By Charles Leaver

Survey finds organizations struggle with endpoint protection

According to a recent Forrester survey many enterprises are still struggling to create a bulletproof endpoint security strategy for data loss prevention.

The survey advised organizations to gain more complete visibility over applications and the state of endpoints. This can help administrators identify possible vulnerable points, malicious behavior and other suspicious activities. However, a main threat that security professionals must deal with is malware protection.

Struggling with malware
Recently, experts placed the number of malware samples discovered this year at 147 million, according to CRN. These cyber attacks are not only threatening computer operating systems, but mobile devices as well as hackers now seek to infect smartphones and tablets.

Despite the seriousness of this endpoint security threat, the survey found that while businesses have antivirus software in place, it is not adequately protecting them. In Q2 2013, 89 percent of U.S. enterprises had implemented antivirus or anti-spyware within their operating systems. However, Forrester stated the endpoints within these organizations are not fully protected against malware infections.

With new malware samples discovered daily, organizations need to be proactive about their data loss prevention strategies. Therefore, it is important to continuously review and update antivirus and anti-spyware technologies to avoid data leakage. According to the survey, however, only 29 percent of businesses with current strategies in place are expanding or upgrading their anti-malware implementations.

Current malware challenges
The survey, which included 50 IT managers at organizations of 1,000 employees or more, showed that a main challenge faced by enterprises today is that of zero-day malware and targeted cyber attacks. Advanced malware attacks, which are sometimes pretested for optimum enterprise system infection, pose a great threat to endpoint security. Cybercriminals have the ability to customize zero-day malware to attack a specific vulnerability within an endpoint security strategy. The survey stated 88 percent of businesses within the U.S. are concerned about this type of threat.

Organizations also experience difficulty when attempting to patch end-user applications within their companies. According to the survey, 29 percent of businesses stated gaps in their endpoint protection plans are a result of a lack of patch management. While managing patch statuses can be quite the undertaking for any establishment, the risk of infection greatly increases when systems are out of date. Thus, IT professionals should create a schedule for patch updates, sectioning the updates off depending on the area of the business to more effectively complete the total workload.

Value of effective endpoint management
Forrester stated that IT security experts have found significant value in certain aspects of endpoint management plans, including cross-platform management. A feature of this kind allows administrators to view an organization’s physical, virtual, mobile and traditional endpoints. During a time when malware has the ability to span a range of systems and endpoints, a strategy of this kind is incredibly valuable to data loss prevention.

Historical insight, or the ability to recognize which systems have been affected by a cyber attack and for how long, is also an incredibly important piece of the endpoint security puzzle. Eighty-six percent of survey participants stated that it is helpful to keep a log of past endpoint activity to determine if the business has been a victim of a targeted attack.

Ziften, which sponsored the white paper, can help companies address these issues, as the enterprise software provider enhances security through means such as cross-platform management and providing root-cause forensic information about the endpoint post attack.

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