With flexible work environments now the norm, the use of endpoint devices has increased – whether your organization allows work-from-home days, hires freelancers, and collaborates through email and phone calls. Many employees require access to the corporate network to carry out their daily responsibilities, and endpoint devices allow employees to do just that.
That said, endpoints have become one of the biggest attack vectors for cybercriminals since they are easier to target. The need to keep endpoints secured has become more important than ever, and it’s most likely going to stay that way.
To help prevent breaches at your organization, we’ve compiled a list of common endpoint security risks, top challenges, and how you can address them.
6 Common types of endpoint security risks
Endpoint security threats pose security risks to organizations, and they have led to the loss of sensitive data, reputational damage, and hefty fines. Here are a few of the most common types of endpoint threats to look out for:
1. Phishing attacks
The most popular form of endpoint threats is phishing attacks, in which a hacker uses social engineering tactics to trick the target into handing over sensitive information or downloading malware. The information or malware is then used to gain unauthorized access to the target’s system and the broader organization that the individual works for.
2. Ransomware attacks
Every 11 seconds, another organization becomes a victim of a ransomware attack due to vulnerable endpoints that are easy to exploit. In this type of attack, malware prevents an organization from accessing its information, systems, data, or networks until a ransom is paid. With many endpoints posing as potential points of entry, organizations must deploy a comprehensive anti-ransomware security framework to be better equipped for an attack.
3. Distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
A DDoS attack disrupts the normal traffic of a targeted website, server, or network by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic. Cybercriminals exploit vulnerable and compromised devices to repeatedly access the network and disrupt its bandwidth, resulting in the interruption of normal business operations.
4. Botnet attacks
A botnet attack happens when a group of internet-connected devices is compromised and controlled by a malicious cybercriminal. With the Internet of Things (IoT) more prevalent in this day and age, there is an extensive range of wireless devices vulnerable to a botnet attack. These devices can range from CCTV cameras and smart home appliances to smartphones and tablets.
5. Drive-by download attack
A drive-by download attack involves unknowingly clicking on a malicious link or downloading malware to a device that leaves the target vulnerable to an attack. Cybercriminals look to exploit any outdated applications, operating systems, or web browsers that contain security flaws. In these cases, downloads are placed on seemingly innocuous websites to trick the target into engaging with the page.
The individual may receive a link in an email, text message, or notification to lure them into checking out the site. While the target engages with something on the site, the download is installed automatically onto their computer.
6. Outdated security patches
Many systems and devices have shorter life cycles that require ongoing updates and upgrades to sustain them. However, only 64% of security professionals update their software automatically or immediately upon being notified.
This is alarming since unpatched systems and devices are literal goldmines for cybercriminals. For that reason, updates should never be ignored because they include general improvements, fix malicious bugs in the operating system, and patch vulnerabilities that threat actors typically exploit.
Top challenges of endpoint security risks
Let’s take a look at the challenges that limit many organizations’ ability to address the endpoint risks that we listed above.
The most common endpoint security challenge is poor user behavior. In this case, employees unwittingly give access to external sources by neglecting to update their systems, clicking on a malicious link, or downloading malware to their devices. Conducting regular cybersecurity awareness training helps your employees better identify endpoint threats and ensure their behavior adheres to policies in place.
Lack of visibility
With modern networks more accessible to multiple endpoints, organizations find it harder to maintain comprehensive visibility into all connected devices, leaving potential gateways into their networks vulnerable.
Your endpoint security solution should allow you to have full visibility into all devices connected to your network. The solution should also enable you to register new devices for close and continuous monitoring.
Even though your organization may have successfully detected gaps in endpoint security, you may not have all the tools or resources necessary to address those gaps. As a result, many organizations are still vulnerable to an attack due to the lack of resources.
How SecurityScorecard can help
As organizations look to enhance their security posture, it’s essential to be aware of the different types of endpoint security risks and common challenges that many face when dealing with these risks. After all, you must know the weaknesses that cyber criminals typically look for in order to mitigate these risks.
SecurityScorecard’s Security Ratings platform uses an A-F rating system across ten categories of risk, including endpoint security, patching cadence, and network security. Our platform empowers organizations to effectively mature their cybersecurity programs by taking a proactive approach to mitigating endpoint security risks. Interested in learning more? Get your free instant scorecard today!