The business world is currently facing an unprecedented crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many decision-makers to integrate new technologies into their workflows. While some companies are treating this digital transformation as a short-term remedy for business disruptions, the ongoing health emergency illustrates the importance of long-term technology planning. Without reliable and resilient IT infrastructure, applications and endpoints, enterprises may be unprepared for similar challenges in the future. There’s no telling when the next global event will interrupt the supply chains and daily operations of otherwise profitable companies, which is why now is the perfect time to make the switch to a dependable endpoint management platform.
Endpoint management in the era of COVID-19
Today’s IT administrators are grappling with a wide variety of operational issues that are impacting the daily lives of employees across industry lines. COVID-19 has forced millions of organizations to transition at least a portion of their workforce to a remote capacity. According to a March 2020 survey from the business IT developer Slack, roughly 45% of knowledge workers are currently working remotely – though this trend has likely skyrocketed as calls for social distancing have accelerated. Employees who once relied on on-premises devices and systems have had to quickly adjust to a work-from-home lifestyle. In many cases, this involves using personal computers and cloud-based applications in place of company-owned workstations and device-specific software.
Personal computers and mobile devices typically lack the security controls found on company-issued workstations, as noted by Security Magazine, meaning there’s often higher risk of cybersecurity incidents. For companies that collect and store sensitive data, endpoint visibility and control is essential for eliminating device-level vulnerabilities and keeping data stores insulated from malicious actors. In terms of functionality, IT administrators may struggle with the following management tasks during the lockdown:
- Deploying new endpoints and applications
- Ensuring all workstations have the latest OS patches
- Updating business apps and software for Windows and Mac devices
- Protecting users from malware, zero-day exploits and remote code executions
- Tracking device and application usage
Endpoint management tools allow IT administrators to be proactive about device and application protection by automating certain back-end tasks. However, choosing the right platform can be difficult, especially considering how competitive the marketplace has become. To ensure organizations are prepared for potential threats and able to support remote workers, IT leaders should prioritize solutions that solve specific management problems.
Top endpoint management tools
When it comes to selecting endpoint management platforms, IT administrators should look for a centralized solution that allows for rapid deployment, automated policy enforcement and incident response. Companies that rely on multiple, siloed management applications can unknowingly introduce gaps in their security framework, according to research from the SANS Institute, increasing the risk of data breaches and brute-force attacks. The ability to organize and control internet-enabled devices from a single interface is not only more efficient, it can also help identify at-risk workstations and send targeted updates on demand. The specific tools IT administrators should prioritize include:
- Patch scanning: While many organizations are moving toward cloud-based applications to eliminate the need for device-specific patching, some companies may not be able to completely transition their business-critical software. Remote patch scanning and updating tools can ensure that all workstations with access to internal data stores are running the latest software versions. This, in turn, can help reduce the risk of cybersecurity incidents and prevent users from encountering software bugs that interrupt their daily activities. Of course, IT administrators must also be able to freeze updates to prevent unplanned downtime, or push out patches to multiple devices at once.
- Endpoint deployment: The rapid transition to remote work has forced some companies to add a massive volume of endpoints to their systems (many of which are employee-owned), introducing new points of failure that hackers can exploit. With a unified endpoint management platform, IT administrators can quickly set up, deploy and manage computers independently without choking local resources or bandwidth. Once deployed, these endpoints can be managed through automated processes that track failed updates and apply patches without any user intervention.
- Automated OS updates: Alongside business applications, IT administrators must also ensure that users’ operating systems are up to date to enhance device-level security. Since many organizations maintain a hybrid environment, it’s important to choose an endpoint management solution that is compatible with both Windows and Mac machines. The ability to separate the OS, driver groups, install settings and application layers is also crucial, as it enables companies to support a wider range of hardware types.
Faronics’ Deploy application provides IT administrators with the endpoint visibility and control they need to support a remote workforce, both in times of crisis and normalcy. With one click setup and implementation, companies can quickly add new endpoints to their network without cutting corners. Deploy’s automated application management tools also empower organizations to closely monitor in-network devices and send batch updates when new software versions are released. Using this cloud-based platform, IT administrators can maintain complete control over Windows OS updates, application patches and much more.