What is it?
A subset of cybersecurity that protects networked devices, such as smartphones and medical equipment, that are usually accessed by an individual user or group.
Why is it important?
Endpoints are a vulnerable point of entry for breaches. Because of the large number of connected devices available and the wide diversity of types, endpoints are difficult to manage and keep vulnerabilities patched.
Why does a business professional need to know this?
Endpoint security provides the first line of defense against malware being introduced into a network. Proper endpoint vulnerability management reduces the available attack surface and helps keep the entire network secure.
Business professionals need to know about endpoint security because they often manage one or more endpoints (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.). Therefore, they are responsible for ensuring the following:
- Device software and firmware is up to date
- Devices are protected with passwords or other secure controls
- Devices are regularly backed up
- Devices are regularly scanned for viruses and malware
Cybersecurity specialists need to understand endpoint security in relation to other forms of security such as network or application security. Proper endpoint configuration and access control policies should hamper an intruder’s ability to traverse a network and gain access to more sensitive data or to obtain escalated network privileges. Specialists should also ensure that security measures are easy to follow and do not put an undue burden on users.
Endpoints can potentially move from one physical location to another and possibly access less secure networks such as airport or hotel wifi networks. As a result, endpoint security that travels with a device provides the first line of defense against malware being introduced into the network. Endpoint security is most effective when integrated with other forms of security.
- (FedTech 2017) Why Agencies Need to Protect Their Endpoints, and Not Just Their Networks: FedTech Magazine (2017). Discussion of the need for endpoint security and why protecting users from hackers while they use smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices in the field is critical to secure networks from cybersecurity attacks.
- (Matteson 2017) Report: Companies are wasting massive amounts of money on ineffective security solutions: Matteson, Scott (2017). TechRepublic. Insights and costs of insecure endpoints and strategies for protecting systems from cyber threats.