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Navigating the Cybersecurity Landscape: A Deep Dive into Device Security

A breakdown of device security tools and how to ensure your fleet is best protected from threats.
Written by
Christina Boyer
Published on
February 2, 2024


The device continues to be the immovable service edge between users and corporate resources. The device was the medium for the first cyberattacks, and continues to be at risk of both automated and targeted attacks. While security threats and methods are constantly evolving, the requirement to protect devices remains constant.  

In this article we’ll take a deeper dive into the role of device security in crafting your security strategy, and then breakdown some key topics in understanding the mechanics of device security tools, and how to select and rollout them out to your business.

Why Device Security Matters

Device Security focuses on protecting your business against attacks on your devices through tools like Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and antivirus software. When thinking about device security, it’s important to understand the types of threats it protecting against. The scope and nature of malware and ransomware attacks are ever growing and increasingly sophisticated, so it’s important our defense strategy matches this complexity.

Over the last decade there has been a shift from network security to identity security, but both these models remain mediated by device security. (For a deeper dive on identity security - check out one of our previous blog posts!). Overlooking the security of devices can expose vulnerabilities that malicious actors may exploit. A breach in device security could lead to unauthorized access, data breaches, and potential disruptions to business operations. From unauthorized access to sensitive information to the compromise of critical systems, the implications of a security breach extend far beyond the compromised device itself.  The IBM 2023 Data Breach reported that: The global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD 4.45 million, a 15% increase over 3 years.

Organizations are recognizing just how important it is to invest in security solutions, to reduce the significantly greater financial risk of a breach. IMB also reported the following stat: 51% of organizations are planning to increase security investments as a result of a breach, including incident response (IR) planning and testing, employee training, and threat detection and response tools.

Across all sectors, companies are recognizing the value of investing in security to prevent the extremely costly threat of cyberattack. And this leads us to our next section. Once you’re ready to invest in your security stack, and particularly an effective device security strategy, How do you choose and secure a good tool?

As organizations around the world increasingly move to remote working, the importance of robust endpoint protection has grown. Employees working from home may not be protected against cyber threats to the same degree as on-site workers and may be using personal devices without the latest updates and security patches. Employees who work remotely may be less vigilant about their cybersecurity than if they were in a traditional office setting. As a result, organizations and their employees are exposed to additional cybersecurity risks. Strong endpoint security is essential since it protects the employee from threats and can prevent criminals from using a remote worker’s computer as a way to attack the organization’s network.

The Scope and Mechanics of Device Security

The mechanisms of device security and endpoint protection have evolved in complexity over time, and the scope of what they’re able to execute on also has evolved. When we’re speaking about Device Security, the key tool to consider here is your EDR (Endpoint Detection & Response) tool, such as CrowdStrike and SentinelOne EDR is focused on visibility and threat response, and offers visibility into suspicious activities on endpoints, allowing for faster, more effective responses to threats. This takes the form of continuous monitoring of all endpoint connections, in an attempt to identify malicious activity in real time and develop rapid responses to deescalate threats. The best EDR tools have ridden the wave of cheaper enduser compute over the last decade. Today, these tools primarily work by inspecting the entire process tree on a device. Through a combination of process inspection, file scanning, and threat intelligence, these tools determine which activity may be malicious. And critically, these tools are often configurable to automatically kill processes they alert on. Below we provide a deeper dive into some of the key technologies and strategies and how they interact with each other:

Deep Dive: Understanding EDR, EPP, XDR, and MDR

Device security can be managed in multiple ways, and a lot of acronyms are thrown about. Let’s take a deep dive into what some of these key terms mean, and how some of these terms interact with each other in the context of security strategy.

EDR vs. EPP: Complementary Strategies

EPP stands for Endpoint Protection Platform, and this primarily focuses on preventing known threats. EDR, which stands for Endpoint Detection and Response, on the other hand, steps in to identify and contain potential threats that surpass traditional security technologies. EPPs have evolved to include EDR capabilities, creating a complementary strategy that combines prevention with swift response.

EDR vs. XDR and MDR: Expanding the Horizon

Extended Detection and Response (XDR) and Managed Detection and Response (MDR) extend the scope and delivery of threat detection solutions. XDR integrates security tools across the entire hybrid infrastructure, offering a unified approach to prevention, detection, and response. MDR, as an outsourced cybersecurity service, provides round-the-clock threat monitoring and remediation, making it an appealing solution for organizations seeking expertise beyond their in-house capabilities or budget constraints.

So, what are the key considerations when selecting and managing your device security tool?

  1. Select a tool with comprehensive threat databases and features that go beyond virus detection, providing protection against a spectrum of cyber threats. An effective EDR solution should have advanced threat detection capabilities (such as behavioral analysis and machine learning to detect insider threats or malicious behavior) and should offer continuous live detection and response.
  2. Endpoint visibility: Visibility across all your endpoints allows you to view potential threats in real time so you can stop them immediately. This involves having devices enrolled in a MDM (so you can effectively manage the device), and then deploying and managing controls so that the effective activities are happening on all endpoints in your fleet.
  3. Also, consider ease of use: an effective tool should have a clear user interface that allows you to investigate and action alerts and configure your controls and policies to match your requirements.
  4. Extensibility: EDR platforms have become he lynchpin of detection and response programs. If you intend to use your EDR system in this extended way, its best to ensure that you can weave the other pieces of your stack (IdP, cloud infrastructure, and other corporate tools) into your detection and response story.
  5. Finally, ensure It should also be able to roll out regular updates to ensure it’s operating most effectively. This should include sensor updates, regular software updates, and patches to address potential vulnerabilities.

A final note on ensuring an effective rollout

Once you’ve selected your tool, an effective rollout is key in supporting uptake, ensuring minimal impact to users, and ultimately working towards the long-term success of your security strategy.

Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Understand how EDR controls can disrupt user workflows and prepare accordingly. Understand the business critical processes you have, and work with the system owners to ensure your plan minimized likelihood of disrupting them. Structure your strategy and controls in a way that reduces the impact to users as much as possible. For instance, before enforcing a ‘Prevention Policy”, running a ‘soaking’ campaign (for minimum 3 weeks) is an effective way to ensure the business critical processes are learned and not blocked once the prevention policy is enforced.
  2. Set Expectations within your organization — Once you have a clear understanding of the impact of the rollout on users, expectation setting is essential when crafting your rollout. Anti Virus tools are historically not popular with users for having negative impacts on their workstations, so you want to make sure that users are clearly informed of what’s going to happen, and feel they’ve been accounted for in any new tool’s rollout. Things like a clear comms plan, and articulation of the impact (if any) to users will help manage their expectations of what’s changing and what they need to do to reduce the impact to them.
  3. Slow and steady wins the race — a thoughtful approach to rolling out new strategies is the key to a successful rollout! Preparation is key, so ensure all procurement and implementation activities are completed and validated, and plan out your rollout. Your rollout plan may need to be in stages to ensure the smoothest roll out. Take for example the prevention policy example above: you should rollout your detection policy first, allow a soaking period to ensure minimal impact to user workflows, and then rollout the detection policy. While this is a slower ramp up, it is a much better course of action than rushing and risking negative impact to users.

Interested in learning more on this topic? Check out our latest article: What cybersecurity tools do you need to build and effective security strategy? and our other articles here.

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