The rapid integration of cloud computing and IoT technologies in modern workflows has given rise to a wide array of new security challenges for IT administrators, especially for industries that rely on the unrestricted flow of data between endpoints. Many of the network security practices that have dominated professional environments over the past decade have been unable to keep up with the fast pace of technological innovation, leaving companies vulnerable to a variety of emerging threats. The issue is that SMB and enterprise employees are now accessing company networks from a range of different devices, which makes it difficult to monitor endpoint health and manage security threats.
The shift toward BYOD culture in the workplace has only compounded the problem, though safeguarding traditional on-premises workstations remains a significant pain point for network security teams. Research from the Ponemon Institute found that the primary barriers for achieving robust security and preventing data breaches fall into two categories: insufficient visibility of people and business processes and lack of network oversight and governance. These limitations have led to a steep increase in cyberattacks and the inflation of security expenditures — malware-infected devices cost organizations an estimated $3.65 million per year, per the Ponemon Institute. To combat these losses, IT managers have begun seeking out cutting-edge solutions that offer enhanced device management tools and disaster recovery capabilities, such as those offered by self-healing endpoint technology.
What is a self-healing endpoint?
Self-healing endpoints are devices that have the ability to anticipate security and maintenance issues before an end user is severely impacted. This proactive service model allows IT administrators to monitor endpoint performance in real-time, detect threats and misconfigurations, and resolve incompatibilities, outages and failures without disrupting normal business operations. Additionally, most self-healing capabilities are governed by automatic processes, which can significantly reduce the volume of low-priority support tickets a helpdesk IT team receives.
One major benefit of self-healing endpoints is that users are able to solve many of their own computer problems without needing extensive technical knowledge or experience. For example, reboot to restore technology enables IT managers to freeze workstations in their optimal configurations, allowing employees to correct settings issues and software errors with a simple restart of their devices. Not only does this significantly decrease downtime and productivity loss, it also streamlines a variety of disruptive asset management activities, including patch installations, application upgrades and re-imaging projects.
3 tips for setting up self-healing endpoints
The first step to integrating self-healing endpoint technology is to choose a management platform that can effectively facilitate network-wide distribution and administration processes. Faronics’ Deep Freeze software provides a simple and secure web-based console that allows IT admins to seamlessly deploy computer management, data protection, anti-malware and endpoint customization solutions, without requiring any additional hardware investment. The software performs on-demand actions from one centralized location, and can be used to adjust settings, create virtual partitions, apply application updates and even clear out malicious changes made by zero-day threats. Beyond important administration tasks, Deep Freeze can guarantee 100 percent workstation recovery upon restart, prevent configuration drift and enhance endpoint security protocols. Some of the core features include:
- Cloud storage integration
- Multi-OS support
- Advanced threat mitigation
- Application whitelisting
- Data loss prevention
- Mobile device management
- Malware and ransomware detection
Unlike other self-healing endpoint solutions, Deep Freeze provides a flexible onboarding process with a variety of curated enrollment options. Important changes can be applied to a single device, or to thousands of workstations at once, supporting both small- and large-scale administration tasks without fear of major disruptions. To help you get the most out of your device management strategy, consider these useful tips for setting up your self-healing endpoint environment:
Review your operational environment
Before you can equip your workstations with self-healing capabilities, it’s important to understand the exact operational peculiarities you’ll be dealing with. For example, if your company allows employees to work remotely, you’ll need to consider what additional protections will be needed to fully secure your network. Company-owned devices can be hectic to manage, as workers are usually less apprehensive about monitoring and reporting software on their on-premises workstation than they are for their personal computers.
This apprehension is doubly potent for user-owned mobile devices, which complicates the BYOD environment many companies are moving toward. According to a 2016 study from Syntonic, around 36 percent of surveyed companies have at least half of their employees using personal smartphones as a part of their daily work routines. While this has likely increased productivity and morale, it also demonstrates a serious need to develop comprehensive mobile device policies to avoid security breaches and data theft.
Identify at-risk devices and applications
Believe it or not, most cybercriminals target device and application vulnerabilities that are publicly available, as demonstrated by the infamous Mirai botnet attacks. This unique brand of malware gains access to IoT devices by cycling through a number of default credentials used by hardware manufacturers, which end users are supposed to update before the devices are fully deployed, as reported by TechRadar. Everything from a laptop to a wireless printer can pose a serious risk to your network security infrastructure, so it’s crucial to identify these threats to ensure your self-healing endpoints will be effective.
This process can be particularly challenging for large organizations that manage thousands of on-premises workstations and connected devices. Enterprises are prime targets for would-be hackers due to their massive data repositories, which often contain all sorts of valuable business insights and sensitive consumer information. Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 76 percent of breaches were financially motivated, suggesting that cybercriminals are more likely to target weak points in data analysis applications and software that aggregates consumer profiles.
Develop user groups based on employee needs
Every employee uses their devices differently, which is why group settings are so valuable for large enterprises that contain several unique departments. Luckily, most endpoint management platforms allow IT administrators to create detailed user groups that can be updated separately, enabling the quick deployment of crucial software updates without impacting every workstation on the network.
Self-healing endpoint management tools provide all sorts of actionable information about software versions, licensing information and asset usage, which can save valuable time and reduce the frequency of large-scale re-imaging projects. Group settings can also help administrators identify unused applications that might impact hardware performance. Once you’ve hammered out the needs of your users, controlling access restrictions for workstations and mobile devices becomes a lot more manageable.