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Endpoint Security: Ultimate Guide [2022]

What Is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security is a strategy for protecting endpoint devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktops against cyberattacks. Organizations use endpoint security software to protect the devices used by employees for work purposes, including in the cloud or on the company network.

Any endpoint connecting to the corporate network represents a security vulnerability, potentially allowing a malicious actor to penetrate the network. Organizations must recognize the inherent risk in all devices used by employees to connect to corporate systems or resources. Cybercriminals often exploit these convenient entry points by installing malware to gain control of the system or exfiltrate sensitive data.

At a minimum, organizations must deploy tools to detect, analyze, block, and contain cyber threats to minimize the damage. They must also collaborate with their business partners and leverage observability technologies to help their security and IT teams identify and keep track of advanced threats. The faster they detect the security risks, the faster and more effectively they can remediate potential issues.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about information security.

In this article:

Why Is Endpoint Security Important?

Every organization must have an endpoint security strategy to address the risks presented by remote endpoints. Each connected device is a potential entry point for attack, and the challenge has become more complicated with the shift to remote work and an ever-increasing number of endpoints. While already an established and growing trend, remote work saw a major boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased demand for remote access is here to stay.

Many organizations worry they could be a target of cyberattacks in the short-to-medium term. Social engineering attacks (e.g., phishing) are rising while servers continue to dominate the asset landscape. A data breach can be very expensive, usually costing millions of dollars. The largest contributor to this cost is the lost revenue from damaged business operations.

Given the prevalence of endpoints, protecting them is a major challenge. An effective security strategy must allow users to access critical systems relatively unhindered, mitigating the risk of employees succumbing to social engineering attacks.

How Does Endpoint Security Work?

Most endpoint security solutions use one of the following deployment models:

  • Client-server—the solution runs on a central server and agents are deployed on each endpoint connected to the network. The agent tracks and reports endpoint device activity and potential threats to the central server. Agents can isolate or neutralize active threats as needed—for example by quarantining suspected malware, or isolating the endpoint from the network.
  • Cloud native—the endpoint security vendor hosts and manages the solution in the cloud. This is much more scalable than a client-server model, and is typically billed on a subscription basis with no upfront costs. SaaS-based endpoint solutions can send updates and receive notifications to endpoints even when the endpoints are not connected to the corporate network.

Endpoint security solutions examine files, processes, and network traffic on the endpoint for indicators of malicious activity. When they detect a threat, endpoint security tools can automatically block it (Next-Generation Antivirus), enrich event data from threat intelligence feeds, and enable security teams to investigate it and respond (Endpoint Detection and Response).

Endpoint security technologies often use additional strategies to safeguard the endpoint, such as encryption of data at rest and in transit, application control, and web content filtering.

Main Components of Endpoint Security

Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV)

Many attacks are started or aided by malware and NGAV capabilities specialize in neutralizing these threats. In particular, NGAV helps protect your network with:

  • Ransomware protection—ransomware is used to encrypt your data or systems and prevent access or recovery until a ransom is paid. Frequently, ransomware infections result in significant revenue damages or data loss. Protection from ransomware is accomplished by blocking the remote execution of code and the installation and execution of unknown programs. It is also supported by ensuring that data is backed up and recoverable.
  • Device firewalls—enable you to filter incoming and outgoing traffic on your network. When applied effectively, you can set restrictions based on users, content, or locations. This helps ensure that only legitimate users are accessing data and that only approved data is being taken out of your network.
  • Network analytics—provide visibility into traffic within your network, enabling you to spot bottlenecks or vulnerabilities. You can use network analytics to track potential attackers and to uncover threats hidden in encrypted traffic. You can learn more in our guide about network attacks and network security threats .

Detection Technologies

Attack detection capabilities focus on early and accurate threat identification and include the following:

  • File integrity monitoring—tracks actions performed by users and identifies when suspicious actions are taken, such as modifying or deleting files. Monitoring logs can also be audited to track a threat once identified.
  • Threat intelligence—information about threats, attack methods, and attack technologies that is applied to the investigation of and response against threats. Most platforms can ingest threat intelligence from outside sources and apply this intelligence to detection algorithms and tooling.
  • Behavioral analysis—applies machine learning to aggregated network data to determine normal baselines of activity. These baselines are then used as a comparison against possible threats to identify if an activity is suspicious or not. This method is often employed through user and event behavior analytics (UEBA), which evaluates both user and system or process behavior.
  • Vulnerability assessment—scans endpoints for vulnerabilities due to misconfigurations, lack of updates, or insecure code. Typically, vulnerability assessment tools can also provide recommendations for remediating vulnerabilities.
  • Deception—deception technologies act as traps for attackers by appearing to hold valuable data. When triggered, security teams can isolate attackers and monitor their behavior. This helps teams improve their knowledge of attack methods, tools, and strategies. It also significantly slows attackers, giving security teams more time to respond.
  • Content filtering—blocks access to unsafe sites and stops site redirections. This reduces the chance that users download malware or are tricked into sharing data or credentials.

Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPPs)

Endpoint protection platforms are tools designed to protect systems from threats. These platforms incorporate a variety of security tooling into centralized controls. EPPs can be used to protect against both traditional malware threats and modern threats such as zero-day vulnerabilities or fileless attacks.

Security tooling that is commonly included with EPPs includes:

  • AV and next-generation antivirus (NGAV)
  • Firewalls and other access controls
  • Data encryption and authentication mechanisms
  • Intrusion prevention systems (IPS)
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions

When protecting systems, EPPs typically apply the following methods and technologies:

  • Signature matching—identifies malware or threats based on known identifiers, such as file hashes or origin IP addresses.
  • Machine learning-based static analysis—identifies malicious scripts and programs by analyzing contained code. This can be done before programs or scripts are run, preventing systems from being infected.
  • Sandboxing—isolates files or programs in a secure environment. This enables platforms to execute code or programs and inspect the resulting behavior. This can help security teams identify malware and refine identification methods.
  • Blacklisting and whitelisting—blocks access to data, applications, or ports based on predefined lists. Blacklists block known threats while whitelists block anything that isn’t approved for access.
  • Behavioral analysis—compares endpoint activity to known behavior baselines to identify suspicious events. This enables EPPs to identify novel or dynamic threats.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a class of security tools designed to monitor and log activity on endpoints, detect suspicious behavior and security risks, and enable security teams to respond to internal and external threats.

EDR technology gives security analysts visibility and remote access that allows them to investigate threats in real time, identify the root cause of an attack, contain it, and eradicate the threat.

EDR tools typically provide three key capabilities that can accomplish this function:

  • Continuous endpoint data collection—aggregates data about events such as process execution, communication, and user logins.
  • Detection engine—performs data analysis to detect anomalies and malicious activity on endpoints. This step is important for eliminating false positives and identifying real security incidents.
  • Data logging—provides real-time data about endpoint security events to security teams for investigation purposes. This enables rapid forensic investigation of threats as they happen.

EDR solutions are complementary to NGAV and other endpoint security capabilities, and are usually bundled together as part of an EPP.

Many organizations are adopting eXtended Detection and Response , an evolution of EDR solutions that helps teams detect and respond to attacks across endpoints, networks, email systems, cloud environments, and more.

Proactive Response

Response and remediation capabilities focus on applying detection data, alerting security teams to threats, and automating responses. These capabilities include the following:

  • Threat hunting—involves proactively seeking out threats that have bypassed security measures. Threat hunting is typically performed by a security expert with the assistance of big data analytics, threat intelligence, and centralized visibility created by security tooling. It is one of the most effective ways to uncover advanced persistent threats.
  • Incident response services—many endpoint security platforms come with an option for managed response services. These services can be used to supplement in-house security expertise and availability. For example, by providing endpoint monitoring and response during off-hours or by providing recommendations for remediation of specific threats.

Endpoint Security vs. Firewalls

A firewall is a network security device. It works as a gateway that filters traffic. An endpoint security solution offers various mechanisms to protect against endpoint threats and can include firewall technology.

Here are the two main categories of firewalls:

  • Network firewalls – a network firewall runs on network hardware, filtering traffic between networks. For example, it can filter traffic passing between the public Internet and a corporate network.
  • Host-based firewalls – a host computer is an endpoint that controls network traffic flowing in and out of machines. A host-based firewall runs on host computers.

Endpoint security solutions and firewalls provide different types of protection. A layered security strategy requires both a firewall and endpoint security.

Endpoint Security vs. Network Security

Network security solutions filter web traffic. They enforce web access policies to help organizations maintain regulatory compliance and stop threats before they breach the network and infect endpoints. These solutions run at the network layer to protect the network against network threats. Endpoint security solutions reside on and protect individual endpoint devices against endpoint threats.

Endpoint Security With Cynet 360 AutoXDR™

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Cynet 360 AutoXDR™ is a holistic security solution that protects against threats to endpoint security and across your network.

Cynet’s intelligent technologies can help you detect attacks by correlating information from endpoints, network analytics and behavioral analytics with almost no false positives.

With Cynet, you can proactively monitor entire internal environments, including endpoints, network, files, and hosts. This can help you reduce attack surfaces and the likelihood of multiple attacks.

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Cynet 360 AutoXDR™ provides cutting edge EDR capabilities:

  • Advanced endpoint threat detection—full visibility and predicts how an attacker might operate, based on continuous monitoring of endpoints and behavioral analysis.
  • Investigation and validation—search and review historic or current incident data on endpoints, investigate threats, and validate alerts. This allows you to confirm the threat before responding to it, reducing dwell-time and performing faster remediation.
  • Rapid deployment and response—deploy across thousands of endpoints within two hours. You can then use it to perform automatic or manual remediation of threats on the endpoints, disrupt malicious activity and minimize damage caused by attacks.

Learn more about our EDR security capabilities.

In addition, Cynet 360 AutoXDR™ provides the following endpoint protection capabilities:

  • NGAV—providing automated prevention and termination of malware, exploits, Macros, LOLBins, and malicious scripts with machine learning based analysis.
  • User Behavioral Analytics (UBA)—detecting and preventing attacks using compromised credentials through the use of behavioral baselines and signatures.
  • Deception technology—planting fake credentials, files and connections to lure and trap attackers, mitigating damage and providing the opportunity to learn from attacker activity.
  • Monitoring and control—providing asset management, vulnerability assessments and application control with continuous monitoring and log collection.
  • Response orchestration—providing manual and automated remediation for files, users, hosts and networks customized with user-created scripts.

Learn more about the Cynet 360 AutoXDR™ security platform.

Learn More About Endpoint Security

There’s a lot more to learn about EDR. To continue your research, take a look at the rest of our blogs on this topic:

Cloud Endpoint Protection: Protecting Your Weakest Link

It may look like there is less of a need for endpoint security, as organizations move their workloads to the cloud. However, the opposite is true. As workloads move to the cloud, endpoints change more frequently, the number of endpoints grows exponentially, and you have less central control and visibility. Each cloud endpoint is a potential entry point for attackers, and should be protected with a consistent layer of endpoint protection.

Read more: Cloud Endpoint Protection: Protecting Your Weakest Link

Trend Micro Endpoint Security: Solutions at a Glance

Trend Micro provides a wide range of endpoint security solutions, offered as part of a package, or as individual products. You can use Trend Micro endpoint security solutions on-premises or as Software as a Service (SaaS). Popular modules include endpoint encryption, endpoint security, web security, and mobile security. This article explains how Trend Micro Endpoint Security packages are structured and the key features provided by each product.

Read more: Trend Micro Endpoint Security: Solutions at a Glance

Endpoint Protection for Mac: Why it’s Critical to Secure Your Macs

Although Macs are not subject to all of the same issues as Windows devices, built-in Mac security cannot protect from everything. To cover the remaining gaps, you need to apply best practices such as layered security and endpoint protection. For the corporate network, this means retaining as much visibility and control and possible through the implementation of endpoint security.

Read more: Endpoint Protection for Mac: Why it’s Critical to Secure Your Macs

Top 6 Endpoint Protection Platforms and How to Choose

Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) are necessary to defend your organization’s workstations, mobile devices, servers and containers. Modern EPP solutions include advanced preventative measures, such as Next-Generation Antivirus which can block both known and unknown malware, and active defensive measures known as Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). This article reviews the key capabilities of EPP, presents the top 5 EPP solutions, and explains how to actively test and evaluate EPP before you buy.

Read more: Top 6 Endpoint Protection Platforms and How to Choose

EndPoint Security McAfee: Products, Capabilities and Features

The McAfee MVISION Endpoint Security Platform includes protection for desktops running Linux, Windows, or Mac, mobile devices, EDR capabilities, and a central management console called ePO. The McAfee Endpoint Security suite includes several products that protect desktop devices, cloud-native endpoints, and mobile devices. The suite provides capabilities like advanced threat protection, broad endpoint support, and an integrated solution.

Read more: EndPoint Security McAfee: Products, Capabilities and Features

ESET Endpoint Security: Platform at a Glance

ESET Endpoint Security is a platform that protects endpoints running Android, Linux, Windows, and Mac. ESER endpoint platform has a comprehensive feature set, but does not include EDR. ESET offers EDR as a separate product and prices separately. This article explains how ESET endpoint security solutions are structured and the key features they provide.

Read more: ESET Endpoint Security: Platform at a Glance

Symantec Endpoint Protection: Platform at a Glance

The Symantec Endpoint Security Suite provides attack prevention, detection and response for endpoints. It provides a broad set of features including traditional and machine-learning based prevention, EDR, application control, and deception technology. Additional features of Symantec Endpoint Security include firewall and intrusion prevention, application and device control, mobile roaming user protection, network integrity protection, and more.

Read more: Symantec Endpoint Protection: Platform at a Glance

EPP Security: Prevention, Detection and Response at Your Fingertips

Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) are solutions deployed on endpoint devices to detect malicious activity, prevent file-based malware attacks, and provide the required investigation and remediation capabilities. EPP includes both the preventive aspects and also EDR components that allow security teams to respond if a security breach has also occurred. This article explains what are EPP platforms, compares between the preventive features of EPP vs. EDR, and explains how to evaluate and select EPP solutions.

Read more: EPP Security: Prevention, Detection and Response at Your Fingertips

Kaspersky Endpoint Security Suite: Editions Structure, Pricing and Features

Kaspersky offers a robust set of endpoint security solutions, suitable for small, medium and large organizations. These solutions provide preventive protection against malware and advanced threats, EDR that helps respond to endpoint attacks, and security awareness training. The Kaspersky Endpoint Security solution helps companies secure endpoint devices like servers, workstations, and mobile devices. Main capabilities include adaptive endpoint security, security awareness, endpoint detection and response.

Read more: Kaspersky Endpoint Security Suite: Editions Structure, Pricing and Features

Endpoint Security VPN: Securing Remote Access

Virtual private networks (VPNs) enable you to gain remote access to on-premise private networks, and connect remote private networks into a wide area network (WAN). A VPN typically establishes these connections by assigning users internal IP addresses.

Learn what a VPN is, how to use a VPN to protect your assets, and how to protect your VPNs from critical VPN vulnerabilities.

Read more: Endpoint Security VPN: Securing Remote Access

Endpoint Security Management: How to Centralize and Control Endpoint Threats

Endpoint security management enables you to standardize authentication and access authorization across endpoint devices. Implementations of endpoint security management involve the application of security policies.

Learn what is endpoint security management, how to enforce endpoint security management policies, and how to centralize management with endpoint security tools.

Read more: Endpoint Security Management: How to Centralize and Control Endpoint Threats

What is Endpoint Security as a Service?

Endpoint protection platforms (EPP) are preventative endpoint security solutions, deployed on devices like employee workstations, servers and mobile devices. They provide a range of security capabilities to prevent threats like known and unknown malware, ransomware, and unauthorized access.

Learn about the key benefits and features of modern endpoint security as a service, compared to traditional on-premise solutions.

Read more: What is Endpoint Security as a Service?

ESET Endpoint Protection Advanced: Quick Solution Overview

Endpoint protection platforms (EPPs) protect endpoint devices on the corporate network. ESET offers endpoint security solutions that use a multilayered approach. It employs multiple technologies that work dynamically to balance detection, performance, and false positives.

Understand ESET Endpoint Protection Advanced – what the solution suite includes.

Read more: ESET Endpoint Protection Advanced: Quick Solution Overview

What is Sophos Endpoint Protection?

The Sophos endpoint security offering includes Sophos Endpoint Protection and Sophos Intercept X Endpoint.

Understand the Sophos endpoint protection platform, and the advanced Intercept X solution which combines EDR, XDR, and MTR.

Read more: What is Sophos Endpoint Protection?

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint: Features and Capabilities

Microsoft offers an enterprise-grade endpoint security platform that detects, investigates, and prevents advanced threats. It helps enterprises respond to threats quickly by employing several technologies built into Microsoft Azure and Windows 10.

Discover the features and capabilities of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, which leverages built-in security technologies in Microsoft Azure and Windows 10.

Read more: Microsoft Defender for Endpoint: Features and Capabilities

Check Point Endpoint Security: Quick Solution Overview

Check Point Endpoint Security includes data security, network security, advanced threat protection, forensics, endpoint detection and response (EDR), and remote access VPN solutions. The entire suite of endpoint security solutions is centrally managed using a single management console.

Understand what is included in the Check Point Endpoint Security suite, including EDR, Harmony Mobile, and MDR, and how it can benefit your organization.

Read more: Check Point Endpoint Security: Quick Solution Overview

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business: 4 Key Capabilities

Kaspersky Labs is a cybersecurity and anti-virus provider based in Russia. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business offers endpoint security solutions for hybrid environments. You can deploy it in the cloud or on-premises to protect endpoints against advanced threats, harden endpoint devices, and provide security teams with endpoint detection and response (EDR) capabilities.

Learn about Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, its SELECT and ADVANCED editions, and discover key features including system hardening and EDR.

Read more: Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business: 4 Key Capabilities

See Our Additional Guides on Key Information Security Topics

Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of information security

Malware protection

Malware has become increasingly sophisticated, used by attackers to gain a persistent hold on networks, extort organizations and cause global-scale damage. Learn about advanced technologies and practices that can help you prevent malware from penetrating and damaging your environment.

Incident Response Guide

Authored by Cynet

Incident response is a set of practices you can use to detect, identify, and remediate system incidents and threats. It is an essential part of any comprehensive security strategy and ensures that you are able to respond to incidents in a uniform and effective way.

See top articles in our incident response guide:

Incident Response Services

Authored by Cynet

Learn about managed incident response services that can help your organization outsource its incident response process to an external security team.

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