What Is Endpoint Security?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover how endpoint security helps safeguard devices from cyber threats.

[Featured image] Two computer experts looking at a computer and discussing endpoint security.

Endpoints in a network refer to any remote computing device that actively communicates with the network. Desktops, servers, laptops, Internet-of-things (IoT) devices, and workstations are all examples of endpoints. Endpoints are integral components of most computer systems that facilitate the exchange of information.

However, endpoints, while essential for network functionality, pose security challenges. They serve as potential entry points for cybercriminals. This is precisely why, for an enterprise, endpoint security is paramount. Read on to learn how endpoint security can help defend against device vulnerabilities.

How important is endpoint security?

Endpoint security helps safeguard end-user devices by detecting and thwarting potential threats.  

Any device connected to a network introduces risks that cybercriminals could abuse to misappropriate corporate or personally identifiable data. Phishing and browser-based attacks topped the list of primary attack vectors for endpoint security compromises in 2019, according to a global survey by Statista [1].

What are the constituents of endpoint security?

Endpoint security solutions come in various forms, each featuring distinct capabilities. However, the key components include:

  • Device protection: Involves shielding desktop and mobile devices from viruses and other forms of malware through the use of antivirus and anti-malware solutions

  • Data control: Uses encryption to protect sensitive or confidential data

  • Application control: Entails device integration with application servers to observe and restrict suspicious endpoint access

  • Network control: Monitors inbound traffic to rule out attempts for unauthorized network access like firewalls

  • Web/URL filter: Blocks malicious yet seemingly harmless websites, common in phishing attacks

Now that you have a grasp of the fundamental components of an endpoint security system, let's delve into the various types available.

Types of endpoint security 

An endpoint security solution can be one of the following types: endpoint protection platform (EPP), endpoint detection and remediation (EDR), and extended detection and response (XDR). Here’s a brief explanation of each: 

Endpoint protection platform (EPP) 

As an organization's first line of defense, EPPs scan for a spectrum of threats, ranging from known malware strains to advanced threats such as zero-day vulnerabilities. Cloud-based management is a core aspect of EPPs, enabling round-the-clock monitoring regardless of endpoint devices’ location. 

Endpoint detection and remediation (EDR) 

EDR specializes in addressing threats, such as emerging malware, that may elude detection by EPP. It identifies, analyzes, and takes action against threats by containing them. Other vital functions of EDR solutions include recording suspicious device behavior and sending alerts to security teams. 

Extended detection and response (XDR)

XDR, an augmentation of EDR, unifies security across platforms for comprehensive protection. It expands detection beyond endpoints, covering servers, networks, and the cloud, providing a complete view of data activities to identify potential threats that slip past isolated security measures.

How does endpoint security work?

Endpoint security empowers system administrators with a centralized management console installed on a network or server, granting control over the security of all connected devices.

Through a cloud-based strategy, endpoint security solutions access up-to-date threat intelligence, removing the need for manual updates by security teams. This facilitates continuous monitoring of incoming files and applications within the corporate network, in addition to timely automated threat responses.

Note that endpoint security solutions only work with an organizational standpoint. Typically, a firm pairs its chosen endpoint security with network and device-level defense solutions.

What are the benefits of endpoint security?

Endpoint security can help protect a company’s data. Some of the benefits of an endpoint security solution include:

1. Decreased response time

Endpoint security solutions automatically flag unusual activity. This enables you to swiftly detect and respond to security incidents, decreasing the likelihood of further damage.

2. Enhanced visibility

Endpoint security is comparable to a safety net, protecting all your devices, networks, and data exchanges. This tool allows you to consistently monitor and track applications across networks, increasing visibility into device and application activities.

3. Seamless user experience 

Endpoint security streamlines security processes, allowing users to navigate through fewer steps. This results in a fluid experience and prevents potential customer disengagement from business offerings.

4. Improved risk awareness 

Endpoint security protocols actively collect and analyze information about current and new security incidents. By doing so, they contribute to the creation of a comprehensive repository of threat intelligence. This repository contains insights that can be helpful throughout the organization, ensuring that everyone is connected to the intricacies of the cybersecurity landscape.

Endpoint security vs. antivirus software: What is the difference?

Antivirus tools scan for known malware and potentially harmful files. Designed for individual devices, they automatically isolate suspicious data and files. In contrast, an endpoint security solution covers the entirety of a network, defending all connected devices against potential threats.

Antivirus solutions rely on signature-based detection. If you fail to update your antivirus program, your device remains vulnerable to attacks. On the other hand, endpoint security connects to the cloud, updating automatically for the latest version, ensuring constant protection.

Endpoint security vs. network security: How do they differ? 

Endpoint security contributes to network security by addressing vulnerabilities in individual endpoints, which hackers or infiltrators could exploit. However, network security goes beyond this, encompassing the protection of network infrastructure and overseeing network, cloud, and internet access, which are outside the scope of typical endpoint security solutions.

Get started with Coursera.

Deepen your understanding of an endpoint with the Endpoints and Systems course available on Coursera. Offered by Cisco, this course is a part of the firm’s Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals Specialization, designed to equip you with the basic skills necessary for an entry-level cybersecurity analyst. You will need approximately 24 hours to finish the course.

You can complement this course with Microsoft’s Cybersecurity Threat Vectors and Mitigation, also available on Coursera. Intended for beginners, this course will introduce you to key concepts in security and compliance.

Article sources

  1. Statista. “For the affected endpoints, what was the attack's delivery vector? https://www.statista.com/statistics/1168855/worldwide-enterprise-endpoint-security-attack-vector/.” Accessed on February 21, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.