What Is Endpoint Security?

For health organizations, cybersecurity is always a top priority. Now, that might be even more so the case, especially if any of your employees are working remotely. With that in mind, understanding the foundations of good cybersecurity is critical.

Endpoint security is one of those foundational elements, that when done correctly, can help prevent unauthorized network access. Strong endpoint security ultimately protects your patients or clients and provides your IT admins and your entire organization a greater peace of mind.

The Basics

Endpoint security is a term referring to the securing of entry points for end-user devices. End-user devices include desktops, mobile devices, and laptops. The goal of course, as is the case with any other element of cybersecurity, is to protect malicious actors from infiltrating. Endpoint security systems can safeguard endpoints either on a network or in the cloud from potential threats.

Endpoint security is your frontline approach, and it’s, for many organizations, the first place considered in a larger cybersecurity plan.

Simplistic endpoint solutions are no longer enough because the complexity, sophistication, and volume of threats have gone up consistently in recent years.

Any endpoint security should help to detect and analyze,and also block attacks.

Endpoint security has to work together cohesively with other technology, delivering visibility into threats.

The term endpoint comes from devices outside a corporate firewall located on the network edge. Then, individuals connect to a central network. Thus the devices are endpoints of the network.

Why Is It Important?

Endpoint security has become increasingly important as more companies have implemented Bring Your Own Device or BYOD policies. There are threats targeting networks and mobile devices, and these devices within the BYOD framework create more vulnerabilities in terms of endpoints.

Another reason endpoint security is paramount, especially right now more than ever, is because so many employees are working remotely and then connecting to Wi-Fi wherever they might be. They could be connecting from home or somewhere public like a café or coffee shop.

Previously, most security attacks entered through the network. Now, they’re primarily through endpoints.

Centralized network protection, because of this shift, doesn’t do enough.

If you have a security perimeter without endpoint protection, your organization and data are highly vulnerable.

Endpoint Security for the Network

If you have endpoint security software in place, it will usually use application control and encryption to secure any devices attempting to access the network. Then, there’s more control as a result of those points of access.

When data is encrypted on endpoints, including removable storage devices, you get a pretty high level of protection against data loss. Application control works by preventing unauthorized applications from accessing the network and creating vulnerabilities.

If an organization uses a SaaS model, then the endpoint and also central security is maintained remotely.

Benefits of Endpoint Security

Some of the more specific benefits of endpoint security include:

  • Device protection from malware, ransomware, and Trojans, as well as fileless script attacks, among other threats.
  • You can save money by implementing robust endpoint security because while it’s an initial investment, it’s usually much more expensive to recover from an attack.
  • Using endpoint security helps save time for your managed security providers or IT staff.
  • If you’re governed by compliance regulations, which in health care you are, you satisfy these requirements by employing endpoint security to protect against the theft of personal data.

Endpoint Security vs. Antivirus

There are things endpoint security is, and also crucial to understanding the concept is to know what it’s not.

One area of confusion is endpoint security versus antivirus. The objectives are the same between the two, in that the goal is to secure a device. However, there are distinctions.

Antivirus can protect PCs, but endpoint security encompasses the entire network.

Endpoint security also goes beyond antivirus capabilities in that it features things like detection and response and access control.

Antivirus can be seen as one part of endpoint security.

Another comparison to make is between endpoint security and network security. Endpoint security is about the devices, whereas network security is focused on protecting an entire IT infrastructure.

You might theoretically, in your cybersecurity strategy begin with the security of the endpoints, and then you could move outward from there for network security on a larger scale.

Your network can only be secure if your endpoints are.

Another area of distinction to make is between endpoint security and firewalls. Firewalls filter the traffic coming in and out of your network based on a set of parameters.

Endpoint security does other tasks aside from filtering, like logging and monitoring, so in that sense, it’s more in-depth than your firewall.

How Does It Work?

Endpoint protection is, as was touched on, being adapted to provide more mobile endpoint protection while still integrating protection for traditional endpoints like desktop computers. This security works through the creation and enforcement of rules for endpoints. Endpoint solutions can identify and encrypt sensitive data, block the copying of files or data, or these security solutions can block the transfer of files, based on how it’s classified by the enterprise.

Endpoint security can help prevent vulnerabilities from being introduced if they don’t meet the defined security rules.

The security perimeter, because of remote work and BYOD, is constantly changing for modern companies, making it hard to pin down and define. There are so many different endpoints connected to a network at any given time, so endpoint security is one way to gain necessary control and visibility.

You’ll sometimes hear the term endpoint protection platforms, which examine files as they enter networks.

Overall, the importance of endpoint security solutions will only increase in the coming months and years, with cloud-based models often being preferable for the modern organization. A cloud-based solution is more scalable, and you can integrate it more easily into your existing architecture unless you have to follow regulatory rules requiring on-premises security.