Endpoint security is a critical topic that means different things to different organizations. What does it mean to discuss “improving endpoint security?”
What is an Endpoint?
The term endpoint is used in a variety of ways in different contexts. For this discussion, an endpoint is an individual computer system or device that acts as a network client and serves as a workstation or personal computing device. Endpoints are often mobile and intermittently connected. Common endpoints are laptops, desktops, and personal computing devices such as connected PDAs. Also, an application server can be considered an endpoint when it functions as a network host.
What is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint Security is the sum total of the measures taken to implement security concerning endpoints. These measures include assessing risk to protect endpoints, such as with client antivirus and personal firewall, and protecting the network from the endpoints themselves, such as with quarantine and access control. Also, Endpoint Security logically extends to the management and administration of these security measures, as well as to the risk, reporting, and knowledge management of the state and results of these measures.
The ultimate goal for an enterprise is to protect WAN and LAN endpoints and to maintain a safe productivity level that results in improving business results while reducing costs and losses due to security incidents.
The Ever-Growing Threat
The growing number and variety of threats to endpoints, as well as threats that use endpoints as a vector, has made endpoint security a “hot topic.” Current threats include viruses, Trojans, worms, the use of endpoints as DDoS zombie hosts, and spyware. New threats and new types of threats emerge on a regular basis. These threats take advantage of a growing number and variety of endpoint vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include the familiar, such as buffer overruns; the more insidious, such as keystroke-loggers and instant-messaging worms; and the most recent, such as vulnerabilities in the security software itself. Enterprises end up with extreme vulnerability to a bewildering array of threats that increase each day. Endpoints are where the typical enterprise conducts most of its business, and disruption to endpoints is a huge impact to enterprises in terms of cost and lost productivity. Since endpoints are now a primary target of these threats, enterprises are forced by necessity to confront Endpoint security as a core business issue.