.
Are existing endpoint security solutions effective enough?
Forrester released its 2022 State of Endpoint Security report in July this year, saying that buyers are seeking better product efficacy and integrated data security. Many of the less-than-majority of organizations that use endpoint security solutions believe that they are not getting enough from the endpoint security platforms they are using.
This does not mean that all or most of the endpoint security platforms available now are ineffective. A good number of them are actually designed to address most user needs and preferences especially when it comes to process automation, comprehensive endpoint protection, up-to-date threat intelligence, advanced behavioral analysis to anticipate zero-day or yet-to-be-identified attacks, automatic data analysis, and cyber forensics reports, and high catch rates.
However, organizations may not be exposed to the more dependable endpoint security solution options. Also, those that have been using decent EDR platforms may not be making the most out of the features and functions available to them. It is possible that they are not well-versed in enabling comprehensive integration and conducting meaningful data analysis and correlation. Administrators could also be abusing access privileges and suspending controls recklessly.
Many security solution providers indeed overpromise and underdeliver. However, to be fair, there are those that actually provide genuinely effective solutions when used the right way and with proper technical support.
To say that endpoint security management needs improvement in 2022 is probably an understatement, with the backdrop of increasingly sophisticated and aggressive cyber attacks. It is urgent. It is clear that there is a need to boost endpoint security, and it should start with the desire of organizations to actively pursue effective and efficient endpoint security solutions.
While not every available endpoint security solution is effective and efficient enough, many of the options provide satisfactory outcomes especially in terms of unified threat monitoring and response, automated threat detection, and sensible efforts in reducing the human proneness to fall prey to phishing and other social engineering attacks.