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What’s next for endpoint management and security?

One of the challenges that the pandemic has created for organizations is endpoint management and security and too many organizations are failing to address these issues. Ken Galvin describes the extent of the problem and what organizations should be doing about it.

With so many new devices, platforms, applications, and technologies, it can feel nearly impossible for organizations to keep track of everything, let alone secure themselves against increasing cyber security threats. The pandemic has certainly pushed forward digital investments and, with remote learning and mandated work from home policies, now, more than ever, it is critical that organizations can secure endpoint devices and protect their network. But with the significant increase in remote devices compounding this challenge, how can IT teams manage and improve IT security? Although the industry was gradually heading this way with new digital devices coming to the fore, the pandemic has further expedited the need to implement modern management. 

Sadly, the reality is that hackers prey on individuals and companies already struggling through these challenging times. As we adapt and try to shift our ways of working, cybercriminals see this as the perfect opportunity to exploit any weakness. Unsurprisingly, remote working continues to be leveraged by cybercriminals who are looking to make a profit. Before the pandemic, it was reported that approximately 68 percent of organizations were victims of endpoint attacks in 2019, and now this threat surface has had much more room to grow. 

The challenge is that with more connected devices, there is a growing attack surface. The proliferation of technology has always heightened the risk of an attack. However, now many employees are working remotely all of these devices and access points need managing. This has also come at a time when IT departments are stretched and have limited insight and control. If organizations embrace BYOD, then everything from Wi-Fi connections to user passwords and patching may now be now outside of ITs immediate control. In a nutshell, this means that every device using the network is a possible attack vector. 

So, with cybercriminals looking for any opportunity to exploit a gap and the pandemic fundamentally driving a surge in the number of endpoints connected to a network, how can companies remain secure and agile?

A need for change – modern management is key 

It is clear that many organizations are simply not prepared to manage the large scale of endpoints they are currently faced with. IT teams are stretched too thin, creating a situation where they are firefighting and reacting rather than proactively securing. We need a more modern approach. It is key for organizations to implement a platform and policy that will enable IT teams to manage, secure, and service all remote devices. The first crucial step is to gain complete control and visibility of the network. How can organizations protect themselves from cyber threats if IT teams remain unaware of what devices are connected to the network?

With strong inventory and IT asset management, organizations can start to keep track of all endpoints from laptops and tablets through to routers, printers, and smartphones. This is an important step as applications and technologies continue to expand, eroding the traditional security perimeter. An automated patching solution is also critical to ensure that operating systems are up to date and cannot be exploited.

Patching, maintaining visibility and regaining network control might feel like an impossible task for overburdened IT teams working with remote devices, but new technologies such as automation can streamline this. With a modern approach to endpoint management, IT teams can remove a lot of the leg work, enabling organizations to get to grips with even the most dispersed workforces. 

What about the role of AI? 

To some, artificial intelligence (AI) might seem like a revolutionary breakthrough in endpoint management, solving the burden placed on IT teams. AI has the ability to analyse data and detect threats, potentially saving valuable manpower. However, it has been lauded as an overnight solution to the daily problem’s IT teams face. Many vendors are touting the benefits to differentiate their product offerings. However, these are often over-hyped, and will not act as a silver bullet or quick fix.

The truth is that organizations have been leveraging a level of AI technology for years. It’s a path we were already moving towards; however, what we are likely to see is AI being used as a way to support and augment IT teams. However, even as AI becomes more of a reality within endpoint management, the support from real-life IT teams will remain necessary.

Rethinking endpoint management is now more critical than ever before. Dispersed workforces are at an all-time high. The risks from remote devices are growing, and even when we start to re-enter the traditional office, employees will be returning with remote devices. Organizations need to ensure complete security, visibility, and compliance. While automation will fundamentally help support IT teams, their role is still critical. IT professionals must remain diligent even when in a constant state of flux if we are to win the battle. 

The author

Ken Galvin is Senior Product Manager at KACE by Quest Software

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