Modern organizations use multiple connected devices to conduct their business, including intelligent printers, appliances, BYOD cellphones and tablets, and more. Following the pandemic, 1 in 4 Americans will work from home in 2021 and beyond. Technology has made it easy to connect remotely from anywhere around the globe, and employees are plugging their devices in at coffee shops, at home, and a multitude of other locations.
While this has made work convenient, it has also left companies vulnerable. Hackers are targeting these devices (or endpoints) to gain entry into company networks.
Using a cloud-based SOC is the most effective means of governing your IT system and all devices that have access to it.
What is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security is the process of securing entry points of end-user devices by malicious actors, either on the network or in the cloud. The most common endpoint protection software is antivirus software, although antivirus software doesn’t offer total endpoint security.
Endpoint security systems can detect, analyze, block, and contain attacks in progress. Without a comprehensive endpoint protection system in place, businesses stand to lose access to business-critical data and face costly and time-consuming downtimes. Few companies can afford this.
What are Endpoints?
An endpoint is any device that is physically an endpoint or end-user device on a network. Endpoints include laptops, desktop computers, phones, tablets, and servers.
How Endpoints are Easily Compromised
Employees use multiple devices in multiple locations. Employees may accidentally download malware via email, USBs, or software programs, delay essential security updates, or connect via public wi-fi that is open to attack. The risky behavior of disrupted employees is considered one of the biggest cybersecurity threats in the world today.
Aside from risky behaviors, endpoints are often compromised for the following reasons:
The Desirability of End-point Data
Endpoint devices contain personally identifiable information and personal health information. Companies have a legal obligation to protect that data, which makes it attractive and lucrative for hackers. They go to great lengths to obtain it.
Conflicting Software Clients
Your network can be compromised by adding too many conflicting software clients to each endpoint. If an endpoint contains multiple mission-critical apps and encryption software, the clutter creates gaps in perimeters that can be exploited.
Lack of Visibility
Unless your endpoint security system is centralized, your IT team is swamped with alerts and cannot prioritize the real threats from mundane warnings. Critical threats may be missed or responded to too late.
Patch management ensures that all the software on your endpoint devices is up to date. Patches are created when a weakness is discovered in a product. Developers create patches to remedy the deficiency, but devastating attacks can occur if not executed timeously.
If your team is putting off patch updates, you are vulnerable to attack. If your networks’ endpoints are running Windows 10 (1909), for example, there are over a thousand vulnerabilities on your system that can be used to gain entry into your network.
Not all companies have extendable IAM (Identity and Access Management) tools, and some may battle to control remote workers and their systems effectively. They need in-depth VPN infrastructure, add-on tools, cloud file servers, and more. It’s considered a best practice to centralize identity management under a single cloud-based console so that users can access all the resources they need securely. Still, many companies have failed to implement this.
Why Are Endpoint Security Systems Moving to the Cloud?
All companies have some form of endpoint protection. The most common solutions are antivirus software and Endpoint Detection and Response solutions. EDR solutions can detect and contain threats your antivirus program may miss but don’t provide visibility into the network or agentless devices, like smart TVs or printers.
Enterprise-level companies usually have an in-house security operations center that can monitor, prevent, detect, investigate and respond to cyber threats across all systems, including the network, cloud storage, endpoints, and more.
SMBs rarely have the budget, space, or staffing required to run a complete SOC, but cloud technology has made it easier and more affordable to deploy a SOC.
Some of the benefits include:
Maintain All Tech Investments
Many businesses have invested heavily in SIEM or other security systems and are reluctant to adopt another solution. However, the right cloud-based provider will migrate your legacy systems and integrate with your existing SIEM, protecting your investment in tech while simultaneously enhancing it.
Freeing Up Your IT Team
Cloud-based systems do not replace your IT team. It frees up their time wasted on investigating irrelevant alerts and managing physical hardware, giving them more capacity to focus on critical cybersecurity issues when they crop up.
From a purely technical perspective, cloud-based security systems aren’t more secure than on-premise systems. The difference lies in how the systems are managed and deployed. Cloud-based systems provide greater visibility, making it easier to detect, investigate and contain threats when they crop up. They are easier to manage and don’t require the same forensic skill and time investment needed to run a SOC or even an EDR optimally.
Most SMBs don’t have the financial or staffing resource to provide the on-premise security that a cloud-based system can. When moving to the cloud, your data is stored in distributed, geo-independent data centers. Availability is protected by virtualization. If one goes down, another takes over. Most on-site premises have one or two large physical servers that fail one over to the other. In the event of a fire or a significant outage, the systems go down.
Some of the most significant breaches in recent times (Equifax, WannaCry) resulted from poor patches. The patching process in the cloud is automated, which not only improves your security but eliminates the downtime associated with on-premise patching. The system can see which patches are available and deploys them as required, even on devices outside the company network. It’s a great feature to have with a remote working staff component.
Cloud endpoint security stores logs in the cloud. Your data is safe, even in the event of a hardware malfunction.
Cloud endpoint protection allows your administrator to monitor devices from anywhere. They can configure settings, install patches, approve new devices, and audit users – even if they aren’t working in the office.
It’s a 24/7 Watchdog
Most companies can’t afford round-the-clock data center security staff. Your on-premises team takes breaks and holidays and clock out at five or six. Your cloud-based SOC can constantly monitor the entire infrastructure for new threats and escalates the most urgent alerts.
Segmentation of Endpoints (Even for Remote Workers)
The most common way attackers breach a system is through phishing and email-borne threats. They almost always enter through individual workstations and not the server. The cloud enables you to segment your workstation from the corporate network, adding a layer of protection for your most criteria data. The cloud can also offer powerful encryption tools that make it much harder for hackers to bypass.
Cloud-based technology is much cheaper than on-premises security systems that require regular purchases, updates, maintenance, replacing – not to mention physical power and cooling. The cloud doesn’t have unexpected maintenance bills or exorbitant replacement fees, making it much easier to plan your budget.
Best Practices for Endpoint Security
The good news is that minimal security changes can have a significant impact. Here are a few that you should implement, especially for remote workers:
Plan for Prevention, Containment, Recovery, Remediation, and Investigation
Security teams need to be prepared for the eventuality of an attack, including the prevention, recovery, remediation, and forensic investigation that follows.
Prevention starts with correct identification. Log alerts, firewalls, and any other suspicious activity must be identified, documented, communicated, and escalated according to the threat’s scope and impact.
Containment involves isolating any infected device and backing up critical data. The number of systems compromised has to be limited as far as possible.
Recovery sees the team implement more permanent fixes, including hardware patches, reconfiguration, and rebuilding systems. The entry points that the threat used to obtain access need to be eradicated, and defenses improved.
Remediation sees the system brought back online and includes data recovery. The team needs to test and verify all infected systems, and they will then continue to monitor for malicious activity.
An investigation is a critical but often overlooked step that all companies need to execute following a breach. Even if you are sure that you’ve found the source of the compromise, a forensic investigation may discover evidence that had been missed or security weaknesses that still exist and could be exploited. An investigation is crucial for prevention.
Turn on Multi-Factor Authentication
Don’t solely rely on passwords. Get MFA configured and use passwordless authentication to avoid the risk to your organization.
Support Your IT Team
IT teams, especially in SMBs, are not always sufficiently able to deal with cybersecurity threats. They are often so busy with IT problems like onboarding or tech support that they cannot focus on cybersecurity. They may also suffer from alert fatigue and aren’t sure which alerts to investigate and escalate.
Providing the proper endpoint security solution will make management and visibility into cybersecurity alerts easy.
Create BYOD and Security Policies
Keep your staff fully informed about security risks and best practices. Create a code of conduct for using personal devices. Urge employees to keep devices locked when they leave their desks, use good passwords, and not put off updates.
Deploy SIEM Solutions
SIEM solutions offer a holistic view of the organization’s entire IT environment across all security systems. It will log events, highlight (flag) possible incidents, and turn them into actionable items. Unfortunately, a SIEM is not easy to manage and requires security engineers to manage and triage alert events and create new detection rules.
Some cloud providers will insist that you use their SIEM solution; opt for one that will work with your existing solution to reduce costs.
Don’t Know Where to Start? Speak to CYREBRO
CYREBRO centralizes your security operations in the cloud, allowing you to see and understand what your most critical incidents are across all functions, in a single dashboard.
CYREBRO’s cloud-based SOC platform integrates all your existing security tools and systems, providing you with comprehensive and manageable insights into your entire security stack, including all endpoints and network devices, for employees that work from the office and home.
Unlike some SOCaaS services, the control of the data and the system remains in your hands. Cyberattacks can cripple your business just because you didn’t see them coming. See how CYREBRO can protect your business. Schedule a demo here.