5 Steps Towards a More Holistic View of Endpoint Security
Manage and secure your endpoints by adopting smart, preventive security measures
Cloud computing, mobile devices, browser-based applications and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become indispensable to the way we work. Back in the day, transferring files to other departments meant sending them on thumb drives or via emails (which, frustratingly, never seemed to be able to support all file sizes). Checking your work email meant that...you were at work. The workplace today is so much faster and more agile than ever, which is a huge boon for productivity.
Obviously, remaining a viable player in essentially any industry today means adopting, and moreover embracing, these new trends. But it doesn’t come for free; each additional device, uploaded workload and application expands what security types call “the attack surface”, or the amount of available points from which an attacker can infiltrate your network. With such rampant sprawl, it’s almost a given that attackers will be able to find one vulnerability or another. And often, the very same tools that companies use to manage their endpoints add to the noise and complexity, further hampering manageability.
The real key to getting an upper hand in this game of cat and mouse is to get a comprehensive and transparent view of all the endpoints on your network. This is a daunting task to say the least because it means ensuring all employees are on the same page in terms of device usage and practices, but the results will speak for themselves. Here are some tips to help curb endpoint sprawl and begin to view your varied endpoints as one unit:
- Identify your attack surfaces - To fully understand the diversity of your endpoints, you’ll need a thorough audit of just what is on your networks. Remember when Tom in Marketing gifted the company kitchen with an internet-connected toaster? Guess what, that’s another device to add to your ever-growing list of potentially vulnerable endpoints.
- Reduce your attack surface where you can - With the knowledge that each connection or node makes your organization all the more vulnerable to attacks, it’s time to begin thinking about what can be successfully taken off the network. Sure, your printers, telecom system and computers must be connected to your network, as they are indispensable to functionality. But Tom’s toaster? Eh, not so much. Even overlapping security tools can create potential for infiltration, so take a long and hard look to see where you can draw the line.
- Establish and enforce policies - Create fully documented policies for BYOD and in-office IoT device usage, with user authentication and access profiles. Then be sure that these policies are implemented with built-in accountability. These policies will be the foundation of tracking and securing data wherever your users take it, and will help prevent users from creating additional vulnerabilities. For example, you may want to insist that your users keep sensitive data within the company’s secure data center when working with it from personal devices (e.g., using a secure remote access solution), rather than downloading it onto the device itself.
- Use the right security tools - As we said above, extra tools can create extra complexity and noise (and cause your costs to skyrocket!). The right combination of tools streamlines the noise so search out products that enhance end-to-end visibility and reduce risk. You can also reduce some of that noise and complexity by building a proactive defense-in-depth strategy that isolates potential browser-borne threats away from the endpoint in the first place. By implementing a secure remote browsing solution, you can cut down on the endless monitoring, patching and false alarms that come with detect-and-prevent endpoint security tools.
- Automate to ease processes of software deployment, patching and updating. This application management and control will improve not only compliance but also security, performance and availability, and block unwanted applications from running. In fact, in most cases it’s not really necessary or desirable to install applications directly on the endpoint in the first place. Instead, applications can be managed and updated once on the server and then delivered to endpoints using centrally managed browser-based access solutions.
As BYOD, the cloud, IoT and browser-based applications grow ever more prevalent, now is the time to take control of them before they become an untenable mess. Creating visibility and unity are the first steps towards a holistic, healthy and mature security posture.