Firewall Vs Endpoint Security: Why Do You Need Both?
The question beckons, “Isn’t my firewall enough to protect my network?” When it comes to cybersecurity, it is never “too secured”. There is simply no single and absolute solution that can protect against all threats. However, threats can be minimised with an arsenal of security tools that complement each other.
Security tools used to operate independently, denying potential synergy among the different tools. Today, most vendors have enabled their tools to integrate with others by sharing useful data to act or react to potential risks. These integrated tools “talk” to each other by sharing intelligence on a global threat intelligence feed warning each other of emerging threats and potential risks so that they can defend against them much more easily. For example, certain policies or rules can be added to tighten security and prevent potential threats from penetrating into the network.
Firewalls are usually regarded as the first layer of defense in network security. It filters incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of rules. It acts essentially as a gatekeeper allowing only non-malicious traffic to pass, blocking off traffic with malicious intent. Attempts made to gain access to your operating network system that are deemed to be suspicious or carry potential risks will be blocked. It is like a security guard, working at the network’s entry point allowing access to the “trusted personnel” into the premises which in this case, the trusted sources and IP addresses.
Firewalls work based on the set of rules determined beforehand, meaning it is a reactive system. Since they cannot predict the threats down the pipeline, it spells trouble if the right rules are not in place. It is also not a huge challenge for cybercriminals to outsmart a firewall with the pre-determined set of rules. Cyber attack incidents such as phishing and ransomware are a few examples of how cybercriminals found their way around firewalls.
Trends In Cyber Attack
Cybercriminals usually gain access to networks through the exploitation of vulnerabilities in a misconfigured asset or by stealing login credentials. They do so by mainly preying on endpoint devices. According to a 2020 study by Ponemon Institute, 68% of organisations had encountered at least one endpoint attack incident which led to sensitive corporate data compromised. This trend has been observed as more employees are working from their laptops. When these are stolen, the company’s data assets can be compromised. In addition, with the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, many organisations have adopted the “Work-From-Home” approach. Employees working remotely on their devices tend to be entry points for cybercriminals. This is due to the lack of visibility from IT administrators as they are not working in the office. Moreover, “Bring-You-Own-Device” flexibility has been introduced in recent years as well before the pandemic. The security measures in these devices may not suffice hence, increasing the risks of a cyber attack incident. With flexibility comes a price to pay – a higher risk of cyber attack incidents.
51% of organisations in 2019 and 2020 have experienced at least one ransomware incident. As one of the most commonly identified types of malware, employees usually find themselves the ones responsible for these attacks. Malware can be installed when employees download content or plugins from unreliable internet sources. In addition, it can be installed through a method called “Juice Jacking”. This is done through modifying USB ports such as the free charging terminals in public spaces.
What is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security or protection refers to the practice of securing and protecting the endpoints of end-user devices such as desktops, laptops and mobile devices. It prevents the exploitations of these endpoints to penetrate the organisation’s network which may result in serious data breaches and disruptions to daily operations.
Endpoint security has evolved over the years from just an anti-virus software to a more comprehensive measure, capable of detecting, analysing and blocking threats in a haste manner. Integration with other security tools is the new norm now as it provides IT administrators visibility into potential advanced threats and remedies them as soon as possible through threat intelligence sharing.
Benefits of Endpoint Security
- Malware Protection
You may think that you are safe with a firewall or anti-virus software, however, you can still be exposed to malware. A firewall would not be able to stop malware from gaining access via an external device connected to the organisation’s network. With employees working remotely, it increases the attack surface, allowing cybercriminals to launch attacks much easier. Traditional anti-virus software reacts to viruses but does not behave like endpoint security software. Endpoint security software acts proactively by monitoring potential threats and implementing necessary measures before anything happens. In addition, most endpoint security software can be integrated with other security tools to share threat intelligence to reinforce security.
Most Endpoint security software grants visibility for IT administrators to closely monitor and identify all potential threats. Its comprehensive dashboard provides IT administrators an overview of all endpoints and entry points with real-time data. This reduces the response time significantly, allowing network security to be managed more efficiently.
Despite its initial cost, proper endpoint security in place can help in preventing security breaches that may result in sensitive data compromised. The costs for data forensics, investigation and regulatory fines can cripple an organisation financially, hence it is vital to secure endpoints as they become the next point of exploitation for cybercriminals.
There are many security tools out there that provide different forms of integration to reduce the risk of a security breach. They help in managing threats together with a wide array of solutions to ensure a minimal attack surface for cybercriminals to target. It is definitely advisable to have both firewall and endpoint protection, however, it does not end here. The more tools, the more comprehensive the protection. A third-party service provider can be considered as well to help in managing the different tools. Despite the benefits a synchronised security can bring to an organisation, it requires the right talent and manpower as well.
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