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Cybersecurity is more and more important every day for businesses of all sizes, including managed service providers (MSPs) who offer cybersecurity services. Taken with the continued rise of hybrid and remote work environments, endpoint protection in particular is a crucial solution that any discerning MSP should 100% be including in its offering.

What is endpoint protection?

Endpoint protection (AKA endpoint security) refers to the security measures taken to address threats faced by network endpoints. Endpoints are devices such as laptops, mobile devices, workstations and servers.

While most enterprises have a number of security measures in place to protect their central servers—integral as they are to operational sustainability—endpoint devices must also be adequately protected. After all, endpoints pose a significant security risk because they have access to both central servers and the outside world at large. As such, they’re prime targets for cybercriminals, and once compromised, can allow a hacker to gain access to one’s entire network.

Moral of the story: any flaw or gap in endpoint protection can lead to the loss of critical company data from a server. Enterprises must take special measures to reduce the likelihood of this ever happening.

Why endpoint security is important

Your average workplace is a dynamic one. Companies are increasingly integrating practices that render data access much easier, like bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, or remote access. But while it’s true that these measures are a necessary part of any modern, fully optimized workplace, they also open doors to potential security threats that can take down your entire system. The reality is that this exposure to personal devices and unsecure Wi-Fi networks presents more threats to enterprise networks than ever before.

Still, much of the corporate world has yet to adopt policies that can effectively combat this issue. A 2020 study from the Ponemon Institute found that:

  • While 68% of respondents say the frequency of attacks has increased, 51% say their organizations’ endpoint security solutions are not effective at detecting advanced attacks.
  • The annual cost of a successful cyberattack has increased from roughly $7.1 million to $8.94 million. These costs factor in the loss of IT, end-user productivity and information assets alike.
  • To manage risk, 69% of respondents say their organizations either currently outsource endpoint protection to an MSP or other third party, or they plan to.

Another study from the Ponemon Institute and Keeper found that attacks on endpoints were among the most prevalent, with 81% of businesses experiencing an attack involving malware, and 28% experiencing attacks involving compromised or stolen devices. Despite the increase in security risks associated with remote working, only 47% of organizations monitor their networks 24/7, and only 50% encrypt sensitive data that’s stored on devices. Furthermore, IBM has found that more than 70% of people traveling for business connect their devices to public Wi-Fi, USB ports or charging stations, unwittingly opening the door to potential attacks.

The components of a good endpoint protection plan

With about 80% of successful breaches being new or unknown zero-day attacks, advanced endpoint protection is necessary to ensure data safety.

While there are numerous endpoint security options to choose from, it’s important to remember that comprehensive protection entails much more than installing antivirus software (which should also be done).

The following four features are crucial to a strong endpoint security plan.

1. Policy management

Effective endpoint protection involves implementing rules regarding who accesses the company server, the permissions for each user and any exceptions for overriding these protocols. The option to customize policies for individual devices is a plus, as is setting guidelines for special use cases requiring greater access.

The ideal endpoint solution should have several measures in place in the case of a protocol override, such as alarms and alerts. It should also provide an audit trail that allows administrators to trace unauthorized access to any given compromised endpoint.

Characteristics of strong policy management include:

  • The option to customize device policies
  • The option to customize user policies
  • Policies in place for protocol overrides

2. Patch management

Patches are used to fix potential system vulnerabilities which, if exploited, could pave the way for unauthorized access and potential data loss. The ideal endpoint solution includes a patch management component that resolves network vulnerabilities, allowing for the repair of each as detected.

Characteristics of comprehensive patch management include:

  • Support for the discovery of vulnerabilities in various endpoint operating systems and apps
  • Guidelines for creating and deploying patches to remote devices
  • Patch deployment process
  • The ability to schedule and prioritize patches

3. Centralized management and configuration

Having centralized control over every connected device is key to safely managing a network endpoint. It is also particularly useful in the case of an emergency necessitating a lockdown or the shutting down of a specific device. With a single security management dashboard, administrators can create and edit policies, get timely alerts about suspicious activity, schedule mass updates and analyze the usage history for each endpoint.

Components of centralized management:

  • Management for exceptions
  • Control over applications
  • Live security updates
  • Remote installation and security software updates
  • Controls to manage scalability

4. Advanced device control

While admitting an endpoint device to the system is crucial, advanced device control allows organizations to monitor external devices too, such as those connected through USB ports. Some systems may even provide the capability to monitor local disks, CD drives, Bluetooth connections and cloud storage. A company might choose, however, to grant system access to a USB-connected mouse but not a USB-connected hard drive. This level of control supports the encryption of data exported outside trusted devices, rendering it useless to hackers.

Components of advanced device control:

  • Support and monitoring of multiple devices
  • Enforced access control over USB-mounted devices
  • Enforced company policies across all workstations and endpoints
  • Allowing for the transfer of encrypted data outside the network
  • Support for logging endpoint device activity, even when offline

Examples of endpoint protection platforms and solutions

Centrally managed, cloud-based endpoint protection solutions found in Sherweb’s cloud marketplace include the following offerings:

  • Bitdefender: Advanced threat detection and prevention capabilities with minimal impact on system performance.
  • Trend Micro: Advanced machine learning and AI technologies with cross-platform protection capabilities.
  • Malwarebytes: Advanced malware detection and remediation capabilities featuring ease of use and deployment
  • Microsoft Defender: Integration with the Windows operating system with advanced threat protection capabilities.

Looking to deliver robust endpoint protection for clients? Work with the right partner

There’s a lot for MSPs to consider when it comes to delivering worthy endpoint protection for clients. Sherweb can help! Our cloud marketplace includes leading cybersecurity solutions specially selected to enhance MSP offerings and help keep their customers safe.

Reach out to us to start a conversation about how we can help you deliver comprehensive cybersecurity, or check out our partner guide for more information about how we can help your business thrive.

Written by The Sherweb Team Collaborators @ Sherweb