Endpoint Management: Securing Today’s Perimeterless Networks
Growing mobile device usage requires comprehensive endpoint device security management
The variety of ways workers are now connecting together and to the web to work more effectively continues to grow.
As the connections expand, so do the steps that need to be taken to ensure those connections communicate with the network in a secure fashion.
Because employees increasingly are using mobile devices to connect to the corporate network, this puts pressure on IT to provide endpoint security and device management solutions that make sense for both the mobile worker and the enterprise.
Research firm IDC predicts that the number of mobile workers will increase to 1.19 billion by the year 2013. The variety of devices that these workers use to connect to the network will also continue to grow.
According to the iPass 2011 Mobile Enterprise Report, 73 percent of enterprises allow non-IT managed devices to access corporate resources. This is a figure that is likely to get larger as 83 percent of firms said they expect to support Apple’s iOS, while 77 percent anticipate supporting Android-enabled devices.
Each mobile device provides its own set of security vulnerabilities. Additionally, mobile equipment has less evolved security applications – most have no anti-virus or anti-spyware protection on the devices themselves. So endpoint devices are among hacker’s preferred targets.
According to the Juniper Networks Malicious Mobile Threats Report 2010/2011, there was a 400 percent increase in Android malware between June 2010 and January 2011.
To take advantage of the productivity offered by web-enabled endpoint devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets, it is essential that firms adopt policies and procedures that protect enterprise data while enabling staff to use the mobile devices that best fit their needs.
Use Best Practices for Endpoint Security Solutions
There are a number of established best practices for endpoint security management- among these observances are:
- Require the staff to sign policies and usage statements for all endpoint devices, including those owned by the business and employee-owned equipment. Policies and usage statements should clearly state the security and support that IT will provide, so it is responsible only for those apps and services that IT delivers and approves.
- Use the cloud layer to route all network requests such as email and server access to block security threats before they can do any damage.
- Place security solutions in the cloud. This method enables the enterprise to provide central endpoint device management and security rather than going to each device to install security applications.
- Use the cloud layer to provide authorization capabilities, allowing workers to access different areas of the network, depending on their needs. For example, an auditor might need access to sensitive corporate financial information, while a customer service representative would need to access customer transactions.
- Delete corporate information from endpoint devices in the event that they are lost or stolen or if the employee’s relationship with the company ends. The Juniper malware study reports that 1 in 20 mobile devices were lost or stolen.
- Provide centralized access to applications to ensure that they have the latest security protections.
- Educate staff about the latest threats and the need for security to be everyone’s responsibility and not just that of IT. Staff should be alerted to the latest social engineering techniques as they pertain to popular social media and financial institution sites, search term poisoning, etc. to lure users to innocuous looking websites that can redirect devices and trick users into revealing confidential corporate and personal information.
By following these best practices, the enterprise can help ensure that its sensitive data and endpoints are protected while enabling workers to leverage the power and flexibility of these mobile devices.
By Phil Britt