Endpoint Security

Endpoint security: More security on all end devices with email hosting in the cloud and co.

In our digital business landscape, cyber security challenges are becoming increasingly complex: home office, remote working and BYOD (= Bring Your Own Device) are on the daily agenda and are reshaping not only our device landscape, but also our security network. Mobile devices are used intensively, both professionally and privately. This creates more security gaps, as the company network is accessed from many (different) end devices. Endpoint security solutions, complemented by efficient email security systems, provide a robust line of defence that protects you in maintaining your data integrity and ensuring smooth operations.

Endpoint security: definition and basics

Endpoint security deals with technologies and procedures to protect all end devices in a network from security threats and misuse. On the technical side, this includes, for example, email hosting in the cloud, firewalls or encryption techniques based on AI as well as sensitisation and training of your employees or compliance requirements as organisational measures.

Endpoint Security

What counts as an endpoint device?

An endpoint device is a device that is connected to your network and can access your network. In IT, endpoint devices are often called 'endpoint devices'. Through these devices, users can access network resources and applications and send and receive data. Typical endpoint devices are:

  • PCs
  • Laptops
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Printers
  • Scanner
  • Copiers
  • Point-of-sale systems and terminals
  • Virtual voice assistants (e.g. Alexa)
  • ATMs
  • • Other devices, such as medical devices or IoT devices (Internet of Things)

Why is endpoint security important?

With the increasing number and variety of end devices as well as the increased use of home office and remote work, users access corporate data with their devices via numerous external, sometimes even unprotected, networks. Work models such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or COPE (Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled) reinforce this development. End devices are used for both business and private purposes. Even a single unprotected device can be enough to give an attacker access to the entire network.

Thus, endpoint devices pose a potential security threat to your network and thus to your company. Attacking an endpoint device can be done in several ways. Just calling up a certain website can infect your device with a virus, even USB sticks can transfer malicious software within seconds. E-mails are particularly affected by cyber attacks; phishing e-mails or infected e-mail attachments are already part of the daily routine. The resulting damage can quickly reach financial proportions that are in the four- to five-figure range or more. It is therefore important to check your email security and ensure that comprehensive and new protective measures are implemented.

Note: Endpoint security is not only relevant for corporations and large companies, but especially for SMEs! SMEs are often characterised by limited or non-existent IT departments or a lack of IT security concepts, which makes them attractive targets for cyber attacks. Hackers look for victims who offer little resistance.

You are exposed to these security risks

Whereas some time ago cyber threats were mainly targeted at networks, today the attack is almost directly via end devices in use. Cyber criminals use these devices as a gateway into corporate networks, from where they gradually spread to eventually gain control and access to the entire network. The most common security threats to your endpoints include:

  • Phishing and Spear-Phishing
    Phishing is a fraud attempt in which cyber criminals pretend to be a trustworthy person or organisation to steal personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers. Usually, this happens via fake emails or messages. These attacks are usually directed at numerous recipients (victims) at the same time, which you can usually recognise in the impersonal form of address (e.g. "Dear Customer"). In contrast to phishing attacks, spear phishing targets a specific person and the attackers often have personal information about the target, which makes the fraud attempt seem credible. Phishing emails can hack your accounts, such as social media ad account, credit card account, etc., and steal online identities.
  • Malware
    Malware is malicious software that aims to damage, destroy or gain access to devices and systems. There are different types of malware. The term malware includes viruses, Trojan or ransomware. Ransomware refers to attacks on companies in which systems are paralysed until a ransom is paid.
  • Social engineering – human security risk
    In social engineering, criminals exploit human characteristics such as trust or helpfulness to obtain confidential information, bypass security systems or install malware on a company device. Criminals use false identities here. For example, they pose as an IT technician who needs access to your PC. This can happen via emails (phishing attacks), phone calls or even in person.

Challenges with mobile devices

Particularly through use in a professional and private context, such as in the context of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and COPE (Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled), mobile end devices pose a significant security risk. Very often, company emails are accessed via private mobile devices. This creates the problem that both company data (emails, contacts) and private data (access data, credit card information) are used on the same device.

An additional security risk arises from the permanent carrying of smart end devices. For example, mobile phones are with them everywhere - on holiday, in the bar, during sports. In the worst case, the loss or theft of a smartphone can lead to the disclosure or loss of sensitive data.

Mobile devices interact with numerous Wi-Fi networks. Meanwhile, free Wi-Fi is available in almost every restaurant, hotel or shop. However, these connections are often unsecured and should not be used for business purposes under any circumstances. Hackers can easily penetrate unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Another security vulnerability, especially for mobile devices, is insufficient updates. It is therefore essential to keep your devices up to date. Major smartphone manufacturers are constantly developing their security measures and with each update provided, the mobile device should become more secure.

Risks from working in a home office

At the latest since the Corona pandemic, but also due to the New Work trend, the home office has become a fixed part of the work routine for many employees. This development harbours various risks, especially about IT security:

  • Employee network connection
    Companies (usually) have no insight into the home network of their employees. Private WLAN accesses are often protected with only one password, which means they can be quickly hacked and attacked.
  • Private end devices
    In many cases, private end devices (laptop, smartphone, etc.) are used in the home office. Each additional device used to access the company network increases the security risk for your company. In many cases, the company's internal IT team has no insight into employees' private devices. According to a study by the BSI (Federal Office for Information Security), only 42% of companies exclusively use company-owned IT equipment in the home office.

Measures and solutions

Basically, two categories of security measures for end devices can be distinguished. Only through the concentrated and simultaneous application of both categories of measures can you achieve maximum protection.

Organisational measures

Organisational measures include cyber security training for your employees as well as the creation of policies regarding the correct handling of end devices. Often, teams lack sufficient IT knowledge and security awareness. Therefore, it is of great relevance to inform employees comprehensively regarding security risks and to sensitise them accordingly.

TIP: Raise awareness of the security risks associated with home offices on both sides - the entrepreneur and the employee.

Technical measures

Various preventive measures ensure that endpoint devices are protected and the security risk is kept as low as possible. The ideal security solution is a combination of different technical measures, such as

  • Virus protection
  • Firewalls
  • Anti Spam
  • Password protection & multi-factor authentication
  • Device management (control of external storage media etc.)
  • Authorisation management (employees only receive the authorisations they really need)
  • URL filter (access to certain URLs or URLs without SSL certificate is blocked)
  • Use of encryption techniques (VPN solutions, end-to-end encryption for emails, encryption of files or directories, etc.)
  • VPN setup
  • Automatic updates on end devices

Endpoint security in relation to emails

Endpoint security in the context of email is an important pillar of cyber security, as email communication is the most common transmission channel for threats and attacks. Almost every email address is already a victim of regular spam, sometimes harmless, sometimes dangerous.

How can end devices be attacked by emails?

  • Malware (infected attachments)
  • Phishing mails
  • Ransomware
  • Business email compromise (BEC)
  • Spam
Der perfekte SOC

How best to implement email security

The optimal implementation of email security requires a combination of technological, organisational and educational measures. Modern technological solutions make use of artificial intelligence (AI), which enables improved detection and defence against threats. AI-based systems are able to continuously adapt and learn from detected threat vectors to also identify new, previously unknown forms of attack.

  • Firewall
    The firewall is used to intercept suspicious emails before they reach the end device. A good firewall can intercept fraudulent mails and spam before they cause damage.
  • Encryption
    Encryption of messages is essential to protect content from third parties.
  • Email server in the cloud
    Reputable cloud providers integrate encryption and firewalls in their packages. In addition, cloud-based solutions are usually cheaper and can be scaled arbitrarily and infinitely.
  • Endpoint protection service
    Special, modular operating systems such as the IGEL OS endpoint operating system minimise security risks on your end devices.
  • Phishing Proof
    Multi-factor authentication reliably protects your email inbox against phishing.
  • Guidelines and training for staff
    Organisational measures in the handling of end devices increase the security for e-mails and endpoint devices.

Advantages of email cloud solutions

Mail server hosting via the cloud and cloud computing offer you a number of advantages, such as:

Cost efficiency
Cloud-based email services can be more cost-efficient as there is no need for hardware investment.

Scalability
Cloud-based email solutions can be easily adapted to growing user numbers and storage requirements.

Accessibility
Cloud solutions allow users to access their email from anywhere and from any device with internet access, enabling flexible and mobile working.

Automatic updates
The updates do not have to be carried out by you or your team, but by the cloud providers, which means that the systems are always up to date. This improves security and enables the addition of new functions.

Security and compliance
In addition to integrated firewalls and encryption, cloud providers also ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

Disaster Recovery
Cloud solutions offer integrated backup and disaster recovery capabilities that enable the protection and rapid recovery of email data in the event of data loss.

Centralised management
A centralised dashboard allows you or your administrators to manage accounts, set security policies and monitor the email environment, simplifying administration.

Integration capability
Cloud-based email solutions can be integrated with other cloud services (e.g. CRM or collaboration tools) and applications, promoting operational efficiency and collaboration.

Resource optimisation
Outsourcing email infrastructure to the cloud allows internal IT teams to focus on more strategic projects and initiatives instead of spending time maintaining email servers.

Total solutions for companies

If companies have not established their own security department and cannot build up an internal security team due to a lack of skilled workers or financial reasons, it is possible to hand over the services to external IT service providers. This has the advantage that companies benefit from the expertise and resources of specialised security providers without having to provide the associated internal resources. It also allows security measures to be adapted quickly to respond to changing threats and business needs.

The following are particularly suitable for external outsourcing:

  • Managed Security Services (MSSP): Managed Security Services Provider offer a range of IT and network security services.
  • Endpoint protection service protects your end devices and offers you centralised management - even for hardware with older operating systems.
  • Cloud-based security solutions: Cloud-based platforms offer a variety of security services that can be easily integrated and scaled to ensure endpoint protection.
  • Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS): This service offers a wide range of security solutions provided as a service - whether in the form of individual security packages, IT flat rates or IT monitoring.

Outsourcing security services to external service providers allows you to focus on your core competencies while ensuring a high level of security to protect your data and endpoints from the multiple threats of the modern cyber landscape.

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