Endpoint Security Trends and Risks to Watch in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic fueled the mass transition to remote working and learning. While this was necessary to adapt to the unprecedented changes, organisations became more vulnerable to cyber security risks. Reports of cyber attacks increased by 400%, representing about 4,000 attacks a day.1

This trend continued in 2021, as about 40% of organisations feel threatened by cyber-attacks.2 As such, it’s worth tracking key trends and risks to secure your organisation and operations from a potential attack.

For example, managed detection and response (MDR) services are a staple today, and they protect your assets and data, particularly from threats that elude your security controls. MDR services combine threat intelligence, cyber security experts, and advanced analytics to offer 24×7 security. Want to find out more about MDR? Read What is MDR.

Exciting trends are evolving within the cyber security landscape that are worth tracking. This article will look at risks, new trends, and other details to keep an eye on in 2021.

What is endpoint security?

Endpoint security is an approach that aims to secure network endpoints or entry points of end-user devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, from being exploited by malicious actors and campaigns. Endpoints are attack vectors that attackers can use to access your network and systems.

As such, an endpoint security solution involves intelligence integrations, continuous monitoring, and response capabilities to detect, contain, and block attacks. It uses the public cloud to access the latest threat definitions and intelligence, delivering faster and more effective responses in case of an attack. This reduces overhead costs as there is no maintenance cost for infrastructure.

Risks

The threats and risks to your endpoint security can be internal or external, resulting in an ever-expanding attack surface for attackers to exploit. Organisations are even more vulnerable to attacks following the shift to decentralised working environments. Therefore, it’s vital to know potential endpoint security risks that might lead to network intrusion and data breaches. These include:

  • Phishing attacks: Phishing is the most common cyber security threat in 2021. It’s a type of social engineering attack where malicious actors trick their targets into sharing sensitive or confidential details.
  • Ransomware: This is the second most popular risk, accounting for about 22% of cyber security incidents in the first half of 2021.3 Attackers now threaten to publish stolen data unless a ransom is paid.
  • A lack of endpoint visibility: Poor visibility into endpoints creates risk, and many UK businesses are victims of this risk. Deploying quality endpoint visibility tools can help you identify and secure all devices connected to your network both onsite and remotely.
  • Malware Ads: Also known as adware or malvertising, malware ads trick users into downloading infected files or redirect them to spoof sites that look legitimate. The ads are used to compromise systems and spread malware.
  • Drive-By Downloads: This is an automated download of software to a user’s device without their knowledge. Cybercriminals use this method to install malware on a victim’s computer, enabling them to steal personal information or inject banking trojans.

Identifying and understanding these risks is the first step to safeguarding your data and organisation. Additionally, you should invest in employee awareness training to help them detect social engineering schemes and other targeted endpoint attacks.

Suggested reading: If you want to read more about the cyber threat landscape, take a look at our blog — The Threat Landscape Never Sits Still: Four new risks organisations face in 2021

Typing on laptop keyboard

New trends

Technology is evolving rapidly, creating new opportunities for both organisations and attackers. Emerging technologies, such as automation, the internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI), significantly redefine how systems and processes work. Consequently, this impacts how organisations view cyber security and what techniques they can use to ensure endpoint security.

Here are some of the key trends you should know about as you look to implement a robust and effective cyber security strategy.

1. Artificial intelligence 

With AI integration, under-resourced security teams can benefit significantly from automated operations and processes. AI can identify new threats, generate alerts for attacks, and protect your data if trained well. When combined with machine learning (ML), AI can analyse millions of data sets to provide threat intelligence, reduce response times, and ensure sound decision-making.

As more organisations integrate AI into cyber security, its spectrum of applications continues to grow. In fact, AI in the cyber security market is expected to hit £27.6 billion by 2026.4 Now, you can leverage AI-driven endpoint protection to build proactive protection against attacks and create a future-proofed system that adapts to your security needs.

2. Cloud-based protection

New threats emerge daily, and it can be difficult for onsite security controls to identify them quickly. With cloud-based protection, you get automated, near-instant protection against emerging threats. Cloud-based security systems have access to the latest threat definitions, making it easy to deliver fixes for malware quickly. Plus, you don’t need to update your systems to take advantage of such intelligence.

Without cloud protection, traditional systems can take up to four hours to identify and contain new malware. Cloud-based security can do this within seconds. Additionally, cloud systems reduce your resources, offer automatic backups, and ensure continuous monitoring, saving time and cutting costs for your organisation. 

3. Multi-layered defence

Also known as defence-in-depth, multi-layered defence is a security approach that uses several components to protect multiple levels or layers of your system. For example, different devices connect to your network or system, creating possible entry points for attackers. As such, securing these endpoints requires a multi-layered approach to security.

Apart from the typical options, such as firewalls and antivirus software, you should include recovery and backup tools, which should support rapid restore in case of an incident. It’s also vital to create and implement a device policy to regulate the use of devices, particularly if you allow bring your own devices (BYOD). User training is also a critical part of the multi-layered defence, as it helps employees recognise threats.

4. MDR and managed services

With the unpredictable and dynamic nature of the cyber threat landscape, it’s almost impossible to manage all your cyber security needs in-house. For that reason, organisations leverage MDR and managed services to bolster their cyber security capabilities, improve response times, and supplement their in-house teams.

As noted before, an MDR service provides 24×7 protection to prevent security risks from becoming breaches. It employs threat intelligence, threat hunting, monitoring, incident analysis and incident response capabilities to better cyber security systems. Bear in mind that this is an external service provided by a managed service provider. With MDR, your organisation benefits from:

  • Easy access to on-demand cyber security experts to supplement your in-house teams and close skills gaps.
  • 24×7 real-time endpoint protection through complete analysis and oversight for quick response times.
  • Detailed threat and security reporting for a comprehensive view of your cyber security ecosystem.
  • Advanced security configurations and management capabilities to keep you ahead of the tech disruption.

Essentially, MDR allows organisations to access advanced and sophisticated resources whenever they need them, enabling them to cut costs involved in in-house implementation. It also improves your ability to respond to threats to keep your systems safe and improve general efficiency.

MDR and managed services provide an agile capability, which allows you to adapt to changing circumstances for immediate risk reduction. As such, MDR makes an excellent solution for endpoint security because it focuses on identifying and isolating threats before they become breaches. This way, your organisation gets a flexible technical foundation that supports your security initiatives.

Additional reading: For more on MDR, check out our blog — What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)? And Why It’s Critical to Cyber Security in 2021

Use MDR and endpoint for advanced protection   

Work from home (WFH) arrangements have increased the number of personal devices connected to networks and systems. This surge in connectivity has resulted in more endpoints, which can be perfect entry points for attackers. With the right endpoint security strategy, you can improve your ability to monitor threats and respond to them accordingly.

Partnering with a managed service provider like Six Degrees allows you to develop an endpoint security strategy that prevents data breaches. For example, we provide MDR services, which offer easy access to sophisticated resources and address your cyber security skills shortage. Our MDR service is fully managed, helping to deliver operational resiliency right down to endpoints.  

With our managed services, you can focus on what you do best: evolving your organisation. Our team will work around the clock, using cyber security best practices to secure your network, data, and systems. If you want to learn more about MDR services and endpoint security, get in touch with our team.

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