Endpoint Security

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Endpoint Security

Endpoints may be the weakest link in network security. IT departments are tasked with ensuring the security of dozens of devices – desktops, laptops, mobile devices and now the Internet of Things (IoT) – that connect to the network. Here is a comprehensive look at endpoint security, its challenges, and what can be done to better protect the endpoints while improving overall IT security. For our in-depth reviews of endpoint security products, see Top 10 Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Solutions.

Examples of common endpoints in the workplace include:

  • Desktop and laptop computers
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Routers and WiFi
  • Point-of-sale devices
  • IoT devices

To find a product that suits your specific endpoint security needs, use our Endpoint Detection and Response selection tool.

An endpoint is defined as any device connecting to the network from outside the firewall or perimeter. The rise in endpoints is largely due to the increasing numbers of employees who work offsite and need to access the network, as well as the different devices being used and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Endpoint security is the process of providing protection to those devices with the ultimate aim of protecting the network and an organization’s data. Endpoint security is a critical part of an organization’s overall security posture because devices that are outside a well-protected, internal network create pathways for attackers to bypass standard controls.

Emerging and advanced threats

There are some very serious threats facing networks. Data breaches and ransomware, for example, are two of the biggest concerns for any organization. Exploit kits are another major infection vector wreaking havoc on enterprises. Symantec’s research shows that on average, there are more than one million new malware variants created by attackers each day, and much of this malware uses a number of both new and known techniques to infiltrate the endpoint using email, browser, applications and devices as the entry point.

Endpoint encryption and access controls

Endpoint encryption is a critical layer of endpoint security. Encryption protects the data on the devices themselves and during transmission, keeping outside actors from being able to copy or otherwise transfer that information. Full disk encryption is even more effective, as it encrypts the entire hard drive, protecting not just the data but the operating system and applications too. In this case, the encryption key is required at the boot up stage, and once applied, the system will decrypt enough to run normally.


Another data protection control is application controls, which prevent unauthorized users from executing applications on the endpoint device. Not only does this protect the endpoint from outsiders taking over applications, but it can control what authorized users of the device can download or access. It also protects the network from potential data threats from departing employees with the ability to lock them from enterprise applications.


A VPN is another critical endpoint protection tool that organizations should be using.

Endpoint protection steps

  • Remove/manage administrative accounts on endpoints: Regular users do not need administrative rights to do their every day jobs. For those applications that require administrative rights, the organization can implement an application control solution that can provide administrative rights to those approved programs that require it. Removing administrative access on the endpoint can mitigate much of the damage that an attacker can cause if they are able to compromise that endpoint.
  • Keep systems patched and up to date: Vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, and malicious attackers are keeping a close watch as these vulnerabilities are discovered. If the vulnerability is particularly dangerous, attackers will start sweeping across businesses attempting to find organizations that didn’t patch the vulnerability in order to gain access.  Your policy and procedure must enforce keeping systems on the network up to date.
  • Implement advanced authentication: Some of the breaches that occurred in 2016 were secondary breaches due to a previous breach. Usually this happens when someone uses the same password across multiple sites and devices. If an employee’s account was compromised in a data breach and they use the same password to login to their system, then it’s easy to access that system. If the organization implements advanced authentication, the attacker won’t have access to complete authentication abilities, even if the password is stolen.
  • Security awareness and training: Continued awareness and training on password, security, and electronic use best practices can go a long way. Unfortunately, an organization cannot rely solely on training, because again, humans make mistakes – and they can easily be the weakest link in a strong security program.


Protecting the endpoint from potential threats

Endpoint monitoring for the following areas:

  • Vulnerability management
  • Vulnerability patching
  • Sensitive data discovery, which should include data loss prevention (DLP) as well as identification of exfiltration of sensitive or potentially-sensitive data through cloud storage or web-based applications

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