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Endpoint Devices with the Highest Security Risk and Why It's So Hard to Manage Them

One of the prevailing fears of businesses all over the world is the potential for cyber attacks to hit their networks and steal valuable company data or damage infrastructure. There’s good reason for these fears. The number of attacks against companies have increased this year, and security risks are bigger than ever before. A recent survey from the Ponemon Institute shows that the explosion of personal mobile devices in the workplace, along with expansions in cloud computing, have increased the number of security risks. If that weren’t disconcerting enough, the same survey showed IT departments were having a much more difficult time managing these new technologies and risks. As companies prepare to head into the future, they’ll need to come up with the right strategies for dealing with these new threats and shoring up endpoint security.

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Security risks have always been a problem for companies, but only recently has it grown dramatically. The same survey from the Ponemon Institute compares the recent numbers with the previous year, and nearly every category has seen an increase. Endpoint devices are the primary concern, and identifying which ones have the greatest potential for increasing security threats needs to be a top priority in order to improve IT security. As demonstrated in the survey, mobile devices are the biggest security risks for companies right now. These mobile devices include smartphones and tablets, which have only grown in popularity in the last few years. Companies have also introduced bring your own device (BYOD) policies that allow employees to bring their personal smartphones and tablets into the workplace, potentially opening the door to security breaches. Employees may still bring in personal mobile devices even if their company doesn’t have a specific BYOD policy. These devices--in conjunction with the second biggest security threat, third party applications--mean IT workers have a lot on their plate to keep the business network safe.

While mobile devices may get the bulk of the attention when it comes to security, other endpoint devices can’t be ignored. Desktop computers and laptops still remain significant security risks, though they are easier to manage than mobile devices. In addition to that, remote employees or virtual users are also a source of concern when it comes to protecting company data. Many remote employees use devices which aren’t managed by the IT department at all, so making sure they’re secure while on the network is an extremely difficult task.

Managing these devices and preventing these threats is the goal for many IT workers, but as can be seen, this is easier said than done. Not only have mobile devices become more prevalent in the workplace, the threats attacking those devices are becoming more varied and dangerous. The number of targeted attacks, also called advanced persistent threats (APTs), has increased in the just the past year alone. These targeted attacks feature malware that’s been customized for a very specific type of attack. Sometimes data can be lost or stolen, while other attacks focus on simply causing as much damage as possible. Making the situation even more difficult is the fact that many organizations don’t have adequate security measures employed to deal with targeted attacks. In many cases, companies don’t even have the technology to detect when a targeted attack has happened. As businesses face the fact that the number of malware attacks are increasing, many are coming to realize the problem is quickly spiraling out of control.

So far, companies’ response to these growing endpoint security threats has left a lot to be desired. While IT departments struggle to manage multiple new devices, the complexities of cloud computing, and the increasing security threats, many budgets haven’t been adjusted accordingly. The same Ponemon Institute survey shows insufficient budgets is a major concern when dealing with security. Only 29% of respondents say spending on endpoint security has actually increased during the past few years, while the rest have either remained at the same level or decreased. That’s when half of respondents say IT operating expenses continue to increase. Without the right budget and company resources, IT workers will struggle to confront and solve the security issues businesses are facing now.

Endpoint security will always be a big concern for companies, but right now, the challenges are proving to be formidable. There are now more vulnerable devices, more potential for malware attacks, and tighter budgets to deal with. As businesses move forward, they’ll need to develop the right strategy for facing these increasing security threats. With the right security measures in place, companies will be able to rest easier knowing their data is as protected as can be.

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