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12 essential features of advanced endpoint security tools

In addition to protecting an organization's endpoints from threats, IT administrators can use endpoint security products to monitor operation functions and data backup strategies.

As endpoint threats become more sophisticated and abundant, so does the need for more advanced endpoint security tools. An organization can improve the security of its endpoints -- including laptops, desktop PCs, mobile devices and servers in the data center -- by using software that can rapidly detect, analyze, block and contain in-progress attacks. These security systems must collaborate with each other as well as with other security tools to enable administrators to more quickly detect and remediate these threats.

Endpoint security tools use encryption and application control to secure devices that are accessing an organization's network and monitor and block risky activities. Endpoint security systems typically employ a client-server security model, consisting of a centrally managed security tool to protect the network and client software that's installed on each endpoint that accesses the network. Some products are SaaS-based, allowing administrators to remotely maintain both the central and endpoint security systems.

In addition to securing endpoints, encrypting data on removable storage devices and endpoints helps secure them against data loss and data leaks. And application control stops users from installing unauthorized applications that could create vulnerabilities in the company's network. BYOD policies and the ability of employees to connect from anywhere have intensified the need for endpoint security tools.

Features to look for in an endpoint security tool

Detecting threats as early as possible is crucial. The longer a threat sits in the environment, the more it spreads and the more damage it can do.

Endpoint protection of enterprise systems is an efficient method of managing software deployment and enforcing IT security operations' policies. However, it does more than protect a network from malware. IT administrators can use endpoint security for a number of operation monitoring functions and data backup strategies. An endpoint security product should include the following key features:

  1. Protection from threats spread via email. An organization's endpoint protection must scan every email attachment to protect the company from attacks.
  2. Protection from malicious web downloads. The technology should analyze incoming and outgoing traffic and provide browser protection to block malicious web downloads before they're executed on endpoints.
  3. Enable easy application and device control. This enables organizations to control which devices can upload or download data, access hardware or access the registry.
  4. Advanced machine learning. This analyzes massive amounts of good and bad files and blocks new malware variants before they're executed on endpoint devices.
  5. Protection from exploits. This protects against zero-day vulnerabilities and memory-based attacks.
  6. Behavioral monitoring. This technique uses machine learning to monitor behavior-based security to determine risks and block them.
  7. Data loss protection. DLP prevents access violations caused by insiders, including employees, and intentional or unintentional data loss in the event of a system breach. DLP enables organizations to block files that are transmitted via email or instant message as well as files that are uploaded to the internet.
  8. Third-party integrations. Endpoint security tools should communicate with other security systems in the organization's environment. These tools should share and ingest threat intelligence so they can learn from each other. Using open API systems, endpoint security products should integrate with other security tools, such as Active Directory, intrusion prevention, network monitoring and security information and event management.
  9. Reports and alerts. These provide prioritized warnings and alerts regarding vulnerabilities as well as dashboards and reports that offer visibility into endpoint security.
  10. Incident investigation and remediation. This includes centralized and automated tools to provide automated incident response approaches and step-by-step workflows to investigate incidents.
  11. Flexible deployment options. Endpoint security tools should adapt to the organization's needs and environment, offering on-premises or cloud deployment options. These tools should also offer protection for every endpoint in the company regardless if it's a PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android device.
  12. Rapid detection. Detecting threats as early as possible is crucial. The longer a threat sits in the environment, the more it spreads and the more damage it can do.

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Which of these 12 features is most important to your organization when examining an endpoint security product, and why?
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