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Why is a cybersecurity risk assessment necessary?

The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving. Criminals are always searching for new ways to compromise enterprise systems, looking for weaknesses in their security. These weaknesses are often due to the difficulty IT professionals have in visualizing the health of their ecosystem and determining whether devices within their network have vulnerabilities that require critical patching, are not adequately protected, have weak or insufficient security settings, or whether any inappropriate or anomalous behavior within the systems indicates that complex attacks are underway.

Incomplete or non-integrated solutions force companies to adopt multiple products with overlapping features and functionality. This creates a network of disjointed and duplicative technologies that present integration challenges, limit access to shared intelligence, as well as causing difficulties in creating a customized environment. The downside is that such an infrastructure with incompatible security solutions can leave holes that attackers can exploit.

According to Ponemon Institute data, 68% of organizations have experienced one or more attacks on their endpoint that successfully compromised data and their IT infrastructure. In parallel, these intrusions cause damage to business reputation, in addition to having to deal with fines imposed by the authorities when they understand that a company that has suffered a breach has not been able to adopt the necessary security measures. Typically, these types of financial penalties are imposed due to poor prevention and security measures, inability to identify the source of the attack, potential consequences, and exfiltrated confidential data.

What are the main problems in securing endpoints?

  • Not keeping up to date with patches: according to data from Venture Beat, 71% of security and risk management professionals view patching as a highly complicated and time-consuming process. As a result, 62% leave this task for later and end up focusing on other projects. During the first quarter of 2022, there was a 7.6% increase in the number of vulnerabilities associated with ransomware compared to the end of 2021, and globally, vulnerabilities linked to ransomware have increased from 57 to 310 within two years.
  • Misconfigured security: solution settings must be configured and enabled correctly for a system to be truly protected. Running outdated software, keeping default keys and passwords, or running unnecessary services or functions can give cybercriminals an advantage. Venture Beat also explains that most endpoints have an average of 11.7 security controls installed, and each fails at a different rate. In addition, 52% of endpoints have installed three or more management clients. This creates multiple attack surfaces.
  • Leaving endpoints accidentally unprotected: a company's security is only as strong as its weakest link. It takes a single compromised device for a cybercriminal to compromise the security of an entire organization. A survey by Dark Reading found that although 36% of companies have endpoint security controls, very few have complete visibility and control of all devices and identities. Thus, IT departments fail to identify the location or status of up to 40% of their endpoints at any time.
  • Lack of visibility into indicators of attack (IoAs): in "living-off-the-land" (LotL) attacks, cybercriminals use legitimate software or tools available on the victim's system, known as fileless malware, to perform malicious actions. An advanced security solution capable of analyzing anomalous behavior and detecting IoAs is needed to stop them in their tracks.

Risk assessment: the function that ensures total endpoint security

Applying different security solutions is not enough to keep a company's endpoints fully protected. Malicious actors could successfully implement their plans without visibility into the potential holes that the solutions themselves may be creating, due to misconfiguration or failure to apply a critical patch.

Security administrators need to understand their risk posture to cyber threats and, in the case of MSPs, understand their customers’ risk stance to strengthen security solutions’ controls to prevent and minimize the chances of infection and business disruption. They can rely on functionalities such as WatchGuard Endpoint Risk Monitoring for this purpose. This solution enables them to reinforce security by identifying and controlling vulnerabilities and configuration weaknesses in the devices where WatchGuard Endpoint Security solutions have been deployed.

Many of the attacks carried out due to misconfigurations could have been avoided with prior monitoring since the administrator would have gained the necessary visibility into the security status and remedied the most urgent weaknesses. This functionality mitigates these weaknesses and drastically reduces the number of infections caused by poor security configuration or failure to apply critical patches by conducting an assessment that identifies weaknesses and automatically categorizes them according to their level of urgency.

Using this feature, it is also possible to obtain real-time risk monitoring and the overall health status of the device. In addition, reports provide an overview of the risk status so that security administrators can gain visibility into the exposed points and make the necessary decisions before it is too late. Risk monitoring is essential and should be adopted by IT and MSP teams that want to ensure they fully protect their security perimeter.

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