As organisations shifted to decentralised working, it has increased the risks of network intrusion and data breaches. While remote work delivers efficiency gains to organisations, it has turned their endpoints — from laptops and smartphones to the Internet of Things (IoT) — into their weakest security link. Now increasingly, cybercriminals have been targeting endpoints with attacks that can’t be detected by traditional anti-virus technologies. The average cost of an endpoint attack is estimated to be over $5 million in lost productivity, system downtime, data theft and damage to the IT infrastructure, among many others, according to Deloitte.
Although endpoint security continues to evolve, most solutions lack effective configuration or operational processes, resulting in organisations adopting disparate products with overlapping features and functionality.
However, in the Middle East, with the increased use of cloud-based Managed Security Services, businesses have adopted cybersecurity practices more efficiently. Using cloud-managed services, enterprises are alerted to even the smallest disturbances in the data.
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Now, cybercriminals have developed new means of infiltrating the data systems of all types of organisations and businesses. During the pandemic, the number of data breaches and network intrusions has grown significantly as businesses moved to a decentralised working environment. In such a scenario, endpoint security risks have become a primary concern for company security. Some of the common endpoint security risks are:
- Phishing Attacks: Attempt to gain access to a company’s records and steal vital customer information that can be used for blackmail or published in the media to ruin the company’s reputation. In addition to the company’s image being damaged, customers may stop using products or services that seem untrustworthy.
- Malvertising: It affects a company’s website by introducing malware and malicious software that redirects users to other sites where further scams are conducted. In addition to reducing employee productivity, this endpoint threat can also lead to the interruption of work due to ads or redirections. A company can suffer substantial financial losses if its malvertising is not detected and corrected.
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- Unpatched Vulnerabilities: Cyber hacks are often caused by long-unattended and unpatched system vulnerabilities. During this period of neglect, hackers can access relevant company data, sell it on the dark web, or carry out any other malicious activity that could damage a company’s reputation or even lead to its closure.
- Data Loss and Theft: Data breaches will continue to rise in years to come. Data loss and theft can have devastating effects on a company, including ransomware demands, increased regulatory fees, investigation costs, and damaged reputation.
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Endpoint Security Best Practices
The most valuable asset of any company in the 21st century is data, which must be protected at all costs. Many organisations are adopting endpoint cybersecurity services for the same reason — to protect critical systems, intellectual property and data. To counter increasingly persistent threats, here are some endpoint security best practices that an organisation must follow:
- Ensure Absolute Visibility of the Entire Network: It is vital to have complete visibility of the entire network, especially traffic from and to the endpoints. Besides knowing what is travelling through their systems, businesses should understand what is being done with it. With real-time and historical data, they’ll have a clearer picture of their devices’ behaviours.
- Regular System Updates: Patch management has become more important as more devices and applications are connected to networks, and threats are continually growing. To protect systems against vulnerabilities and thwart attacks, organisations should establish a regular period for pushing updates to user workstations.
- Educate Employees: Cybercriminals frequently target employees to perform detrimental actions and reveal critical company information. It is only possible to prevent this by educating every employee who has access to computers and the internet on basic security practices like changing their passwords regularly and locking their computers when they leave. Likewise, it is crucial to teach them how to detect phishing emails and phone scams.
- Enforce Least Privilege Access: In a least-privilege approach to cyber threats, every endpoint and user’s access is restricted. If a user violates the organisation’s policy, the system alerts the appropriate authorities. Whenever someone tries to access something against the organisation’s policy, it will notify the appropriate authorities immediately. Nevertheless, if elevated access is required, Multi-Factor Authentication must be used. Ensure that all events are properly logged and reviewed promptly and periodically to monitor and improve existing systems which guide administration rights and ensure their accuracy and appropriateness.
- Deploy SIEM solutions: Companies often find it difficult to keep track of and manage hundreds, or even thousands, of endpoint devices and anticipate the risks that may arise. As a result, a centralised system is necessary. The SIEM solution allows companies to centralise documentation for monitoring and compliance purposes and predict security events by identifying vulnerabilities, calculating risks based on likelihood, and automating security responses.
Considering the rising cyberattacks, small and large businesses should embrace endpoint security and implement the best practices. Additionally, it’s important to remember that endpoint security requires constant improvement. Organisations must stay on top of the latest innovations and security systems to combat attacks with the best patches and solutions.