A company’s endpoints comprise all the computing devices remotely connected to its networks. These devices are used by personnel to access the systems, applications, files, and other resources necessary for completing responsibilities. Having remote network connections creates efficiencies, but they also serve as preferred targets for cybercriminals and increase the company’s attack surface complexity. Endpoint security is critical to preventing cyberthreats from successfully targeting these vulnerabilities.
Why Your Business Needs Advanced Endpoint Protection
Companies need to install robust endpoint security and control protections to guard against threats targeting their computers, smartphones, and other internet of things (IoT) devices. Implementing robust endpoint protection relies on factoring three essential considerations into planning and execution:
- A firm understanding of what endpoint security entails
- The most significant threats that target your endpoints
- A comprehensive, framework-based approach that guides ongoing endpoint protection
What is Endpoint Security and Control? Why Does it Matter?
Endpoint protection comprises a range of risk monitoring, threat and vulnerability management, and incident response protocols focused specifically on endpoints. These efforts may be limited to all endpoints owned or managed by a company. Alternatively, they may extend to all endpoints that come in contact with enterprise networks, such as employee-owned devices used either remotely or on-premises.
In sum, it can be considered a security system that prioritizes device management.
Your company must monitor all connected devices to prevent harmful malware installations. As an initial line of defense, endpoint security includes baseline perimeter measures (e.g., firewalls or web filtering). Broader considerations include third party risk management (TPRM), which accounts for all the devices owned, used, or managed by your network of strategic partners.
The Reasons Endpoint Security and Control are Increasingly Critical
Companies need to safeguard their endpoints because they are the most numerous, diverse, and vulnerable physical assets that cybercriminals can target. In particular, citing a recent Ponemon study, the experts at CSO Online list five primary reasons endpoints are at risk:
- Decentralization of workplaces leads to gaps in security monitoring for personal devices.
- Negligence of endpoint threats across the workforce can lead to undetected breaches.
- Antivirus and antimalware programs are increasingly failing to mitigate endpoint attacks.
- Discovery of breaches is often delayed, escalating losses incurred before detection.
- Cybersecurity expertise and resources are in short supply within internal IT departments.
Working with a managed security services provider (MSSP) is the most efficient way to address all of these concerns. RSI Security will help you mitigate even the most severe endpoint threats.
The Risk of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policies
Bring your own device (BYOD) policies allow a company’s employees to use personal devices for work activity, a trend that has increased over recent years. While companies can significantly reduce hardware expenditures by adopting such a policy, doing so complicates your attack surface and exponentially increases cyberthreat vulnerabilities.
If your company is considering adopting a BYOD policy, consult with a cybersecurity expert to ensure your network remains protected. A data breach will cost your company much more than the hardware savings reaped by a BYOD policy that doesn’t account for sufficient endpoint security.
Fileless Attacks and Other Advanced Endpoint Security Threats
Without sophisticated endpoint protection, advanced endpoint threats can render well-designed security systems inoperable. The growing prominence of “fileless” endpoint attacks victimizes even well-protected companies. These attacks are designed to compromise devices without occupying nor leaving behind any files, which prevents most traditional endpoint monitoring and security systems from stopping them.
Per one 2019 study from NC State, most companies have been prioritizing these threats, despite skepticism that they are possible to stop. Of the 665 participants surveyed, 77 percent indicated fileless attacks compromised their systems, compared to 23 percent for file-based attacks. Advanced endpoint attacks are why companies need advanced endpoint protection.
HITRUST CSF Advanced Endpoint Protection Standards
Regulatory compliance and framework implementation is an essential component of any organization’s cyberdefense architecture. Depending on the nature of your company, you may need to comply with industry-based, location-specific, or other standards. Beyond minimum requirements, some regulatory frameworks provide unified, comprehensive guidance on initiatives such as endpoint security—as is the case with the all-encompassing HITRUST CSF.
The HITRUST framework incorporates endpoint security as one of its 19 assessment domains that cover all elements of cybersecurity. Its 14 Control Categories house 49 Objectives and 156 Specifications, spanning requirements from HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and other regulations.
Three HITRUST CSF Control Categories correspond most closely to endpoint security in particular:
- Control Category 07.0
- Control Category 08.0
- Control Category 09.0
Endpoint Security in HITRUST CSF Control Category 07.0
HITRUST CSF Control Category 07.0 is titled “Asset Management.” Both of its Objectives and all corresponding References directly relate to endpoint security. These break down as follows:
- Objective Name 07.01 – Responsibilities for Assets
- Control Reference 07.a: Establish an inventory for all physical and virtual assets.
- Control Reference 07.b: Document ownership status and other asset properties.
- Control Reference 07.c: Clearly define acceptable use and access conditions.
- Objective Name 07.02 – Classification of Information
- Control Reference 07.d: Classify information by value, sensitivity, and criticality.
- Control Reference 07.e: Develop a labeling and handling scheme for all assets.
These Control References establish an asset inventory, which all assessment protocols will reference to determine the status of all endpoints, all software installed upon them, and more.
Endpoint Security in HITRUST CSF Control Category 08.0
HITRUST CSF Control Category 08.0 is titled “Physical and Environmental Security.” It houses two Objectives, the second of which most closely aligns with endpoint security:
- Objective Name 08.02 – Security of Equipment
- Control Reference 08.g: Protect all equipment against all environmental threats.
- Control Reference 08.h: Protect utilities to prevent disruptions from outages, etc.
- Control Reference 08.i: Protect cables to ensure seamless power and data flow.
- Control Reference 08.j: Maintain all physical and virtual updates to all equipment.
- Control Reference 08.k: Safeguard all equipment off of the company’s premises.
- Control Reference 08.l: Remove data from equipment prior to reuse or disposal.
- Control Reference 08.m: Ensure proper authorization prior to reuse or disposal.
These Control References establish a set of procedures for monitoring all equipment that makes up and supports a company’s entire network of internal, external, and miscellaneous endpoints.
Endpoint Security in HITRUST CSF Control Category 09.0
HITRUST CSF Control Category 09.0 is titled “Communications and Operations Management.” It’s one of the most robust Categories, comprising ten distinct Objectives and 32 References. Of these, three Objectives specifically correspond most directly to endpoint security. These include:
- Objective Name 09.04 – Protection Against Malicious Code
- Control Reference 09.j: Prevent malicious code from being installed on devices.
- Control Reference 09.k: Authorize all installation of mobile code on all devices.
- Objective Name 09.07 – Handling of Media Devices
- Control Reference 09.o: Document protocols for removable media management.
- Control Reference 09.p: Implement protocols for disposal of removable media.
- Control Reference 09.q: Establish protocols for handling all data and files.
- Control Reference 09.r: Prevent all improper access to system documentation.
- Objective Name 09.08 – Safe Exchange of Information
- Control Reference 09.s: Define policies to control the exchange of information.
- Control Reference 09.t: Establish data exchange agreements with third parties.
- Control Reference 09.u: Monitor and restrict access to physical media in transit.
- Control Reference 09.v: Protect all messaging across all hardware and software.
- Control Reference 09.w: Protect information shared internally across systems.
These Control References, along with the rest of Control Category 09.0, establish protocols for securing communications, in which endpoints come into contact with risks outside the company.
Safeguard Your Endpoints to Secure Your Company
Endpoint security is critical for companies because of the many threats that companies’ endpoints can invite, such as the potential for “fileless” attacks. For baseline perimeter protections, consider implementing threat vulnerability management and incident response. Third party risk management services will provide even more robust security measures.
Companies should also consider HITRUST implementation to mitigate endpoint threats, which unifies endpoint security measures from various regulatory frameworks into one, comprehensive suite.
RSI Security will help your company implement HITRUST and rethink its endpoint security—contact us today!