Risk & Security

What Is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security is the practice of securing and fortifying all of an organization’s endpoints, or points of access to an organization’s network. Endpoints include desktops, laptops, mobile devices and other wireless devices. Endpoint security systems enable security teams to detect, respond to and recover from cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks rank as the fastest-growing crime in the U.S., with damages expected to reach $6 trillion in 2021. These events — ranging from malware and phishing email to ransomware and distributed denial-of-service attacks — can have catastrophic consequences for business. The impact can include lost revenue and stolen intellectual property as well as operational disruption and increased insurance premiums, and the damage can be particularly devastating for small and midsize enterprises. Endpoint security represents the frontline in the defense of an organization from cyberthreats.

Endpoint attacks are on the rise as organizations manage a growing number of company issued devices and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments. As a result, more than two-thirds (68%) of companies report they experienced one or more endpoint attacks in 2020 that successfully compromised their data assets or infrastructure — up from 54% in 2017.

How the best endpoint security solutions work

The goal of endpoint security solutions is to prevent and detect malicious activity in order to protect the data and workflow that connect to a company network. Endpoint security solutions use different endpoint management (EM) approaches to protect an organization’s devices from viruses and other malware, including endpoint protection platforms (EPP) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) platforms.

An EPP is deployed on endpoint devices to prevent file-based malware attacks, detect malicious activity, and provide investigation and remediation capabilities for security incidents and alerts. The best solutions typically run on the cloud, which enables continuous monitoring, activity data collection and remote remediation.

EDR platforms are endpoint systems that gather and analyze data from endpoint devices in order to detect and mitigate malicious activity and cyberthreats. When they identify a threat, an employee receives an alert that contains corrective actions.

The benefits of modern endpoint security solutions

Managing endpoint security used to be far simpler than it is today. Company issued computers were the only devices allowed on the network, giving security teams more control over access. But as mobility has evolved — and as the number of endpoints has skyrocketed — security teams have struggled to keep an organization’s endpoints secure.

Security teams struggle to secure the skyrocketing number of endpoints

Challenges include poor visibility into devices that access company networks; unsecured personal devices that children, spouses and roommates share or borrow; and difficult-to-detect fileless malware that hijacks devices to run malicious code. In addition, the 20 billion devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT) often lack cybersecurity protections and are susceptible to ransomware, malware and phishing attacks. Phishing campaigns that trick targets into disclosing sensitive data have proliferated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with companies experiencing an average of 1,185 attacks each month.

[Read also: How IT visibility gaps expose businesses to vulnerabilities]

Protecting an organization’s endpoints is more critical than ever before — particularly as companies support a large number of remote workers. With enterprise threats becoming more sophisticated and widespread, implementing the right endpoint security solution has grown in importance. The best systems have a number of advantages.

  • Protection against key threats. Malware and phishing attacks are just the start. Endpoint security solutions also protect companies from insider threats, zero-day attacks and insider threats.• Comprehensive security. Systems can identify and close security gaps that may have otherwise been overlooked. These may include IoT and personal devices, for example.
  • Cost savings. The best systems prevent damage from malware, lost intellectual property and paralyzing ransomware attacks that hold a company’s data hostage. In 2019, ransomware alone incurred damages in excess of $11.5 billion.
  • Regulatory compliance. The latest data security regulations require a range of safeguards against the theft of personal data, depending on the jurisdiction and context. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in penalties.

Endpoint security solutions are critical in protecting organizations from threats and breaches. With the right solution, businesses gain more visibility and control, enabling them to respond and recover quickly.

David Rand
David Rand is a veteran business and technology reporter whose work has appeared in major publications around the world. He specializes in spotting and digging into what’s coming next – and helping executives in organizations of all sizes know what to do about it.