Endpoint security is the practice of securing endpoints such as mobile devices, laptops and desktop computers from malicious activity. Today, there are many different devices that have access to corporate networks. Endpoint security software helps systems administrators better cope with the challenges of securing those diverse devices.
Why is Endpoint Security Important?
Endpoint security has become an important topic in the last few years due to an increase in cyberattacks and the number of people accessing corporate networks remotely. It's estimated that around 25% of professional jobs in North America allow remote working, and this figure is going to continue to grow. That growth in remote work has come with an increase in cyberattacks. In 2021, the number of cyberattacks taking place globally increased by 125%. Data breaches and ransomware can cost businesses huge amounts in terms of money, bad public relations and lost time. Endpoint security is one of the most important options an organization has for mitigating these attacks.
How Does Endpoint Security Work?
Endpoint security works by allowing systems administrators to get an at-a-glance overview of the status of all endpoints on the network and control various security settings. For example, an endpoint protection platform might allow a systems administrator to restrict access to malicious websites, manage firewall settings. remotely control what applications are installed on mobile devices and wipe mobile devices if they become lost or stolen.
There are three approaches to endpoint security:
Legacy/On Location: organizations that have a locally hosted data center may use an on-location model for endpoint security. This can be effective if the company's IT resources are centralized and there's a limited number of devices connected to the network. However, it can lead to limited visibility and scaling challenges.
Hybrid: the hybrid model uses a mixture of on-location endpoint protection platforms and solutions that are retrofitted to work with cloud services. This type of solution can be useful for organizations that have recently expanded their operations to allow for more remote work. However, organizations with a heavier reliance on Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions may require a cloud-native endpoint protection system.
Cloud-native: a cloud-native approach is built for cloud solutions and runs in the cloud itself. Administrators can manage all the devices connected to the organization's cloud services via a lightweight client, no matter where those devices are located. Cloud solutions remove the silos associated with legacy systems and give systems administrators better visibility and better reach.
What is Considered an Endpoint?
Any device that has access to a network's resources could be considered an endpoint. The most common endpoints are employee laptops and smartphones. However, thanks to the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, there are many other devices worthy of consideration when building an endpoint security policy, including:
Point of Sale (PoS) systems
Wearables (e.g. smart watches)
Software as a Service (SaaS) applications
It's easy to overlook printers and other network-capable smart devices when considering your endpoint security policies. However, networked printers are vulnerable to 'printjacking' attacks. Depending on the capabilities of other smart devices on the network, they could present an opportunity for an attacker to learn more about the network and identify other vulnerabilities to exploit.
Benefits of Endpoint Security
Using an endpoint security solution gives organizations a more robust and far-reaching approach to cybersecurity. The benefits of endpoint security can be broken down into a few key categories:
Improved visibility: endpoint protection software gives network administrators real-time, end-to-end visibility of all networked endpoints and the threats they may be exposed to.
Improved threat detection: modern endpoint protection platforms process all the events taking place on the network, detect threats and offer features for quarantining threats or responding to them quickly, thereby preventing or mitigating potential damage.
Time savings: because endpoint protection platforms automate many elements of network security and offer features to streamline the work done by systems administrators, they help save time when threats are detected. Systems administrators can respond more quickly to threats, leading to better outcomes.
Endpoint Protection Software vs. Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is designed to identify malicious software and prevent it from being installed or executed on a device. This type of software works by scanning files and the computer's memory to look for code that matches that of known viruses. When a virus is identified, the software will stop the file from being run and alert the user, giving them the opportunity to quarantine the malicious software for further investigation or delete it.
Endpoint protection software takes a broader approach. It provides a centralized point from which systems administrators can monitor the security of all endpoints on their network and manage a variety of security precautions, including antivirus measures. Endpoint protection can include firewalls, VPNs, web filtering and data loss prevention tools. Today, endpoint protection software comes in several forms, including legacy on-premises solutions and hybrid or cloud-native solutions for organizations that have a significant number of remote workers or support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
Endpoint security vs. endpoint protection
The terms endpoint security and endpoint protection are often used interchangeably. These terms cover all forms of security measures, including antivirus, sandboxing, firewalls, data loss prevention mechanisms and intrusion detection.
What is an example of endpoint security?
Web filtering systems are an example of endpoint security. These systems protect users by preventing them from accessing potentially compromised websites on their work devices.
What is the difference between firewall and endpoint security?
A firewall is an application that filters traffic to prevent unauthorized access to servers or other devices. A firewall can be part of a broader endpoint security system that may include antivirus software, web filtering and other security precautions.
How to Get Started
If you're concerned about the security of your network, there are several precautions you can take. Training employees in cybersecurity best practices is a useful first step that can reduce the number of threats your organization is exposed to. However, there is still the risk of insider threats as well as malicious actors from outside the organization attempting to exploit security vulnerabilities. Endpoint protection platforms offer a way to mitigate this risk by making it easier for systems administrators to monitor and manage the network.
The final line of defense when it comes to endpoint protection is backups. If a malicious actor does manage to gain access to a system and encrypt, damage or delete data, having multiple backups, including some that are offline and off-site, makes it possible to recover from the attack. Veeam Backup & Replication provides a robust, automated backup solution that works with a variety of devices and virtual machines, protecting your organization's most valuable data.
To learn more about Veeam's backup security features and how they could help mitigate attacks on your network, contact us today or download a free trial of the software to see its powerful and flexible features in action.