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What is Endpoint Security & How Can You Protect Your Business?

What risks do you face where endpoint security is concerned, and which solutions are best suited to your business? In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about endpoint security.

Updated March 2, 2021

In this Article:

What is Endpoint Security?

Learn what endpoint security entails and what it protects against.

Why is Endpoint Security Important?

Find out why endpoint security is essential for protecting your organization against cyberattacks.

Network Security vs. Endpoint Security

Read about the differences between network security and endpoint security.

Desktop Endpoint Security is Also Important

Read more about the importance of desktop endpoint security.

Inventory Your Endpoint Devices

Taking an inventory of your endpoint devices will allow you to determine the scope of the endpoint security solution that needs to be implemented.

Endpoint Security Risks & Threats

Learn about some of the most common endpoint security risks and threats of which you should be aware.

Endpoint Security Solutions

When it comes to endpoint security, there are three main categories to consider: endpoint security software, hardware solutions and managed endpoint security service.

Create an Endpoint Security Policy

Find out why it is important to establish an endpoint security policy for employees.

What is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security involves the protection of end-user devices on your network, also known as “endpoints.” Most businesses have multiple endpoints in their networks, including everything from computers and laptops to mobile phones, tablets and servers. Small businesses might have only a few connected devices, whereas enterprise-level operations could be dealing with thousands of devices all connecting to their network and sharing data.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) growing in leaps and bounds, it’s all too easy for hackers to exploit device vulnerabilities to break into business networks in search of sensitive data. With the right endpoint security solutions in place, however, you can protect your network from malicious attacks, stopping them before they truly start or limiting their impact. 

What risks do you face where endpoint security is concerned, and which solutions are best suited to your business? In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about endpoint security.

Why Is Endpoint Security Important?

While endpoints are a necessary part of conducting business operations in this connected, digital world, they pose a risk for security breach if companies fail to institute a strong endpoint protection plan. This is especially true as more and more employees bring their own devices from home into the workplace.

According to The Third Annual Ponemon Institute Study on the State of Endpoint Security Risk, 68 percent of IT professionals reported one or more endpoint attacks at their company in 2019. 80 percent of those were zero-day attacks, which are almost impossible to predict.

The risk for breach through user devices is clear, but it's not impossible to plan for endpoint attacks. Endpoint breaches can be prevented with the right endpoint security solutions, including firewalls, encryption, network access control, comprehensive antivirus and anti-malware software and more. 

Network Security vs. Endpoint Security

It’s important to differentiate between network security and endpoint security, as the two are often confused. Network security focuses on hardware and software designed to protect your data and the integrity of the system housing it, typically by managing access to the network. Often, this can extend to on-site computers, but it may disregard other devices accessing the network, especially remotely. 

Endpoint security, on the other hand, takes a more comprehensive approach to protecting your system, expanding the bubble of influence, so to speak. Endpoint protection is a broader term covering both network security and protections for individual devices.

Desktop Endpoint Security is Also Important

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your endpoint security plan should only cover remote and mobile devices. On-site computers and desktops could also serve as entry points for attack and should be included in your plan. 

Inventory Your Endpoint Devices

The first thing you need to understand about endpoint security is that it’s not a one-and-done proposition. This is due to the variety and volume of devices that are often used in the workplace. The scope of endpoint protection could be massive, even for relatively small businesses. 

It’s one thing to implement security measure that safeguard your network, servers and on-site computers — but when you start throwing remote devices into the mix, the job can get even more complex. In order to ensure endpoint device security, you first need to inventory all of the endpoint devices that could serve as a gateway to your critical systems. 

Your endpoint device inventory should include:

  • The user devices you issue to employees
  • Any personal devices employees might use in the course of business (like mobile phones or tablets)
  • Servers in data centers

Endpoint devices can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Desktop and laptop computers
  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Smart wearable tech (i.e. smart watches)
  • Printers
  • Servers
  • Smart systems (i.e. smart HVAC systems)
  • Other IoT devices

While you can’t control devices owned and managed by a third party, you can choose vendors that offer transparency where security is concerned, and you can take steps on your end to secure any endpoint devices used by employees with appropriate policies. 

Endpoint Security Risks & Threats

There are many endpoint security risks and threats to defend against, with new threats evolving daily. As noted above, zero-day attacks are among the most common reported when it comes to endpoint incursions. While insider threats are a concern, the largest threat to businesses today comes from external criminal activity. 

Common Endpoint Threats

Here are some of the most common endpoint threats today:

  • Phishing. Phishing attacks involve individuals (or bots) posing as legitimate parties in an attempt to gain access to sensitive data. This can occur over email, phone, text, or chat. Security awareness training alongside technical solutions like screening phishing IP addresses and sandboxing inbound email addresses can help to prevent or limit the impact of phishing.
  • RansomwareRansomware blocks access to a device or files until the attacker gets what they demand (often money or data). Anti-malware and antivirus solutions are your best defense.
  • Device Vulnerabilities. Unpatched vulnerabilities in devices and software provide access points for attackers. Be sure that all of your systems, hardware and software are up-to-date and running the most recent versions.

Dealing with User Error

No matter how great your security measures are, they can’t stop your employees from volunteering sensitive data to a phishing scam, typing in a password on a public Wi-Fi network, or otherwise opening the door to an attack through ignorance or carelessness. Be sure to provide comprehensive security training so that you employees are aware of the most common threats and understand your policies.

Endpoint Security Solutions

When it comes to endpoint security, there are three main categories to consider: endpoint security software, hardware solutions and managed endpoint security service. 

Endpoint Security Software

Endpoint protection starts with finding the right software to protect devices and data while limiting access to your network. This software could include firewalls, antivirus programs, encryption software, application control and more.

Endpoint security software is not usually a single program. Instead, you will likely have several programs working together to protect your entire network and the devices connected to it. You should plan to have software installed on a centralized server as well as on individual endpoint devices.

Endpoint control software is an essential component, ensuring the integrity and authenticity of applications and their data. If applications have been infiltrated and they’re not behaving as they should, endpoint protections must recognize the threat and stop these applications from executing, potentially compromising sensitive data and putting the entire network at risk.

Browse Endpoint Security Software

Endpoint Security Hardware

There are hardware solutions available that can help to improve your endpoint security as well. Some of the most common hardware solutions include:

There are hardware solutions available that can help to improve your endpoint security as well. Some of the most common hardware solutions include:

  • Firewalls & UTM Devices. UTM stands for “unified threat management”. These appliances create a single point of defense that can make managing updates and security maintenance much easier. Shop Now.
  • Security Tokens. Tokens are devices used to manage multi-factor authentication to restrict access and help to keep your data and networks safe. Shop Now.
  • Physical Security Systems. Physical security solutions like cameras and alarms can help to detect intrusions or tampering with your physical devices. Shop Now.
  • Network Access Control Systems. These systems can provide automatic device discovery, monitoring, and management to help prevent unwanted endpoints from accessing your network and/or limit activity to align with your policies. Shop Now.

Browse Endpoint Security Hardware

Managed Endpoint Security Services

The security service side of the equation can include threat intelligence and real-time response so businesses can identify and halt attacks, then begin the recovery process as soon as possible. The downtime associated with endpoint attacks can be incredibly detrimental to business operations. Managed endpoint security services can help to improve threat recovery while minimizing downtime.

Explore CDW Amplified Security Services

Create an Endpoint Security Policy

As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A comprehensive endpoint security policy is essential to help ensure all of your devices and vulnerabilities are protected.

In addition to utilizing endpoint software and services, you need to create clear guidelines for security standards and train employees so they understand the risks, their responsibilities and the penalties for failing to comply. You may have to put an end to “bring your own device” options that put your network at risk, even if it costs you more to provide secured devices. 

CDW Cybersecurity Experts Can Help

You don’t want to wait until an endpoint attack occurs to change your systems and procedures. Implementing security measures now, including strict policies and procedures to go with your software and services, can save you from an attack that could significantly impact your business, customers and ability to maintain operations.

From designing your endpoint security plan and recommending the best solutions for your needs to active management and incident response, CDW cybersecurity experts are ready to assist you. Contact us to learn more about our solutions and services.

Learn more about how to safeguard data against evolving threats.

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