Securing Endpoints: 6 Best Practices to Eliminate Blind Spots

Securing Endpoints: 6 Best Practices to Eliminate Blind Spots

In today’s age of widespread device collaboration, the number of endpoints within an organization is often enormous.

On top of this, Endpoints are now among the most preferred targets for an attacker trying to gain initial access to a corporate network.

Many businesses often overlook hardening the security of their endpoints, which can have serious financial implications in the event of a cyberattack.

Some organizations try to mitigate this challenge by implementing a disparate set of endpoint management solutions, but this, too, introduces its own challenges, which can prevent them from effectively managing their endpoints.

Endpoint security serves as the first line of defense against cyberattacks for businesses.

Organizations must prioritize protecting and securing their endpoints as the majority of attacks originate from endpoints.

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, respondents experienced an average of five attacks on endpoints in 2022, the cost for these averaging a combined $1.8 million.

Businesses of all sizes should adhere to a robust endpoint security checklist to ensure comprehensive protection.

This article will actively explore six essential components that organizations should focus on.

Endpoint Security Best Practices

Endpoint Security Best PracticesUse a robust security and malware protection system:Use a strong security and malware protection systemInstall a reputable endpoint security system that can protect against viruses and malware. Update the software regularly and turn on real-time checking to find and get rid of malicious software.Update your hardware and softwareAll endpoints should have their operating systems, apps, and firmware updated regularly to fix security holes. To make sure updates happen on time, set up automatic updates or use a centralized patch control system.Implement strong access limitsUse strong password policies and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security. Only let authorized people handle administrative functions.Enable full-disk encryptionEnable full-disk encryption on endpoints to protect data in case it is stolen or lost. Encryption makes sure that even if the device is stolen, the data can’t be read by people who shouldn’t be able to.Enable a FirewallTurn on and set up firewalls on endpoints to control how network data comes in and goes out. This helps stop people from getting in without permission and blocks links that could be harmful.Use Web FilteringUse web filtering tools or content filtering solutions to block access to websites that are harmful or not suitable. This helps stop malware from getting on your computer and saves you from phishing attempts.User education and trainingGive your workers regular security training to teach them about common threats, phishing, and the best way to handle sensitive data. Encourage everyone in the company to think about security.Use application whitelistingUse application whitelisting to make sure that only approved and authorized apps can run on endpoints. This makes it harder for bad or illegal software to run.Enable encryption on mobile devicesEnable encryption on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to protect data when they are not being used. Also, use mobile device management (MDM) solutions to make sure security policies are followed and to control and, if necessary, wipe devices from a distance.Back upBack up and keep an eye on endpoints to make sure that important data on endpoints is backed up regularly so that it can be recovered in case of data loss or ransomware attacks.Use network segmentationDivide your network into sections and separate endpoints based on their jobs and levels of sensitivity. This lowers the damage that a compromised endpoint could do and stops threats from spreading laterally.Perform normal security checksDo vulnerability analyses and penetration tests to find out where your endpoint security is weak. Take care of any weaknesses or gaps that were found during these exams.Develop an incident reaction planMake a detailed plan for how to handle an event that tells what to do in case of a security incident or breach. Test the plan often and make changes to it to make sure it works.Monitor and log endpoint activities.Use centralized logging and monitoring tools to track and analyze endpoint activities. This helps determine possible risks and what happened when security was broken.Review and update security policiesReview and update your company’s security policies to deal with new threats and changing business needs. Make sure that all workers understand the rules and follow them.

Here’s a rundown on the top six considerations

1. Maintain an inventory of endpoints

One of the fundamental steps in Endpoint Security Best Practices is visibility on all endpoints plugged into the network.

Businesses should actively maintain an inventory of all endpoints, assess the applications they are running on and evaluate their usage.

An important aspect of having an up-to-date inventory is meeting the requirements of various compliance frameworks and industry standards.

Organizations can identify unauthorized or vulnerable endpoints by deploying automated tools and conducting routine audits, lowering the risk of potential security breaches.

2. Proactively detect vulnerabilities

Statista reports that data breaches exposed over 6 million data records worldwide in the first quarter of 2023, highlighting the immediate necessity for businesses to prioritize vulnerability scanning.

With the alarming increase in data breaches, visibility into security exposure is essential to stay ahead of cyber threats and safeguard organizational data.

A vulnerability scanner capable of identifying and remediating vulnerabilities is an indispensable tool for organizations, providing valuable insights into the endpoints that require immediate attention.

Organizations can identify vulnerabilities promptly by enhancing their defenses and preventing data breaches.

3. Avoid becoming a soft target

Keeping endpoints up to date with the latest security patches is crucial to minimize vulnerabilities and increase the efficiency of IT operations.

Businesses need to ensure that patching happens on time, as unpatched endpoints often serve as easy targets for attackers.

Large organizations often utilize multiple third-party applications and operating systems. However, not updating them regularly can prove to be disastrous if left unpatched.

A comprehensive patch management system with automated patch deployment and third-party patching mechanisms can significantly reduce the exposure window to potential threats and help simplify patching.

4. Fend off insidious threats

Businesses face a myriad of cybersecurity threats that can have devastating consequences. Among these, ransomware has emerged as a significant threat to endpoint security and is particularly dangerous since it takes advantage of known flaws and can sneak by many antivirus solutions, leaving endpoints open to attack.

According to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), ransomware was the weapon of choice for external attackers in 83% of the breaches.

Deploying an automated detection and remediation solution, with threat intelligence and behavior-based detection capabilities, fortifies the organization’s defenses against ransomware and other sophisticated cyberthreats.

5. Exercise the principle of least privilege and access controls

Insider attacks are a security team’s worst nightmare, as detecting and halting these breaches pose significant challenges. To combat insider threats effectively, organizations must limit user access and privileges, ensuring users only have the bare minimum required to perform their work tasks.

In April this year, highly classified Pentagon documents containing top-secret national defense information were leaked by an insider. Worse yet, thousands were found to have access to this information, suggesting access controls were far too loose.

Limiting user access controls is vital for organizations to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and resources. A privilege access management tool can help businesses prevent insider attacks while preserving the integrity of their processes, protecting sensitive data and critical assets.

6. Safeguard sensitive data

Businesses face significant challenges in monitoring and controlling their data usage. The consequences of misusing or leaking confidential data can be disastrous, resulting in reputational damage and losing customer trust. Hardware failures, malware attacks, and human errors can also result in data loss or leakage.

To minimize the risks associated with data loss, organizations must implement a data loss prevention solution that provides granular control over data usage, allowing them to enforce policies on how data is utilized and transmitted.

In the ever-evolving realm of cybersecurity, the journey to achieving endpoint security never truly ends. It is a persistent undertaking that demands constant vigilance and thorough strategy. Organizations can reinforce their defenses against cyber threats by adhering to these endpoint security best practices.

The convergence of endpoint management and security is pivotal for businesses aiming to strengthen their defenses and streamline operations. With ManageEngine Endpoint Central, organizations can experience the benefits of this unified approach in just a few clicks, bringing management and security together under a single, comprehensive platform.

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