Why Endpoint Protection is a Vital Part of Any Anti-Data Exfiltration Strategy

Preventing cyberattacks and securing sensitive data matters now more than ever. With the average cost of a data breach running into the millions of dollars and more firms coming under attack on a weekly or even daily basis, companies need to take steps to ensure their cybersecurity defenses are up to the challenge.

One particular area that needs to be addressed is the matter of endpoint security. Protecting company devices from both external attack and negligent or malicious employees now needs to play a key role in keeping businesses safe, especially as more devices connect and traditional solutions such as firewalls become less effective at stopping the new generation of advanced attacks.

As such, firms need on-device protection tools they can apply throughout their network, regardless of device type, network connection or location.

Understanding Endpoint Protection

Endpoint protection refers to the cybersecurity measures you have in place across every end-user device that touches your network. For most firms, this will include employee desktop and laptop PCs, but it increasingly also covers mobile devices, personally-owned devices and even gadgets such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. 

All of these act as entry points to your network that hackers can exploit, as well as potential exit points for any data that criminals are attempting to steal. What’s more, as the way people interact with enterprise networks changes in response to trends such as new working practices, these devices are increasingly displacing tools such as firewalls as the first line of defense for many companies.

Insider threats are a growing problem but the majority of cyberattacks still originate from external actors. For instance, in 2020, research by the Ponemon Institute suggested more than two-thirds of businesses (68 percent) experienced an endpoint attack that had compromised data assets or infrastructure. In 2022 this has become an even more pressing threat. 

Endpoint Protection in a Changing Environment

One serious challenge for many firms is simply keeping up with the growing number of endpoints they have connecting to their network. Employees accessing data from outside the perimeter has long been a weak spot for many businesses’ security, but with growing use of mobile devices and hybrid and fully-remote working, this is becoming an even bigger challenge.

Part of this has been driven by changes in employee expectations. For instance, figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics suggest a quarter of people (24 percent) were using a hybrid working strategy as of May 2022, where they split their time between home and the office. In many cases, these personnel now expect that this will be a permanent fixture for many enterprises.

Hackers have been quick to exploit these trends. In 2020, for example, when many people first started working from home due to COVID-19 lockdowns, ransomware attacks spiked by 150 percent compared with the previous year. 

As well as the fact that people now use personal devices and unsecured networks to access business data, less direct oversight means they can be far more susceptible to falling victim to certain types of phishing attacks. For example, those that purport to be from senior executives within the business asking for information are particularly successful against remote workers as they are unable to speak directly to colleagues face-to-face.

Other issues this may cause when it comes to endpoint management include ensuring that all devices are fully patched and updated to the latest versions. Poor patch management is another leading cause of data breaches, with as many as 57 percent of victims admitting that applying patches would have prevented a successful attack.

This indicates that even when devices are within the network perimeter, IT professionals struggle to keep up with these patching demands. When they do not have direct access to devices outside their control, the problem is likely to be exacerbated.

The Role of Endpoint Protection in Anti-Data Exfiltration

As unsecured endpoints are a key vulnerability that hackers are keen to exploit, whether looking to install malware or steal data, it’s vital that tools to protect these weaknesses play a key role in enterprises’ defenses.

In today’s highly decentralized networks, the best way to do this is with security solutions that provide on-device protection. On-device anti-data exfiltration (ADX) solutions will ensure that even if cybercriminals gain access to a network or device, they will not be able to steal data. 

They also prevent the collection of unauthorized data on these mobile devices while offering protection from cyberthreats such as phishing and profiling. 

By deploying these tools, you can ensure that no matter what endpoints your employees are using, or where they are based, your data is secured. This enables you to make certain your business is keeping up with the latest working trends without compromising on security.

Find out more about data exfiltration and what you need to do to prevent it.