Every organization today allows employees to perform some tasks on mobile devices. It could be as simple as replying to an email from a cellphone or reviewing a document on a tablet. While this is great for your employee productivity, how do these capabilities influence your network, infrastructure, and data security?
Imagine a scenario where an employee clicked on a link that led to their mobile being infected. The first thing a cybercriminal will do is to monitor all applications and connections the employee uses daily. From there, it is only a matter of time before the bad actor attacks your business networks from your employee’s device. Preparing for these types of situations can improve your data security and prevent a cyberattack from an endpoint that your network previously deemed to be a trusted device.
Endpoint Security Challenges for Agile Workforces
Data protection is not just good for business, it’s required by law. Legislation like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) places all the onus on you to protect your employee, company, and customer information across your information landscape. What is worse is this landscape is expanding quicker than your data security personnel can respond. Threat alerts create response fatigue as reports of incidents are often false positives while false negatives go undetected.
To compound the problem, a multitude of new endpoint devices are accessing the network every day. From the Internet of Things (IoT) equipment, printers, smart displays, and sophisticated peripherals, to a variety of Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) with different operating systems and authentication capabilities. The complexity of securing your endpoints is becoming more difficult by the day. Here are five key challenges with endpoint security you’ll need to overcome.
1. Understanding the IoT Landscape
The rate of IoT connections is staggering. Consider the Ring Doorbell and how it transformed the home security landscape, only to be compromised and expose users to security flaws from a lack of encryption and no support for 2nd Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi Factor Authentication (MFA). The company has since included these features and now provides a more secure IoT platform to its users.
Estimates suggest that in 2020, more than 200 billion IoT devices will connect to information networks, making endpoint security a number one priority for every organization. Devices are susceptible to ransomware, cryptojacking, phishing schemes, and firmware exploits. IoT manufacturers (especially for systems not previously considered as part of the threat landscape) are often unable to deploy updated security protocols to address these new risks. Network segmentation and encryption can help you to improve your IoT security.
2. Innovations in Cybercrime and Malware
Innovation isn’t just the purview of enterprises and startups, cybercriminals evolve their attacks every day. Using what may be called Illegal Innovation, the sophistication of today’s malware can circumvent even the most advanced detection tools. Just because organizations are investing money in fighting crime, does not mean criminals are not investing the same amount of time to overcome your defenses.
The latest threats include fileless malware or Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS). These exploits can use native processes to run malicious code within a device. As there is no download of any software, traditional systems will not know about a compromised device. The only way to respond effectively to these kinds of malware threats is monitoring device and user behavior while implementing additional authentication protocols on the application (and process level).
3. Ransomware Puts Every Organization at Risk
Even a simple malware exploit is also an opportunity to deploy ransomware. If you can’t detect the initial breach, you can’t respond in time and that could create major repercussions for your organization. Ransomware presents the biggest risk due to its devastating effects on business operations. To protect against ransomware, employees should be trained to recognize phishing attempts, practice good cyber hygiene, and use 2FA whenever remote users are accessing sensitive information from company networks.
4. Overcoming Narrow Endpoint Security Policies
Regular patching of all connected devices needs to be a priority. Auditing the fleet of endpoint devices for known vulnerabilities regularly will ensure you can enforce a patching policy. If no security update exists for specialty equipment, consider segmenting the device pool from any operational network.
By identifying your entire endpoint threat landscape and protecting your most vulnerable resources, you can detect a threat and respond effectively. In one example, a breach that wasn’t discovered for eight months in 2019 eventually exposed 41.4 million patient records. Preventing breaches are becoming increasingly difficult, so having a business and data resilience plan in place is just as important.
5. Threats Go Beyond the Digital Landscape
Physical device security is just as important for every endpoint device (especially primary work stations and mobiles). Stolen devices led to 39% of data breaches, which could have been prevented with adequate hardware security. Partnered with 2FA and encryption, you can protect even a stolen device from compromising your data security.
Overcoming the Challenges of Endpoint Security
The challenges posed by an evolving digital landscape that depends on more real-time data will require a layered approach to improve your endpoint security. You need to maintain policies that enable a mobile and productive workforce, but data protection and regulatory compliance are just as important.
Endpoint security today requires a holistic approach that ensures you protect every connected device, especially those with elevated user permissions. Biometric fingerprint scanners can reduce the risks of unauthorized access on home computers or laptops. There’s also no need to compare and contrast solutions like endpoint security versus antivirus or firewalls. For data protection, it’s a case of the more controls you have, the better.
Adopting a Holistic Data Protection Framework
Every effective data protection plan starts with a pragmatic assessment of your threat perimeter. Endpoints by nature present a risk as they connect to your critical infrastructure while supporting your business operations. Elevating the protocols for network access from any unauthorized application can prevent malware threats from jeopardizing your networks.
With an expanding mobile workforce, the increased data sprawl, and rapid adoption of cloud technologies, the threat perimeter has never been larger. Your organization will need to address these challenges and one of your primary concerns should be endpoint security. Biometric fingerprint authentication is a convenient solution that integrates with FIDO and FIDO2 applications.
Building a strong foundation for your organization’s data security and protection starts with getting the basics right. Securing every endpoint in your business environment requires a 360° data security approach that also addresses compliance requirements and takes proactive actions now.
Building a resilient business requires a proactive approach to endpoint security, and Kensington can help. You can find out more about our range of data protection solutions.