With the rapid evolution of the modern-day workplace, and the growing popularity of BYOD, today’s employees comprise a combination of office-based, remote and hybrid workers who are increasingly using not only their business desktops and laptops, but their personal devices (endpoints!) as well to work from anywhere.
The cybersecurity nightmare only continues to grow. These mobile endpoint devices are no longer just Android devices and iPhones—think of the latest wearable watches, smart devices, voice-controlled digital assistants, and other IoT-enabled smart devices your employees might be using to access your company network.
Each of these endpoints is a doorway through which your employees can access your organization's sensitive data.
It only takes one successful cyberattack to create major disruptions in your operations, and more often than not, your employee’s devices are the easiest attack point for criminals. In fact, according to a 2020 study by the Ponemon Institute, more than 68% of organizations had experienced one or more endpoint attacks that successfully compromised their data and/or their IT infrastructure during the previous 12 months.
What Are the Most Common Cybersecurity Threats to Business Devices?
We know that an endpoint is any user device that can be connected to your network. But what types of cyberattacks are most likely to target these endpoints and wreak havoc with your data?
Here are five to start with:
1. Phishing Attacks
The most common and least sophisticated style of attack, phishing, uses fake text and email messages to gain access to your network. These messages appear to come from a trusted source (such as a bank, or other known entity) to trick users into providing personal information or downloading a piece of malware.
2. Outdated Patches
Constant patching might be one of the annoyances of modern computing, but they are a necessary evil to stay protected from evolving online threats. Unfortunately, many companies (even those on the Forbes 500) still neglect to hit the update button.
3. Malware Ads
Also referred to as malvertising, these attacks use advertisements that appear to be legitimate, and can appear across reputable websites and social media before being taken down. These days, more sophisticated malware attacks involve embedding malware in ads on websites, allowing them to run automatically without even being clicked!
Well-known websites that have acted as host victims include The New York Times, the London Stock Exchange, and Spotify.
Endpoint security acts as the front line defense for protecting all endpoints and devices from potential attacks on your organization.
4. "Drive-by Download"
The phrase "drive-by-download" is the name given to deceptive methods like fake system alerts and antivirus software notifications. While different in technique, these are similar to phishing in the fact that they rely upon user deception to work successfully.
We've all heard of ransomware. This is the famous malware that encrypts all of your data, blocks your access to it, and requires a ransom be paid before you can get it back.
In recent years, ransomware has evolved to require no user interaction and has gained the ability to infect every device on your network. This means one user clicking on a link in an email could lock down your ENTIRE database across the country.
The worst thing about ransomware is it can impact anyone at any time. Schools, hospitals, and even government offices are just some of the victims that have been forced into paying ransom to unblock their data.
Your Three-Step Endpoint Cybersecurity Checklist
It's clear that endpoint security acts as the front line defense for protecting your endpoints from introducing potential attacks on your organization. So what are the three basic elements you need to put in place-ASAP-to secure every endpoint that has access to your network and data?
Step One: Focus on Cybersecurity Detection with an EDR Solution
Preventing a device from being compromised is no longer the best strategy. With modern attack methods, it's likely that at some point, an endpoint device on your network will present a risk to your data. By increasing efforts to detect a threat with an Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solution, you'll be able to respond effectively before a single compromised device creates a major problem for your business.
How Does An EDR Solution Work?
EDR is a proactive approach to security that monitors your endpoints in real-time, while scouring your systems for threats that may have infiltrated your company defenses. EDR is an emerging, ever-changing technology designed to protect your data and offer extensive information on potential attacks. Your EDR service allows you to know if/when an attacker is in your network and detects the path of the attack as it happens. This allows you to respond to incidents in real time.
What To Look For In An EDR Solution
Endpoint protection is one of the most important parts of a multilayered cybersecurity approach. Choose a solution that's reliable, doesn't interfere with your systems, and lets you focus on your business. To decide which suits you best, do your own research and refer to reviews by established and reputable organizations.
Here are a few things to look for when you are reviewing Endpoint Protections Platforms (EPP):
Obviously, you want to select security software that is able to detect all the threats that enter your system. The hitch is... most malware is designed to evade detection! So, how can you determine the detection rates of solutions that you are reviewing? Review independent test results recorded by trusted experts in the field, with a proven track record like this one.
Incidence of false positives
It might seem like a false positive is nothing to be concerned about, but even one false positive can cause serious problems for your network. A false positive could have the effect of shutting down your system, or making some critical files or applications unusable. Each instance requires an investigation that wastes your valuable IT resources. Look for a product that does not record numerous false positives.
Make sure the security software you choose is compatible with your systems and existing computing resources. Pay attention to user complaints, particularly regarding system performance and connectivity. You should never have to live with system slowdown in order to maintain security.
These are not the only things you may need to consider when shopping for an EDR solution. Price and ease of use might be priorities for you, or maybe you need have compatibility concerns with your existing systems. No matter which solution you choose, make sure it meets your baseline requirements. This is not a decision you should rush; so take your time finding the right solution for your business.
Step Two: Provide Security Awareness Training for All Employees
One of the primary ways to detect threats from an endpoint device is to monitor the device and the user's behavior. According to the Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations report, 82% of all data breaches are caused by "humans," AKA employees.
That's why it is critical to make sure your employees are educated about phishing attacks and other social engineering techniques, and that they participate in ongoing security awareness training. Training them in simple security practices like regularly changing their passwords and setting up locking protocols and alerts can help thwart security breaches as well.
Step Three: Add a Layer of DNS Protection
DNS protection can add another layer of security protection between your employees and the internet. By filtering out unwanted content and blacklisting dangerous websites, By using DNS security both at work and at home, employees can avoid unnecessary risks and potential malicious attacks.
A robust DNS solution will offer:
Content filtering: Content filtering is commonly used by corporations to block unwanted content while requiring no software installation on the endpoint devices.
Malware and phishing blocking: Blocks out sites that may have malicious content, such as viruses or scams.
Protection against botnets: Botnets are becoming a more dangerous threat as the use of IoT devices continues to grow. This protection blocks communication with known botnet servers, protecting your device.
Advertising blocking: This form of content filtering blocks ads that may have malicious applications hidden inside them. Even if they are not dangerous, these ads can damage the performance of your system and reduce efficiencies.
Where Endpoint Protection Fits in Your Cybersecurity Strategy
Crafting an endpoint security plan is just a piece of your overall cybersecurity strategy.
There is no “one size fits all” approach that will be perfect for every business, and the complexity of your security needs and budget will definitely play a role in your decisions.
Make sure that you are putting the right pieces in place for your unique security profile, and talking with the experts at Ntiva can help you make the right decisions.