As organizations integrate a higher volume of endpoint technologies into their operational environments, IT administrators have had to implement more robust security features to ensure their networks are insulated from potential threats. Every new endpoint represents a possible attack vector for cybercriminals, from company-owned workstations to personal mobile devices, which can complicate the asset management process and undermine established security frameworks. While these challenges can be partially mitigated through flexible and scalable administrative systems, it’s also important to consistently maintain endpoint hygiene, as a single computer’s vulnerabilities can cause problems for an entire corporate network.
What is Endpoint Hygiene?
Endpoint hygiene refers to the device-level security routines that protect an organization’s hardware, applications and data from exploitation and authorized access, per Infosec. This approach treats every computer, mobile phone and smart-enabled device as a digital microcosm, which helps identify specific user behaviors and system vulnerabilities that may pose a risk to the broader network. Unlike traditional home computer security, endpoint hygiene is often maintained by corporate IT teams through a centralized management platform rather than end users, allowing for increased threat visibility and administrative oversight. Some of the core practices include:
- Updating browser software
- Installing security patches
- Managing application versions
- Ensuring license compliance
- Adjusting access privileges
- Removing unused programs
Manually executing these tasks requires significant time and effort, which is why many organizations automate the process using endpoint management tools. IT administrators install software agents that run in the background of company-owned devices and send alerts when vulnerabilities or configuration issues are detected, enabling quick and efficient problem resolution. Endpoints that are properly maintained are often difficult to exploit and perform more reliably, as every program is optimized to run as intended.
Endpoint hygiene is also connected to end-user behavior, as unintentional or inadvertent human error reportedly accounts for close to 84% of all data breaches, according to the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Users who fail to uphold cybersecurity best practices are easy targets for hostile actors, so it’s important to provide employees with adequate training and educational resources alongside existing hardware-based protections. For example, password policies may help IT teams manage minimum credential requirements, but users are responsible for selecting strong passwords and keeping them secret.
How Endpoint Hygiene Protects Corporate Networks
Electronic data and computer networks have become an irreplaceable part of modern workflows in nearly every industry space. Companies around the world use digital technologies to conduct their daily operations and boost their productivity, which generates a massive volume of personal and financial information that cybercriminals can profit from. Cybercrime will cost the world an estimated $6 trillion annually by 2021, per Herjavec Group, demonstrating the need for proactive security measures that can insulate valuable data as its transferred and stored on corporate networks. Endpoint hygiene safeguards the flow of information by removing imperfections in enterprise system infrastructure, such as those caused by configuration drift, outdated software and lapsed security patches. These flaws create significant security gaps that hackers can capitalize on using a range of techniques, such as:
- Zero-day exploits
- Malware attacks
- SQL injections
Endpoint hygiene can also safeguard users against common social engineering tactics that do not rely on hardware, software or application vulnerabilities. For example, hackers sometimes embed malicious code into hyperlinks, which automatically download viruses and other harmful applications when clicked. Endpoint management tools can track downloads on a system-wide basis, ensuring that IT teams can quickly remove these threats before they’re able to impact the overarching network. Computers with poor hygiene often contain a host of unused or outdated files, which makes it difficult to locate the exact security threat. Luckily, there are a variety of cutting-edge tools that can help IT teams manage endpoint applications and adjust configurations on a wide scale, eliminating single-service re-imaging projects and streamlining maintenance tasks.
How Reboot to Restore Technology Maintains Endpoint Hygiene
Endpoint management platforms offer exceptional oversight for every device connected to a corporate network, but visibility alone cannot safeguard devices from security threats. Reboot to restore technology allows IT administrators to lock every endpoint in its most pristine state, restrict user access and configuration changes, and roll-out critical security patches to any number of devices in real time. These features give network security personnel complete control over what can and cannot be installed on an employee’s computer, while also empowering users to solve many of their own issues. Workstations can be completely restored with a simple reboot, wiping out malware, resolving configuration mismatches and reverting applications to their appropriate states.
Faronics’ Deep Freeze software provides all of the asset management tools IT teams rely on, along with a number of dynamic reboot to restore capabilities for maintaining endpoint hygiene. Deep Freeze monitors the health of every endpoint with access to a company’s network and creates detailed usage reports that identify at-risk applications and software. Using these reports, IT security personnel can create and deploy custom security patches, set access and configuration restrictions for specific use cases and isolate devices that may pose a risk to their network and system performance. Deep Freeze’s core features include:
- Advanced threat remediation: Identify, prioritize, review and resolve security threats from one centralized console.
- Automated package deployment: Push new software versions to every endpoint or designated user groups as soon as they are available.
- Endpoint customization: Configure device settings and establish remote access requirements for computers, laptops, smartphones and even wireless printers.
- Mobile device management: Manage mobile device security by defining user policies and controlling app permissions.
- Hard drive and partition protection: Create detailed credential guidelines for every device, application and data store.
Endpoint hygiene can help companies keep pace with the evolving threat landscape by ensuring all workstations and smart devices are safeguarded against malware attacks, accidental or unauthorized changes, data theft and more. Faronics’s reboot to restore technology can turn every enterprise device into a self-healing endpoint by automating the asset management and problem resolution process, giving IT administrators more time to focus on emerging cyberthreats and network security projects.