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Endpoint Security: Working, Features, Importance and Benefits

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By: Divya Bora

January 20, 2022

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WHAT IS ENDPOINT SECURITY?

Before discussing endpoint security, let's first understand what endpoints are. An Endpoint is defined as a device that acts as a physical endpoint to a network and can connect to an organization's network from outside its firewall. Examples include desktops, mobile phones, laptops, printers, IoT devices, and Point Of Sale(POS) systems. Organizations often utilize these endpoints to ensure their business processes run smoothly, but hackers exploit them to create entry points for their malicious tasks.

Endpoint security is defined as the practice of securing entry or endpoints of the end-user devices(that are the organization's perimeter) on a network or cloud from potential cybersecurity threats. These entries or endpoints act as access points that malicious attackers can exploit. Endpoint security is viewed as a cybersecurity frontline and is one of an organization's first tactics to secure its networks.

HOW DOES AN ENDPOINT PROTECTION PLATFORM WORK?

Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP), also known as Endpoint Security, is a term used to define security managed centrally to protect the organization's endpoints like mobile devices, laptops, servers, and workloads from potential cybersecurity threats. EPPs operate by examining system activities, files, and processes occurring within the organization for any malicious or suspicious indicators.

So endpoint protection is useful for administrators as it provides them with a centralized management console that will connect them to their organizational network.

FEATURES OF ENDPOINT SECURITY PLATFORM

The most common features that endpoint security comprises are:

1. Secure Email Gateways- This feature of the endpoint security platform continuously checks all the incoming and outgoing emails for any suspicious element to block them from being opened and delivered to ensure safety. Hackers mainly send phishing emails to gather information or use them as carriers for their malicious programs wrapped within attachments and can put the organizational network at risk if executed and may even lead to system compromise.

2. Endpoint Detection and Response(EDR)- This feature of the endpoint security platform is used by organizations utilizing machine learning, cloud technology, or artificial intelligence. This examines all the applications entering or exiting the network points and gathers processed data using artificial intelligence to provide feedback. Due to continuous device and network monitoring, the endpoint security platform can detect threats like ransomware and malware beforehand, gathering threat intelligence to minimize the damage.

3. Endpoint Encryption- This feature of the endpoint security platform uses end-to-end encryption while the data is being transmitted to ensure data security. These platforms use encryption to secure shared information and ensure access is only granted to authorized entities. Encryption eliminates the need to physically transfer data and ensures higher safety, preventing data exposure or theft.

4. Application Control- This endpoint security platform feature monitors all application activity to grant or restrict permission for that application on the user's device. It uses blacklisting, whitelisting, and graylisting to grant access and usually blocks third-party user access to secure the organization's applications and devices. Since the endpoints are constantly monitored for any malicious entity's entry, it prevents data from being physically transferred over other devices.

5. Browser Isolation- This feature is used to prevent and protect from browser-related threats by detecting and destroying any dangerous web browser codes. It uses the VPN network functionality to form an isolated local environment for safe browsing and redirects to void local network to any threatful external element. All the browsing data is erased when the session ends, as browsers are often susceptible to zero-day attacks and malicious scripts.

6. URL Filtering- This feature of the endpoint security platform is used to monitor and filter the web traffic so users won't be able to access any dangerous websites or download suspicious data from the internet. This allows the users access to only the trusted websites and blocks the suspicious ones. It also assists organizations in implementing their security policies and remotely controlling the users.

7. Cloud Security- This endpoint security platform feature increases cloud infrastructure security. Since organizations are shifting to the cloud, their endpoint devices have an extended access area, and any vulnerabilities of the cloud infrastructure can lead to the compromise of the organization's sensitive information and assets. So endpoint security secures all the user accounts and devices to prevent potential security breaches.

8. Network Access Control- This feature manages network security within the organization. They implement strategies using a set of network protocols to secure access for networking devices. They are responsible for granting access to devices and users within the organizational network and assist in implementing network security policies for the communications. They also use switches, firewalls, and routers that operate with end-user equipment used for computing like servers.

9. Antivirus- This feature of the endpoint security platform is the most basic form of protection an organization can deploy on their end devices. Antivirus is responsible for detecting and eliminating malicious applications as it scans for files with signatures and patterns resembling that of malware. To ensure endpoint security, they also detect network threats across all end-user devices and client servers. They have a cloud server that dynamically updates all known threats and has an updated database for faster detection of incoming threats. They provide the admin remote access once a threat is detected to resolve the issue instantly.

10. Sandboxing- This feature creates a virtual environment to identify people's intent through the interface that resembles the original user interface. Any hackers trying to access the interface with malicious intent will be redirected to the sandbox environment. This is used to prevent zero-day attacks by creating a safe space, and the original system space remains secure.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Endpoint security is essential because every endpoint in an organization may serve as an entry point for an attack. The number of endpoints increases day by day as we have shifted to remote work due to the pandemic. It is a must to protect against endpoint attacks as it is the point where humans and machines intersect. Endpoint Security helps us protect our assets from hackers in the following ways:

  • Monitor an application's activity.

  • Securely exchange sensitive data between partners and vendors. Prevent third-party applications from connecting to the devices using various security procedures and comprehensive security.

  • Alert and monitor network security in case of endpoint anomaly.

  • Protect organizational devices and networks, providing better flexibility and functionality.

BENEFITS OF ENDPOINT SECURITY

Some of the benefits of endpoint security are:

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  • Reduced security costs: An organization can save its financial resources by using a centralized security system to eliminate the need to hire an IT security team or develop an individual security system for various devices.

  • Virtual safe environment: This creates a local user interface that resembles the original applications, but it is null and void. It uses a sandbox that secures the organizational servers or devices and will redirect the threats if there is a security breach.

  • Increased visibility: Endpoint security is a system for individual devices and network or data flows between them. It provides the users' network visibility as applications are continuously monitored.

  • Better UX experience: As excess security procedures cause inconvenience to users, endpoint security monitors the applications and user behavior so that the users don't go through too many security processes, ensuring a smooth experience.

  • Data Loss Prevention: Database compromise causes severe damage to a company's business and reputation in the market as its the most valuable asset for any organization. Endpoint security secures the database, keeping it safe from theft by enabling end-to-end data encryption.

  • Dynamic updating: If there is an update in the cloud, it is instantly reflected in all devices and networks connected to it. Endpoint security systems help ensure proper security of all devices using the cloud's resources and power.

  • Unified platform: Endpoint security acts as a single security system that connects all devices or servers. To counter zero-day and multivector threats, the endpoint is dynamically updated. This is better than installing individual security solutions on each device.

  • Enhanced Productivity: Endpoint security can significantly increase an organization's productivity as it makes sure all the files are available and secure at all times. It also assists employees in handling the time-consuming issues that occur in the organization.

  • Simplified Management: Endpoint security, when deployed virtually, can lead to seamless endpoint management, and the organization can focus on their business instead of utilizing resources for device management.

Endpoint Security Fundamentals is a course designed to make freshers understand what endpoint security is and better understand the above-mentioned topics. The Intermediate Endpoint Security course is designed for experienced users to understand endpoint security as they are thorough with the basics. Readers interested in knowing how to secure VPN as they are a part of endpoint security too can refer to End User VPN Security. To test their endpoint security skills, users can refer to End Point Skill Assessment for hands-on training.

REFERENCES

  1. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.varonis.com%2Fblog%2Fendpoint-security%2F&psig=AOvVaw2AWV5a90yVelyduGruFkaR&ust=1640199297390000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAwQjhxqFwoTCNio4OXI9fQCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAY(Image 1)
  2. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.enterprisesecuritymag.com%2Fnews%2F3-exclusive-benefits-of-endpoint-security-nid-2104-cid-16.html&psig=AOvVaw2QZ1LedHZ3w-Mg2BxDxvMI&ust=1640257093315000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAwQjhxqFwoTCOj7yJCg9_QCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAL (Image 2)
  3. https://www.forcepoint.com/cyber-edu/endpoint-security
  4. https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-in/security-awareness/endpoint.html
  5. https://learn.g2.com/endpoint-protection
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