Endpoint security refers to securing endpoints, or end-user devices like desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Endpoints serve as points of access to an enterprise network and create points of entry that can be exploited by malicious users.
Endpoint security software protects these points of entry from risky activity and/or malicious attack. When companies can ensure endpoint compliance with data security standards, they can maintain greater control over the growing number and type of access points to the network.
Why is Endpoint Security Important?
Increasingly, enterprises and their employees are incorporating practices to make access to data more fluid. The increase in BYOD (bring your own device) policies, in addition to threats targeting mobile device access and networks, create multiple endpoint vulnerabilities. In addition, employees working from home or connecting to Wi-Fi networks to work on-the-go means that the enterprise network security perimeter is more porous than ever.
In the past, most security breaches came in through the network. Today, however, threats are increasingly coming in through endpoints, which means centralized network protection does not go far enough. Shifting security perimeters that lack clear definition require new layers of security through endpoint protection. Security must maintain greater control over access points to prevent the vulnerabilities that can arise through the use of remote devices.
Endpoint Security and the Network
Endpoint security software uses encryption and application control to secure devices accessing the enterprise network, thereby better controlling security on those avenues of access to monitor and block risky activities. Encrypting data on endpoints and removable storage devices helps to protect against data leaks and loss. Application control prevents endpoint users from executing unauthorized applications that could create vulnerabilities in the network.
Endpoint security solutions often use a client-server model of protection, employing both a centrally managed security solution to protect the network as well as client software locally installed on each endpoint used to access that network. Some work on a SaaS (Software as a Service) model, by which both central and endpoint security solutions are maintained remotely.
Endpoint Security and Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software is central to endpoint security; it does not always protect individual devices and servers. Implementing endpoint protection creates a two-pronged approach to security by also securing individual devices that connect to the network. Using an endpoint security approach makes endpoints more heavily responsible for security than anti-virus software that protects the network alone.