Securing the devices and systems that access your corporate network has been an essential component of corporate data security policies for as long as the Internet has been around. Now, cellular-connected devices, remote operations demands, and IoT devices are joining the ever-growing number and variety of endpoint devices that require increasingly sophisticated approaches to the prevention and mitigation of cyber threats.
For business, this made endpoint security an even more pressing concern. With COVID-19 requiring more remote business connectivity than ever before, the need for effective endpoint security has become an urgent matter. While many businesses are still catching up with WFH and BYOD increasingly becoming the new normal, cyberattacks on endpoints are on the rise.
What is Endpoint Security?
An endpoint is any device or system that can connect to an organization’s internal network.
Once upon a time, that just meant computers physically connected via ethernet cables to company servers. Today it includes every mobile device, every remote desktop program, and every IoT device—surveillance cameras, POS terminals, sensors, and even lightbulbs.
Endpoint security, or endpoint protection, is the practice of preventing viruses, malware, data breaches, and other cyberattacks from impacting a network’s endpoints. Adequate endpoint security demands monitoring all connections to the network. It should also be capable of locking down threats without disrupting business operations.
Why is Endpoint Security Critical for Businesses Today?
Security isn’t a revenue-generating expense. This makes many organizations drag their heels when it comes to investing in it,—right up until the day their systems are breached or hijacked, and they’re in the news for getting hacked and exposing all of their customer data.
Right now, with up to 44% of employees working from home because of the pandemic and a 21% increase in IoT endpoints over last year, a lapse in endpoint security could represent a serious threat to business continuity. No business can afford to ignore or downplay that risk.
Regulation is also a significant driver when it comes to implementing and upgrading enterprise-scale security solutions. Regulators are well aware of the impact of cybercrime on both the local and global economy. In some areas, endpoint security isn’t just important—it’s mandatory. California and Oregon enacted security requirements for IoT devices this year, and other regions are likely to follow suit.
More companies than ever provide trusted network access to contractors, web applications, cloud services, and other third parties. This means hackers and fraudsters have many more opportunities to find poorly secured endpoints to launch an “inside the house” attack.
Individual solutions like anti-virus software are insufficient to stop these attacks. Neither are firewalls that exist to shield the network from outside threats. With cybercriminals using every technological tool at their disposal to gain access, companies need endpoint security solutions that address their specific vulnerabilities.
The Top 8 Endpoint Security Solutions for 2021
Securing endpoint devices, connections, and the data that flows through them often demands a multi-layered approach. It requires dedicated tactics for different types of devices, users, and use cases. Putting together a comprehensive solution that works may require you to select more than one vendor to serve all of your endpoint security needs.
Broadcom acquired Symantec last year, and they continue to offer the Symantec Endpoint Security solution for the protection of traditional and mobile endpoint devices.
Much like other solutions on this list, this product comes in the form of a (rather intrusive) agent that needs to be installed on the smartphone or computer it protects—assuming, of course, that the operating system on the endpoint device is compatible with the software agent that must be installed.
One upside of this type of solution is that it can prevent data leakage from some on-device attacks and monitor installed apps for integrity.
Cellular devices are particularly hard to secure, as they encompass not only a wide variety of mobile phones with different hardware and operating systems, but also IoT devices and cellular gateways. That’s why FirstPoint accommodates this variance by providing a holistic cellular connection security solution that is fully OS agnostic.
FirstPoint shields the identity of any SIM or eSIM-based device, protecting from both active hackers and passive eavesdroppers. One advantage is that it doesn’t require that an agent or other software be installed on protected devices, making it easier to implement and manage.
Battling relentlessly against Symantec is Bitdefender, whose solution excels in visually presenting cyber-threat risk across endpoints.
Bitdefender was a longtime provider of anti-virus solutions before branching out into endpoint security. Their product uses machine learning and behavior analysis to identify vulnerabilities and abnormal behaviors and displays its findings in a logical, easy-to-comprehend graphical format that makes it easier to apply human intelligence to the ever-evolving problem of cybercrime.
It’s worth noting that, according to Bitdefender users, the solution is somewhat lacking when it comes to centralized management, especially with large deployments. The management interface is described by users as “clunky”, and the system is missing the features necessary for collaboration between multiple administrators.
4. Check Point
One of the longest existing providers of network security solutions out there, Check Point offers not just one solution, but a whole suite to mix and match for various use cases. SandBlast Agent endpoint protection aims to secure Windows and macOS devices, while SandBlast Mobile detects threats on devices running Android and iOS. These tools use highly effective AI-based threat identification and anti-bot systems to stop attacks.
The suite also includes Capsule Mobile Secure Workspace, which essentially creates a VPN network between smartphones.
The main drawbacks of the Check Point solution suite are in the fact that it is that – a suite. It demands users install at least one agent on their smartphone and laptop, which can in turn create deployment and maintenance challenges. Moreover, the need for such an agent to enable functionality greatly limits the applicability of the solutions offered when it comes to alternative operating systems.
Sophos has been in the game for a long time and has a solid track record of delivering effective endpoint security solutions for computers and smartphones. Sophos Intercept X monitors for malware and exploits on your business networks’ endpoints, providing early detection that allows you to block, monitor, and fix your weak points in real-time.
For added fees, users can upgrade to solutions like Sophos MTR, which will make a response team available to assist you in handling threats and attacks as they happen.
SentinelOne focuses on securing PCs and smartphones even when they’re offline, with the help of a single AI-based software agent. This program monitors processes across all endpoint devices to identify threats from every possible vector and automate mitigation activities on compromised devices.
SentinelOne’s platform can deliver effective threat detection and insightful reporting with minimal impact on the end-user experience with an easily scalable, cloud-based solution.
Crowdstrike’s Falcon endpoint solution is a cloud-based solutions suite with a flexible subscription model for different business sizes and applications. The solution consists of an agent and an array of modular security software tools for certain devices.
Falcon Insight is its endpoint detection and response module, which provides continuous monitoring and immediate breach protection. Tools like the Incident Workbench allow for better post-event analysis to enable you to shore up your vulnerabilities more efficiently.
A relatively small newcomer to the endpoint security arena, Nyotron promises to reduce the workload on your cybersecurity team by automating threat detection and prevention.
Offering endpoint prevention and response as the natural evolution to endpoint detection and response, Nyotron facilitates prevention by providing more precise visibility into the activity around detected threats, and by deploying automatic protective measures against malware.
Using OS-Centric Positive Security, Nyotron’s solution (aptly named PARANOID) automatically whitelists trusted OS behavior and rejects everything else. This limits the system to a limited number of commercially available operating systems.
The End Point
Few businesses are going to have identical endpoint security needs. While companies of every stripe are connecting more devices and opening up their networks, they’re all doing it for many different reasons and in many different ways. For most, one-size-fits-all endpoint security solutions aren’t going to be very secure.
The best approach is to assess the devices and systems that make up your endpoints and choose the optimal solutions for those specific technologies. That ensures you’re getting thorough, focused, and cost-effective protection from cyber-threats.
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