Endpoint Security Best Practices

Ensuring your IT infrastructure is protected against external threats has never been more complicated than it is today. The endpoints of today's enterprise networks are radically different than they were just 10 years ago. While most enterprises use a combination of firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs) and intrusion detection/prevention (IDS/IPS) systems to limit access to internal networks, today's computing environments are becoming increasingly mobile. Consequently, endpoint protection poses one of cybersecurity's greatest challenges.

Endpoint devices serve as a tempting target for bad actors. Not only do endpoints potentially offer cybercriminals access to sensitive information in their own right, these devices also act as the gateway to more significant targets such as network servers, databases and applications. Because the biggest threat to these endpoints are known vulnerabilities, servers and employee devices are targeted more often than any other part of the IT infrastructure. Worse yet, seven out of 10 organizations report their endpoint security risk has increased significantly in the past year.

As cloud servers and remote devices become increasingly popular, the number of endpoints in a company’s infrastructure has grown exponentially — and threats are growing increasingly sophisticated. We’ve highlighted a number of best practices for endpoint security below.

Inventory Audit

The first step of protecting any endpoint involves identifying and defining the workstations and security groups that comprise the endpoints. Groups allow you to more easily manage systems updates, and they should be configured in a way that makes sense for your organization — whether by department or location.

For strong endpoint security, you need a complete and continuously updated inventory of these devices, including PCs, laptops, IoT wares and peripherals. Cataloging all of these endpoints and capturing all of their details gives you complete visibility into all of your endpoints, their hardware specs, installed software, locations, users, vulnerabilities and configurations. Without the ability to effectively monitor your vulnerability, ensuring the security of your infrastructure is a hopeless endeavor.

Implement Access and Identity Management, Multifactor Authentication

Network Access Control (NAC) strives to unify endpoint security solutions such as user assessments, system authentication, antivirus and intrusion prevention to ensure critical data is restricted to employees permitted to access that information. By controlling access to a network, access and identity management dictate where users and devices can go on a network and what they can do, enhancing endpoint security by preventing team members from accessing files they’re not authorized to touch. Additionally, multifactor authentication (MFA) could also help reduce the chance of a successful attack. Today, MFA is rather practical, with fingerprints, facial scans, etc. Organizations can no longer rely exclusively on usernames and passwords.

Setting enhanced restrictions around access, identity and location in concert with multifactor authentication will help secure privileges and mitigate potential risks.

Keep OS Up to Date, Apply Patches ASAP

Today, most cyber attacks focus on endpoints as the paths of least resistance, and the majority of breaches exploit known vulnerabilities with available patches. As you know, a vital component of enterprise security is patching. Patch all systems. Patch them now. And when you finish patching, continue patching some more.

While delivering updates to all users and doing so quickly can significantly challenge some businesses, nearly half of IT pros surveyed at the 2016 RSA Conference identified endpoints as their greatest security risk. Unfortunately, countless companies are still using a manual process, patching thousands of endpoints across an infrastructure — an exceptionally time-consuming endeavor. Automating your patch management process is the best way to effectively protect endpoints.

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Experience modern, cloud-based patch management today with a 15-day free trial of Automox and start recapturing more than half the time you're currently spending on managing your attack surface. Automox dramatically reduces corporate risk while raising operational efficiency to deliver best-in-class security outcomes, faster and with fewer resources.