Are your enterprise endpoints all secure? Here is a reality check!

Lately, hackers on the lookout for vulnerable systems have kept the IT industry busy. While various OS and software vendors strive to keep their users’ data intact by providing timely updates, manually securing endpoints by applying these updates is challenging due to factors such as time, staffing, and IT budgets. To help admins out, we’ve compiled a list of some industry best practices you can implement to stay vigilant against cyberattacks and data theft. 

Automated patching software can help prevent vulnerabilities from turning into openings for malware attacks. Imagine a scenario where you’re in a financial institution with an IT environment that includes 10 administrators and technicians and 1,000 computers; a critical vulnerability has been detected that allows the database containing your customers’ financial information to be read by outsiders. Thankfully, Microsoft responds within hours with a hotfix—the only problem is the prospect of individually patching all 1,000 of your computers.

Ideally, in a situation like this, you should be able to remain secure without much manual intervention. With automated patching software, the only manual effort required is when you initiate the patch configuration policy. As they say, prevention is always better than a cure.

Staying on top of third-party patches is a tremendous priority today. Security enhancements have assumed centre stage, moving the process of improving application functionality to the back burner. Attackers are working hard to sneak through loopholes in your security, with some of the latest attacks targeting Adobe products. Not even antivirus software has been spared from these attacks, like in the case of the AVGator vulnerability 

Patch management software automatically downloads updates from vendors and pushes them to your users. Unfortunately, some patch management software lacks an exhaustive list of vendor applications, meaning administrators end up pouring hours or days into applying patches themselves. This is why you need configuration and patch management software that supports patching for an array of third-party applications without missing any of the essential apps used in your enterprise.

Adopt a cloud-based architecture for automated patching. You won’t have to invest much in infrastructure or effort while managing endpoints, and deployments are fast and lightweight. In a cloud environment, you can utilize on-demand computation and enhanced storage capacities. More organizations are migrating from on-premises solutions to the cloud to tackle their workloads, but it’s important to remember that when a third party is hired to take care of your cloud requirements, you need to secure your cloud resources as well.

Multi-factor authentication plays an important role in securing cloud computing applications where cloud storage gets accessed by several users. Multi-factor authentication requires a user to use two or more parameters to log in, such as a username and password, device-based authentication through one-time passwords, Smart Card Logon (for Windows), email authentication, as well as biometrics including fingerprints, voice recognition, and pupil detection. Additional layers of authentication help ensure your data remains secure—a multi-factor approach to authentication can even render brute force attacks ineffective.

Your incident response team should ideally respond to security-related incidents within 48 hours. Incident response is the organized approach to remedying potential attacks in the aftermath of a security breach or upon detection of a vulnerability. A security breach is when restricted, confidential data is lost, wrongly changed, or disclosed in the public domain. The idea for incident response is to limit the damages, thereby reducing recovery costs as well as the time it takes to restore normality. 

An incident response team must have the following personnel:

  • Incident/emergency response team manager to delegate and prioritize the tasks leading up to the containment of an incident.

  • Cybersecurity experts to assess an incident’s damage level and to act quickly to mitigate further damage.

  • Threat researchers to constantly monitor potential unauthorized access and work in unison with security experts analyzing both past and present attacks.

The incident response team should also be equipped to detect whether any system in a network is vulnerable; this includes detecting abnormal behavior, viruses, and malware, as well as filtering content and reacting accordingly to incidents as they surface. Incident response teams need an alert system in place to help spot any infringements so immediate steps can be taken to end the incident and limit its impact.

Configuration access and authorization policies must be well defined so that unauthorized users can’t misuse the information available on network computers. Administrative access given to technicians should be restricted based on roles; for example, a remote desktop technician’s role should not interfere with that of a patch manager’s role. This authorization works well with software that manages multiple configurations. In the case of a point product that only performs patching, assigning full read/write/audit access to multiple technicians should be done carefully.

A strict VPN access policy can prevent security breaches that happen when someone gains unauthorized access to a VPN connection. VPN systems are breached by outside attackers mainly for financial information like credit cards and other payment information. A breach can also happen if an employee loses their laptop while the VPN is enabled or if an ex-employee is still able to access the enterprise network.  

Many networks are rarely modified over time, and VPN connections might remain static, opening up the possibility of a man-in-the-middle attack. Companies need to acquire an endpoint security solution that provides strong and secure access to a VPN, takes care of each client’s firewall settings, and preferably uses an agent to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks from happening. 

Individual employee awareness toward the security front is essential. A couple years ago, IBM found that 60 per cent of cyberattacks are caused by insiders, either intentionally or not. Security-related service level agreements should be made with current employees, and employee training should include several security and privacy-related practice sessions.

A mobile UI or console is needed while on the go. With attacks increasing in frequency, you can’t afford to take any chances by being away from your management console. Endpoint security solutions should have a mobile presence to enable immediate responses to any evidence of a cyberattack. An endpoint management solution’s mobile UI/console should take care of a network’s managed computers as efficiently as it can on the web console.

Ease of use and advanced technology are essential parts of endpoint management. Be it point products or configuration management solutions, tightening security defences is a top priority. Better usability can minimize user errors, which helps provide a smooth experience. This can go a long way in improving productivity and efficiency.

Enterprise endpoint security uses a combination of a user-friendly endpoint management solution—with state-of-art technology and foolproof security policies—along with a security-focused mindset among employees. Adopting such technologies and practices in your organization can take you a long way in ensuring your network stays safe and sound from a multitude of threats.

Want to learn more? You can download ManageEngine’s free Endpoint Security Solution guide here.

Srini Jagan
Marketing Analyst, ManageEngine