Freaky Fun Fridays with Technology: Endpoint Security
It’s safe to say that one of the biggest—if not the biggest—threats businesses face today is the risk of someone gaining unauthorized access to their computer network and all the mission-critical and sensitive information it contains. It’s a risk that can keep everyone from IT managers to company owners awake at night.
Fortunately, while cybercriminals are working hard to steal data or take control of systems in order to get ransom payments from their victims, security experts are working equally hard to block those efforts. In particular, they’re continually making advances in what’s called endpoint security.
What Is Endpoint Security?
Computer security software company McAfee defines endpoint security as, “The practice of securing endpoints or entry points of end-user devices such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices from being exploited by malicious actors and campaigns. Endpoint security systems protect these endpoints on a network or in the cloud from cybersecurity threats.”
In other words, endpoint security is about “locking the doors” that cybercriminals might use to access your computer systems. It’s critically important, because failing to protect your devices and network can result in:
- Data breach. An intruder gains access and obtains sensitive data. This could include everything from trade secrets, to employee information, to customer credit card data.
- Data loss. In this case, a cybercriminal’s goal isn’t so much to obtain information for their use, but rather to delete it so you can’t use it.
- Device performance problems. The more viruses, malware, etc. you have on your devices, the slower they’ll run. Plus, in the case of ransomware, an attack can render your computer systems completely inoperable.
- Violation of service uptime and other agreements. If your business is one that guarantees clients that your systems will be available a specified percentage of the time and a security issue takes you offline for an extended period, you risk violating the terms of your agreement, which can result in penalties or even lawsuits.
- Going out of business. It’s not unheard of for a significant security issue and its financial ramifications to actually put a small company out of business.
How Does Endpoint Security Work?
One of the great things about today’s endpoint security applications is that they do much of their work automatically. For example, security experts are continually identifying computer viruses as they are created and unleashed, and they make this information available to others. Then, security systems check these sources automatically and use the information to hunt for any viruses that match these descriptions.
This updating of “virus definitions” and system scanning can be set up to occur in the background, but it can also be initiated manually if needed. And the process addresses both files (like documents) and computer system memory.
The Evolution of Antivirus Software
While the description of endpoint security above focuses on computer viruses for simplicity, the fact is, antivirus software has evolved as the threats it addresses have evolved. Viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware… and the list goes on and on.
Consequently, terms like “anti-threat software” are becoming more common, since they encompass the many risks companies face. Plus, there are other types of unwanted software that can get onto devices and networks. Although they aren’t as threatening, you still want to be protected from them.
And don’t be fooled… Just because a manufacturer claims that its devices are inherently less vulnerable to cyberattacks doesn’t mean you can ignore the security of those devices.
Cybersecurity and Compliance
No business wants to be the victim of a cyberattack. However, in some industries, a certain level of protection is mandatory.
For example, organizations that handle confidential medical information are required to adhere to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) data security rules. And many other types of businesses have to meet guidelines specific to their industry.
So, it’s important to understand if there are any steps your company must take to ensure you’re in compliance with applicable rules and regulations.
Digital Security Best Practices
Even if you have the most advanced software protecting your company, it’s crucial that you consider the human aspect of security. Some best practices you and your employees should follow include:
- Create strong passwords and don’t write them down and store them near the device they apply to. That sticky note on your monitor with “abcd1234” is just an invitation for someone to try and login!
- Never click on links or attachments in emails unless you’re sure they’re legitimate. An innocent-looking link can launch a serious cyberattack. If you’re not sure, call the sender before clicking!
- Always lock your workstation when you leave your desk. This applies whether you’ll be away for hours or only for a quick bathroom break.
- Don’t allow anyone to “shoulder surf” within your workspace. Stop what you’re doing and ask how you can help them. If they persist in watching you work, that’s a major red flag.
- Provide regular security awareness training. You should never assume that “everyone knows” about computer security. Introductory training and periodic refreshers ensure that people have the information they need to help protect your company’s digital assets.
Endpoint Security: An Ongoing Challenge
It would be great if you could implement the right endpoint security measures and then never think about security again. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are relentless.
That means you should review how you protect your devices, network, and data on a regular basis. You should also stay informed about the latest developments in computer security, from the malware that’s currently making headlines to new digital security tactics.
If you have questions about the security practices we use, please contact Azence at your convenience.