Endpoint Security

Battling the Endpoint Threat: Best Practices to Safeguard Your Network

In 2019, 68% of organizations were victims of endpoint attacks making endpoint security one of the most pressing issues in today’s digital workplace. Endpoint devices pose a serious risk to businesses of all sizes as they can quickly become infected with malware, are difficult to update, and have access to sensitive company data once connected to the network. While this is concerning, educating your organization on the types of endpoint threats and enhancing your security practices will help you prevent a cyber breach before it happens. 

What is an endpoint threat?

An endpoint threat is a risk that malicious actors will penetrate and attack your company’s endpoints — devices that connect to your network, such as laptops, desktop computers, servers, and mobile devices. The threat is global, but some regions are more prone to attacks than others, depending on various factors, including internet speeds, government regulations, and the availability of cybersecurity talent. Many businesses underestimate the threat posed by endpoint devices because they don’t realize how easy it is to get infected with malware and how quickly it can cause damage. Once malware penetrates an endpoint device, it can spread rapidly to other computers on the network. The challenge with endpoint threats is that they can come in many forms and are constantly evolving. It also tends to be more of an “enterprise” threat than a “consumer” threat — i.e., businesses are more likely to be targeted than individuals. And unfortunately, it’s a global issue unlikely to go away soon.

Types of Endpoint Security Threats

Phishing Attacks

91% of cyberattacks start with a phish. Phishing uses fake messages to gain access. The message ostensibly comes from a trustworthy entity (such as a bank or known company) to trick users into providing personal information or downloading malware. 

Device Loss

A recent Forrester survey found that lost or missing devices cause 15 percent of breaches. With one laptop stolen every 53 seconds, it is critical to ensure you have measures in place to prevent putting your data at risk.

Outdated Patches

Outdated patches are patches that the software vendor no longer supports. In addition, they may contain security vulnerabilities that the vendor has not addressed.

Malvertising

Malvertising is online advertising that uses malicious or intrusive ads to target users. These ads can appear on websites, in apps, or in email inboxes and can often be difficult to distinguish from typical ads. They can redirect users to malicious websites or download malware onto their devices when clicked.

Drive-by Download

A drive-by download is malicious software (malware) downloaded and installed on a computer without the user’s knowledge or permission. Drive-by downloads usually happen when a user visits a malicious website or clicks on a malicious link. The malicious code then downloads and installs itself on the user’s computer.

Ransomware

Worldwide ransomware damages and payments added to over $20 billion in 2021. Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.

DDoS Attack

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is when multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a server, website or other network resources, and cause a denial of service for users of the targeted resource. The flooding of target systems with malicious traffic causes the target to become unavailable to legitimate users.

Best Practices for Safeguarding Your Network Against Endpoint Threats

While endpoint threats are plentiful and constantly evolving, there are several things you can do to protect your organization. 

Asset Discovery

You cannot accurately assess what your organization needs without a clear understanding of the devices you have, which ones are up-to-date, and which ones aren’t. Asset discovery and inventory helps maximize the value of assets and provides a much-needed holistic view of the environment.

Implement Zero Trust

Zero Trust follows the principle, “Never trust, always verify.” In terms of endpoints, that means constantly verifying all endpoints. That includes not only contractor, partner, and guest devices but also apps and devices used by employees to access work data, regardless of device ownership.

Keep Software Up-to-Date

It is critical to identify endpoints that require updates and patches made to the OS, applications, and security software they have installed or need to have installed. The most up-to-date security software will aid in blocking and removing malware from your endpoints. In addition, vulnerability patches from OS and app vendors are only effective if your endpoints are kept up to date regularly.

Install Endpoint Device Security

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a critical component of any endpoint security. EDR solutions analyze events from laptops, desktop PCs, mobile devices, servers, and even IoT and cloud workloads, to identify suspicious activity. In addition, they generate alerts to help security teams uncover, investigate and remediate issues. EDR tools also collect telemetry data on suspicious activity and may enrich that data with other contextual information from correlated events. Through these functions, EDR is instrumental in shortening response times for incident response teams and eliminating threats before damage occurs.

Enforce Strong Passwords & Change Them Regularly 

61% of breaches involved weak passwords or compromised credentials. If one device is compromised, a hacker can use this access to infiltrate other devices on your network. One of the best ways to protect your network is to ensure employees create strong passwords and regularly change them.

Educate Employees

Of course, you can make your IT and endpoint environment as safe and robust as possible. Still, if a user clicks on an email attachment, they shouldn’t; it can create an opening for hackers to attack your network. Therefore it is imperative to educate users and make security part of the company culture. Regular security and compliance training and timely alerts and notifications of potential threats are critical to safeguarding your organization. 

Wrapping Up

Endpoint threats have grown more severe and complex over the years. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent an attack and safeguard your network against it. Managed security services are an excellent way for organizations that don’t have the in-house resources to better plan, monitor and secure their digital estate today and for the future.

 

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