Don’t let your endpoint become an entry point for cyber attacks
Focus on automation and visibility to manage, protect and secure your endpoint landscape
By Jayson Gehri, Special to ThirdCertainty
The consumerization of IT, the explosion of the mobile work force and, more recently, the Internet of Things are just a few trends that have emerged over the past decade that continue to redefine what an endpoint is and increase the number of devices an enterprise IT pro needs to manage and secure.
It used to be that an IT team working at a company of 200 people simply had 200 of the same computers running on the same operating system to worry about. Now, employees are given more choice and flexibility than ever to do their work, using a combination of two or three devices with access to sensitive company data both on and off the corporate network from virtually any location of their choosing.
In fact, Gartner estimates that in 2017, 2.3 billion PCs, tablets and mobile phones will be shipped worldwide, while 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use, all of which undoubtedly pose their own threats to corporate networks.
But while the definition and volume of endpoints have changed (and continue to change) over time, the fundamentals of managing, protecting and securing those endpoints have not. Let’s explore these fundamentals and how keeping them in check can help today’s IT professional prevent the endpoint from being the data breach entry point.
Gain centralized visibility
The first endpoint security fundamental I’d like to explore is gaining visibility. To put it simply, you can’t secure what you can’t see. This was true for the IT pro managing 200 PCs—back when endpoint management was simply “desktop management”—and remains true today.
The challenge for today’s IT pro lies in gaining centralized visibility given the sheer volume of devices and range of devices that need to be secured. To help, IT pros should look for solutions that allow a single member of the team to visualize the entire endpoint environment—from a standard fleet of Windows desktops or MacBooks to Chromebooks and smartphones, and even routers and switches—through a single, integrated console. This sort of comprehensive visibility of all network-connected devices can help IT and security pros quickly identify weak endpoints, like a device that has not been updated with the two-factor authentication requirement, and act accordingly to prevent opening the door to hackers or malicious software.
Automate what you can
One of the most powerful capabilities businesses of all sizes can take advantage of is security automation. Back in the 1:1 desktop-to-end-user ratio days, an IT pro would have to physically go from desk to desk to manually provision, configure, secure and update each computer. With the advent of desktop management, IT pros were able to start pushing these updates remotely to save themselves time and their businesses money, allowing them to focus on more strategic IT initiatives.
Today, there are even more sophisticated levels of automation when it comes to endpoint management that can save time and prevent attacks. Best-of-breed solutions can now scan all devices and identify security vulnerabilities like insecure configurations and out-of-date software. Update and patch scheduling can be automatically deployed from a central management console to all endpoints on your network, ensuring all devices are equally secure, with no weak points for malware to exploit. This is particularly helpful in avoiding threats like Layer 7 DDoS attacks, which are among the most difficult attacks to mitigate due to their replication of normal user behavior.
Corralling your business’s endpoints can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember that visibility and automation have been and always will be your friends, and you’ll be on the fast track to getting your lasso around the Wild West of endpoint management.
More stories related to device and endpoint security:
As mobile malware ratchets up, companies need better security for end-users’ devices
New security questions arise as businesses struggle to control BYOD
Convenience of mobile computing engenders risk