X

Endpoint security for enterprises: A guide to best practices and procedures

Because of the outbreaks of various cyberattacks such as WannaCry ransomware, fileless malware, and more, network security has gained the attention that it actually deserves. Enterprises are now well-aware of the potential damage that can occur when hit by any such cyberattacks. As a result, companies have started deploying advanced security measures, powerful firewalls, and solid monitoring systems for networks and datacenters. But are companies taking enough measures to ensure their endpoint security?

Any device that is connected to an organization’s network systems is known as an endpoint. These endpoints include smartphones, laptops, desktop PCs, routers, and printers. Endpoint security is the process of securing the various endpoints in a network. Endpoint security aims at blocking unauthorized access to the network through these endpoints. Although the endpoints or the devices that are a part of the enterprise network are connected through a secure channel, they remain as the most vulnerable targets to attackers.

Securing the endpoints is of vital importance, and any negligence in doing so can prove fatal to a company. With employees relying more on smartphones and home PCs or laptops to connect to the organization’s network to proceed with their work, a centralized security solution that works within an organization will no longer serve the purpose of securing the endpoints. Here are the best practices that should be followed:

Endpoint security: Enforcing least privilege

Enforcing privilege security on endpoints should be a fundamental part of any business’s essentials. Applying advanced security measures and firewalls are now not enough to secure endpoints in a corporate network. To stay secure, enterprises need to follow a more sophisticated approach, and the principle of least privilege is one such effective method of securing the endpoints.

By following the principle of least privilege, only the minimum privileges or permissions are given to the employees. This ensures that not everyone is provided with administrative access, which they don’t really require. Having more than required privilege poses a threat of numerous errant or malicious actions, which can be performed at an endpoint. There is also a possibility that devices having administrative rights can be used as a means of corrupting the entire organization’s network system. Enforcing least privilege will also contain and reduce the impact of cyberattacks on endpoints.

Performing timely endpoint scans

Ideally, whenever an device is annected to the enterprise network, a full scan of the device has to be performed. However, most end users skip the full scan of the device to save a couple of minutes. It is the duty of the enterprise’ security admins to enforce a full malware scan on the removable end-devices without the intervention of the users. Powerful antivirus software has to be implemented to perform these device scans. Scheduling weekly or at least monthly scans is recommended to avoid any undesired interventions by malware.

Disabling ports you don’t need

Unsecured or open ports serve as an easy means of intrusion and have been the entry point for many recent and destructive cyberattacks. Every organization must secure all network ports and disable ports that are not in use. Every endpoint must be port restricted and every port must be secured to make sure end users are using only what is needed. Endpoint devices such as Bluetooth/infrared devices and modems must be disabled when not in use.

Use multi-factor authentication

If you’re still relying on usernames and passwords, your systems are not secure. All endpoints in the organization must follow multi-factor authentication such as one-time passwords, biometrics such as fingerprint, face, or retina scanning along with the regular username and passwords.

Keep your systems updated

Keeping your systems updated in terms of hardware and software is one of the most fundamental measures to be taken in order to avoid cyberattack. Yet, a considerable number of cyberattacks and issues are being reported due to outdated systems globally. Keeping systems updated and adapting to the market is one of the best and easy ways to stay safe.

Apart from updating central software and network systems, companies need to make sure that all end devices’ firmware must be updated to the latest version. If this is left to the users to update their devices, they may skip this or put it off. Therefore, companies either have to force their employees to update the devices or simply roll out forced updates to the devices. This makes sure that all devices in an enterprise are updated, leaving no room for compatibility issues or malware attacks. Managing endpoints from a central location will make this process easy.

Document security policies and train your employees

Security administrators must implement an organization-wide endpoint security policy, and these policies must be documented. Every employee must be properly trained and understand the essentials of the endpoint security. All employees must become familiar with the use of authentication credentials, roles, privileges, and security policies.

Because an endpoint is typically a removable device that can also be used outside an enterprise for various purposes, it essentially is a mode of infection, that can take can down your entire system if not secured. No matter how well you implement endpoint security, it is always a good practice to protect your network by implementing network-level protection. This way, even if an endpoint gets infected, the malware cannot spread to the other endpoints and network.

Photo credit: Shutterstock