What is endpoint security and what are its challenges?
In an increasingly mobile and connected world, businesses have to contend with not only a growing number of endpoints, but also a growing number of types of endpoints. As if endpoint security wasn’t challenging enough, many organisations have had to deal with an increase in remote and hybrid working and BYOD policies, which make it is more difficult for IT teams to ensure employees are following best practices to avoid a potential attack.
In this blog we discuss the meaning of endpoint security, and what some of the endpoint security challenges are that businesses could face in today’s mobile world.
What is Endpoint Security?
An endpoint is any device that is connected to a network or IT system. This includes laptops, mobile phone, desktops, IoT devices, servers and virtual environments. Endpoint security is important as these devices are key vulnerability points of entry for cybercriminals. If a hacker gains access to an endpoint and executes malicious code, they can potentially access private data or launch a larger attack. In the past, endpoint security was primarily focused on antivirus solutions, but as the threat landscape has changed, the scope for endpoint security has broadened, with an emphasis on user behaviour.
Six endpoint security challenges your business could face
1. Constantly expanding attack surface
As technology evolves, businesses and their employees are using more devices either in a work capacity or on a business’s network. In the past, cybercriminals had a handful of endpoints they could target, including desktops, network devices, printers, and servers.
In 2022, this attack surface has greatly increased with devices to include IoT devices which are light weight and don’t tend to have capacity for antivirus software, such as smart TV’s, Sensors, smart watches and fitness trackers – furthermore the likes of smart TV’s are often overlooked and left out of a business’ patch schedule to keep them up to date. All these endpoints are now targetable by hackers, which makes it more difficult for an IT team to manage the sheer volume of devices.
2. BYOD and Mobile Devices
Many businesses have or are now enabling a bring your own device (BYOD) program. Although such a program has many benefits, it carries a potential security risk. If employees are using older devices that do not receive security updates, it becomes an easy target for cybercriminals to exploit software vulnerabilities. Similarly, if an employee loses their device, or has it stolen, it puts the local device at risk of a data breach, as well as the corporate network, if they have their passwords saved.
Opus’ NGAV (Next Generation Anti-Virus) and EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) solutions will be able to note any vulnerable operating systems and software running on end devices that could cause you an issue.
3. Remote and Hybrid Workforces
The advent of remote and hybrid work has many benefits for businesses and its employees, however it poses a unique challenge for endpoint security. With employees working in different geolocations, it means they connect to the business to complete their work in different ways – split tunnel VPN’s for example have been used a lot since the pandemic to lighten the load on the corporate firewall network traffic but as a consequence means that general internet browsing may not be protected using the corporate firewall.
This means if a phishing link was to be clicked, the firewall is unable to protect the user, and in addition to this there is no visibility that this user could now be infected. If a phishing mail has got through your mail filter then the only two controls left is how well you have trained your users to spot a phishing email and the endpoint protection software running on their device.
4. Shadow IT
Shadow IT is the use of IT hardware or software used by a department or individual without the knowledge of the IT department or IT/security provider. This software may include cloud services or applications that departments use to increase productivity or to solve shortcomings of the provided software. The risk of using unauthorised software is that it may have a vulnerability that could lead to an attack on a business’s network or systems. Similarly, if employees use unauthorised file sharing platforms, it puts customer data at risk of a data breach.
Opus’ NGAV / EDR solution will also enable you to keep tabs on the software being installed on end devices, whether that software is up to date and if it conforms to your security policy.
5. Attackers mimicking user behaviour
Remember that malware is still just software. A malicious powershell script as far as a computer is concerned is no different to any other powershell script. It’s the anti-virus software that determines what is OK and what isn’t. Anti-viruses can be easily evaded with attackers just acting like normal users or using their own custom tools to avoid detection. Over 50% of attacks in 2021 where listed as “malware free” attacks meaning that malware was not used. This is where tooling is helpful as it can look into a particular users behaviour.
Powershell can be used for many legitimate tasks, but if there are .dll files being inserted into tasks that are already running, or is there are changes to items that run at start-up or amendments to the local firewall, an NGAV (Next Generation Anti-Virus) and EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) tool will help you make sense of these events, organise the attack path into an easy to understand graphic and analyse where your defences were circumnavigated at each stage, so you can take action to remedy. Manually sifting through logs is time consuming and requires a high level of expertise. EDR is able to automate some of these tasks and prevent attacks like this in progress.
6. Lack of Visibility
All the previous challenges have a common factor, a lack of visibility. It is extremely difficult for an IT team to secure all endpoints when there are many devices, from multiple locations connecting to their IT systems. In order for IT teams to effectively secure endpoints, they require complete visibility over who is connecting to a network, from which device, for what use, and all associated traffic. As technology becomes more complex, IT teams need to have a solution in place that allows them to respond to changes in technology and devices.
Opus End Point Security Solutions
Part of our Opus Secure range, our Endpoint Security services help secure endpoints or entry points of end-user devices such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices from being exploited by malicious acts and campaigns.
Our endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions, also known as endpoint threat detection and response (ETDR), are integrated endpoint security solutions that combine real-time continuous monitoring and collection of endpoint data with rules-based automated response and analysis capabilities.
Compared to traditional security solutions, EDR provides enhanced visibility into your endpoints and allows for faster response time. Furthermore, EDR tools detect and protect your organisation from advanced forms of malware (such as polymorphic malware), APTs (advanced persistent threats) and phishing, etc.
Find out more about how your business can overcome these challenges to ensure that your endpoints and networks are secure.