Every device that employees use to connect to business networks represents a potential risk that cyber criminals can exploit to steal corporate data. These devices, or endpoints, are proliferating and making the task of securing them more difficult. It is therefore vital for businesses to deploy solutions that protect their cybersecurity front line.

 

What Is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security is the process of protecting devices like desktops, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets from cyberattacks. Endpoint security software enables businesses to protect devices that employees use for work purposes either on a network or in the cloud from cyber threats.

The modern business landscape is seeing an increasing volume of cybersecurity threats from increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals. Hackers launch a cyberattack every 39 seconds, with a daily total of 2,244 attacks. Endpoints are one of the most common targets, given the sheer number of them in use to connect to networks. According to Strategy Analytics insight, there were already 22 billion connected devices in 2018, which is predicted to rise to 38.6 billion devices by 2025 and 50 billion devices by 2030. As a result, Verizon’s threat report found that up to 30% of data breaches involved malware being installed on endpoints.

Every endpoint that connects to the corporate network is a potential entry point for cyber criminals. Therefore, every device an employee uses to connect to any business system or resource carries the risk of becoming the chosen route for hacking into an organization. These devices can be exploited by malware that could leak or steal sensitive data from the business.

In the face of this, it is imperative for businesses to deploy solutions that can analyze, detect, then block and contain cyber attacks as they happen. Organizations also need to collaborate with one another and utilize technologies that provide their IT and security teams with visibility into advanced threats, enabling them to quickly detect security risks and swiftly remediate potential issues.

 

Why Is Endpoint Security Important?

Endpoint security solutions play a vital role in protecting organizations from the increasingly dangerous threat landscape. Some of the key benefits of an endpoint security approach include:

  1. Protecting all endpoints: As employees now connect via not only a growing number of endpoints but also different types of devices, it is vital for organizations to ensure they do so securely. They also need to ensure that the data on those devices is secure and cannot be lost or stolen. 
  2. Securing remote working: The rise in device usage is linked to new ways of getting work done, such as bring your own device (BYOD) and remote working policies. These policies enable employees to be as effective as possible wherever they are and on any device. However, they also make it more difficult to ensure users are working securely, thus creating vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit. Protecting the device with an endpoint security platform is crucial.
  3. Sophisticated threat protection: Hackers are deploying more sophisticated attack methods that see them come up with new ways of gaining access to corporate networks, stealing data, and manipulating employees into giving up sensitive information. Endpoint protection is critical to securing the modern enterprise and preventing cyber criminals from gaining access to their networks.
  4. Protecting identity: As employees connect to business systems via various devices and from different networks and locations, the traditional process of protecting the business perimeter is no longer viable. Endpoint security ensures that the business puts security on employees’ devices, enabling them to work safely regardless of how and where they connect to corporate data and resources.

 

Endpoint Protection vs. Antivirus: What Is the Difference?

Antivirus software helps businesses detect, eliminate, and prevent malware from infecting devices. Antivirus solutions are installed directly on endpoint devices, such as laptops, PCs, network servers, and mobile devices. These solutions detect malware by scanning files and directories to discover patterns that match the definitions and signatures of a virus. They can also only recognize known threats and must be updated to detect the latest malware strains.

Endpoint security protection is fundamentally different from the approach of antivirus software. Instead of protecting an individual device, endpoint security solutions protect the entire business network, including all of the endpoints connecting to it.

There are several significant differences between endpoint protection and antivirus software. These include:

  1. Device coverage: Traditional antivirus programs are designed to protect one single device, such as the antivirus programs placed onto laptops to keep them secure. Endpoint security solutions, on the other hand, look to protect all of the connected devices across an entire enterprise network.
  2. Protection from threats: Antivirus solutions protect businesses from malware that is included within the businesses’ database of known threats. But sophisticated threats typically do not feature a traditional signature, which could leave businesses vulnerable. Endpoint security solutions take a more holistic view that protects businesses from threats such as data loss, fileless and signatureless malware, and phishing attacks in addition to known risks.
  3. Continuous protection: Antivirus solutions use a signature-based detection process to discover and protect businesses from potential risks. This means if a user has not updated their antivirus program, then they could still be at risk. In contrast, endpoint security solutions connect to the cloud and update automatically, ensuring users always have the latest version available.
  4. Advanced internal protection: Traditional antivirus programs can block malware, but they do not prevent employees from putting sensitive data on a USB drive and stealing it from the organization. Endpoint solutions offer greater protection from threats like data loss and data leakage through technologies like data encryption and data access controls. This ensures unauthorized employees cannot get hold of data beyond their access rights and steal or sell it. Endpoint security also utilizes advanced technologies such as behavioral analysis that enable businesses to detect threats based on suspicious behavior from external and internal sources. 
  5. Admin control: Antivirus solutions relied on users manually updating the software in order to keep it in line with new malware risks. But endpoint solutions provide interconnected security that moves the admin responsibility to the IT or security team. This removes the risk of human error putting end-users’ devices at risk.
  6. Enterprisewide control: Traditional antivirus solutions typically only notify a user when a threat is detected. The risk will then need to be analyzed and investigated in person by a security professional. But endpoint security solutions provide a centralized portal that enables admins to monitor activity, install, configure, patch, and update software, investigate any suspicious traffic, and resolve issues remotely. It also enables admins to carry out these actions to multiple endpoints at the same time, which speeds up issue resolution for employees and saves IT and security teams huge amounts of time.
  7. Integration: An antivirus solution operates as a single program that performs a specific function. But an endpoint security approach offers the important advantage of integration, whereby various solutions are included within a suite that can be easily integrated for more comprehensive security protection.

 

How Does Endpoint Security Work?

The main goal of any endpoint security solution is to protect data and workflows associated with all devices that connect to the corporate network. It does this by examining files as they enter the network and comparing them against an ever-increasing database of threat information, which is stored in the cloud. 

The endpoint security solution provides system admins with a centralized console that is installed on a network or server and enables them to control the security of all devices connecting to them. Client software is then assigned to each endpoint, either remotely or directly. With the endpoint set up, the software pushes updates to it whenever necessary, authenticates login attempts that are made from it, and administers corporate policies. 

In addition, the endpoint security solution secures endpoints through application control. This blocks the user from downloading or accessing applications that are unsafe or unauthorized by the organization. It also uses encryption to prevent data loss.

The endpoint security solution enables businesses to quickly detect malware and other common security threats. It can also provide endpoint detection and response, which enables the business to detect more advanced threats like fileless malware, polymorphic attacks, and zero-day attacks. This more advanced approach provides enhanced visibility and a wider variety of response options in the face of a security threat.

 

What Is Considered an Endpoint?

An endpoint can be considered as a device that enables an employee to connect to a corporate network. The growth in BYOD and other connected systems such as the Internet of Things (IoT) is seeing the number of devices that could potentially connect to a network increase exponentially.

Some of the more common devices that can be considered an endpoint include:

  • ATM machines
  • IoT-enabled smart devices
  • Industrial machines
  • Laptop computers
  • Medical devices
  • Mobile phones
  • Printers
  • Servers
  • Tablets
  • Wearables, such as smartwatches

Endpoints now extend beyond the laptops and mobile phones that employees use to get their work done. They encompass any machine or connected device that could conceivably connect to a corporate network. And these endpoints are particularly lucrative entry points to business networks and systems for hackers. It is therefore vital for organizations to consider every device that is or could be connected to their network and ensure it is protected. Furthermore, as the endpoints evolve and increase in sophistication, so too do the security solutions that protect them from being exploited. 

 

What Are the Components of Endpoint Security Software?

A firewall is a network security solution that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and decides whether to allow or deny access. Endpoint security protects the data on the device itself, enabling the business to monitor the activity and status of all its employees’ devices at all times.

Traditionally, firewalls were ideal for businesses that had all employees working from the same building and signing into the same network. However, with people increasingly working remotely or from home, a firewall no longer suffices as traffic no longer goes through the central network, which leaves devices vulnerable.

This also boils down to businesses protecting networks or endpoints. Network security enables businesses to stop potential security threats at the network level by locking down open ports, restricting traffic, and employing intrusion detection and prevention services. Endpoint security helps businesses keep the devices that connect to a network secure. By making endpoints the new network perimeter, organizations can prevent risks and detect suspicious activity no matter where employees are.

Selecting the right security solution depends on every organization’s individual situation and security requirements. Important factors to build into this decision include:

The number of employees: Small businesses may find a product that requires managing devices on an individual basis works just fine. But as they get larger, it can become more difficult for IT and security teams to manage each device in this manner. Therefore, they will gain huge efficiency by deploying a security solution that centralizes endpoint control.

Employee location: Businesses that have employees working from one central location may not experience any issues with managing endpoint access. But those with a disparate workforce, employees working from home, remote offices, or on the go will need an endpoint security solution that secures endpoints no matter where or when employees attempt to connect to their networks and resources.

Device ownership: The rise of BYOD has blurred the lines of device ownership. Employees increasingly use their own devices to sign in and out of business networks and need to do so securely. An endpoint security solution enables businesses to secure employees every time they sign in to their networks and monitor access at all times.

Data sensitivity: Businesses that handle high-value intellectual property or sensitive data will find that antivirus software does not suffice in safeguarding their data, as it only protects it from viruses. To protect themselves from data loss incidents that pose a huge financial and reputational risk, these organizations need to deploy endpoint security solutions. Doing so will help them protect their most critical data, meet compliance requirements, and pass their audits.

 

Difference Between Endpoint Security and Firewall

A firewall is a network security solution that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and decides whether to allow or deny access. Endpoint security protects the data on the device itself, enabling the business to monitor the activity and status of all its employees’ devices at all times.

Traditionally, firewalls were ideal for businesses that had all employees working from the same building and signing into the same network. However, with people increasingly working remotely or from home, a firewall no longer suffices as traffic no longer goes through the central network, which leaves devices vulnerable.

This also boils down to businesses protecting networks or endpoints. Network security enables businesses to stop potential security threats at the network level by locking down open ports, restricting traffic, and employing intrusion detection and prevention services. Endpoint security helps businesses keep the devices that connect to a network secure. By making endpoints the new network perimeter, organizations can prevent risks and detect suspicious activity no matter where employees are.

Selecting the right security solution depends on every organization’s individual situation and security requirements. Important factors to build into this decision include:

  1. The number of employees: Small businesses may find a product that requires managing devices on an individual basis works just fine. But as they get larger, it can become more difficult for IT and security teams to manage each device in this manner. Therefore, they will gain huge efficiency by deploying a security solution that centralizes endpoint control.
  2. Employee location: Businesses that have employees working from one central location may not experience any issues with managing endpoint access. But those with a disparate workforce, employees working from home, remote offices, or on the go will need an endpoint security solution that secures endpoints no matter where or when employees attempt to connect to their networks and resources.
  3. Device ownership: The rise of BYOD has blurred the lines of device ownership. Employees increasingly use their own devices to sign in and out of business networks and need to do so securely. An endpoint security solution enables businesses to secure employees every time they sign in to their networks and monitor access at all times.
  4. Data sensitivity: Businesses that handle high-value intellectual property or sensitive data will find that antivirus software does not suffice in safeguarding their data, as it only protects it from viruses. To protect themselves from data loss incidents that pose a huge financial and reputational risk, these organizations need to deploy endpoint security solutions. Doing so will help them protect their most critical data, meet compliance requirements, and pass their audits.

 

Advanced Endpoint Security Solution

Fortinet’s endpoint solution, FortiClient, enables businesses to strengthen the security of their devices by integrating visibility, control, and proactive defense. The solution ensures businesses can discover, monitor, and assess the risks facing their endpoints while ensuring all devices are compliant, mitigating potential risks, and reducing exposure.

FortiClient also proactively defends businesses from advanced attacks. It has tight integration with our Security Fabric architecture, which enables policy-based automation to contain threats and quickly control outbreaks. FortiClient is also compatible with Fabric-Ready Partners, which enables businesses to utilize third-party solutions that strengthen their security posture.

Discover how Fortinet can help your business take control of all your devices with endpoint security software.