Reinventing endpoint security to guard the future of work

Vinay Awasthi
Vinay Awasthi, Vice President and General Manager, Personal Systems, Asia Pacific and Japan, HP

Today’s workplace is driven by the needs of a multi-generational workforce who demand the right devices, tools and environment to operate with freedom and without fear. But with frequent stories of data breaches in the news, ensuring the security of devices and data has become of utmost concern for organizations. Companies can suffer from financial impact in the millions of dollars and risk relationships with customers if they fall victim to a cyberattack or data breach[i].

In the past year alone, 64 percent of companies have experienced at least one endpoint attack that compromised data assets or IT infrastructures, with antivirus products missing more than half (57%) of attacksiii. And for small businesses, more than 50 percent of all data breaches were attributed to human error, such as clicking on malicious links or accidentally downloading malwareiii.

In response, organizations have multiple layers of security defense to protect its employees and network against known malware. While necessary, these solutions don’t protect against unknown malware, or zero-day attacks as traditional antivirus has to recognize an attack in order to catch it. The rise of zero-day attacks poses a major threat for PCs who rely on traditional antivirus alone especially as sophisticated cybercriminals now target endpoints as the weakest link to compromise data assets or IT infrastructures.

And organizations themselves are not confident their antivirus can completely protect all their endpoint devices. Only 31 percent of organizations believe their traditional signature-based software provides the protection needed to stop attacks including new and unknown threatsiii.

What organizations need is protective and predictive security solutions, together with anti-virus software to protect businesses and their workforce, particularly at the end-point. More importantly, endpoints must be regarded as part of an organization’s network security rather than a standalone, as it is the next layer of defense needed to secure against cybercrime.

Yet, in a recent HP-commissioned study conducted by IDC, about half of the organizations (45 percent) say that security decisions are led only by IT – or that they are made only to meet regulatory compliance[ii]. Moreover, a separate study found that 68 percent of organizations do not reliably apply or audit their security policies[iii], leaving them vulnerable to attacks that could expose them to financial losses in the millions of dollars.

In order to protect an entire organization, IT and business leaders need more than secure endpoints – they need eyes on every device and ensure that their security policies are being enforced. A rather tall order, given the difficulty organizations face in gaining insights into the attacks that surface, coupled with the skill shortage of security experts globally – but not impossible. The right technology can lessen the threat of security breaches.

First, IT leaders need to determine if its network-level defense is sufficient, develop an effective endpoint security strategy that is integrated with the larger security framework, and select the right platform that meets the needs of the company and its workforce.

When it comes to managing the number of devices connected to the network, one consideration is to turn to a Device-as-a-Service Proactive Management capabilities to unify endpoint management of devices. Such solutions typically offer predictive capabilities using data and analytics, complemented by lifecycle services to optimize IT resources.

Next, IT leaders need to know where and how those attackers are coming at them. At HP, we believe in the power of layered protection and having multiple layers of security throughout a system. And the final layer of the malware security stack is solutions that protect employees’ devices.

To nip endpoint attacks in the bud, employees should be given highly secure devices equipped with powerful frontline defense solutions. For instance, there are available solutions and services that provide real-time protection through isolation technology or deliver constant real-time monitoring and protection against any malware or ransomware that attempts to infect any PCs. These services will complement what anti-virus solutions might miss.

The workplace and workstyle will continue to evolve – and so will the threats to IT systems. However, businesses now can provide IT departments with next-generation security solutions to confidently face the threats of tomorrow better, and potentially save them thousands or millions in costs that could be incurred from a breach.

[i] Ponemon Institute: 2018 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Overview

[ii] HP:  IDC Future of Work Readiness Index Assessment

[iii] SolarWinds MSP: Cybersecurity: can overconfidence lead to an extinction event?