The modern cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving, with new hacking methods emerging on what feels like a minute-by-minute basis. Keeping pace with these digital hazards has become a key concern of companies across industry lines, yet many of the tried-and-tested security practices have failed to insulate private networks from data breaches, malware and other types of malicious activity.
The issue is that traditional cybersecurity frameworks overwhelmingly focus on external threats—from brute force attacks and credential theft to phishing scams and infected email attachments—and all but ignore internal endpoint vulnerabilities. As organizations around the world continue investing in advanced computing technologies and internet of things devices, endpoint security will likely become a key area of concern for IT administrators and other tech-focused professionals. But what are the most common endpoint vulnerabilities, and how can they be resolved before a cyberattack occurs?
The current state of endpoint security
Digital transformation has provided companies with a variety of operational and financial benefits, but managing a large fleet of computers, mobile devices and smart appliances requires an aggressive cybersecurity posture. Every device connected to a private network represents a potential access point that would-be hackers can exploit, which is why most organizations deploy rigid data security and user credential guidelines. Despite these protocols, many companies are still struggling to ward off costly data breaches and properly safeguard their business devices.
According to a 2017 report from the Ponemon Institute, around 56% of companies lack comprehensive endpoint management and security strategies. What’s more, these organizations are spending an average of 1,156 hours per week detecting and containing insecure endpoints, resulting in more than $3.4 million in annual spending. Unfortunately, these significant time and monetary investments aren’t paying off, as 73% of businesses are not adequately prepared to respond to cyberattacks, per a 2018 study from Hiscox. Some of the most common cyberthreats targeting enterprise endpoints include:
- Man-in-the-middle and distributed denial-of-service attacks
- Phishing and social engineering scams
- Ransomware, malware and viruses
- Cross-site scripting and SQL injections
One reason endpoint security is so challenging for large organizations is the sheer volume of devices they deploy. Because every department has its own technological needs, it’s common for workstations to have different software, applications, settings and more. Unsurprisingly, maintaining proper endpoint hygiene is exceptionally difficult without a centralized management platform and a dedicated team of IT professionals. So how can organizations maximize their endpoint protection protocols?
Integrating a layered security approach
Using the internet for businesses activities comes with a variety of risks, as hackers are constantly probing enterprise networks for vulnerabilities. To offset the threat of data theft and exploitation, companies often develop balanced security policies that govern users’ capabilities and restrictions. However, the ongoing shift toward data analytics and artificial intelligence applications has forced organizations to adjust their security protocols to be more flexible and transparent. While this shift has enabled valuable productivity gains and eliminated a number of inefficient processes, it’s also exposed their critical communication channels to external and internal threats.
Increasingly, companies are moving toward a layered security approach that leverages several different (yet overlapping) defensive applications. The concept is rather straightforward: a single cybersecurity system can be flawed, and IT administrators may not even be aware of vulnerabilities until an attack has occurred. By integrating several disparate security platforms, organizations are able to fill in the gaps and enhance their protective capabilities. According to IBM, most layered security strategies provide safeguards across four layers of the traditional computer networking model, including:
- System-level security protects endpoints’ basic operations and ensures every device is properly configured. This layer focuses on safeguarding individual computers and monitoring all events and processes that might exploit or compromise its security posture.
- Network-level security controls users’ access to i5/OS operating systems and critical data stores. This layer is responsible for insulating internal servers from unauthorized users and validating device credentials whenever an internet-connection is established.
- Application-level security manages how users can interact with specific applications on their devices, often working in tandem with the network layer. IT administrators should always configure security settings for every application and piece of software on the server and client sides.
- Transmission-level security guards data communications within private networks and across all transmission channels, including the internet itself. This layer is dedicated to controlling the flow of information as it moves between endpoints and across the boundaries of the other security levels.
Building a layered security infrastructure requires the right set of software tools and technical expertise, which is where Faronics can help. Our Deep Freeze endpoint management system can fit into a variety of network security frameworks, turning every PC into an indestructible source of business intelligence. Deep Freeze protects computers by taking a snapshot of their desired configuration and empowering users to resolve their own security issues with a simple reboot.