#HowTo Ensure Hybrid Cloud Security with Secure Endpoints

For corporate IT departments and executives, the opportunity to deliver valuable digital services and data resources to internal business users and external customers has never been greater. Mobile devices, apps and high-speed connectivity have made it possible for widely distributed workers to gain easy access to information. Anywhere/anytime computing is a reality.

However, as businesses continue to transition to a hybrid cloud infrastructure, it’s critical for IT teams to evaluate their endpoint security strategies to make sure data is protected wherever it resides.

Here are four key endpoint security principles that are important to follow to ensure a strong endpoint security footprint across a hybrid cloud environment.

1. Know what’s connected to the network
Doing business today requires an increasing number of devices and platforms, making it nearly impossible to keep track of everything connected to your network. With the increased use of mobile devices in the workplace -- through corporate-owned programs or BYOD initiatives – as well as the expansion of IoT devices, having complete visibility to what is connected to your network is key as all these endpoints increase the potential risk of a cyber-attack on your network.

The onslaught of BYOD and IoT connected devices isn’t expected to slow down soon; the BYOD market is expected to exceed $300 billion by 2022 and by 2025 we can expect to see an estimated 41.6 billion connected IoT devices. Businesses are clearly seeing the benefits including boosting productivity, eliminating costs, and more.

It’s important to scan your IT environment on a regular basis to better understand what devices are connecting to your corporate network. This will empower IT teams to get actionable information about connected and non-computer devices such as networking gear, printers and IP telephony. With complete visibility and control over your endpoints, you can better secure everything across your cloud environments and avoid threats from unprotected devices.

2. Incorporate automation
Automation enables better management of all IT assets and improves prioritization of workloads while saving time and resources. It also allows for security measures to be codified into the process, ensuring each cloud environment’s specific security measures are met. This reduces exposure to security vulnerabilities and threats so that administrators can react and deploy changes faster.

Incorporating automation into your unified endpoint strategy also provides greater visibility over all your devices, including those BYOD or IoT devices that have access to your network, which is important when managing a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

With automation, IT teams can create a consistent and repeatable process that ensures processes are deployed the same way every time, and when deployments are always done the same, settings and configurations stay consistent - further creating a stronger overall security footprint.

3. Keep software and operating systems up-to-date
Keeping software and operating systems (OS) up-to-date is crucial to securing your organizations assets, especially since a considerable amount of cyberattacks happen due to outdated systems. Take, for example, the Baltimore ransomware attack and the Equifax data breach, which were both connected to an issue of software not being properly updated and patched.

To save time and costs, incorporate automation so that distribution and updates can be done without any effort. Automating the patch management process also allows IT to focus on adding real value to the business, while providing continued high performance without disruption and downtime.

Make sure all endpoints are updated to support the latest OS and application version. Additionally, be sure to obtain accurate inventory of all the hardware and software installed across your network, including laptops, desktops, servers, storage devices, Chromebooks and connected non-computing devices, such as toner levels for your prints. 

If left to device users, this may be put off or skipped altogether as users may not see these updates as critical or understand the importance from a security and performance perspective. As such, companies should require or simply roll out updates to all endpoints to ensure there’s no room for malware to get in or for compatibility issues.

4. Maintain software and data compliance

Are you aware of the fines your liable for if you’re found non-compliant with data regulations such as GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

In short, they’re huge. It’s your responsibility to ensure you’re in compliance with regulations; if you’re not, you may suffer some serious consequences. It’s not only the fines you have to worry about, but also losing customer trust and brand reputation.

Be sure to conduct regular standards-based IT security audits to quickly discover vulnerabilities in your environment and identify systems that are not compliant with security and configuration policies. IT teams can manage common endpoint security configurations, including firewalls and anti-virus protection, and confirm organization compliance with easy to use automated Security Content Automation protocol (SCAP) scheduling and detailed reporting. This will ensure you maximize your software spend, keep track of software licenses, and ensure all meet emerging compliance requirements – further mitigating threat vectors while ensuring optimal performance.

Implementing endpoint security best practices must be a key element of managing a hybrid cloud environment. Most security attacks come in at the endpoint level, and this doesn’t change just because an organization has moved to cloud-based systems. Organizations must implement proper endpoint protection, using comprehensive solutions that offer features like patching, application whitelisting, in addition to offering user security education.

Following these four principles -- knowing what’s connected to your network, incorporating automation, ensuring software and OSs are up-to-date, and maintaining compliance – will ensure your unified endpoint security strategy properly secures your hybrid cloud environment.

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