Last year saw the highest number of vulnerabilities on record. Beating 2021’s total of 20,000, threat actors were granted a boon of over 25,000 new and unique flaws to take advantage of. And while the plethora of vulnerabilities are higher today than ever, the time it takes for businesses to realize a potential breach is spiraling. Take the recent news of Luxottica’s massive data breach: owners of Ray-Ban, Oakley, Versace, and insurance company EyeMed Vision Care, in May 2023 Luxottica dropped a press release stating that the personal details of 70 million customers had been leaked.
Amongst the data were customers’ full names, birthdates, email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers. The stolen – and subsequently leaked – database included over 305 million records, hitting customers primarily in the US and Canada. Digging deeper, it was discovered that the leak had originally occurred on March 16th of 2021. Further details are astonishingly few on the ground – a third-party compromise is thought to have allowed access.
Endpoint protection aims to proactively monitor and safeguard endpoints against profiteering cybercriminals. This protection needs to extend to every connected device that’s scattered throughout your organization: desktops; laptops; smartphones – even IoT devices that monitor shop floors and factory lines. Protecting the diverse range of devices from the millions of new vulnerabilities that arise every year is no simple feat.
Endpoint security is a vital part of responsible customer data management. Luxottica, having failed to uphold this responsibility, is subsequently being sued – one claimant of the class action lawsuit had found his medical data released online. Endpoints have become prime targets for attack campaigns largely due to the evolving landscape of corporate IT infrastructure. Growing support for remote work has led to the dispersion of endpoints far beyond the boundaries of the enterprise network. Making things even more difficult is the implementation of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies that allow employee-owned devices to connect to the enterprise network and therefore access sensitive corporate data.
Outdated approaches to endpoint security make one major oversight: corporate devices don’t exist in a vacuum. Perimeter-style security measures once aimed to seal off corporate networks from outside threats, believing that IT infrastructure just needs to be air gapped from external threat actors. Relying solely on perimeter-style security is no longer sufficient as cloud services, remote work and mobile devices have made network services increasingly porous.
In response to this, zero trust has started redefining endpoint security. Removing any semblance of inherent trust, this approach emphasizes identity verification and authentication. It also renegotiates how each user is treated: continuous monitoring of their behavior now helps to prevent unauthorized access and detect potential threats, regardless of where they are. As a result, every device now plays an individual role in strong security.
Given that endpoints now serve as the frontline defense against cyberattacks, it has become crucial for organizations to implement robust solutions capable of identifying and intercepting threats before they reach critical company assets. The remote nature of endpoints further amplifies the risk, as the number of endpoints continues to increase due to the rapid shift to remote work driven by the pandemic. A majority of US workers were remote in 2020, with 51% still working remotely as of April 2021. The persistent risks associated with endpoints and the sensitive data they contain pose an ongoing challenge that must be addressed effectively.
Endpoint protection, endpoint protection platforms (EPP), and endpoint security are often used interchangeably. All of these refer to the same core philosophy: comprehensive security that keeps servers, workstations, mobile devices, and workloads safe from an ever-evolving platter of cybersecurity threats. Composed of a solid mix of solutions and employee training, files, processes, and system activity are all used as indicators of malicious activity.
Endpoint protection solutions offer a centralized management console that empowers administrators to seamlessly connect to their enterprise network and efficiently oversee the monitoring, protection, investigation, and response to security incidents. These solutions provide a range of deployment options, including on-premises, hybrid, or cloud-based solutions, catering to diverse organizational needs and preferences. The centralized management console serves as a control hub, allowing administrators to have comprehensive visibility into endpoint activities and apply security measures consistently across the network. By leveraging this console, administrators can streamline security operations, enhance incident response capabilities, and ensure effective management of endpoint security across the entire organization. The way in which endpoint protection works can be traced across three main approaches.
Firstly, the on-prem approach to endpoint security describes legacy security measures that are delivered through a locally hosted data center. In this setup, the data center acts as a central hub. Endpoints are communicated with via an agent, ensuring their security. Despite its early uptake, this hub and spoke model has a tendency to create security silos, limiting administrators’ control to endpoints within their own perimeter.
#2. Shift to Hybrid
As the pandemic took hold of organizations across the globe, many organizations were forced to adopt remote and bring your own device (BYOD) policies. Internal desktop devices that were once so common were replaced, and the globalized nature of workforces has exposed the limitations of the on-premises approach. Consequently, some endpoint protection solution vendors have transitioned to a hybrid approach, where they retrofit the legacy architecture for the cloud.
#3. Cloud Patching
While organizations scrambled to adjust, many patched their retrofitted legacy architecture with cloud-native solutions. Administrators were granted the ability to remotely monitor endpoints, each of which required connection with the console via an agent. These cloud-native solutions expand the reach of administrators – but is it enough to guarantee security?
Endpoint security needs to encompass a wide range of protection – the sheer variety of devices requiring comprehensive protection can make it difficult to keep track of just how comprehensive your current defenses are. Here are the three major components that every endpoint security stack needs to include.
One of the most important features is an anti-malware element. By proactively detecting and eliminating viruses, worms, and ransomware, endpoint devices are kept protected from some of the most severe vulnerability exploits. One component of this is URL filtering, which analyzes the links being sent across an organization. Given the popularity of malicious URLs in phishing attacks, URL filtering helps mitigate these threats by blocking access to malicious and inappropriate websites. Another aspect that any competent anti-malware solution should entail is sandboxing: where the solution analyzes and inspects files within a sandboxed environment, allowing it to identify and prevent malicious content.
Alongside this are firewall and application control measures. These essentially segment the organizations’ networks in order to restrict access in the case of a breach. It’s incredibly rare for attackers to gain access to entire databases, though this does happen – take the Yahoo attack in 2017 that exposed every single email address. Instead, network segmentation helps block traffic based on security policies and application-specific rules.
While anti-malware can aid in unsolicited attacks being leveraged against end-users, their own devices require adaptable protection in the form of compliance checks. Endpoint solutions should assess devices and permit connections to the corporate network only if they adhere to the corporate policy. Finally, behavioral analytics allow novel malware variants to be identified without relying on traditional signatures.
Despite this, many brands tick almost every security box – and still get burnt. The reality is that the threat landscape has rapidly outpaced any attempt at long-lasting protection. In the face of such mixed, unreliable and pricey solutions, organizations have been left to frantically assemble a patchwork quilt of security measures that don’t accurately line up with the threats being leveraged against them.
With endpoint security presenting a consistently major challenge, it’s time to deploy tools that are purpose-built for the modern threat landscape. The browser is one area that, up until now, has been woefully overlooked – allowing cybercriminals to take advantage of your highest-footfall applications.
LayerX introduces a groundbreaking browser security platform that delivers real-time, high-resolution visibility and governance over user activities across all major browsers. The browser-based extension gives you clear insight into specific website and user action; an on-the-ground proximity that pinpoints potential browser-based threats with hyper-granular accessibility. Operating at the level of user profile or identity, attacker-controlled webpages and data loss events are discovered via the automated analysis of all gathered events. Finally, your security team is assisted by an enrichment feed from LayerX’s own threat intel cloud.
This granular visibility not only prevents data compromise and leakage but also revolutionizes the way enterprises manage their endpoint security. LayerX empowers IT and security teams to effortlessly grant secure, least-privileged access and adopt a zero trust approach throughout the remote confines of every browsing event – without compromise.