Gone are the days when antivirus software and a firewall were almost enough to protect an organization from cyberattacks. Trojans, worms and malware are no longer the only cyberthreats keeping IT and security professionals awake at night.
According to the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2023, for the second year in a row, phishing was the leading cyber threat, identified in 41% of incidents. Twenty-six percent of attacks exploited public-facing apps, so when attackers see a weakness, they exploit it.
In this day and age, it’s critical that organizations know about and manage all apps installed on their endpoints. Using multiple platforms to discover apps and manage laptops and mobile devices negatively impacts the IT and security team’s efficiency and productivity in continuous application patching. This increases the window of opportunity for potential attacks and can result in high downtime and disruption.
What is advanced endpoint protection?
Advanced endpoint protection (AEP) is a set of capabilities that uses a proactive approach (with a lot of automation) to prevent zero-day cyberattacks from succeeding, no matter the type and size of a company. More than the typical endpoint security solutions, it consists of a set of endpoint security capabilities that include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, behavioural analysis and endpoint detection and response (EDR). These capabilities help identify and block advanced threats like ransomware and cyberattacks in real-time on any type of endpoint.
Some of the top features of advanced endpoint protection include the following:
- Antivirus and anti-malware
- Behavioural analytics (usually powered by AI and machine learning), which helps IT professionals detect potential threats on time
- AI that automatically detects the latest types of cyberthreats
- A sandbox environment, which allows threats to be isolated and removed
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), which collects data continuously from all endpoints, analyses them, does threat hunting and responds automatically
What is laptop management?
Laptop management is the ability to enroll, configure, manage and report on laptops running operating systems like macOS, Microsoft Windows, ChromeOS, etc. Risk-based application patching helps IT pros discover vulnerable apps and automatically patch them based on the criticality of the situation.
Modern unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions include laptop management. As pointed out by IDC in their Worldwide UEM Software Vendor Assessment for 2022, “While UEM platforms today mostly manage smartphones and tablets, laptops and PCs (both Windows and Mac), as well as emerging Google Chrome OS devices, are increasingly critical for management with UEM.”
What is risk-based application patching?
Risk-based application patching is a more advanced tactic that automatically discovers vulnerable third-party apps on Microsoft Windows and macOS laptops and automatically patches them based on levels of risk.
Most organizations have a wide ecosystem of applications that run on employees’ laptops. The number of apps keeps increasing and makes it hard for the IT team to manage and protect, and this may lead to patching being a full-time job. Risk-based application patching automatizes a lot of the manual tasks and includes the following capabilities:
- Identifying and reporting application vulnerabilities
- Automating application updates and prioritizing deployment
- Keeping an audit trail and tracking remediation progress
- Scoring your devices and organization based on Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure (CVE) and Common Vulnerabilities Scoring System (CVSS) information
Similarities between advanced endpoint protection, laptop management and risk-based application patching
- Security at the core: All three technologies focus on enhancing the security posture of an organization’s IT infrastructure. They aim to protect systems, users and data from potential threats and vulnerabilities. For example, advanced endpoint protection platforms and risk-based application patching can be linked with the MITRE ATT&CK® base and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure (CVE) list.
- Asset management: Having full visibility into all the apps installed by the end users on their laptops can be a challenge for any organization, no matter the size. When risk-based application patching is embedded in a UEM or a laptop management platform, it automatically discovers the full ecosystem of apps and laptops owned by an organization, manages their lifecycle and helps with effective risk assessment, vulnerability management and patching. The advanced endpoint protection platform analyses, scans and reacts continuously to the threats that can affect endpoints in an organization, providing also visibility and a high-security posture.
- Efficient vulnerability management workflows: With the proliferation of cyberthreats and an increasing number of apps for Microsoft Windows and macOS, patching tends to become a full-time job when done manually. Risk-based application patching automatically discovers vulnerable third-party apps on laptops and acts based on levels of risk. Advanced endpoint protection solutions often include patch-management capabilities to ensure that endpoints, including laptops, are updated with the latest security patches and performing threat detection and response.
- Audit and compliance: Advanced endpoint protection, laptop management and risk-based application patching are all influenced by compliance requirements. Regulatory and compliance standards and industry best practices require implementing security measures, managing endpoints and regularly patching applications to meet compliance standards.
- Productivity: Maintaining a strong security posture while managing the endpoints in an organization and keeping a steady patch-management workflow can feel overwhelming for the IT pros in charge. Advanced endpoint protection, risk-based application patching and laptop management have an important benefit in common: automation and centralized management. For example, automated laptop management tools can streamline tasks like software deployment, patch management and configuration management. The AI and EDR capabilities in advanced endpoint security platforms automatically enforce and spread a wider net to protect against sophisticated cyberthreats, ensuring consistent security practices.
Differences between advanced endpoint protection, laptop management and risk-based application patching.
While these security technologies have many things in common, it’s important to recognize that they are distinct aspects of a holistic cybersecurity approach. Some of the main differences between the three technologies come when looking at the types of endpoint they control:
- Advanced endpoint security covers a broad range of endpoints, such as mobile devices, laptops, desktops, servers, IoT, etc.
- Laptop management focuses specifically on managing laptops within an organization.
- Risk-based application patching is a subset of patch management that targets application vulnerabilities on the organization’s endpoints, such as Microsoft Windows and macOS laptops and mobile devices.
There are also some differences when you look at their overall goals:
- Advanced endpoint protection goes beyond antivirus and anti-malware solutions with an end-to-end approach to securing endpoints from various security threats with built-in advanced technologies.
- Laptop management streamlines the management process, enhances security improves productivity associated to managing just the company’s laptops.
- Risk-based application patching focuses on the most critical vulnerabilities in order to reduce potential attacks.
Even if advanced endpoint protection, laptop management and risk-based application patching act on different cybersecurity segments, they have many elements in common. All three concepts contribute to an organization’s overall cybersecurity posture and device management, leading to a zero-trust strategy.
IBM Security MaaS360 is a modern, advanced Unified Endpoint Management platform that merges mobile management with laptop management and—together with the recent risk-based application patching capabilities for Microsoft Windows and macOS laptops—helps IT teams be both efficient and effective, keeping the total cost of ownership under control.
As a security product, MaaS360 has native advanced endpoint security features and integrates with Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Extended Detection and Response (XDR), Security Information and Events Management (SIEM) and other cybersecurity tools in order to help IT professionals streamline their continuous efforts to keep their users connected and the company protected.