Identifying the most Appropriate Endpoint Management Tools

By CIOReview | Tuesday, August 9, 2016
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The ever-transforming face of technology has turned endpoint security management into a very complicated task. Windows 10 has incorporated new and improved features; third-party utilities are passing through an ever-changing phase. Besides, IT administrators are getting acquainted with a multitude desktop management tools, making it a taxing decision for enterprises to choose the most efficient endpoint management tool. In such a scenario, selecting the appropriate endpoint management tool poses a serious dilemma. Moreover, the endpoint tools often differ extremely in terms of features, making them incomparable. However, the real struggle lies in identifying the features that an enterprise would need, such as malware protection, threat intelligence, mobile device management, and more. Most of the endpoint management tools share common features, but there are certain tools with specialized features, developed to address critical demands. Let’s get acquainted with some of the most common and significant functionalities that enterprises usually expect from the endpoint management tools.

Threat Intelligence and Antimalware Protection

Threat intelligence lies at the very core of endpoint security management and is essentially a process where data is gathered, filtered, analyzed, and provided in standard formats. Most vendors dealing with endpoint security are capable of offering threat intelligence services either from third-party providers, or by resorting to a combination of third-party feeds. These feeds are generated using input obtained from their own substantial user populations.

Policy-based Endpoint Management and Management of Mobile Devices

Policy-based endpoint management generally applies to device capabilities and incorporates services such as enabling and disabling of ports, data protection, access controls, security state assessment, network gatekeeping and quarantine, application controls and more. These applications usually revolve around security policies which are based on role, device, or user account.

As endpoint security concern reaches the scope of monitoring all the smartphones and tablets employed in an enterprise, it’s important to have functions which cover mobile device management. Endpoint security providers have to focus on resolving issues pertaining to popular operating systems (OS) such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS, and also the slightly non-popular ones such as Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Symbian.

Support for Virtual Machine (VM) along with Patch, Configuration, and Vulnerability Management

Virtual machines being a large part of the corporate setup, companies often look for robust solutions to support VM and address the related security issues. The endpoint security tools used today take this aspect duly into consideration and provide array of services to aid VM.

Apart from necessary support for VMs, patching, configuration, and vulnerability management are essential for governing endpoint management. Businesses usually sort their security vulnerabilities by patching or updating the management on a regular basis and vulnerability management techniques help them prioritize the vulnerabilities plaguing the system through proper risk assessment. Security configuration management is another service furnished by most of the vendors today. The process relies on taking regular snapshots of baseline configurations for establishing known, secure configurations. This, in turn, assist companies to scrutinize configuration changes for evidence of possible attack or compromise.

Asset Management Coupled with File Protection and EncryptionServices

Asset management plays a critical role in endpoint security pertaining to its crucial task to detect or identify devices as they appear on organizational networks and subsequently, catalog their security state and contents. This feature is also termed as device and software inventory management. Apart from supporting patch, configuration and vulnerability management, asset management additionally provides the necessary fodder for software policy assessment and enforcement. Furthermore, this aspect of endpoint tool is critical in obtaining and maintaining information about software licenses that are available or currently in active use.

Encryption of data undoubtedly takes a central stage when data in motion is taken into consideration. But enterprises today seek file protection and encryption services as a part and parcel of their endpoint management tools. Consequently, many vendors offer file and storage device, or drive-level encryption combined with the endpoint protection tools.

However, the changing technological landscape and the competitive business environment pushes organizations to push ahead and adopt features which might not be widely supported in leading tools but are pretty much trending. Though some of these features might not be widespread at the moment, they seem highly prospective to be promoted in the prime functionality list in near future. It’s highly reasonable for organizations to weigh these features if they desire to steer ahead of the competition.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)Combined with Advanced Security Policies

EDR can be generally described as a complex aggregation of functionalities which includes a patch, configuration and vulnerability management with workflow; and tracking which helps in detecting, identifying, prioritizing, and remediating security incidents or events in need of a response. Automation plays the central role in EDR strategy to tackle zero-day threats, and prevent the system from being left completely vulnerable. Immediate action is desired in such a scenario and by systematic implementation of appropriate tools and techniques, such a threat can be averted.

Vendors today are introducing certain advanced security features for endpoint management and protection of data. Data access can lie both within and outside corporate firewalls, making it particularly pertinent in such a scenario to incorporate advanced security policies. Vendors today, in addition to policy controls, provide tools which include including geo-fencing and location-aware policies.

Reputation Management and Sandboxing

Reputation management is often related to EDR and incorporates a variety of techniques to help guide risk assessment and response prioritization. The process involves utilizing endpoint protection systems to establish security state profiles which categorize potential threats or configuration changes into a larger security context.

Some endpoint management tools incorporate automated runtime isolation techniques to segregate unknown or suspect files, and additionally exhibit capabilities to execute necessary action which prevents attack or compromise. This comprehensive capability is touted as Sandboxing and enterprises today are adopting it to get the stay ahead of competition.

Hypervisor Neutral Scanning and Inventory Attestation Service

The widespread use of virtualization has forced endpoint security vendors to incorporate features such as hypervisor neutral scanning which helps in supporting stacks, containers and hypervisors.

Inventory attestation service, on the other hand is closely related to asset management. The service is crucial in providing information regarding the origin and reputation for all executed files, suspect or otherwise.

These new trending and essential capabilities reflect in a way how the threat landscape is evolving over time and the consequent need for improved automation and expansion of the capabilities associated with endpoint security tools. The new trends may not be necessary at the moment, or few companies might not require these advanced functionalities, but it’s only a matter of time before the transforming environment will make it compulsory for enterprises to incorporate them to stay in the competition.