The 5 Layers of Effective Endpoint Security – Andrew Young

3 min read

Cybercriminals are mounting attacks against remote workforces at increasing rates. Here’s why a Zero Trust approach to endpoint security is the answer.

Endpoints have become the preferred target for cybercriminals today, as more corporate users and devices operate at home and beyond the protection of traditional security controls. In fact, according to a 2020 Ponemon Institute study, 68% of organizations reported that the volume of endpoint-specific attacks increased over the previous year. While useful for preventing known threats and malicious activity, legacy endpoint protection platform (EPP) solutions alone are simply no longer fit for the challenge.

The modern endpoint-centric threat landscape requires a shift in perspective toward assuming that all endpoints are compromised and untrustworthy by default. Every organization must pair traditional prevention technologies of the past with cutting-edge, intelligent endpoint prevention, detection and response technologies. In short, you must take a multi-level, Zero Trust approach to endpoint security in order to protect your devices, users and sensitive corporate data.

Let’s dive into five key layers involved in such an approach that together can establish the level of protection today’s corporate endpoints need. The first three include several capabilities with which most organizations are likely somewhat familiar: 

Signature- and Heuristic-based Detection – Most EPP solutions today leverage a combination of heuristic-based detection and signature-based detection to deliver traditional endpoint protection against known threats. The former approach uses algorithms to identify code that indicates a potential threat, while the latter matches files to databases of threats. These are common, yet critical functions you need in any effective endpoint protection strategy.

Contextual Detection – Beyond traditional detection techniques, you need to analyze endpoint threat behaviors and hacking techniques to detect and block both known and unknown viruses, malware, spyware and phishing, as well as ransomware and trojans across all attack vectors, including browsers, email, file systems, and external devices connected to corporate endpoints. This means combining signatures and heuristics with the power of threat intelligence from known indicators of previous attacks to establish contextual rules for detecting endpoint attacks.

Anti-Exploit Technology – In today’s threat landscape, you must continually monitor and block zero-day malware, fileless or malware-less attacks, ransomware, phishing attacks and more at the endpoint. This requires sophisticated anti-exploit technology capable of tracking all actions taken by the processes running on corporate endpoints to automatically detect and remediate today’s most advanced hacking techniques, tactics, and procedures.

The next two layers are unique to WatchGuard EPDR, an advanced, cloud-based endpoint security solution for computers, laptops and servers. It combines the broadest range of traditional EPP technologies with AI-enabled endpoint detection and response (EDR) capabilities to fully automate off-network threat prevention, detection, containment and response. WatchGuard EDPR also includes two  critical services managed by in-house security experts for advanced endpoint protection:

Zero-Trust Application Service – Based on the capacity, speed, adaptability and scalability of AI and cloud processing, this solution monitors and classifies all endpoint activity, prevents malicious processes, blocks malicious applications, stops lateral movement attacks and more. It’s based on big data, AI, deep learning, and the continuous experience, knowledge and supervision that WatchGuard’s threat team has accumulated over several decades. And as the name suggests, this service never trusts and always verifies, eliminating uncertainty by providing a real-time classification as either malicious or legitimate for every endpoint execution to establish the level of response required to enable a Zero Trust security model.

Threat Hunting Service – Real-time, in-depth analysis from seasoned cybersecurity experts means faster detection and response times for endpoint threats and better protection against future attacks. WatchGuard’s threat team uses profiling analysis and correlation tools to investigate anomalous endpoint behaviors, proactively detect and prevent early-stage attacks and endpoint infections, and uncover new hacking and evasion techniques. The service also ensures that each endpoint action is traceable and provides deep insight into the attacker and their activity, which streamlines forensic investigations across applications, users and machines and allows for fast and effective security policy adjustments to mitigate future threats.

The remote work era has only just begun and as business operations become increasingly distributed, endpoint attacks will continue to multiply. If you aren’t already, now is the time to consider adopting a Zero Trust approach to endpoint security to ensure your devices and employees are protected regardless of their physical location.

Our Take: As more corporate users and devices operate at home and beyond the protection of traditional security systems, endpoints have become the favorite target for cybercriminals.   Legacy endpoint protection platform (EPP) solutions, while effective for preventing known threats and malicious activities, are not up to the task. It is, however, necessary for organizations to assume that all endpoints are infiltrated and untrustworthy by default and sort innovative approaches to beef up the level of security that meets the need of contemporary endpoints.

About the Author(s): Andrew Young is the Senior Vice President of Product Management at WatchGuard Technologies. He has more than 20 years of experience bringing security hardware and software products and SaaS services to market, including more than 10 years of progressive product management expertise.

Source: CSO Online

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