The holiday season is a hectic time for businesses but this year has brought additional challenges in supply chain delivery and staffing shortages. Yet spending is still expected to increase, and businesses must be prepared to capitalize on this holiday season and close out the year strong. Endpoints can play a vital role this holiday season by providing visibility into inventory levels, allowing self-service transactions, and granting access to critical business applications. As important as these endpoints will be this holiday season, so too should be the endpoint security needed to protect them.
Here are 5 endpoint security items to consider:
1. Know what is on your network
Vulnerability scanning should be a first step in proactively helping defend against security breaches. Whether your business has 20 or thousands of employees, vulnerability scanning is a fundamental necessity to help drive out risk. It begins with detecting and inventorying what is on your network both known and unknown. And it is important to scan your entire network including on-premises, cloud, remote networks, and any virtual machine containers. Performing this scan not only helps you detect vulnerabilities but also any critical misconfigurations by asset. This documented list of known and unknown assets will help you close outstanding gaps ahead of the holiday rush. Although the holidays bring heightened need for this scanning, this best practice should be a routine part of your security strategy to help reduce your organization’s attack surface.
2. Protect against malware and ransomware
The holidays can bring an influx of activity occurring on endpoints, from processing transactions to customer interactions, and more, potentially introducing new risks. Since endpoints are the biggest entry point for breaches, businesses need to make sure they are protected with comprehensive endpoint security that includes next generation antivirus, endpoint protection, and endpoint detection and response.
Although it is very busy for many leading up to the holidays, this is also a time when offices are closed or have limited staff working. This downtime could provide additional opportunities for cybercriminals. In fact, earlier this year, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) alerted the public of an increase in ransomware attacks across weekends and holidays and sited several high-profile attacks occurring across holidays. Endpoint security that utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence will help mitigate these malware and ransomware threats during this potentially vulnerable time.
3. Don’t overlook mobile security
The workforce is increasingly using mobile devices to accomplish business objectives. Yet many businesses still do not fully understand the unique needs required to secure mobile devices. These issues are even more pronounced during the holidays with the influx of activities on mobile devices. For example, businesses typically employ more shift workers and seasonal staff often enabled with mobile devices. But businesses are also taking advantage of self-service transaction stations and kiosks to assist with the increase in customer traffic. These mobile devices need protection against the key threat vectors for mobile including social engineering, especially phishing, as well as network level, device level, and application-level threats. Mobile Threat Defense solutions are designed to protect mobile devices and these unique needs. However, with mobile phishing attempts quadrupling over the last year, Mobile Threat Defense should also be a part of a long-term security strategy.
4. Maintain control with Unified Endpoint Management
Other areas of importance for endpoints and their security during the holidays is device management. Implementing an industry-leading Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution can help with onboarding, deploying, configuring, and enrolling devices for temporary workers or use case specific devices like kiosks quickly. They help devices stay compliant with industry- and company-mandated regulations. UEMs today are also able to do advanced IT management actions like view or remote in on a device as if they had the device in their hand to help troubleshoot issues. All key capabilities when the IT manager can’t be in the same room as the device. This allows your business to scale faster and manage the dynamic pace of the holidays.
UEM solutions can provide a unified management approach across your mobile and laptop/desktop devices but they also have other benefits. Policies can be set to require multi-factor authentication and even utilize biometrics depending on the device. This can help enable a Zero Trust approach for accessing critical business applications on these devices. Also, when integrated with Mobile Threat Defense, a UEM can enforce automated remediation policies in the event a mobile device is compromised.
5. Provide employee training and awareness
Finally, whether you have new shift workers, seasonal staff, or your usual group of employees, training and awareness for cybersecurity is vital to prepare them for the holiday season. The top training modules to consider include PCI security standards, social engineering, preventing virus and malware outbreaks, and mobile device security. Furthermore, businesses should look to establish a benchmark for the organization’s cybersecurity awareness and continually measure improvements against that benchmark. But most importantly, employees will be educated on best practices and individual accountability in maintaining security during the holidays.
Keep your business focused on closing out the year strong knowing the security elements are in place to help protect your endpoints this holiday season- and all year long. To learn more about endpoint security and how AT&T can help you, visit us at https://cybersecurity.att.com/categories/endpoint-security.