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What Is Endpoint Security? Definition, Types, and Importance

Written by: University of Tulsa   •  Mar 26, 2024
A Cybersecurity Professional Works on a Laptop in a Server Room.

What Is Endpoint Security? Definition, Types, and Importance

As organizations increasingly rely on evolving technologies, security is more important than ever. The average cost of a data breach in 2023 was approximately $9.5 million, according to Statista. In addition to the financial risks, business leaders must also consider how a successful cyber attack will impact their workflow, their ability to serve customers, and their reputation.

IDR reports that global spending on cybersecurity is projected to reach nearly $300 billion by 2026. Companies of all sizes in every industry need a cybersecurity plan to mitigate their risk. The challenge is identifying the security lapses that hackers and malicious actors are most likely to exploit.

Although phishing, ransomware, and denial-of-service attacks arguably are the most well-known tactics used by cyber criminals, the exploitation of unsecured endpoints warrants the same level of attention. Endpoint attacks target unsecured devices and leverage them to compromise data, corrupt hardware and software, and disable networks.

After learning about what endpoint security is and its role in the modern business environment, the next step is to explore the role that information technology (IT) professionals play in protecting organizations and their data. Currently, the IT field is growing at a rapid rate, and those who invest in their education and training can position themselves to pursue any of a number of rewarding career opportunities.

Endpoints Defined With Examples

What is endpoint security? And why should organizations make it a priority? Broadly speaking, any device that can be used to connect to a network is considered an endpoint, including:

  • Desktops

  • Laptops

  • Internet of Things (IoT) devices

  • Smartphones

  • Tablets

  • Servers

  • Cloud-based apps and servers

  • Smartwatches and other wearables

  • Digital assistant devices (e.g., Amazon Alexa)

  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems

  • Medical devices

  • Printers

  • Network devices

  • ATMs

Endpoint devices are used to access central computer networks and exchange information with them. A typical office environment features numerous endpoints employed for both business and personal use. For example, an employee may use a company-issued laptop and a personal smartphone while at work. Both endpoint devices can be used to connect to the company’s network and Wi-Fi, which means endpoint security is required for both devices to prevent their exploitation by hackers and malicious actors.

Unsecured endpoints provide an opportunity for cyber criminals to access unauthorized networks, steal or corrupt company data, install malware and viruses, and execute other types of attacks. Given the potential impact that a successful cyber attack can have on a business and its ability to conduct its operations, organizations must prioritize endpoint security to safeguard themselves against external threats. 

How Are Endpoints Secured?

Endpoint security is what prevents computers, smartphones, and other types of technology from being accessed by cyber criminals. However, there are many types of endpoint security solutions, based on the type of endpoint.

Secure Email Gateways (SEGs)

Secure email gateways are a form of email security that uses machine learning and signature analysis to identify malicious emails. Most notably, SEG products filter and block phishing emails so that they never reach the recipient’s inbox. 

Endpoint Encryption

Encryption is the process of scrambling data so that it’s unusable and unreadable without the decryption key. Endpoint encryption protects digital devices from cyber attacks that lock or corrupt files or attempt to install keystroke loggers, often called keyloggers, to gain unauthorized access. 

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a comprehensive endpoint security strategy that analyzes a company’s data in transit, data in use, and data at rest. DLP analysis detects and prevents the extraction of an organization’s sensitive data and blocks potential breaches. 

Network Access Control

Network access control is a cybersecurity measure that manages which employees and devices can access a company’s network. For example, personnel files are usually inaccessible to employees in all departments except human resources because the files contain sensitive personal information, including employees’ addresses and Social Security numbers. Limiting who can access certain parts of the network can help prevent data loss and theft. 

Remote Browser Isolation (RBI)

End users rely on web browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox to access websites. However, some sites feature malicious content or attempt to trick users into downloading ransomware or malware. Remote browser isolation executes code and loads webpages on a cloud-based browser, separate from internal networks and local devices. RBI keeps malicious code and cyber threats from ever making it onto corporate networks.

URL Filtering

URL filtering controls the web traffic within an organization and increases security by blocking sites known for hosting malware or other security threats. URL filtering also may be used to block what many companies consider “time-wasting” sites such as social media and nonessential news organization sites.

Insider Threat Protection

Endpoint security is what most organizations employ to prevent external threats, but internal threats are an equal cause for concern. According to recent statistics from Orange Cyberdefense, approximately 38% of detected cyber incidents originated from internal actors in 2023. Some insider threats were intentional, while others occurred due to user error or lack of cybersecurity training. Whatever the cause, organizations need to protect themselves against insider threats to prevent data loss and the leaking of sensitive information by employees.

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the fundamentals of insider threat mitigation include:

  • Establishing a clear definition of what constitutes an insider threat

  • Observing and identifying concerning behavior

  • Assessing any identified insider threats, whether they are intentional or unintentional

  • Proactively addressing the threats

Insider threats due to negligence can be managed through employee training and education about cybersecurity best practices. Insider threats due to malicious or compromised actors are handled more aggressively. Cybersecurity professionals can implement stringent network access permissions, track abnormal behavior using artificial intelligence analysis, and apply offensive security measures executed by ethical hackers.   

Internet of Things Security

Internet of Things (IoT) devices feature sensors that collect data from their surrounding environment and transmit it back to a central server. They are most prominently used in smart devices, vehicles, and wearable technologies. With cyber threats continuously becoming more complex, organizations must secure IoT devices to prevent data interceptions, breaches, and unauthorized access to their networks. Compared to laptops and desktop computers, IoT devices tend to have weak passwords and lack encryption, making them a viable target for malicious actors. 


A sandbox is an additional layer of endpoint security that works in conjunction with anti-spam measures, web filtering, antivirus protection, and other methods. It is a safe environment that effectively mimics the typical end-user environment. Users can look at potentially dangerous files and code in an isolated digital space without the risk of dangerous malware spreading to the real network.  

Why Is Endpoint Security Important?

Endpoints are statistically the most likely access points for cyber attacks. According to IBM, up to 70% of successful data breaches and 90% of successful cyber attacks originate from endpoint devices. Not only are endpoint attacks a common problem, when the cost of an average data breach is factored in, they are also an expensive one.

In today’s modern business environment, an organization’s data is arguably one of its most valuable assets. If a company were to suddenly lose access to its data, it could put the entire organization at risk and neutralize any competitive advantage it has. Further, data breaches can disrupt the business’s operations, compromise its ability to serve customers, and damage its public perception.

Cyber threats are best addressed using proactive rather than reactive measures. By implementing a comprehensive endpoint security strategy, organizations can safeguard themselves and their employees against cybersecurity threats and the risk of insolvency.     

Learn Essential IT Skills and Cybersecurity Strategies

Individuals curious about what endpoint security is should know that it is one of the key cybersecurity measures that organizations depend on to protect themselves against hackers, internal threats, and malicious actors. But cybersecurity professionals face a moving target, as technology and methods of attack are continuously evolving. The security measures an organization needs today may be completely different in a year.

Because of these ever-changing threats, organizations that want to stay ahead of the cybersecurity curve need IT professionals who are knowledgeable, are adaptable, and take a proactive approach to addressing data breaches, phishing scams, and other common security threats. Becoming a cybersecurity expert requires a natural passion for technology and a formal education that teaches the most in-demand skills and cybersecurity competencies, including knowing how to design and implement endpoint security strategies.

Those who are interested in advancing their career in the growing field of cyber defense should explore The University of Tulsa’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security program. Developed for working IT professionals, the program features coursework that prepares students to take on cybersecurity leadership roles that require advanced technical skills and foundational knowledge. Potential career paths that graduates can qualify for include:

  • Director of cybersecurity

  • Chief information security officer

  • Security architect

  • Information security officer

Find out how TU’s online M.S. in Cyber Security can support your professional goals and career aspirations in the growing field of IT.

Recommended Readings

5G Security: Risks and Solutions

How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist 

IT vs. Cybersecurity: How Are They Different?


Cisco, What Is Endpoint Security?

Cloudflare, “What Is Browser Isolation?”

Cloudflare, “What Is a Secure Email Gateway (SEG)?”

CrowdStrike, “Endpoint Security: How Endpoint Protection Works”

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Insider Threat Mitigation

Cybersecurity Dive, “Global Cybersecurity Spending to Top $219B This Year: IDC”

Endpoint Protector, Insider Threat Protection

Fortinet, “Types of Endpoint Security”

Fortinet, “What Is Endpoint Security? How Does It Work?”

Fortinet, “What Is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?”

Fortinet, “What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?”

Fortinet, “What Is Network Access Control (NAC)?”

Fortinet, “What Is URL Filtering?”

Fortinet, “Why Do You Need Sandboxing for Protection?”

IBM, “What Are Insider Threats?”

IBM, “What Is Endpoint Security?”

IDC, “New IDC Spending Guide Forecasts Worldwide Security Investments Will Grow 12.1% in 2023 to $219 Billion”

Orange Cyberdefense, “Orange Cyberdefense Releases Security Navigator 2024”

Ponemon Institute, “The Third Annual Study on the State of Endpoint Security Risk”

Statista, Average Cost of a Data Breach in the United States From 2006 to 2023

Trellix, “What Is Endpoint Encryption?”

Trellix, “What Is Endpoint Security?”

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