Upgrading Your Endpoint Management Security Strategy

The era of remote work was the catalyst for many workplace changes. As businesses navigate this landscape, IT systems are subject to a sudden increase in cybersecurity attacks. This further encouraged IT leaders to dive deeper into their security strategy and evaluate vulnerable endpoints. As per a study conducted by Ponemon Institute in 2022, as many as 43% of insider-driven data loss was reported by BYOD endpoints. This shows corporate data faces threats from these unmanaged and unprotected devices. Data is a valuable commodity, and an organization cannot afford to leave its endpoint system unmanaged. An IT security strategy to protect endpoints is necessary.

Reality Check

The number of devices to be managed by IT admins increased with the adoption of Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), and Corporate Owned Personal Devices (COPE). As IT admins struggled to enroll new devices onto the work perimeter, security began taking a backseat. Dependence on public Wi-Fi, compliance issues due to a globally distributed workforce, lack of VPNs and the need to resolve IT issues with no or zero downtime left businesses with more tools than solutions. The Ponemon Institute further mentions that an alarming 56% of attacks were caused by employee negligence, cementing the fact that businesses cannot blindly trust their digital assets with just any employees or contractors. While IT admins take the brunt, it is essential to take a systematic approach to security. It starts with sealing off vulnerable endpoints.

The First Step

As businesses evaluate technologies like AI, Metaverse, 6G and so on, they must consider endpoint security. For businesses considering an IT security upgrade, it must start with a systematic approach to endpoint security. This includes enforcing strong password practices, restricting unwanted apps, websites, disabling Bluetooth and external devices, restricting connection to public Wi-Fi, enforcing VPN rules, restricting access to personal accounts and maintaining strong password hygiene. According to the 2022 DBIR report by Verizon, about 81% of breaches involved stolen or weak passwords.

Along with the increased adoption of cloud-based applications and services, shadow IT is an area of concern for IT teams. According to Gartner, shadow IT refers to IT devices, software and services outside the ownership or control of IT organizations. Employees turn to personal devices or unauthorized applications to get their work done more quickly. While this significantly increases the attack surface for the admins to protect, it also opens the door to other issues like compliance violations, data leaks, possible breaches, attacks and more.

That is where the Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution comes in. UEM does the groundwork for your security strategy. A UEM web console will help IT monitor every device, application and configuration and manage them remotely. UEMs have integrations with other security solutions such as antivirus software, identity management software, Active Directory and much more, which makes it easier for the organization to streamline their device management process or employee management process.

IT Upgrade Checklist

When it comes to IT security, businesses often take a reactive approach rather than a proactive one. Oftentimes, this leads to a catastrophe. It is no longer enough if your password is eight characters long or contains special characters. Implementing a password management solution with zero-knowledge architecture and multifactor authentication (MFA) should be first on the list of those considering a security upgrade. With more connected devices, there exists the risk of unknown or malicious applications running on the corporate network. An IT upgrade needs to enforce a strict IT security regimen that involves patch management and application control to control vulnerable endpoints. Features that enable these processes include Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Mobile Threat Defence (MTD). An automated system of identification, detection and updates will follow. It is imperative to have a comprehensive strategy in place that identifies devices that are compromised or non-compliant and prevents them from accessing specific data, services or even the corporate network. A reactive approach to a compromised device would mean destroying the device or rebooting the device to factory settings. However, a proactive approach would include a security strategy that ensures proper backup-and-load once the device is cleaned and safe to use again.

The Way Forward

As they say, if you have not been hit with a cyberattack yet, you’re very lucky. It is essential to have a proactive approach to IT security with a comprehensive endpoint management strategy. That includes enforcing stricter security hygiene by managing and configuring devices, automating redundant security checks for improved performance and, finally, delivering a better user experience for the end-users.

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Apu Pavithran

Apu Pavithran is the founder and CEO of Hexnode. Recognized in the IT management community as a consultant, speaker and thought leader, Apu has been a strong advocate for IT governance and Information security management. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship and spends significant time working with startups and empowering young entrepreneurs.

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