Endpoint protection is something that many businesses and even government systems don’t think about, but it’s becoming more and more necessary as the internet of things continues to grow. Protecting businesses is one thing, but protecting municipal and government systems is critical to the integrity of government systems as a whole.
Let’s look at what endpoint protection is, and why it’s so important to municipal/government systems.
What is Endpoint Protection?
We can define endpoint security as:
“The practice of securing endpoints or entry points of end-user devices such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices from being exploited by malicious actors and campaigns. Endpoint security systems protect these endpoints on a network or in the cloud from cybersecurity threats. Endpoint security has evolved from traditional antivirus software to providing comprehensive protection from sophisticated malware and evolving zero-day threats.”(Definition from Mcafee.com).
So, to put it plainly, endpoint protection helps armor all of your entry points against attack, including your IoT devices. This is crucial protection to have as more and more devices connect to networks in businesses and cities.
What is the internet of things, anyway?
The IoT devices we use on a daily basis include:
- Smart cars
- Smart TVs
- Smart homes/locks
- Home security systems
- Some appliances
- Analytics tools
- Alexa/Google home controllers
- Doorbell cameras
- Smart light switches
- Air quality monitors
- Smart smoke alarms
These are just a few examples of how the internet has infiltrated our everyday lives and networks. Each of these devices, even though they don’t seem like something a hacker would focus on, is a potential entry-point for hackers and viruses. That’s right—your refrigerator is a potential viral entry point.
City systems include many of these and more, making them potentially more vulnerable to an attack with so many entry-points to cover. That’s where an endpoint protection platform comes in. The system covers all entry points, provides threat detection, monitoring, and response, and more to ensure all the points are covered and the entire system is well-protected.
So, why is endpoint protection becoming such a necessity at the individual, business, and governmental levels? The answer is simple: cyber crime is on the rise, and viruses and attacks are more sophisticated than ever before. The more viruses and hackers advance, the more careful we have to be.
The scary part is that most breaches occur due to human error. The average employee at a business, including at the government level, has access to nearly 11 million files (on average), and security is, unfortunately, not the prime concern. The problem is that we can’t fix human error permanently. All we can do is design more sophisticated protection in order to meet the sophistication of hackers and viruses.
The average cost of a data breach today is around $3 million dollars, according to IBM. Most businesses don’t have the money to cover such an expense, and a city system can potentially be crippled by such a breach.
Vulnerability of City Systems
Municipal systems can contain far more sensitive information than any one business. If a hacker breaches a municipal system, he can potentially gain access to tax records, addresses, birth certificates, criminal records, and more. This is a troubling thought, but it’s not far from reality.
The SolarWinds breach of last year showed us that even the top government systems aren’t safe from hacking. In what’s been dubbed as the largest single cyber attack in history, Russian hackers were able to breach the federal government’s internal systems, as well as high-level tech companies.
The bottom line is that municipal and government systems aren’t automatically safe. Even they require endpoint security to ensure such a massive breach doesn’t occur again.
Leaving systems vulnerable could cause disastrous consequences. As we saw in the SolarWinds attack, targeted breaches can inflict massive damage without being noticed for several days, weeks, or even months. The scale of breaches is beginning to rise, as hackers look towards larger prizes than the average bank account. Ransomware has been shown to affect businesses more in the previous years, and we’ve seen some of the worst cybersecurity disasters in the last two decades.
So, where do we go from here? How does a municipal system protect itself? First and foremost, endpoint security should be a standard platform for any high-level system. Closing the gaps prevents intruders from entering in the first place, either directly through the network or via IoT devices. Second, we need to respond to threats quicker, which an endpoint security system can also help with.
It’s time to look closer at our municipal and government systems to ensure maximum security. In the growing internet of things, vulnerabilities can go unnoticed until it’s too late. We need to start protecting all of our devices with endpoint security software.