Blog February 3, 2023

Endpoint Security. How important is it for your business?

By Bob Wilkinson, Member of the Board, Obrela Security Industries

Cyberattacks nowadays have become so sophisticated that simple endpoint protection systems cannot guarantee full security.

According to Statista, CISO’s globally state that endpoint security has been targeted by cyberattacks since remote working accounts at an average global rate of 58%. In addition, IT Security Wire magazine reports: Cyber-attacks have dramatically surged over the past couple of years as many organizations failed to take necessary precautionary measures. The exponential growth in their numbers is mostly driven by vulnerabilities found in endpoint devices supporting larger virtual workspaces.

It is crucial then to go beyond standard Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) protection by leveraging MDR (Managed Detection and Respond) services. Why? Most organizations, outside of large enterprises, lack the resources, skill set and training to effectively deploy endpoint agents. On top of this, they cannot effectively interpret endpoint security notifications of events to determine whether they are incidents requiring immediate, real-time response. By having an MDR solution provided by a company with expertise in managing the detection of and response to events, organizations can prevent or significantly mitigate service interruptions and loss of sensitive information.

It is this combination of EDR with MDR that creates the differentiation leading to better threat detection and response. Remember that every device in your network is a potential threat.

What is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint Security (or Endpoint Protection) manages devices within a network, or in the cloud, which are at risk of attack and compromise to prevent them from being exploited by malicious actors. The key actions in this process are the identification of threats and rapid response to remediate threats as quickly as possible. Moments matter! Furthermore, protecting endpoints from future attack is also important. Operations teams rarely have the time and lack the knowledge to effectively identify future threats and apply corrective actions to prevent attacks. MDR for endpoints is about 24/7 threat hunting, deep investigation and rapid threat response before organizations experience attacks. For the most advanced attacks, it is the 24x7x365 MDR Security Operations Center (SOC) Analysts working to prevent endpoint compromises who investigate and isolate any risks from endpoints on your behalf, who prevent avert or severely limit the damage and potential risk your organization might experience.

Endpoint security works, by examining every endpoint device file along with the processes and activities associated with it. The data is fed into a central system where IT and Security teams analyze the data searching for trends and use patterns which may reveal anomalous behavior.

Endpoint security integrates several artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to build a picture of ‘known’ legitimate device and user activity, allowing detection of anomalous device and user behavior to be flagged as potential security incidents.
When they are identified, an investigation occurs to determine whether these anomalies are malicious, and if so, steps are taken to mitigate the identified threat. This can happen across any kind of environment. This is a time-sensitive process for which near real time visibility and action is required. Providing crucial data to MDR SOC Analysts allows them to initiate actions which result in effective and efficient threat remediation.

Endpoint and the Employee

The areas where endpoint security is likely to be more effective differ depending on the infrastructure, the assets to be protected, the technologies used in the same environment and many other parameters related to items such as data classification, architectural model, environmental variables, business objectives/mission and more.

Endpoint solutions and MDR processes are designed to protect organizations from employees, including both malicious and innocent behaviors. Failure to adequately address either the endpoint implementation or the MDR monitoring and actions can result in damaging critical business processes and service interruptions, along with reputation risk.

The results of any malware attack, if not properly monitored , can be devastating. In one recent example Cloud security firm Inky found over 100 national Health Service (NHS) emails compromised, just among their own NHS customers – The real figure across all NHS emails is undoubtedly significantly higher.

Sadly, there are also incidents (albeit much rarer) where the intent of a user is malicious. A recent example of such an incident comes from General Electric Company, in July 2022, where a Canadian Engineer was sentenced to 24 months for conspiring to steal trade secrets. These are but a few examples of the real-world events which are affecting organizations which fail to take their endpoint (and overall cyber) security seriously.

Endpoint, Remote Work, and Connected Devices

It is important to understand that these examples, and the countless other security incidents like them, are increasing exponentially. This has been exacerbated as a result of Covid-19 Pandemic, which has reshaped many working practices. Most organizations enable remote working arrangements, providing employees corporate assets (endpoint/laptops/equipment), allowing them to perform their duties outside of the protected corporate environment, and even allowing the use of employee personal devices.

Cybercriminals know this: By June 2020, the FBI reported a 75% spike in daily cybercrimes, and over 20% of companies faced a security breach as a result of a remote working in the same year2020. However, not only remote working is to blame for this trend: The growth of IoT devices also has a role to play. There are currently around 7.7 billion connected devices in the world. This is expected to triple by 2030, with over 25 billion predicted to be in existence by then. Every single one of these devices which connects to a corporate network is a potential cyber security threat to organizations.

Critical to the business is the ability of endpoint security to work together with other controls offering:

  • Integration of the security stack
  • Easy deployment of end point security on both cloud and on premises
  • Managed detection and respond service
  • Threat hunting service
  • Zero-trust environments
  • And importantly, integration into organizations operational process workflows

Conclusion: Crucial, but search for more

Endpoint security is no longer a nice to have monitoring service, if it ever really was. Digital transformation, cloud applications and continued growth in remote activities are driving the need for a new class of Endpoint security. It is a crucial facet of any security stack. However, the best way to ensure your security posture in complex corporate environments is to deploy a reliable service that is proven and can protect the business end- to- end. Moving beyond simple use of Endpoint systems, protecting the business from cyberattacks targeting these devices also means that the people, process, and technology are cleverly integrated to prevent infected endpoints from spreading damage, and that ransomware and malicious files are isolated and quarantined, preserving critical business services.

Endpoint security is a 24/7/365 monitoring process, encompassing all locations where devices attach to networks. Combining Endpoint security with MDR services results in rapid human interaction and investigation with the ability to lock down and isolate any threat actors with timely remediation of infected endpoints. This ensures optimized endpoint defense, elimination of any blind spots, compliance and reduction in operating costs, eliminating risks to business continuity and success.

Organization’s cybersecurity strategy must deal with the security posture to:

  • Respond rapidly to cyberattacks
  • Contain the damages to the absolute minimum through quick actions to remediate and, where possible to
  • Eliminate the threat altogether

Partnering with an expert MDR provider can help you manage user access and device protection, integrating prevention, detection, response, and access control via the use of multiple cutting-edge technologies integrating with your existing operational process workflows, applying advanced threat-informed analytics and bringing the expertise of cyber security professionals to ensure your business success. This holistic approach to endpoint security can mitigate key security risks and keep your business and operations secure whilst providing the means to stay protected in real-time all the time, removing complexity and delivering the expertise to stop business-disrupting threats.

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