Remote communication and collaboration tools are helping employers and employees change what it looks like to be connected to each other, their clients, and their corporate network. With working from home and hybrid work schedules here to stay, this paradigm shift has placed new pressures on IT staff to protect the company network and data. As they balance managing employees working at home with the need to safeguard the corporate network, business leaders must take proactive steps to make sure their endpoint security is being managed correctly. Here’s why and how.
What exactly is endpoint security and why is it important?
Endpoint security is the capability to place restrictions on entry points to a company’s network or devices, while also managing the user’s access through protected logins across multiple platforms.
According to McAfee, companies will normally place security software on any device (such as a laptop, desktop, tablet) that requires the use of the network, with the end-goal to:
- Limit network access to only authorized users and devices
- Apply endpoint security policies instantaneously and seamlessly across the network
- Centralize the monitoring and management of policies and devices
The first and possibly most overlooked, but important task to complete in order to secure your endpoints correctly is to create a layered barrier against the entry points by making sure everyone who is using the network is doing so as an authorized user with login credentials.
For businesses with a workforce in multiple locations, especially home offices, management of endpoint security becomes less manual and more about automation. This is where a software program integrated into the backend of your network can play a huge role in ensuring your business is as protected as possible.
By managing endpoint security so holistically, companies can decide at a click of a button who gets what access and privileges through the use of mandatory policies. For example, management can decide who they want viewing specific documents or who is able to edit a shared folder.
As we’ve noted, however, this is only the first step. Once all authorized users have the ability to log in and access certain entry points, the real challenge becomes ensuring that those users keep their access safe. Logins are simply an extra layer of protection – a layer that, as we all know, is hackable. And with hackers and cybersecurity threats on the rise, carefully considering the type of endpoint security software you are using will make a difference.
Your endpoint security toolkit: VPNs, ZTNA, web filtering and more
Managing endpoint security correctly should be a holistic endeavor. Ideally, a business should be able to coordinate updates, receive alerts/reports and apply security best practices all through a single, centrally-managed console.
Moving past logins, two ways a company can incorporate security best practices is by embracing Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) or deploying an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect their network. Before the pandemic, companies typically would invest in only a VPN for their IT infrastructure. However, cyber attacks have increased dramatically and hackers are finding new ways to overcome the security a VPN places. Although having a VPN is a great start, companies may want to consider adding a cloud-based option such as ZTNA. Embracing ZTNA can result in more layered security capabilities and broader protection than a VPN, thereby providing a truer end-to-end solution.
According to McAfee, benefits of ZTNA include:
- Micro-segmenting the Networks: Companies are able to create software-defined perimeters and have the corporate network be placed into multiple micro-segments, helping to reduce threats.
- Making the Applications Invisible on Internet: Companies are able to have a virtual darknet that helps prevent unwanted visibility on the public internet while helping to provide protection against internet-based data exposure.
- Securing Access to Legacy Applications: The ability to have legacy applications hosted in private data centers, facilitating secure connectivity.
- Elevating the User Experience: The ability to have secure direct-to-cloud access to private applications, which allows a company to provide a safe environment for remote users.
Another important way to make sure you are managing your endpoint security correctly is to consider web filtering. According to CheckPoint, web filtering is important for a number of reasons including:
- Data Security: By blocking access to malicious sites, a company can decrease the risk that data will be leaked or breached.
- Regulatory Compliance: Companies are responsible for complying with data protection regulations, which mandate that they protect certain types of data from unauthorized access. Web filtering can manage access to such sites.
- Policy Enforcement: Web filtering enables an organization to enforce corporate policies for web usage and can be used to block inappropriate use of corporate resources.
What should businesses with a remote workforce do next?
Now that you have a good idea of what endpoint security is, why it is important, and what type of endpoint security is going to provide you the best chance at being protected, the question is how can you make sure that what you initially set up is going to last the test of time?
The key when it comes to managing endpoint security correctly is to always make sure checks and balances are in place. It is vital to create a plan of action that all who use the company network or devices understand and fully comply with. Without a clear direction and policies to adhere to, you open your doors to uninvited guests. Take a strong approach upfront. Your network will thank you!
To help you keep your employees productive and your corporate data secure, we’ve written an e-book – Work Anywhere – Boost Employee Performance & Protection Against Cyber Attacks in 1 Powerful Move. Inside, we talk about the pros and cons of managing a hybrid workforce and what you need to know to keep your business safe. We will also provide you with a solution! For more information on Xtel’s solutions for companies with a hybrid workforce, visit www.xtel.net/work-from-home.
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