It's no great mystery that end users are often the most vulnerable part of an organization's security posture. But because employees are often considered the top reason to have implemented advanced IT tools in the first place, decision-makers need to be proactive when protecting data to ensure that individuals have the ability to use next-generation solutions without introducing unnecessary challenges and concerns.
As consumerization trends continue to encourage employees to use smartphones, tablets and cloud solutions, for example, IT directors need to take the time to ensure that endpoints are being used properly and safely, according to a report by Dark Reading. If decision-makers do not secure end user devices, core aspects of their business can be exposed and exploited due to a small vulnerability that could have been alleviated with the proper planning.
Taking a stronger stance on security will become increasingly important during the next few years, especially as companies use advanced infrastructure services to enhance server performance, connectivity and availability.
"Businesses must get serious about protecting their internal networks," said H.D. Moore, chief security officer for the vulnerability management firm Rapid7, according to Dark Reading. "We've known for a decade that hardening networks with firewalls isn't enough, yet companies still leave their networks flat and unprotected inside the firewall. The security of the internal network really starts to matter just as much as the external."
Taking initiative to harden security
Dark Reading said the proper level of protection will emerge when decision-makers combine training and technology into a single strategy. After all, awareness among users is crucial to tackling the challenges associated with using a wide variety of endpoints in the work environment. A hardened approach to security means employees are trained in minimizing vulnerabilities, advanced tools are safeguarding mission-critical assets and monitoring solutions are in place to alert decision-makers of any possible threat.
While firewalls are still the No. 1 technology used to mitigate security threats, roughly 64 percent of decision-makers said data encryption tools were effective in 2012, up from 48 percent in 2011. Another 46 percent of executives said having strong passwords is an important way to ensure that confidential resources are safe, up from only 25 percent in 2011, Dark Reading reported.
In addition to these traditional tactics, companies are also seeing the new potential associated with using advanced server monitoring tools. In fact, about 46 percent of IT professionals said using innovative intrusion prevention and detection tools helped their organization reduce security threats, according to Dark Reading.
Having monitoring tools in place is becoming increasingly important, especially as the endpoints used in the workplace increase in size and variation. Visibility into the network is critical because it enables decision-makers to see what data they have that needs to be protected, which is a critical part of developing any effective security initiative, according to InformationWeek.
A server monitoring service also gives executives new insight into any access rights that could be abused or exploited to jeopardize mission-critical information and assets. Because these identity privileges are more easily compromised on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, taking a strong endpoint security stance could introduce a number of new possibilities for the organization.
In the coming years, consumerization trends will continue to disrupt the workplace, bringing with them a broad range of new opportunities and risks. By planning ahead and taking a firm security posture, executives can reduce risk without impairing operations or limiting an individual's use of endpoints in the workplace.