Endpoint security is the concept of securing user applications or end devices in a network. These devices may include desktops, laptops, mobiles, routers, switches, printers, servers, IoT devices, etc. Endpoint security plays an important role in the defense strategy of an organization since endpoint devices are the common entry points and a major source of data breaches. According to the 2019 Absolute Endpoint Security Trends Report, 70% of the data breaches originate from the endpoint devices. This huge number indicates that organizations are always at risk with endpoint devices being operated either from within the organization or handled remotely. In this article, we will explore why organizations fail with their endpoint security approach, and how they can improve security by filling the identified security gaps.
ENDPOINT SECURITY FLAWS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Before jumping into endpoint security failures and recommendations, we must understand the basic components that are responsible for providing endpoint security. The following list presents some notable endpoint security components in the form of a standalone tool, software, or a full-stack solution providing the endpoint security services at different levels.
- Antivirus and Antimalware solutions
- Data Encryption Tools
- Data Loss Prevention (DLPs) tools
- Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems (IDPS)
- Data classification and analysis tools
- Threat hunting Machine algorithms
- Artificial Intelligence Tools
- Gateway security devices
- Centralized endpoint security management platforms
Although there is a variety of components and solutions for endpoint security problems, it is also a fact that these solutions are not doing enough to secure the endpoints. The Autopilot concluded the 2019 trends report with very horrible statistics. The report says that all endpoint security measures eventually fail at some stage. But that doesn’t mean that organizations should stop investing in endpoint security. They need to focus on the factors that are responsible for the failure of endpoints security deployments. Some of these issues are discussed below along with the security recommendations that can greatly help organizations in mitigating the endpoint security risks and improving the overall Cyberdefense.
UNPATCHED SOFTWARE AND DEVICES
Unpatched software is a critical security flaw that allows hackers to easily exploit vulnerable endpoints. There are many factors that make patch management a difficult job. For instance, it is not easy to stay updated with all the patches released by the vendors on different occasions. The patching process becomes more complex where there are hundreds and thousands of machines with different operating systems. Deployment of patches without affecting the end-user experience or productivity is another challenge.
Recommendations: Although patch management is a very complex job, there are software solutions that can automate the patch management process to make the job easier. A good software solution can automatically look for the latest patches released by the vendors and update them on the target systems without human intervention or effecting the running operations.
UNAUTHORIZED ENDPOINT DEVICES
Unauthorized or unauthenticated devices are one of the major contributors to endpoint security breaches. Many organizations in the world are running a traditional security architecture where personal computing devices become part of the official network without authentication or without having the capability of running the full stack security protocols. Such unsecured devices can easily become a security liability for the organizations.
Recommendations: Only authorized devices should be allowed to join the pool of endpoint devices. A multifactor authentication mechanism must be implemented to avoid the risk of unauthorized access. Personal devices should only be allowed to help users at individual levels.
Legacy devices are a serious threat to endpoint security of the organizations. There are many organizations that are still using legacy devices to run the business. These legacy devices lack the modern hardware features that are required by some of the latest endpoint security components to combat the Cyber-threats. For example, many legacy devices are unable to perform advanced encryption operations to secure the data stored or processed through the legacy devices hardware.
Recommendations: Although it is impossible to completely remove the legacy devices from the networks, there are ways organizations can handle these legacy devices. Such devices can be allowed to operate in an isolated or segmented environment so that they cannot be directly accessed by the threat actors. The workload from the legacy devices can be shifted to the modern-age computing devices.
OUTDATED ANTIVIRUS SOLUTIONS
According to the Autopilot endpoint security statistics, 28% of the total endpoints are relying on the outdated antivirus and antimalware solutions. Thus 28% of endpoint devices can easily become rogue devices without much effort by the adversaries. Even some of the most advanced antivirus and antimalware solutions rely on the traditional security approaches, such as signature-based threat detection mechanism. On the other hand, the hackers are introducing more sophisticated attack methodologies like file-less malware that never appear on the radar of traditional anti-malware solutions that rely on malware signature files.
Recommendations: Every organization and business must install updated versions of antivirus and anti-malware solutions to combat modern malware threats. Collaboration between businesses and antimalware service providers can enhance the performance of antimalware solutions.
SECURITY AWARENESS PROBLEMS
Lack of security awareness plays a crucial role in converting a fragile hacking attempt into a successful Cyber-attack. People with a lack of training and security awareness easily become the helping hands of the adversaries by performing certain actions on the endpoint devices, such as installing noncertified software, clicking suspicious links, and downloading spam email attachments. All these actions can allow hackers to install backdoors on the victim’s machine to compromise the endpoints.
Recommendations: Organizations must make basic Cybersecurity training mandatory for all its employees. Workshops shoul