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What are the differences between network and endpoint security?

This blog will discuss the primary differences between network and endpoint security. It will accomplish this by defining both topics, then highlight how they overlap and complement one another as part of a larger defense-in-depth initiative. Finally, it will offer insights into the focus of each, the underlying supporting technologies, and the key threats they mitigate.

What is network security?

Network security is multifaceted, but its primary objective is protecting critical IT organizational infrastructure, intellectual property, and sensitive personal information from unauthorized access, misuse, or theft. It can encompass physical safeguarding components, protecting the data stored within or traversing the links as well as policies and processes for controlling user access and behavior. In this blog, we’ll focus on the latter two and assume satisfactory physical integrity.

What is endpoint security?

Endpoint security involves protecting endpoints or devices from potential cybersecurity threats. Possible threats include malware, unauthorized access, and data breaches. They can be caused by external actors or those within the organization.  The practice of endpoint security involves tools, processes, and policies. Endpoint security incorporates threat detection, prevention, and response if a breach occurs. For more information of this topic, check out this blog.

How network and endpoint security complement each other

Before delving to the differences between network and endpoint security let’s first be sure to highlight why for most organizations some combination of both is required to comprehensively achieve a robust cybersecurity posture. Given today’s increasingly bleak cybersecurity threat landscape, with nearly limitless attack vectors, a defense-in-depth (DiD) strategy is essential. Various network security solutions and endpoint security offerings (described below) are often crucial components of a DiD framework. In addition, integration between them and they sharing of data can further enhance security.

What is the focus of network security and endpoint security?

As the name might suggest, the focus of network security is on the network itself and the data traversing the links. By scrutinizing the traffic, threats can be identified and eliminated before they can negatively impact resources or compromise security. Examples include traffic monitoring and control, perimeter defense, and access control.

Like network security, the name “endpoint security” alludes to where these solutions can aid in protecting against cybersecurity threats—devices and the users associated with them. For devices (endpoints), the goal is to ensure they remain secure and do not serve as an “entry point” for hackers to gain access to IT resources. Closely related for many endpoints are users—that would be, for example you and me—and the importance they don’t compromise the device or the greater IT environment by enabling inadvertently through actions the introduction of cyber threats. These types of threats are numerous and include spear phishing or ransomware attacks.

Key technologies and threats for network security

Technologies

  • Here are some of the top technologies associated with network security solutions:
  • Firewalls: Control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS): Detect and prevent potential security breaches.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): Secure remote access to the network.
  • Network Access Control (NAC): Restricts unauthorized devices from connecting to the network.
  • Unified Threat Management (UTM): Consolidates multiple security features, such as firewall, antivirus, and content filtering, into a single device.

Threats

  • External Attacks: Such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, and unauthorized access attempts.
  • Internal Threats: Including data exfiltration and unauthorized network access from within the organization.

Key technologies and threats for endpoint security

Technologies

  • Antivirus/Anti-malware: Protects endpoints from malicious software.
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Provides continuous monitoring and response to advanced threats on endpoints.
  • Data Encryption: Encrypts data on devices to protect sensitive information.
  • Application Control: Manages and restricts applications that can run on endpoints.
  • Patch Management: Ensures that endpoints are up to date with the latest security patches and updates.

Threats

  • Malware: Including viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Phishing and Social Engineering: Attacks targeting users to gain sensitive information or access.
  • Data Theft: Protects against unauthorized access and exfiltration of sensitive data.
  • Device Loss/Theft: Protects data on lost or stolen devices through encryption and remote wipe capabilities.

In summary

For most organizations, network and endpoint security should serve as critical components of their overall cybersecurity threat protection strategy. By employing these and other technologies, processes, and people, security teams can implement an effective defense-in-depth (DiD) framework. The DiD concept has been found to maximize the effectiveness of cybersecurity initiatives while improving security posture.

How CyberScope can help

CyberScope is designed from the ground-up to address vulnerabilities at the edge network, so it’s perfect for strengthening both network and endpoint security. The network perimeter is an area of heightened exposure, with bad actors constantly probing for vulnerabilities to hack. CyberScope advanced discovery and vulnerability scanning can greatly increase network visibility and help find areas of exposure before they are exploited. Learn more about CyberScope and how it can help you with endpoint security in this interactive brochure.

Author Bio –
Product Manager – Wired

As a Product Manager at NetAlly, Brad Reinboldt is responsible for wired and cybersecurity solutions. He has more than 30 years’ of experience in the computing, networking, and storage sectors in various development and technical management roles. He holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering as well as an MBA in management.