One of the greatest changes in the world of business computing in recent years has been the proliferation of endpoints. Within the IT support world, an endpoint is understood to refer to any computing device with a connection, whether wireless or wired, to a network. Endpoint devices include not only traditional computer workstations but also tablet computers, laptops, and even smartphones.
Providing IT security for endpoints has become ever-more challenging over the course of the previous decade. In part this challenge has arisen from sheer numbers; according to some reports, by 2015 every US citizen will possess no fewer than seven computing devices connected to the internet, and many of these devices will be routinely used for work as well as leisure. The IT support issues related to endpoints, however, are also complicated by the fact that such devices themselves are steadily gaining in complexity and sophistication. Today, even a tiny device can hold an astounding amount of data. Unfortunately, for small and medium-sized businesses, this increases the chance that a device with customer or proprietary information on it can leave the premises or become lost.
This likelihood has not deterred businesses from rapid adoption of new classes of endpoints. The tablet computer in particular has spread far and wide in the business world. In 2011, for example, fully 90% of US organizations surveyed reported that they were in the process of tablet adoption for use by employees, though some companies were early in the process and were investigating both their options for physical tablets and ways in which their IT risk management would need to change to safely accommodate these new endpoints. The same survey revealed that businesses were expecting to realize several significant benefits from tablet adoption; half expected employees to become more agile and versatile in meeting their responsibilities while 40 percent viewed anticipated improvements in terms of heightened productivity and lowered costs.
These benefits also bring with them significant IT security challenges. In many cases, however, cloud solutions can be leveraged in order to provide a safer computing environment for endpoint devices. A managed security approach incorporates such strategies as advanced heuristics to detect malicious files even before their ‘signatures’ have been officially determined and uploaded into anti-virus databases. This form of real-time protection can help to protect against ‘zero day’ threats that less robust IT security can do little about. Moreover, this protection can be instantly extended to all connected endpoints.