The volume and sophistication of endpoint threats are growing because the number and kinds of endpoints keep multiplying, making it more difficult for businesses to detect, analyze, block, and contain potentially devastating cyber attacks.
To cope with the increasing sophistication of endpoint threats, many providers of cybersecurity software and services now offer advanced endpoint defense solutions that protect small, medium, and enterprise businesses from next-generation cyber attacks, allowing them to thrive in the face of adversity.
What Are Endpoints?
These days, IT endpoints include personal computers, mobile devices, point-of-sale terminals, and various other devices where data is created, processed, and stored. Even though the term endpoint evokes the end of a journey, cybercriminals actually see endpoints as gateways into company networks.
Modern businesses have anywhere from a few dozen to thousands of endpoints, and it takes just a single compromised endpoint for attackers to gain access to the entire network, allowing them to steal personal information and damage critical systems.
That’s why strong endpoint security should be the first line of defense against cyber attacks, and it’s also why leading cyber security companies keep expanding their endpoint security portfolios, constantly announcing new innovations and enhancements to defend their customers against the most sophisticated cyber attacks
The Elements of Advanced Endpoint Defense
Traditional endpoint security solutions have been designed to stop malware, but attackers have become very apt at taking advantage of new paths to lucrative targets, exploiting the growing complexity of modern endpoint environments.
“The diversity and complexity of today’s heterogeneous endpoint environments create multiple opportunities for cyber-attacks. The deployment of endpoint security software that brings together not only prevention and EDR, but also hardening technologies to further reduce the attack surface is more important than ever,” explains Fernando Montenegro, Senior Analyst of Information Security at 451 Research.
To prevent threats, advanced endpoint defense solutions include a broad range of prevention capabilities, such as:
- Active cloud protection: According to global computer security software company McAfee, 60% of cloud-based endpoints now connect to the network, from just over 40% in 2017. Because more and more businesses depend on the cloud, advanced endpoint defense solutions now include protection against rogue Wi-Fis, malicious apps, and other threats directed at cloud-connected users.
- Application isolation: 60% of employees use apps for work-related activities, which means that businesses now need to isolate suspicious and malicious applications so they can’t execute privileged operations. By restricting every application to safe and authorized behavior, application isolation enables users to download and use any application safely and makes it impossible for attackers to tamper with them to exploit potential vulnerabilities.
- Endpoint attack surface reduction: There are certain behaviors that malicious applications typically exhibit when trying to infect endpoints, such as attempting to download or run files with executable files and scripts used in Office apps or hiding obfuscated scripts among temporary files. By removing or constraining exploitable behaviors, it’s possible to greatly limit the attack surface and make it much harder for malware to infect endpoints and the entire network.
- Fileless attack protection: Traditional anti-virus solutions are no longer enough to protect against all endpoint attacks because many kinds of malware use legitimate programs to infect a computer without relying on files and leaving any footprint. One particularly prominent example of a success fileless attack is the Equifax breach, which could have been prevented using an advanced endpoint defense solution with fileless attack protection leveraging state-of-the-art machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence techniques to block malicious behaviors.
- Mobile security: Bring your own device policies are on the rise, but businesses shouldn’t ignore the fact that mobile attacks are becoming increasingly common as well. Always connected to the internet and equipped with a plethora of mobile apps, modern mobile devices call for new security approaches to guard against vulnerabilities, privacy-invasive actions, and the loss of sensitive data.
“Stopping today’s most sophisticated threats requires several integrated layers of security which make it difficult for attackers to operate,” says Art Gilliland, EVP and GM enterprise products at Symantec. The good news is that there is a growing number of cybersecurity products that provide these layers in a convenient package that businesses of all sizes can seamlessly integrate into their broader cybersecurity programs.
Endpoint protection is the first line of defense in any cybersecurity program, which makes it a cornerstone of any business’s security posture. The highly sophisticated nature of modern cybersecurity treats demands an equally advanced endpoint defense solution capable of providing up-to-the-minute visibility into problems and offering automated remediation capabilities. In this article, we’ve described some of the capabilities such solution should have, including active cloud protection, application isolation, endpoint attack surface reduction, fileless attack protection, and mobile security.
Written by: Payam Pourkhomami, President & CEO, OSIbeyond