The cybersecurity threat landscape has always been one prone to quick changes, meaning that organisations of all sizes have been left to play catch-up. With a host of new, more sophisticated forms of IT security threats gaining momentum and business networks becoming increasingly complex, your traditional antivirus software is no longer sufficient for keeping your business, staff and clients safe.
In today’s blog post, we’ll go over how these new, sophisticated cybersecurity threats exploit the blind spots in traditional antivirus solutions and your company’s endpoints (desktops, laptops, smartphones and more). We’ll also discuss the two most important things you need in order to safeguard your business against these threats: user vigilance and modern technology solutions.
The most prevalent threats to your business’ endpoints
Modern businesses everywhere are adopting technology policies that help make their staff’s lives easier. BYOD (bring your own device) policies, remote working and cloud-based storage make it easier for your employees to do their job and have all the information they need wherever they are. That being said, these kinds of policies do pose their own cybersecurity risks that need to be addressed. After all, the more endpoints your staff use, the more possible entry points cybercriminals have to your system.
With more and more devices having access to your business’ confidential data, you need to make sure these endpoints are secure against cybersecurity threats. And as your organisation’s technology infrastructure gets more complex, it’s harder to find products offering comprehensive coverage against cybersecurity threats. Clearly, relying on antivirus alone is no longer enough.
Businesses of all sizes are at risk of cybercrime, and it’s arguably small businesses with smaller IT budgets who face the biggest risk. In the event of a data leak, if it’s found that you didn’t do your due diligence to safeguard sensitive data your company has access to, the penalties for this will also be hefty under GDPR.
Why your antivirus alone is no longer enough
It’s a common misconception that your antivirus product alone offers sufficient protection from online threats. In reality, new forms of cyberattacks are often able to get around legacy antivirus products. The way antivirus programmes work is by comparing suspicious files and programmes against a list of known offenders. It then blocks these files and programmes if it finds a match in the database. The problem with relying on traditional antivirus products like this, however, is that they are reactive rather than proactive.
These days, cybercriminals no longer need the trojan horse of an infected file to get into your computer network: fileless malware can infect your company’s endpoints without a signature that a traditional antivirus product can recognise. Instead, attacks like this exploit the weaknesses of trusted and legitimate tools that are often installed on endpoints by default, making them hard to spot before it’s too late.
Additionally, so-called zero-day attacks exploit weaknesses in software right when they’ve been discovered, before the developers of the product have time to patch them. Since traditional antivirus can only protect you against well-established threats, it lacks the flexibility and intuition to offer protection from zero-day exploits.
New technology solutions to counter advanced threats
In order to protect you from the latest and most complex cybersecurity threats, your endpoint security solution needs to be intelligent and adaptive. Modern endpoint protection solutions use machine learning to detect patterns of suspicious behaviour and “sandbox” suspicious files and links, opening them in a secure and separate space so that if these links or files are malicious, there’s nothing for them to infect.
Our recommended product for endpoint protection is SentinelOne. This scalable solution offers protection to all your business’ endpoints. It’s effective against threats ranging from the traditional “executables” like Trojans to fileless attacks, spear-phishing emails and more. It uses behavioural artificial intelligence to detect suspicious behaviour and block zero-day exploits.
A host-based firewall can provide an additional layer of protection for your endpoints. Firewalls like this control your network traffic by acting as a kind of gatekeeper for all incoming and outgoing traffic. It inspects the small packets of code all communications across the internet use for signs of malware and blocks suspicious communications. A host-based firewall is installed on individual endpoints to protect them wherever they’re being used – be that the office, home or a cafe.
The importance of cybersecurity awareness
A good level of cybersecurity awareness among your staff goes a long way to protect you from even the more sophisticated attacks, providing an additional level of security in case anything gets past your cybersecurity solutions. This is important because some 88% of all data leaks can be traced back to human error.
A common issue with endpoint security is that people simply forget to update their applications and operating systems on the devices they use for work. Making sure you download software updates to your devices can go a long way to protect them, as these software updates often contain patches for weak spots in the script that could prove dangerous.
Educating your people on the importance of patches is a good place to start, and you can keep track of updates if you keep an asset register to track your organisation’s endpoints. We also recommend having a BYOD policy that addresses the need for personal devices used for work to be updated regularly with the latest software patches.
You should also make sure you and your employees know some of the telltale signs of phishing and other scams so that you avoid falling prey to them should they get past your cybersecurity system. This includes knowing the tricks cybercriminals use to make emails appear to be from legitimate sources like their bank or even a colleague. It’s also important to recognise promises too good to be true, such as free products, and avoid clicking on suspicious pop-up windows while browsing the internet.
A good way to improve your company’s cybersecurity awareness is by working together towards a Cyber Essentials certificate. Read more about getting certified here.