The Evolution of Endpoint Security

 In Blog, Cybersecurity

Computer security has evolved rapidly over the past three decades since John McAfee released the first commercially available antivirus software called VirusScan in 1987. Competing products from around the world quickly came on the scene and the commercial computer antivirus market was born. The concept of a virus that could move across computers and networks had been successfully implemented by Bob Thomas in 1971 in the BBN Technologies computer lab. Thomas named the virus Creeper. The first antivirus to combat Bob Thomas’s Creeper virus was also developed the same year. The antivirus, called Reaper, worked because it was programmed with the signature of the Creeper virus — it knew what to look for to find the Creeper. Both the virus and the antivirus were developed in a controlled lab to research the theoretical concept of a computer virus.

Today security threats from viruses are largely unknown at the time of their detection. According to WatchGuard Technologies’ Internet Security Report for Q2 2020, 70% of all attacks involve zero-day malware which is a 12% increase over the previous quarter. Zero-day threats are security vulnerabilities that have not been seen previously and therefore no signature exists to identify the threat. Unlike the Creeper and the Reaper, the vast majority of today’s threats need to be detected before they are even known.

Beyond Antivirus

Endpoint security is a framework of protecting computer networks and “endpoints” such as phones, tablets, laptops, and IoT devices. Endpoint Security moves beyond simple antivirus protection as each of these devices and their wired or wireless connections create attack paths that open up vulnerabilities. Endpoint security works to secure not only the users’ devices but also data and network access through active monitoring, encryption and protective restrictions.

Evolving for the Cloud

In 2020, the driving force behind enterprise IT is cloud-native computing. Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platforms lead this dramatic shift as each year more and more of our data and processing is transferred to their platforms. Today’s networks are far more complex than the BBN Technologies lab Bob Thomas developed in. Today network access seamlessly leaps from public/private Wi-fi to 4G/5G as our data is shared across an ever-growing plethora of devices and stored in multi-cloud and public cloud environments.  Just as the computing landscape grows increasingly more complex, the current evolution of endpoint protection leverages these same advancements. Endpoint security has also shifted to become a Cloud-native approach integrating the latest technology and collective intelligence for advanced prevention, detection, containment and response to modern threats including zero-day threats.

Artificial Intelligence and Integrations

Leading the evolution are further integrations between traditional enterprise security providers and antivirus providers as seen in the 2020 acquisition of Panda Security by WatchGuard Technologies. These integrations allow for more streamlined deployment and management of a comprehensive security solution combining network security, advanced endpoint protection, multi-factor authentication, secure networking along with threat detection and response capabilities. They also allow for better sharing of data between these systems and across networks. This allows for improved detection of zero-day threats by leveraging big data and artificial intelligence. Attacks can now be detected before they even happen.

Real Solutions for Business

Even the best antivirus or security suite is useless if it can’t be efficiently deployed and managed. This is where IT managers look to their managed service provider (MSP) for efficiency in deployment, management and cost control. The efficiencies created in leveraging an MSP and integrated product offering is why the managed services market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 11.27% from 2020-2025. Each year IT managers rely more and more on their MSP to help control costs while also managing an increasingly complex and threatened environment. This month, WatchGuard Technologies opened up the full suite of products and services from both WatchGuard and newly acquired Panda Security to their more than 18,000 partners globally. WatchGuard partners can now more easily deploy the full suite of best-in-class protection for their clients. Or as our CEO Kevin Willette puts it:

“We’ve been eager to expand our endpoint security portfolio for quite some time; however, we were not interested in adding another vendor to our stack. The addition of EDR and EPP to WatchGuard’s portfolio of advanced security services enables us to invest in our endpoint strategy with a strategic vendor we already know and trust. WatchGuard continues to broaden its portfolio while investing in further simplifying product procurement, delivery and management for us, so we can more easily and profitably deliver network security, MFA and endpoint protection to our customers and their employees wherever they are.”

The protection available for our networks and devices is evolving at an incredible rate along with the threats. To learn more about how the latest in security can help keep your business running and your data secure, contact us.

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