“Endpoint” is a security buzzword if there ever was one — but that doesn’t make endpoint security any less important. Regardless of your acceptance of BYOD, regardless of the security of your network, and regardless of how well-versed your employees are in cyber hygiene, you must be engaged in endpoint protection. Otherwise, your business will be riddled with vulnerabilities that make a data breach almost guaranteed.
Fortunately, endpoint security isn’t difficult. In fact, in just seven steps, you can go from wide-open endpoints to endpoints harder than diamonds. Here’s your guide to easy, breezy, indestructible endpoint protection.
As much as you might want to depend entirely on IT to develop, enact, and maintain your security strategy, you simply cannot outsource every aspect of endpoint protection. Rather, true endpoint security relies on everyone in your organization, from you to your IT staff to all your other employees using the endpoint devices. It is wise to approach endpoint protection as a largescale initiative and include representatives from all levels and departments, so you can develop a strategy that protects and doesn’t impede performance.
2. Identify Endpoints
If you don’t know what you are protecting, you are going to have a hard time protecting it. Identifying your endpoints should be among your first objectives in developing strong endpoint security. While precise definitions differ, you can roughly understand your endpoints as any device that connects to your network and sends communications back and forth. Some endpoint software packages include network monitoring tools that help you identify known and unknown devices on your network, so you can recognize what endpoints need protecting.
3. Classify Data
Different types of data on endpoint devices are some of the biggest hidden challenges of endpoint security. In organizations that permit BYOD, an endpoint might contain a mixture of personal and business data, and the intermingling of these types can cause vulnerabilities as well as legal concerns. Early in your endpoint strategizing, you should develop a system for classifying data and determining what types of data will receive what types of protection.
For example, highly sensitive business information might be encrypted and only accessible on business-owned devices. Meanwhile, you can use virtual environments to segregate personal and business data on BYOD devices.
4. Manage Encryption
Speaking of encryption, key management is one of the most important steps of endpoint security. Insecure encryption keys register a security strategy as moot; without effective key lifecycle management, a business is unable to properly inventory its keys, ensure their integrity, and eliminate insecure keys while maintaining secure ones.
For many businesses, heterogenous key management is an ideal solution that allows organizations to utilize one solution for all keys. Using such a tool, you can develop a granular understanding of how keys are used, so you can more effectively guide keys through initiation, distribution, activation, deactivation, and termination.
5. Choose Solutions
Many business leaders mistakenly believe that endpoint protection is nothing more or less than antivirus software. Indeed, the best endpoint solutions do include comprehensive and advanced antivirus, but they also do much more.
As mentioned before, business endpoints should have monitoring tools that allow businesses to identify network connections and understand how devices are being used. Additionally, endpoint solutions should have encryption and sandboxing capabilities. Finally, the best solutions won’t only harden your endpoints; they will also integrate seamlessly into your broader security architecture. You must continue to collaborate with your IT team, management, and other essential decision-makers to determine which solutions are best for your business.
6. Control Access
Just as parents can control what their kids see online, employers can control the access of different users and devices. Ideally, your data categorization efforts will make your access control efforts simple: By assigning levels to different professionals or devices in your organization, you can allow access to different tiers of data.
Unfortunately, some organizations might find controlling access much more difficult. For example, if you have dynamic user information — like temporary involvement in sensitive projects — you will need a more agile access system. Fortunately, these systems are still relatively easy to enact and can work wonders for keeping your endpoints safe.
7. Determine Consequences
In the age of BYOD, your security is largely at the mercy of your end users. Despite your best efforts to establish invincible endpoints, human error will always remain a risk. Your employees could disable critical programs, delay updates and patches, and take other actions that threaten your data. Thus, you must develop and distribute a policy that explains consequences for such insecure behavior. This should encourage most employees to practice secure habits and keep your endpoints utterly unstoppable.