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Cybersecurity

How Can Endpoint Vulnerability Management Protect Your Business?

Patrick Sullivan

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Cybersecurity threats are ever-present, and as your business grows, you need to take steps to protect your systems.

Your endpoints, or the devices you use to access your network, are some of the biggest sources of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. However, monitoring a large network of endpoints can be very challenging.

This is where endpoint vulnerability management comes in. A vulnerability management strategy can help you find these small weaknesses before they spiral into larger concerns.

Key Takeaways

  • Endpoint vulnerabilities are weaknesses that hackers could exploit to access your systems through your devices.
  • Endpoint vulnerability management includes patch installation, system monitoring, and reconciliation strategies to address these endpoint vulnerabilities.
  • Working with an MSP can make endpoint vulnerability management easier and more efficient.

What is Endpoint Vulnerability Management?

In cybersecurity, an endpoint is a device used to access a network. For example, desktop computers, servers, laptops, and smartphones are all endpoints. An endpoint vulnerability is a weakness in these devices that a bad actor could use to access your systems, such as software flaws or misconfigurations.

Endpoint vulnerability management is the process of monitoring systems to find these vulnerabilities and taking steps to fix them. It also involves documenting the vulnerabilities and prioritizing which endpoints to address first.

Common Endpoint Vulnerabilities

Common Endpoint Vulnerabilities

There are so many potential endpoint vulnerabilities to be aware of, and it’s possible for new vulnerabilities to develop as your technology stack grows. Here are some of the most common endpoint vulnerabilities to watch out for.

Outdated Software

Software developers regularly release updates and patches for their programs to correct potential security threats they have identified. If you’re not keeping your software up-to-date, it could leave your entire system vulnerable to data breaches and other security issues.

Using outdated software is more common than you might think, as it’s very easy to let your software updates lapse. In fact, one study found that 95% of websites have at least one vulnerability caused by outdated software.

Scheduling regular software updates will help prevent you from falling behind with updates and patches. This also prevents software updates from disrupting your normal operations.

Compromised Hardware

It’s possible for hardware to be compromised by malware, viruses, and other security issues for an extended period of time before someone realizes it. When your hardware is compromised, it can significantly disrupt your operations and even have serious financial consequences as well.

Regular vulnerability assessments identify these hardware compromises before they spiral out of control. This way, you can disconnect the compromised piece of hardware from your systems and take action to re-secure your data.

Misconfigurations

Misconfigurations happen when your team fails to configure your devices, applications, and networks for optimal security. For example, this might mean leaving the default settings on a router or server unchanged when they need to be customized for your operations.

Misconfigurations aren’t usually malicious, but they can be dangerous if they aren’t identified and corrected in a timely manner.

Ineffective Authentication Management

Authentication management is key to keeping unauthorized users out of your systems. Effective authentication management systems use strong passwords as well as two-factor authentication practices.

Unfortunately, many companies allow their team members to use weak passwords that are easy to guess and don’t have two-factor authentication strategies implemented. Even one weak password can leave your entire system vulnerable.

Physical Security Breaches

If your team works in an in-person office, you will need to be mindful of possible physical security breaches. This is when an unauthorized person gains access to your space and accesses your systems, often by following in a member of your team or by fabricating security credentials.

This is also a possible vulnerability for teams working remotely. For example, a remote worker could take their company-issued laptop to a coffee shop, only to have someone steal it or use it when they’re not looking.

How Can An MSP Help?

A managed service provider, or MSP, is an organization that provides third-party IT and cybersecurity services on an ongoing basis. An MSP can supplement your in-house IT team or even function as a full IT team on its own.

Regular vulnerability scanning and remediation can be very time-consuming, and many small businesses don’t have the resources to do it effectively.

An MSP can take this important task off your plate. They will develop a risk-based vulnerability management process to keep your systems safe — here’s how.

Proactive Monitoring

An MSP can conduct 24/7 monitoring on your systems. This makes it easy to identify potential vulnerabilities in real-time so you can address them right away. This also gives your in-house IT team more time to focus on tackling other challenges.

Proactive monitoring ensures that you don’t miss issues that happen when you’re out-of-office. An efficient response is critical for addressing many common endpoint vulnerabilities.

Waiting even a few hours to address a problem could lead to more damage to your operating systems. Your MSP will conduct proactive monitoring to ensure that you’re not letting security vulnerabilities spiral out of control.

Monitoring also involves conducting more detailed risk assessments on a regular basis. These assessments look closely at every endpoint to find vulnerabilities that you may have overlooked in your day-to-day workflows.

Your MSP will then use the results of your risk assessment to provide security recommendations. These mitigation efforts could include installing firewalls, antivirus software, cloud security systems, and other endpoint security tools.

Patch Management

Installing patches, including OS, security, and application updates as soon as they are available is key to preventing common vulnerabilities and exposures. Developers release patches for both software and hardware to address newly-identified cybersecurity threats and to improve functionality.

An MSP will help you implement patch management as part of your broader vulnerability management program. They will keep track of all new updates and patches that apply to your systems and schedule a time to implement them without disrupting your systems.

If there are multiple new patches to install at a given time, your MSP will help you prioritize which ones to implement first based on the cyber threats your business faces.

Response Strategies

Ideally, endpoint vulnerability management will prevent cybersecurity incidents from happening. However, even with an experienced security team and trusted vulnerability management solutions, data breaches, cyber attacks, and other security breaches are still possible.

Your MSP will help you develop a response strategy so that you’re prepared for any challenges that go your way. The response strategy could include restoring compromised data, communicating with partners and customers, and shutting off components of your system to contain the attack.

By working with your MSP to build a professional response strategy, you can prevent endpoint vulnerabilities from severely compromising your operations.

Employee Training

Many employees are unaware of what an endpoint vulnerability is or why they’re so dangerous. An MSP can provide training sessions for your employees to help them better understand security threats and best practices.

This type of training is important for everyone, regardless of whether they’re working in a technical role or not. This is because so many jobs today are done at least partially online.

During employee cybersecurity training, your MSP can help your entire team master important security best practices. This includes learning how to create a strong password and how to identify phishing and ransomware attacks on their devices. 

Research has found that 32.4% of untrained users will fail a phishing test, which is why regular cybersecurity training is so important.