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The Evolution of Endpoint Security & Protection

By Mark Critchley & Gregg Meade on 15th Aug 2018

The Endpoint Security Threat Evolution

Networks security is a concern, a really big concern for a great many businesses…and if it isn’t, it most certainly should be. 

As both wireless (WiFi) and network security professionals, we at Ensign have a vested interest in tracking the changes and developments in these markets and, with that, a duty to ensure that we - and our customers – have the most up-to-date information with which to inform their IT decisions. 

In recent years, the enterprise wireless/WiFi world has not really evolved with any real haste – of course the speeds have changed and the demands on network performance have inevitably increased, but WiFi is, relative to network security, fairly static. 

The network security landscape, on the other hand, is in a state of almost constant evolution, to the point that, these days, you would be hard-pressed to find any large enterprise operating without a Chief Information Security Officer. 

Of course, for the SME, this may not be particularly relevant but it does at the very least show the emphasis on security for large organisations and this effect will almost certainly ‘trickle down’. 

This fairly unique paradigm is what has led us to think about the specific security problems facing the modern enterprise and what can be done to alleviate some of that pain. 

Start at the Endpoint

Endpoint management and security may well be propping-up your list of IT priorities, but we’d like to suggest a revision! 

The way that we all work – and thus access corporate networks and data – has undergone some significant change, and with that has come some significant risk. 

Many businesses will now facilitate remote working and their employees can fall into a number of usage categories. Some will work predominately from a home office with the occasional requirement for network access from an alternative location, whilst others, such as Salespersons will likely access files ‘on-the-road’ from a plethora of coffee shop and motorway service station networks.  

With these different kinds of remote users, as well as the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and the plethora of devices such as tablets and smartphones, the growing threats to your business endpoints are huge!

The Endpoint Threat Evolution

In today’s fast paced, highly competitive business world, companies of all sizes and across all sectors face everyday challenges. Some challenges they have control over, such as internal procedures and processes which they can change for the better. 

Other challenges such as cyber security and protecting their data (and that of their customers) are getting harder. Whether the challenge be understanding their current cyber security defence profile, closing their security effectiveness gaps, effectively protecting from internal and external threats, or recruiting the right security staff for the right price in a highly competitive recruitment marketplace, businesses all have to work against a backdrop of ever evolving threats, changing data regulatory compliancy environments, and tighter budgets.

An Obligation to Change…

Thrown into this mix is the fact that businesses these days have a greater demand to leverage the benefits from new ways of working and new technologies such as: Remote Mobile Workforces, ‘X’ as a Service and the Internet of Things (IoT)/Automation. 

All too often, new ways of working are encouraged, adopted and expanded, but cyber security remains the same, especially at the endpoint, with businesses relying upon traditional methods of securing the endpoint, such as VPN or firewall clients. These do serve a purpose, but all too often are solutions which can’t/won’t communicate with, or share information with the rest of a business’ security infrastructure about new or evolving threats. 

That’s if they spot them in first place. 

This opens up opportunities for those who would do businesses harm, no matter their motivation.

Questionable Native Security

Now many Mobile Workforce and Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors will say they offer native security with their platform, and for the vast majority of them this is true. This however is similar to giving someone the keys to your house and assuming they will keep your family and belongings safe. Normally, this would sound great, but when they don’t, in today’s regulatory environment for data, you would still have to accept responsibility and be liable for any break-ins, despite trusting others with this task.

As we all know, this can mean a business incurring huge fines, damaging their bottom line, public embarrassment and loss of public trust. This is why it is always sensible to have your own supplementary security strategy, especially including your endpoints, rather than merely relying on others to take on your responsibility for your data security.

More Endpoints; Less Embedded Endpoint Security

For businesses who are adopting the Internet of Things into their vision for the future, such as manufacturing, supply chain and energy, it becomes even more complicated. Many of the endpoint devices businesses are using have no embedded security at all, making them even more vulnerable to risk and, inevitably, attack!

Securing these endpoint devices is even more important, especially when dealing with national strategic infrastructures, such as energy.

For all the reasons discussed above, it becomes vital that every business, no matter what size or in which sector, considers building and constantly revising their vision and strategy of what they want/need in terms of their cyber defence. This strategy should include dedicated provision for endpoint protection, and a focus on that endpoint security solution’s ability to constantly adapt, no matter the threat that is posed. Some endpoint security solutions are often the weakest link in any cyber security defence. Firewalls and VPNs in the light of new threats won’t cut it on their own. 

Holistic Endpoint Security

In this day and age the vision should be to have a solid, comprehensive and pragmatic endpoint security strategy, which closely aligns itself with the rest of a business’ cyber security architecture, understands the business needs, takes account of where company and customer data is held and how? As well as what is that data’s importance? 

An endpoint cyber security strategy of this sort is of paramount importance in ensuring business uptime, ubiquitous availability of services for employees and customers, and again can prevent reputational and financial damage, affecting bottom line and share price.

Ensign recommends that any business looking to build or revise their Endpoint Security Strategy at least understands the following:

  • What endpoint devices are out there?
  • Who has them and why?
  • How are they used?
  • What services or data are they connecting to? Importance of that service or data to the business?
  • How are they connecting? WiFi? Wired? Or remote guest access?
  • How are they protected? 
  • What type of protection does the current endpoint security solution provide?
  • What’s its level of veracity?
  • Has the current endpoint security solution ever failed? If so, why?
  • Does the current endpoint security solution share and communicate knowledge in real-time with the rest of the security architecture? To prevent day zero as well as known threats.
  • How does the current endpoint solution detect, prevent, and mitigate, track and report threats?

N.B. This is by no means an ‘exhaustive’ list; these are just the basics.

Comprehensive Endpoint Security

This is why Ensign works with market leaders in comprehensive, advanced, integrated, endpoint security, rather than simply point solutions providers. After all, we exist in a marketplace where qualified, experienced cyber security staff can be a) hard to find and b) expensive to attract and keep. 

Disparate point solutions for endpoints which require constant management and don’t communicate with the rest of the security architecture simply suck up resource, slow reaction times to threats, often don’t provide full security analytics data and increase cost.

Our focus is on using our solutions to maintain and enhance the business continuity, operational efficiency, reputation and bottom line of our client base, as well as our own business.

For more information round our endpoint security solution portfolio, service and our capabilities, get in touch! If you really liked this article, you can download the .PDF version here!

What Next?

For advice on designing or upgrading your Endpoint Security and associated systems, to the deployment of security solutions like Next Generation Firewalls and Endpoint Network Security, please contact Ensign Communications for a chat with our technical team.

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