Cyber attacks are on the rise globally. Juniper Research predicts that more than 33 billion records will be stolen by cybercriminals in 2023 alone, an increase of 175% over the 12 billion records estimated to be compromised in 2018. If you're a business owner of a company of any size, you should be paying attention to your cybersecurity.
In general, business leaders don't think much about protecting their networks from virtual attacks until it's too late. According to the Online Trust Alliance , 93 percent of these breaches could have been prevented with simple cybersecurity plans and solid threat intelligence solutions.
Broken down, 52 percent of breaches were due to hacks and 15 percent were caused by a lack of effective security software. Eleven percent were due to credit card skimming. Further, 11 percent were caused by employee negligence or malice, and 8 percent of breaches were due to phishing attacks.
One of the most vulnerable elements of a business network is something even IT professionals overlook: endpoint devices. In the face of the uptick in data breaches, let's focus on endpoint security for comprehensive protection of your important business assets.
Endpoint devices are all the machines that are connected via the Internet into the network that's the technical heart of your business. This is a term describing all your desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, POS systems, printers, scanners and tablets. Anything that your employees use to communicate with one another and share data can also be vulnerable.
Endpoint security management is the policy you create to ensure all the endpoint devices in your network maintain certain levels of security and safety. It's part of a comprehensive cybersecurity program that's a modern-day requirement for small local businesses and huge multinational corporations. Think of it less as an insurance policy and more of a well-lit alarm system to stop hackers who are mining for your valuable data.
Endpoint devices are the weakest links in every business's network today. To understand why, let's go back to the reasons that caused recent data breaches. Some companies smartly install antivirus and anti-malware software on the computers in their offices, but what about mobile devices? Employee negligence or malice is a concern, and endpoint devices are exactly how they have access to the network.
What about hackers and phishing attacks? The reality is that programmers looking to exploit weaknesses in systems go for the easiest vulnerability with the highest likelihood of success. More businesses are operating remotely, which means there are more endpoint devices with more opportunities for failure.
Cybersecurity programs become increasingly complex as more endpoint devices are introduced into business network. While the mobility and ease of communication make it easier to be efficient, they can also prove challenging for protection.
For effective endpoint security, business leaders must create a policy that covers a network that doesn't have geographic limits. It may not be fiscally realistic to have a centrally managed server in-house to validate employees and vendors seeking to access data within your network. Employees working on remote systems may not update their software or be careful enough with suspicious emails and downloads.
Not surprisingly, there's been a growing list of best practices regarding endpoint security management systems. Requiring all devices to utilize an approved operating system and a VPN, or virtual private network, is an important first step. If a device hasn't complied with the policy, there are ways to limit access to important data. Security programs can be maintained remotely by a vendor and even automated to simplify the process.
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