Cybercrime in Australia is growing at an alarming rate. Last year, thousands of businesses fell victim to phishing scams, computer viruses, and even malware that took computers hostage until a ransom was paid. In 2018, hackers are coming up with clever new attacks and finding innovative ways to repackage old attacks; which is why endpoint security is so critical.
What is endpoint security?
Endpoints are any computing device that connects to a network; including PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other smart gadgets. Endpoint security is installing, optimising, and upgrading the products and protective measures; designed to defend these endpoints against a wide array of malware and cyberattacks.
Most people assume endpoint security is just antivirus software, but there’s more to it than that. Endpoint security software run on individual devices and are monitored by a centralised management platform that allows technicians to configure antivirus apps, data access restrictions, and updates for each company-registered device.
Endpoint security has garnered so much attention in recent years because of the exponential increase in threats. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, and their increasing success rates is a digital epidemic. Fortunately, security technologies are catching up.
Basic antivirus software is adept at beating known malware threats, but it’s ineffective against “never-before-seen” attacks. Unfortunately, about 80% of today’s malware strains are older strains that have been changed just enough to elude antivirus definitions. In fact, kits are sold on the dark web to automate these disguises.
The cybersecurity industry has responded to these threats with endpoint security tools powered by machine learning. Machine learning analyses data from security databases, network traffic, and software behaviour; to detect anomalies and spot never-before-seen threats.
For instance, if the feature detects unusual activity that resembles the WannaCry ransomware; it will instantly stop the process and warn the user about the threat. It even scans computers for vulnerabilities and makes intelligent recommendations in the absence of suspicious activity.
Increased focus on IoT security
Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as internet-connected thermostats, sensors, and cameras; pose a serious challenge for endpoint security. Unlike PCs and smartphones; they lack security software to deal with malware and other IoT attacks, giving hackers opportunities to compromise business networks.
The Mirai malware, for example, allowed hackers to exploit thousands of smart cameras and to hit major cloud servers with the most devastating denial of service attack in history. In 2017, experts discovered a similar malware campaign that has exploited several flaws in IoT devices. What’s worse, is that the security updates for IoT devices are released so infrequently that; it’s almost impossible to keep them malware-free for more than a week at a time.
But IoT manufacturers and security experts are changing that. In recent months, IoT devices have been released that run secure, fully supported operating systems like iOS, Android, and Windows. Additionally, endpoint security vendors are starting to develop specialised security apps for smart gadgets that detect malware and prevent hackers from gaining root access.
Advanced protection from file-less attacks
Most malware stores dangerous files on endpoints that can be detected by antivirus software. But hackers have begun releasing file-less attacks; whereby malware runs on a computer’s temporary memory (or RAM) rather than its hard drive, meaning there is no trace of them after their mission has been carried out.
To fight these threats, security consultants are configuring access restrictions, installing patches across all devices, and using machine learning techniques; to identify risky behaviours like letting Adobe Flash run in the background. Then, there’s sandboxing; a feature that prevents file-less attacks from compromising RAM and affecting the endpoint.
Mobile device management
Bring Your Own Device policies are gaining popularity because smartphones and tablets are getting better at security. But mobile devices still have a long way to go before they can keep business networks and data safe from attacks; which is why a mobile device management (MDM) strategy is required.
MDM solutions allow companies to track company-registered phones, manage app privileges, and even wipe the device if it’s lost or stolen. MDM is a must-have solution for companies that value flexibility; especially now that over 33% of Australians work remotely. The challenge is figuring out how to seamlessly incorporate an MDM solution to endpoint security software.
Stealing passwords is a cakewalk, especially when most users set weak, guessable passwords and use them across all their devices. Employee training is a must, but businesses should also beef up security with enhanced authentication solutions.
Security experts are encouraging users to enable multifactor authentication (MFA); a feature that requires another authentication factor like an SMS code or physical security key to log into an app or device. Software developers are also improving the accuracy and reliability of biometric security (e.g., facial recognition and fingerprint scanning). This way, if a hacker does manage to get a hold of passwords, they still won’t be able to break into a device or account.
Endpoint security as a service
Another emerging trend is cloud-based endpoint security. Traditionally, endpoint security management platforms run on in-house servers, but they can be expensive and time-consuming to implement and maintain.
Security vendors like Webroot offer cloud versions of their endpoint security management platform to make implementation easier for businesses. Instead of running the platform on premises; security settings and reports can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, allowing admins to update configurations and manage hardware updates remotely.
The best part about cloud-based endpoint security is that you don’t need to hire an IT team. For a monthly subscription fee, managed IT services providers host and manage the platform in their servers to ensure it’s online 24/7. They’ll even update your solution proactively so you can enjoy the benefits of machine-learning-enhanced threat detection, encryption, and data loss prevention features.
If you’re worried that machine learning, IoT, and the other endpoint security solutions mentioned in this article are out of your reach, don’t be! Empower IT is one of Australia’s leading managed security services provider, and we can give you the protection you need. Call us today.