Years ago, planning and executing a cyberdefense strategy was much simpler than it is today. A big reason digital assets are harder to protect boils down to the endpoints on which they’re stored and accessed, which now includes desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That’s why finding a quality endpoint management solution is the key to keeping your company and its stakeholders safe.
Best Features of Endpoint Management Solutions
Endpoint management is a unique approach to cyberdefense — it places the focus on individual resources rather than broader systems and the entire infrastructure of an organization. However, a robust endpoint security management program combines other cyberdefense measures’ best features into one unified package.
These include but are not limited to:
- Simplification and unification of protections
- Protection across wireless and cloud networks
- Integration of required regulatory compliance
- Robust risk and vulnerability management
- Systematic cybersecurity incident management
By the end of this article, you’ll be well prepared to find the perfect endpoint management partner for your company. But first, let’s dive into precisely what endpoint management is.
What is Endpoint Security Management?
Endpoint management sometimes called unified endpoint management (UEM), evolved out of earlier cyberdefense programs focused on devices beyond just desktop computers. The prevalence of mobile devices, requires complex safeguards.
Other older systems, such as mobile device management (MDM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM), are designed primarily to safeguard phones, tablets, and smart devices.
Key differences between the three systems break down as follows:
- MDM focuses on tracking, control, and isolation of devices, typically company-provided.
- EMM builds in programs like bring your own device (BYOD) for company-wide control.
- UEM is the most comprehensive of all, including both mobile and stationary devices.
Beyond these baseline differences, endpoint security management offers significantly more protection than the earlier systems, primarily because of the features we’ll detail below.
Feature #1: Simplified, Unified Protection
The defining quality of endpoint security is that it accounts for all endpoints or internet-related hardware owned and used by your company. In addition, unlike other older systems, endpoint security unifies protection into one interface, ideally uniform across all phones, computers, and other protected devices.
For this same reason, it’s uniquely apt for architecture implementation.
Many companies take a piecemeal approach to cybersecurity — they hire staff and install controls based on current needs. A far more beneficial approach is to integrate security into the fabric of the company, creating and executing a robust plan.
An endpoint systems management approach is a hybrid systematizing the device-focused model and applies it across all your company’s hardware and software, tying them together.
Perimeter and Data Center Security
One of the most innovative endpoint management applications is a model that prioritizes data center security, beginning with the most important endpoints of all: your servers and storage.
A robust endpoint management solution focused on data centers enables optimal:
- Segmentation – When data is stored in a centralized location, it can be an easy target for hackers. Breaking it up makes compromising it significantly more difficult.
- Transparency – To keep your data safe, you need powerful visibility and analytical tools; you need information on systems and users to update in real-time to neutralize threats.
- Recovery – When hacks and other cybersecurity attacks occur, you need to be able to react, seize the event, and restore service immediately.
Your endpoint management should ideally prioritize the most attractive targets of cybercrime.
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Feature #2: Network and Cloud Protection
Another crucial area of cyberdefense endpoint management services is cloud security, a suite of controls and practices focused on cloud servers and computing. Once connected to the cloud, an individual endpoint is no longer an end, per se — it’s a potential path to another endpoint used by your company’s personnel, no matter their location.
Protecting the cloud requires protecting all devices connected to it. And there are many of them.
Cloud computing as an industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5 percent over the next half-decade, more than doubling from $371 to $832 billion dollars in value by 2025. As companies continue to shift work outside of the office itself, cloud technology will only continue to rise in prominence.
Identity and Access Management
The backbone of any cybersecurity system is ensuring that information is only accessed by users authorized to access it. In practical terms, this means protecting sensitive data with a user login system, at a minimum requiring a unique identity and password or passphrase.
But these simple measures are far from enough; effective endpoint management features much more robust identity and access management controls, including but not limited to:
- “Least privilege” principles, restricting access and use kind by business need
- Strong baseline password requirements, like length and complexity
- Requirements for regular, frequent updates to credentials
- Strict monitoring and regulation of user accounts
- A multi-factor authentication (MFA) protocol
A uniform portal for authentication across all endpoints can help to optimize both the efficiency and comprehensiveness of access management — and endpoint management in its broader reach.
Feature #3: Integrated Regulatory Compliance
One of the most important components of cybersecurity is compliance with various regulatory guidelines and frameworks, often depending on the industries in which your company does business.
Businesses in the healthcare industry must tailor their cybersecurity practices to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Those seeking contracts with the US Department of Defense must achieve Cybersecurity Model Maturity Certification (CMMC). Those who process credit card payments need to follow the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS).
Many companies need to follow multiple protocols at once.
Endpoint management integrates compliance advisory services across all devices at once.
Besides the fact that many frameworks specify endpoint security requirements, including protections for mobile devices, building your infrastructure around endpoint management simplifies implementation and mapping of controls across any number of frameworks.
Patch and Third-Party Risk Monitoring
Another hallmark of effective cybersecurity is a methodology for guaranteeing the fidelity of controls and practices. This involves patch management, an ongoing assessment of all hardware and software, and periodic reporting on (and reparative work of) any identified gaps or issues.
A robust endpoint-focused patch reporting approach requires:
- Onboarding and inventorying of all devices, user accounts, and software
- Monitoring user behavior on said devices, especially irregular uses
- Requiring and certifying compliance across every device
In addition, it’s not enough to monitor only the devices being used by your personnel. To keep your company safe, you’ll also need to integrate robust third-party risk management (TPRM) into your endpoint management. This extends monitoring and control to your network of vendors and strategic partners, vetting and onboarding their devices like your own.
Feature #4: Risk Monitoring and Mitigation
Moving beyond basic checks for proper security practices, endpoint threat management offers integration of robust vulnerability management across devices owned or used by your company.
Threat and vulnerability management involves detailed monitoring and analysis of hardware and software to identify, study, and ultimately mitigate risks before they materialize into attacks. Any strong vulnerability management system needs to index publicly available data, such as the Department of Homeland Security’s sponsored list of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.
But leveraging public resources is far from enough. To stay ahead of cybercriminals looking to exploit these vulnerabilities, your company needs to produce its own data and analytics. Thus, mobilizing every single device in the organization enables comparative analysis across similar devices with different user behavior and software (or different devices altogether).
Firewall and Proactive Web Filtering
One of the most common vectors of cybercrime is social engineering. Cybercriminals disguise viruses and other malware through inconspicuous links and emails, tricking personnel into downloads that can compromise their device and the whole company’s security instantly.
For example, consider these schemes commonly used by hackers:
- Water holing, in which hackers spoof a trusted website to abuse users’ trust
- Phishing, in which hackers disguised as professionals request sensitive information
- Spear phishing, highly targeted and specific phishing aimed at high-level executives
The first line of defense against these is firewall protection, which forms a barrier most suspect content can’t penetrate. But for the most advanced attacks, a more proactive web filtering approach, integrated seamlessly across all endpoints, may be required.
Feature #5: Real-time Response to Attacks
Even with airtight security measures, it’s impossible to eliminate the threat of attacks completely. Even the best-protected companies are attacked from time to time, so it’s imperative to have a plan in place to deal with cybersecurity incidents as they occur in real-time.
Enter managed detection and response (MDR), the final key feature of a robust endpoint management solution. A powerful MDR program needs to extend the threat and vulnerability monitoring detailed above into the realm of actual attacks. This entails seeking out irregular and unauthorized behavior across all endpoints and immediate action in the event of a breach.
One of the most essential aspects of MDR is root cause analysis (RCA), starting with a detailed breakdown of the lead-up to an attack. Independently of other threat analyses, your IT team needs to identify how the attack actually occurred and how to prevent any similar future attacks.
Cybersecurity Incident Management
The most immediate element of a broader MDR program is the fundamental methodology by which a company responds to and recovers from an attack. To that end, your endpoint management must incorporate incident response management across six main steps:
- Immediate identification of the incident, as it occurs
- Logging, inventorying, and cross-referencing of incident
- Investigation and diagnosis of the incident and impacted assets
- Assignment and escalation of pertinent resources for recovery
- Response and remediation of the incident; closure and process logging
- Reporting to executives and stakeholders; maintenance of client satisfaction
Applying this methodology across all endpoints may require the seizure of services to one or more devices. Whatever is needed to stop an attack, limit its reach, and recover as many resources as soon as possible (restoring service) is justified for the whole company.
What to Look for in an Endpoint Management Partner
If the features detailed above have convinced you that endpoint management is right for your company, all you need to do is find the right endpoint management solution and partner.
To that end, you should look for a provider that delivers all these features (at a minimum):
- A simple, unified system that protects all endpoints, especially the most sensitive
- Protections for your wireless networks and cloud servers, including ID management
- Comprehensive compliance advisory services, patch management, and TPRM
- Broader risk and vulnerability management, including proactive web filtering
- Programmatic monitoring for and reaction to incidents as they occur
Furthermore, any managed security services provider you contract should provide optimal return on investment by working with your existing IT infrastructure and tailoring their services to your exact needs and means. Look for a provider that’s a bargain without being a compromise.
Robust, Professional Cybersecurity Solutions
RSI Security is the ideal provider for endpoint security and any other cybersecurity solution your company needs. Whether it’s the straightforward controls detailed above, programmatic training and awareness for your personnel, a virtual CISO, or even a more niche suite of services like penetration testing and technical writing, our team has you covered.
Our talented team of experts has provided these solutions to companies of all sizes, across all industries, for over a decade. We know just how vital endpoint security is to every company regardless of industry they work in. To reap the benefits, an endpoint management solution can offer your company, contact RSI Security today.