Endpoint security

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Endpoint security or endpoint protection is an approach to the protection of computer networks that are remotely bridged to client devices. The connection of endpoint devices such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones, Internet-of-things devices, and other wireless devices to corporate networks creates attack paths for security threats.[1] Endpoint security attempts to ensure that such devices follow a definite level of compliance to standards.[2]

The endpoint security space has evolved during the 2010s away from limited antivirus software and into a more advanced, comprehensive defense. This includes next-generation antivirus, threat detection, investigation, and response, device management, data leak protection (DLP), and other considerations to face evolving threats.

Corporate network security[edit]

Endpoint security management is a software approach that helps to identify and manage the users' computer and data access over a corporate network.[3] This allows the network administrator to restrict the use of sensitive data as well as certain website access to specific users, to maintain, and comply with the organization's policies and standards. The components involved in aligning the endpoint security management systems include a virtual private network (VPN) client, an operating system and an updated endpoint agent.[4] Computer devices that are not in compliance with the organization's policy are provisioned with limited access to a virtual LAN.[5] Encrypting data on endpoints, and removable storage devices help to protect against data leaks.[6]

Client and server model[edit]

Endpoint security systems operate on a client-server model, with the security program controlled by a centrally managed host server pinned[clarification needed] with a client program that is installed on all the network drives.[citation needed][7] There is another model called software as a service (SaaS), where the security programs and the host server are maintained remotely by the merchant. In the payment card industry, the contribution from both the delivery models is that the server program verifies and authenticates the user login credentials and performs a device scan to check if it complies with designated corporate security standards prior to permitting network access.[8]

In addition to protecting an organization's endpoints from potential threats, endpoint security allows IT admins to monitor operation functions and data backup strategies.[9]

Attack vectors[edit]

Endpoint security is a constantly evolving field, primarily because adversaries never cease innovating their strategies. A foundational step in fortifying defenses is to grasp the myriad pathways adversaries exploit to compromise endpoint devices. Here are a few of the most used methods:

  • Phishing emails: remain a prevalent tactic, where deceptive messages lure users into malicious traps, often aided by sophisticated social engineering techniques. These strategies make fraudulent emails indistinguishable from legitimate ones, enhancing their efficacy.[10]
  • Digital advertising: Legitimate advertisements can be tampered with, resulting in ’malvertising’. Here, malware is introduced if unsuspecting users engage with the corrupted ads. This, along with the dangers of psychological manipulation in social engineering — where cybercriminals exploit human behavior to introduce threats — highlights the multifaceted nature of endpoint vulnerabilities.
  • Physical devices: USBs and other removable media remain a tangible threat. Inserting an infected device can swiftly compromise an entire system. On the digital side, platforms such as peer-to-peer networks amplify risks, often becoming hubs for malware dissemination.
  • Password vulnerabilities: Whether it is a matter of predictability, reused credentials, or brute-force attempts, passwords often become the weakest link. Even specialized protocols like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) are not invulnerable, with attackers seeking open RDP ports to exploit. Attachments in emails, especially those with macros, and content shared on social media and messaging platforms also present significant risks.
  • Internet of Things: because of the expanding IoT landscape, while promising in its utility, escalates threats. Often, IoT devices lack robust security, becoming unwitting gateways for attackers.

Components of endpoint protection[edit]

The protection of endpoint devices has become more crucial than ever. Understanding the different components that contribute to endpoint protection is essential for developing a robust defense strategy. Here are the key elements integral to securing endpoints:

  • Sandbox: In the domain of endpoint protection, the concept of sandboxing has emerged as a pivotal security mechanism. Sandboxing isolates potentially harmful software within a designated controlled environment, safeguarding the broader system from possible threats. This isolation prevents any negative impact that the software might have if it were malicious. The sandboxing procedure typically involves submitting any suspicious or unverified files from an endpoint to this controlled environment. Here, the softwares behavior is monitored, especially its interactions with the system and any network communications. Based on the analysis, a decision is made: if the software behaves benignly, is allowed to operate in the main system; if not, necessary security measures are deployed. In essence, sandboxing fortifies endpoint protection by preemptively identifying threats, analyzing them in a secure environment, and preventing potential harm, ensuring a comprehensive defense against a multitude of threats.[11]
  • Antivirus and Antimalware: Antivirus and antimalware programs remain pivotal in endpoint security, constantly safeguarding against an extensive range of malicious software. Designed to detect, block, and eliminate threats, they utilize techniques such as signature-based scanning, heuristic analysis, and behavioral assessment. Staying updated is vital. Most antivirus tools automatically refresh their databases to recognize emerging malware. This adaptability, coupled with features like behavior based analysis and the integration of machine learning, enhances their ability to counter novel and evolving threats.
  • Firewalls: Their primary role is to control access, ensuring only authorized entities can communicate within the network. This control extends to determining which applications can operate and communicate. Many modern firewalls also offer Virtual Private Network (VPN) support, providing secure encrypted connections, especially for remote access. Innovations like cloud-native firewalls and integrated threat intelligence showcase their continuous evolution. In essence, firewalls remain a critical, proactive component in endpoint protection, working alongside other tools to form a robust defense against cyber threats.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDP) systems: is continuously monitoring network traffic, these systems can identify suspicious patterns indicative of a security threat, thereby serving as an essential component in the multifaceted approach of endpoint protection. At their core, IDPSs rely on an extensive database of known threat signatures, heuristics, and sophisticated algorithms to differentiate between normal and potentially harmful activities. When suspicious activity is detected, the system can take immediate action by alerting administrators or even blocking the traffic source, depending on its configuration. Another pivotal aspect of intrusion detection and prevention systems is their capability to function without imposing significant latency on network traffic. By operating efficiently, they ensure that security measures do not compromise the operational performance of endpoint devices.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Rooted in the principle of maintaining data integrity and confidentiality, DLP tools scan and monitor data in transit, at rest, and during processing. They leverage advanced detection techniques to identify potential leaks or unauthorized data movements based on predefined policies. If a potential breach of policy is detected, the DLP can take action ranging from alerting administrators to outright blocking the data transfer. This mechanism not only thwarts inadvertent leaks due to human errors but also impedes malicious attempts by insiders or malware to exfiltrate data.
  • Patch Management: The essence of patch management lies in the systematic acquisition, testing, and application of these updates across all endpoints within an organization. Without a robust patch management strategy, endpoints remain susceptible to exploits that target known vulnerabilities, providing cybercriminals with opportunities to compromise systems. By ensuring that all devices are equipped with the latest security patches, organizations fortify their defenses, drastically reducing the window of exposure and bolstering resilience against potential cyberattacks.
  • Machine Learning and AI: By leveraging ML algorithms, EDR systems can continuously learn from vast amounts of data, discerning patterns and behaviors associated with malicious activities. This continuous learning enables the identification of previously unseen threats, enhancing the tool’s capability to detect zero-day vulnerabilities and advanced persistent threats. Beyond detection, AI also enhances the response aspect of EDR. Automated response mechanisms, informed by intelligent algorithms, can swiftly contain and mitigate threats, reducing the window of vulnerability and potential damage. Incorporating ML and AI into EDR not only augments detection capabilities but also streamlines security operations. Automated analysis reduces false positives, and predictive analytics can forecast potential future threats based on observed patterns.[12]

Methods for use[edit]

  • Continuous Adaptation: In the face of rapidly evolving threats, organizations must regularly review and adjust their endpoint protection strategies. This adaptability should extend from technology adoption to employee training.
  • Holistic Approach: It is crucial to recognize that endpoint protection is not a stand-alone solution. Organizations should adopt a multi-layered defense approach, integrating endpoint security with network, cloud, and perimeter defenses.
  • Vendor Collaboration: Regular engagement with solution vendors can provide insights into emerging threats and the latest defense techniques. Building a collaborative relationship ensures that security is always up-to-date.
  • Educate and Train: One of the weakest links in security remains human error. Regular training sessions, awareness programs, and simulated phishing campaigns can mitigate this risk significantly.
  • Embrace Technological Advancements: Integrate AI and machine learning capabilities into endpoint protection mechanisms, ensuring that the organization is equipped to detect and counteract zero-day threats and sophisticated attack vectors.

Endpoint protection platforms[edit]

An endpoint protection platform (EPP) is a solution deployed on endpoint devices to prevent file-based malware attacks, detect malicious activity, and provide the investigation and remediation capabilities needed to respond to dynamic security incidents and alerts.[13] Several vendors produce systems converging EPP systems with endpoint detection and response (EDR) platforms – systems focused on threat detection, response, and unified monitoring.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Endpoint Security (Definitions)". TechTarget. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  2. ^ Beal, V. (December 17, 2021). "Endpoint Security". Webopedia. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  3. ^ "What Is Endpoint Security and Why Is It Important?". Palo Alto Networks. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  4. ^ "USG Information Technology Handbook - Section 5.8" (PDF). University System of Georgia. January 30, 2023. pp. 68–72. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  5. ^ Endpoint security and compliance management design guide. Redbooks. October 7, 2015. ISBN 978-0-321-43695-5.
  6. ^ "What is Endpoint Security?". Forcepoint. August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  7. ^ "Client-server security". Exforsys. July 20, 2007. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  8. ^ "PCI and Data Security Standard" (PDF). October 7, 2015.
  9. ^ "12 essential features of advanced endpoint security tools". SearchSecurity. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  10. ^ Feroz, Mohammed Nazim; Mengel, Susan (2015). Phishing URL Detection Using URL Ranking. pp. 635–638. doi:10.1109/BigDataCongress.2015.97. ISBN 978-1-4673-7278-7. Retrieved January 8, 2024. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  11. ^ International Conference on Nascent Technologies in Engineering (ICNTE). Vashi, India. 2017. pp. 1–6. doi:10.1109/ICNTE.2017.7947885. Retrieved January 8, 2024.
  12. ^ Majumdar, Partha; Tripathi, Shayava; Annamalai, Balaji; Jagadeesan, Senthil; Khedar, Ranveer (2023). Detecting Malware Using Machine Learning. Taylor & Francis. pp. 37–104. doi:10.1201/9781003426134-5. ISBN 9781003426134. Retrieved January 8, 2024.
  13. ^ "Definition of Endpoint Protection Platform". Gartner. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Gartner (August 20, 2019). "Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms". Retrieved November 22, 2019.