Endpoint Security Explained

Endpoint security Management

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Makenzie Buenning      

Black Kite reported that 53% of organizations were hit by ransomware attacks in 2021, and that number was expected to increase to 69% in 2022. Cyberattacks show no sign of slowing, so it is critical that organizations have necessary cybersecurity precautions in place. One of the best ways to protect your IT environment is with an endpoint security process.

What is endpoint security?

Endpoint security involves hardening and securing your endpoints to protect against malicious attacks. It is a cybersecurity approach that aims to protect a system by reducing its attack surface.

Endpoint examples

Endpoints are remote devices used for computing. Examples include: desktops, laptops, servers, tablets, smartphones, workstations, and Internet-of-things (IoT) devices.

What is the difference between endpoint security and antivirus?

Endpoint security involves all the processes, tools, and configurations you use to protect an endpoint from threat actors. It takes a much broader view than antivirus, which is one particular tool that’s part of your endpoint protection stack. In endpoint security, antivirus is used in conjunction with EDR, endpoint hardening configurations, DNS filtering, firewall, network security, and security awareness training for end users.

Why endpoint security is crucial

In your organization’s IT environment, there are three main points of entry into a system. Those entry points are people, networks, and endpoints.

Threat actors can attempt to convince people to give them their credentials through strategies such as phishing and confidence attacks. A weakness in your network can also allow someone to enter in and attack your systems. When it comes to endpoints, you ultimately can’t do anything to a system if you can’t get on a device. That’s why they are a major point of entry into IT systems.

Every single endpoint in your organization is a point of entry into your IT environment that could potentially be exploited for a cyberthreat or cyberattack. Thus, endpoint hardening should be one of your business’s top cybersecurity concerns.

How does endpoint security work?

1) Gain actionable intel

To effectively protect your endpoints against current threats, you need to actually know what those threats are. Look for reliable sources that can provide you with the latest information on threats and how to deal with them. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Security trusted resources and threat feeds

  • InfoSec Twitter (start here)
  • CVE, RSS, and government feeds
  • Reputable security vendor feeds

Peer communities

2) Upgrade your hardening process

With the information you gain from these sources, you’ll be prepared to implement it in your IT environment. To ensure that implementation is successful, you should have an established hardening process. Include these essential steps for mitigating threats and hardening devices:

  • Identify the risk
  • Scope out the the likelihood and impact
  • Develop the configuration to remediate or mitigate the risk
  • Test and verify the mitigation
  • Deploy the mitigation in phases, with a backout plan
  • Document the change, and report on the exceptions
  • Monitor the mitigation to the vulnerability with your RMM

3) Mitigate the vulnerable legacies

Unfortunately, there are many legacy technologies that are suffering from vulnerabilities. You’ll want to take proper action to mitigate these vulnerabilities. Here’s a list of major legacy vulnerabilities:

4) Secure your organization’s endpoints

OS hardening

At the core of modern security efforts is first improving the security posture of the operating system and its configuration. Strengthening the build at this layer allows the rest of your efforts to sit on a solid, and modern foundation. Refer to the following resources for how to effectively do this:

Network hardening

Now that you’ve strengthened the local operating system, turn towards the wider network, and the services exposed amongst the interconnected world. This ranges from configuring the local network to reducing the acceptable inbound traffic allowed.

Account Protections

Restricting the attack surface available with local accounts, services, and the credential store frustrates attackers and prevents the quick and easy elevation of privileges. This could alert you to an attack, increase the time needed to bypass the mitigations, or even prevent an attack from succeeding.

Application hardening

Attackers often attempt to exploit some of the most common tools and settings organizations rely on. These elements are widely distributed and installed on endpoints. Without further configuration, they can lead to easy attacks of opportunity.

  • Office Suite
  • Adobe Reader
  • Make it a process
    • Pick an application
    • Evaluate its needs and risks
    • Work with key contacts to ensure a good balance between risk and usability
    • Research hardening techniques for that specific program
    • Mitigate the risk and exposure with more comprehensive configurations

Browser hardening

Web browsers tend to be one of the more overlooked elements in the stack. Yet, their configuration sets the scene for one of the most used programs installed on computers today. Locking down and enforcing a few basic security features can help secure this critical entry point.

Get started with increasing your endpoint security

Endpoint security is an essential component of effective cybersecurity. If your organizational devices are hardened and protected against threat actors and malicious attacks, it prevents a cascade of possible negative effects from ever occurring. Plus, it’s much simpler to put the proper protections and precautions in place before an attack rather than trying to salvage data after the fact.

NinjaOne’s automated endpoint management software delivers on the fundamentals of endpoint security. Our tools give you greater visibility into a device, the ability to deploy configurations to harden endpoints, manage and deploy patches, and more. Discover how Ninja can help increase your endpoint security by signing up for a free trial today.


5 Bite-Sized Ways to Improve Your Business Every Week

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Join fellow growth-minded MSPs and feed your business with new tips and tutorials delivered straight to your inbox.

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