Endpoint security is a term that is used within the domain of network security. It refers to a process of protecting the network of a corporation, enterprise, or organization when it is being accessed using mobile or remote devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, or tablets.
Any device that accesses a network connection remotely poses a potential security threat, as a possible entry point for other devices. These possible entry points are called endpoints, and endpoint security is the process of securing them. Endpoint security ensures that a network is as secure as possible, even when mobile devices are connected.
Usually, an endpoint security system consists of special security software that is housed on a network server or gateway that is centrally managed and accessible. Client software must be installed on all devices, also known as endpoints. When this endpoint security software is installed on a device, it allows the server to easily authenticate a login from a particular endpoint. Software on devices is updated as required. A number of vendors offer endpoint security software, including antivirus, firewall, antispyware, and a host intrusion prevention system (HIPS).
Endpoint security may also involve restrictions regarding the purposes mobile devices can be used for. A network administrator may be responsible for restricting access to certain websites or applications according to the corporation’s standards and policies. Employees may be required to use a VPN client to login and mobile devices that do not meet compliance standards will be given limited access.
The Growing Importance of Endpoint Security
The need for endpoint security is increasing as bring your own device (BYOD) becomes a more common strategy for businesses. Staff use their own devices for both personal and work purposes. Mobile devices with sensitive corporate data are therefore at a risk of suffering a security breach if lost or stolen. Endpoint security software prevents this likelihood, as device authentication can be controlled remotely. Today, more employees than ever work remotely, which means they need to be able to login from wherever they are to the company network without compromising security. Centralized security measures, restricted to the server security, are simply not enough in these instances—hence, endpoint security is used as well.
Endpoint security supplements centralized network security measures by protecting the point of entry—the mobile device. Corporations can now exert more control over the number of access points they have, and effectively block any potential threats, including attempts to access or malicious activities.
Endpoint Security Software is not the Same as Antivirus Software
The difference between antivirus software and endpoint security has to do with the client-server framework that endpoint security utilizes. Endpoints are more or less responsible for their own security. This is different from network security, in which the entire network is protected by security measures, as opposed to a client-server model that protects both servers and individual mobile devices.
Common features of endpoint security software include data loss prevention, protection from insider threats, email, disk, and endpoint encryption, application whitelisting, network access control, data classification, privileged user control, and endpoint detection.