With endpoints becoming more advanced and geographically dispersed, effectively securing them is not limited to a single technology. Instead a series of technologies have been developed to ensure these systems are both monitored and protected.
What is Endpoint Security?
Defining Endpoint Security
Endpoint security is the practice of securing an organization’s endpoint systems through software, policy, physical access, or any additional methods intended to protect these devices. Endpoint systems can be defined as the initial entry point, or final exit point of any network. These are the laptops, servers, desktops, mobile devices, or any system that allow users to send and receive data that will traverse a network infrastructure.
Why is Endpoint Security Important?
Modern technological trends such as cloud infrastructures and telecommuting have blurred the lines of traditional network perimeters. In many cases the simplest way for an attacker to breach an environment is by compromising an associated endpoint. This not only gives an attacker access to data stored on this device, but also a starting point to potentially pivot deeper into the target network. Endpoint security allows a company to distribute its defenses from a traditional hardened network perimeter to a more balance defense strategy where each endpoint system is secured and monitored.
How Has Endpoint Security Evolved?
Traditional endpoint security began with legacy antivirus solutions that primarily scanned for predefined virus signatures. In the event a signature matched a finding on an endpoint the user would be alerted, and the activity potentially terminated. As attacks evolved this method was no longer enough to ensure the security of an endpoint. Malicious activity that did not have an associated signature was often allowed to execute, or legacy antivirus could be bypassed by determined attackers. Thus, modern endpoint security also had to evolve.
A more heuristic approach to detections was required. This included a stronger focus on monitoring a wide range of events as they occurred and a deeper understanding of attack behaviors. Modern endpoint security solutions will often detect malicious behaviors in real time and in many cases prevent them from executing. The goal of the next-generation endpoint security solutions is to no longer focus on finding and preventing only known malicious activity, but to instead analyze each event as it occurs for its negative potential.
What are Key Capabilities to Look for in an Endpoint Security Solution?
When evaluating an endpoint security solution, it is important to ensure it is meeting your organization’s required goals while limiting impact on end users.
Can the solution be deployed with minimal effort and does it cover the full range of the organization’s endpoint architecture? For example, organizations that choose to protect only one operating system in a mixed operating system environment are creating a false sense of security by creating a partially protected architecture.
In order for endpoint security to be effective, it must cover the organization as a whole. It is also important to understand the capabilities of the technologies you are considering since each one tends to focus on specific feature sets.
In many cases, to provide the highest level of endpoint security it is necessary to employ a security platform that covers multiple aspects including features like monitoring, response, and prevention. For these platforms you should also consider the workflow between solutions. Does each tool and capability flow easily into one another to allow the analyst a smooth transition while responding to a threat? Endpoint security solutions should not only offer your environment an added layer of defense but also reduce the workload on your analysts.