Author Archives: Shailaja Shankar

Maintaining Effective Endpoint Security 201

Today’s enterprises are faced with unique, modern-day issues. Many are focused on adopting more cloud-based services and reducing infrastructure footprint, all while the number of devices accessing the environment grows. This, in turn, requires security teams to create different levels of access, policies, and controls for users. Plus, as these businesses expand some unexpected security issues may arise, such as alert volume, lack of visibility, complicated management, and longer threat dwell times. To strike a balance between business objectives and a healthy security posture, IT teams can implement some of the tactics we recommended in our Effective Endpoint Security Strategy 101 blog, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), proper employee security training, and machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology for predictive analysis. But with the threat landscape evolving every day, is there more these organizations can do to sustain an effective endpoint strategy while supporting enterprise expansion? Let’s take a look at how teams can bolster endpoint security strategy.

Managing the Many Vulnerabilities

As enterprises try to keep pace with the number of endpoints, as well as the threats and vulnerabilities that come with these devices, multiple levels of security need to be implemented to maintain and expand a sustainable security posture. One way for enterprise security teams to keep track of these vulnerabilities and threats is through the use of vulnerability management. This process involves the identification, classification, and prioritization of vulnerabilities when flaws arise within a system.

For vulnerability management to be successful, security teams must have full visibility into an endpoint environment. This awareness will help teams proactively mitigate and prevent the future exploitation of vulnerabilities. Plus, with endpoints always evolving and being added, a vulnerability management system is a necessity for expanding effective endpoint security.

Beware of Privilege Escalation

Due to the sheer number of endpoints being introduced to the enterprise environment, the possibility of a vulnerable endpoint increases. And with vulnerable endpoints creating gateways to important enterprise data, cybercriminals often attempt to exploit a bug or flaw in an endpoint system to gain elevated access to sensitive resources. This tactic is known as privilege escalation.

To thwart cybercriminals in their tracks and subvert privilege escalation attacks, security teams can employ the practice of least privilege. In other words, users are granted the least amount of privilege required to complete their job. That way, if hackers manage to get their hands on an exposed endpoint, they won’t be able to gain access to troves of corporate data. The threat of privilege escalation can also be solved through patches and added layers of security solutions at different stages of the endpoint.

Administering Enterprise Access

Who can access specific assets and resources within an enterprise is an important discussion to be had for any endpoint security strategy. Not all users should have access to all resources across the network and if some users are given too much access it can lead to increased exposure. This is where access management comes into play.

Maintaining a secure endpoint environment requires security teams to identify, track, and manage specific, authorized users’ access to a network or application. By creating differentiated levels of access across the board, teams can ensure they are prioritizing key stakeholders while still controlling the number of potential exposure points. Beyond monitoring accessibility, its critical security teams know where data is headed and are able to control the flow of information. The good news? Teams can rely on a solution such as McAfee Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to assist with this, as it can help security staff protect sensitive data on-premises, in the cloud, or at the endpoints.

Coaching Users on Passwords and Identity Management

Passwords are the first defense against cybercriminals. If a cybercriminal guesses a password, they have access to everything on that device – so the more complex and personalized a password is the better. Beyond encouraging complex password creation, it’s crucial security teams make single sign-on (SSO) or multifactor authentication a standard aspect of the user login process. These are easy-to-use tools that users can take advantage of, which help add more protective layers to a device.

Assessing the Risks

 As a security team, assessing the overall risk present in your organization’s current environment is a top priority. From checking for potential cyberthreats to monitoring and evaluating endpoints to ensure there are no exposures – its important teams do their due diligence and conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. Teams need to make risk assessments a routine aspect of their overall security strategy, as new risks are always popping up. To do so in a proper and timely manner, better visibility is required, and teams should get into a habit of red teaming and leveraging automation for response and remediation. McAfee MVISION Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) can also help teams get ahead of modern threats with AI-guided investigations that surface relevant risks, as well as automate and remove the manual labor of gathering and analyzing evidence.

Once a risk assessment has been done, security teams must take immediate action on the results. After potential threats are identified and analyzed with the help of McAfee MVISION EDR, teams must work to correct any potential negative impact these risks may have on an enterprise, resources, individuals, or the endpoint environment. By leveraging a centralized management tool, enterprise teams can do just that — reducing alert noise, elevating critical events, and speeding up the ability to respond and harden endpoints when risks or areas of exposure are identified.

Utilizing Advanced Security Solutions

To cover all the bases, it is vital teams leverage multiple endpoint security solutions that have proactive technology built-in and are collaborative and integrative. Take McAfee MVISION Endpoint and MVISION Mobile for example, which both have machine learning algorithms and analysis built into their architecture to help monitor and identify malicious behavior. Additionally, McAfee Endpoint Security delivers centrally managed defenses, like machine learning analysis and endpoint detection, to protect systems with multiple, collaborative defense and automated responses.

Advanced security solutions bring an endpoint security strategy full circle. Take the time to research and then invest in technology that is suitable for your enterprise’s needs. Growth does not have to be hindered by security, in fact having the two work in tandem will ensure longevity and stability.

To learn more about effective endpoint security strategy, be sure to follow us @McAfee and @McAfee_Business.

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Don’t Silo Your Endpoint Security Roadmap

If there’s a gap you bridge it, if there’s a hole you plug it. These are simple musts that businesses have to follow – they need to right wrongs and adjust processes to create better outcomes. The same thing goes for the security teams tasked with safeguarding these organizations, who know they must always bridge the gap between exposed and secure. These security teams know that in order to plug any holes they must at minimum apply standard endpoint security to their infrastructure. While most teams know one solution can’t be the be-all and end-all for their strategy, many are still slow to adopt new technologies to their defense strategy. Here’s why.

Outdated Adoption Mindsets

I meet a lot of security professionals that are aware a better mousetrap exists, but feel as though the pains of making a change outweigh the advantages of better detection or threat detail. I get it, I’m up against my own list of critical projects and nice-to-have things that are difficult to move to the top of the list. Maybe that’s why so many businesses are stating they intend to adopt next-gen technologies but are struggling with the expertise to move ahead with a product or deploy it.

When it comes to getting more tactical against the latest generation of threats that are designed to evade detection, the natural next step for these teams is to add a product like McAfee MVISION EDR. This type of product is top of mind for many right now, as 82% of IT leaders say they don’t have the visibility they need. As a threat hunting tool, EDR tells security teams how exactly threats entered an environment, what these threats did while inside, and how teams can pivot to action against them now and prevent similar attacks from happening again. The value of the EDR might be understood, but adopting it is usually hindered by pre-existing mindsets.

Many security professionals out there think of products, such as McAfee ENS and McAfee MVISION EDR as two separate entities. The same thing goes for solutions such as DLP and CASB. These teams often adopt one solution at a time, with the hope of eventually being able to collect them all one day. Compounding this issue, many fear they’re going to overwhelm existing staff with all the new training and education required for proper adoption. But therein lies the problem – these solutions shouldn’t be viewed as a burden or mutually exclusive, given accurate threat protection in today’s modern threat landscape is reliant on multiple success factors working together at the same time. Adoption should be holistic and simultaneous.

The Importance of Integration

Just like one size typically doesn’t fit all, one solution cannot address all threats. That means your defense strategy shouldn’t rely on just one defense or detection method to protect every user from every kind of threat. Therefore, security teams need to clear out old notions and start looking at solution adoption with the idea of integration and a platform that is sustainable for the long term, not just a product. Meaning, by achieving the right convergence of solutions, teams will establish a holistic security posture for their organization, ultimately positioning it for success.
So, what does this blend of solutions look like? To cover all the bases, organizations should look toward adopting solutions designed with collaboration and integration in mind. Take McAfee’s EPP for example, which is built with the future in mind. Our cloud-first MVISION products are designed to help you transform your IT environment. Specifically, our EDR solution is designed to meet you where you are with AI-guided investigations, detecting and remediating both the opportunistic and targeted attacks.

The more defense solutions can work together, the more actions can be automated and burdens can be reduced for the IT staff. So, instead of making your buying decision in order to fill a gap in today’s environment, make sure you buy with tomorrow’s gaps in mind. Focus on how the product you buy today will work or not work with the purchases you make in the future. From there, security will move beyond a simple must, becoming second nature.

 

To learn more about effective endpoint security strategy, be sure to follow us @McAfee and @McAfee_Business.

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FaceApp: The App That Ages Your Employees and Your CIO

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is one of the defining characteristics of the modern mobile workforce but it’s also a weakness many businesses aren’t paying enough attention to. It’s likely many corporate BYOD users  have downloaded a hot new app named FaceApp. An AI face editor, this app is rising in popularity all thanks to the FaceApp Challenge — where people leverage the app’s old age filter to appear elderly in photos and post the results on social media. However, the application has also drummed up some discussions around its current privacy permissions,

Sharing More Than Just a Laugh

Though the company has stated no malicious intent, it’s still questionable if access to other data has been given without permission from these users. In any event, the scenario is one that keeps security practitioners up at night. Unsecured mobile devices are an easy entry point to spread malware, obtain credentials and gain access to corporate systems that contain even more sensitive data.

From FaceApp to Fending Off Threats

With apps creating gateways to corporate data, employees need to ensure all their devices have an extra layer of security added. To safeguard an organization’s network, lock down any corporate data, and ensure your CIO can get a decent night’s rest, teams should adopt an agile and intelligent security solution which treats mobile devices like any other endpoint. McAfee MVISION Mobile provides an always-on defense for iOS and Android devices and analyzes deviations surrounding device behavior to make determinations about indicators of compromise to accurately identify advanced threats. For those who are transitioning to a more tactical threat hunting role and exploring Endpoint Detection and Response tools (EDR) ignoring mobile security or using an approach that doesn’t integrate with endpoint platforms and EDR tools will pose another problem – a window of opportunity for threat actors. Mobile security is more than just a checkbox for an elevated approach to security. Like a good soldier on the frontlines that notifies his commander of the enemy’s approach, mobile security needs to elevate alerts to the SecurityOperations team. EDR that relies on manual correlation of mobile defense alerts or observations will extend the opportunity for an attacker to move from the mobile device to more critical systems.

Before the next FaceApp challenge emerges, I encourage you to evaluate your mobile device coverage. Is it automating actions and moving quickly when malicious apps or connections attempt to reach your corporate network through a mobile device? Does your current approach to mobile security elevate critical events to your security team? If not, it might be time to consider a more integrated approach that elevates your security posture with the insights to identify the next potential threat before it becomes a headline.

To learn more about effective endpoint security strategy, be sure to follow us @McAfee and @McAfee_Business.

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Endpoint’s Role in Enterprise Data Protection

Data is a big deal. As the foundation of a modern-day business, data drives organizations’ everyday operations. It provides insights, indicates trends, and informs business decisions. This means securing an organization’s data is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to defending against attacks emerging out of today’s threat landscape. And though there are standards that have been published to protect customer data and data context, these rules are still incomplete and imperfect, given any published best practice that works for organizations may also create immediate targets for an attacker to bypass. Let’s examine some key threats that compromise enterprise data, and the role endpoint security plays in safeguarding that information.

Means to an End

For many cybercriminals, data is the end goal and endpoint devices are the avenue for getting there. Whether it’s through a compromised app, credential theft, malware, ransomware, or a phishing attack – cyberattacks are consistently testing enterprises in an attempt to find a weakness. That’s because the endpoint acts as the ultimate gateway to critical enterprise data. If compromised, it could cause ripple effects on an organization’s day-to-day functions, causing downtime or a longer attack dwell time, permitting cybercriminals to harvest more sensitive data.

The good news? Doors work both ways. Just as endpoints can create gateways to important data, they can also stop cybercrime in its tracks, if properly secured.

Keeping the Door Locked

The best option for safeguarding your data is securing it at the start – the endpoint. By implementing agile and adaptive endpoint security on every device in your organization, enterprises can ensure data stays locked down. The key is leveraging endpoint solutions that go beyond the more traditional deterministic security feature like anti-malware and include predictive technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). This type of technology can quickly sift through security incidents in order to identify the real threats posed to endpoint devices, which helps security teams automatically reduce the time required to address threats. Security teams should also ensure they leverage endpoint security solutions that provide increased, centralized visibility into all of their organization’s devices. This kind of visibility is crucial for not only rapid detection, but also to ensure user behavior is being tracked and policies are being enforced.

For security teams aiming to stop modern-day cyberthreats at the start, adopt security solutions such as McAfee MVISION Mobile and McAfee MVISION Endpoint, which have machine learning algorithms and analysis built into their architecture to help identify malicious behavior and attack patterns affecting endpoint devices. To add to that, teams should also leverage solutions such as McAfee DLP Endpoint, which empowers IT staff with increased visibility, giving them knowledge of what all their users are doing at all times.  With this kind of technology in play, enterprise data won’t be anyone else’s business other than the organization it belongs to.

To learn more about effective endpoint security strategy, be sure to follow us @McAfee and @McAfee_Business.

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Endpoint’s Relevance in the World of Cloud

Businesses everywhere are looking to cloud solutions to help expedite processes and improve their data storage strategy. All anyone is talking about these days is the cloud, seemingly dwindling the conversation around individual devices and their security. However, many don’t realize these endpoint devices act as gateways to the cloud, which makes their security more pressing than ever. In fact, there is a unique relationship between endpoint security and cloud security, making it crucial for businesses to understand how this dynamic affects information security overall. Let’s explore exactly how these two are intertwined and how exactly endpoint security can move the needle when it comes to securing the cloud.

Cloudier Skies

Between public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and now multi-cloud, the cloud technology industry is massive and showing zero signs of slowing down. Adoption is rampant, with the cloud market expected to achieve a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.5%, with public cloud services spending reaching $370 billion in 2022. With cloud adoption drawing so much attention from businesses, it’s as important as ever that enterprises keep security top of mind.

This need for security is only magnified by the latest trend in cloud tech – the multi-cloud strategy. With modern-day businesses having such a diverse set of needs, many have adopted either a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy in order to effectively organize and store a plethora of data – 74 percent of enterprises, as a matter of fact. This has many security vendors and personnel scrambling to adjust security architecture to meet the needs of the modern cloud strategy. And though all businesses must have an effective security plan in place that compliments their cloud architecture, these security plans should always still consider how these clouds can become compromised through individual gateways, or, endpoint devices.

The Relationship Between Endpoint and Cloud

The cloud may be a virtual warehouse for your data, but every warehouse has a door or two. Endpoint devices act as doors to the cloud, as these mobile phones, computers, and more all connect to whichever cloud architecture an organization has implemented. That means that one endpoint device, if misused or mishandled, could create a vulnerable gateway to the cloud and therefore cause it to become compromised. Mind you – endpoint devices are not only gateways to the cloud, but also the last line of defense protecting an organization’s network in general.

Endpoint is not only relevant in the world of cloud – it has a direct impact on an organization’s cloud – and overall – security. A compromised endpoint can lead to an exposed cloud, which could make for major data loss. Businesses need to therefore put processes into place that outline what assets users put where and state any need-to-knows they should have top of mind when using the cloud. Additionally, it’s equally important every business ensures they make the correct investment in cloud and endpoint security solutions that perfectly complement these processes.

Ensuring Security Strategy Is Holistic

As the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company, we at McAfee understand how important the connection is between endpoint and cloud and how vital it is businesses ensure both are secured. That’s why we’ve built out a holistic security strategy, offering both cloud security solutions and advanced endpoint products that help an organization cover all its bases.

If your business follows a holistic approach to security – covering every endpoint through to every cloud – you’ll be able to prevent data exposures from happening. From there, you can have peace of mind about endpoint threats and focus on reaping the benefits of a smart cloud strategy.

To learn more about our approach to endpoint security strategy, be sure to follow us @McAfee and @McAfee_Business, and read more in our latest paper:

 

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