Introduction to Endpoint Management
Endpoint management is the control of networked PCs and other devices to maintain functionality and security. In most organizations, each employee uses at least one endpoint device, and information technology (IT) teams devote considerable time and energy to managing those devices.
As remote and hybrid work models become more widespread, endpoint management has grown increasingly complex.
Internal IT teams and managed service providers (MSPs) are responsible for updating and patching software, preventing unauthorized access, and enforcing regulations and policies for devices and users in remote locations as well as on-premises.
Security is often the primary focus of endpoint management policies and processes, but user experience is another key concern. IT is asked to keep employees productive and happy, and endpoint device performance can contribute to user satisfaction. If performance is hampered by compute-intensive encryption, inadequate network capacity, repeated reboots, or other security-related issues, users may be tempted to bypass security protocols, creating unwanted vulnerabilities.
In recent years, new tools and methods have emerged to support endpoint management. The Intel vPro® platform can play an important role in improving the manageability and security of an organization’s networked devices. With Intel® Hardware Shield for built-in hardware-enabled security features and with built-in accelerators, the Intel vPro® platform can support the performance that users expect and need to maintain productivity.
Additionally, Intel® Threat Detection Technology (Intel® TDT), a feature of Intel® Hardware Shield that provides cyberattack monitoring and increased security performance, is enabled in leading security vendors’ software to improve security efficacy and performance while minimizing impact to user experience.
What Is Unified Endpoint Management?
Unified endpoint management (UEM) is a methodology that enables IT to manage devices, resources, and applications centrally. UEM encompasses PC and mobile device management.
UEM can also include remote device management policies and practices that embrace a variety of the users’ personal “bring your own” devices (BYOD), such as smartphones and tablets, as well as an organization’s remote assets, such as IoT kiosks, sensors, and digital signs.
Within the context of UEM, this article will focus on desktop and mobile PCs, the devices that are most often managed by IT teams and MSPs in businesses and other organizations.
What Is Endpoint Security?
Endpoint security is a critical IT function that helps protect devices, users, networks, and the entire organization from unauthorized access and cyber threats.
The most common endpoint security solutions are deployed on the network itself, with a combination of firewalls and antivirus software. If users work remotely, however, their devices may operate outside the organization’s firewall and connect to the network through unsecured or shared Wi-Fi.
With little control over the remote users’ network security, IT must manage the devices themselves. Hardware-based security capabilities of the Intel vPro® platform can help by augmenting the protections provided by antivirus and endpoint detection and response (EDR) software. Intel works with many security solution providers to help optimize their software so it can take advantage of these hardware features.
Endpoint Management Policy
Each organization should establish endpoint management policies and enforce them through centralized control of all devices on the network.
It is the responsibility of IT or a specialized development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) team to ensure that a firewall and intrusion detection system are enabled on the network, antivirus software is installed on all servers and devices, data is encrypted appropriately, and all networked systems and devices are scanned regularly for weaknesses.
IT must maintain control over the entire technology stack to ensure that patches, updates, applications, and peripherals are installed and maintained properly. That means end users should not be given administrative control over their own devices. Policies and implementation should be managed centrally, according to endpoint management best practices.
Even when they don’t have administrative control, individual users can create vulnerabilities that make it more difficult to protect against cyberattacks. For example, weak passwords, lack of caution, and oversharing on social media can be exploited by hackers who use social engineering tactics to gain access to the organization’s networks and data assets.
Remote Device Management
Remote device management adds another layer of complexity to the endpoint management solution. Manageability software can be augmented by the hardware-enabled security and manageability features built into the Intel vPro® platform. The Intel vPro® platform helps improve the remote management of endpoint devices with hardware-based Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) that enables remote access and management even when a device is powered off or the OS is unresponsive. Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant (Intel® EMA) software gives IT the ability to remotely and securely manage Intel® AMT devices beyond the firewall via the cloud on known Wi-Fi networks.
Zero-trust security is a framework that relies on user and device health authentication to help secure the organization’s infrastructure and data. By contrast, a traditional network security model might grant network access to a known, trusted device without fully verifying the user’s credentials.
With today’s local, cloud-based, and hybrid networks, as well as a work-from-anywhere employment model, IT cannot assume that the device or its user is legitimate. Individual users may have multiple devices, and devices may have multiple users. Plus, some users may require specific privileges or access to software, hardware, or data, and the zero-trust architecture should be able to recognize and validate those credentials.
Instead of relying only on the device, a zero-trust model enforces a user authentication protocol so that only verified, authorized users can gain access to the network and its assets. Authentication may be based on several factors, including passwords, the device’s physical location, configuration, and installed software and firmware versions.
Intel® Hardware Shield gathers data to indicate the health of the device’s security hardware. Antivirus and EDR software can leverage that data to help authenticate the user in a zero-trust framework.
Endpoint Management Features
Endpoint management concerns the networked devices themselves, the software that runs on them, and access to data, applications, and other devices on the network. The endpoint management solution usually includes the deployment of client management tools, continuous patch management, and processes and tools to enable remote device management.
Effective, consistent patch management helps to protect the organization from unauthorized access and malware. Remote management capabilities of the Intel vPro® Enterprise platform can help make patch management easier to implement so IT can provide ongoing support for remote employees and synchronize updates with on-premises personnel and devices.
The Importance of Endpoint Management
A comprehensive, proactive endpoint management process can keep your users connected and productive while helping to protect your organization’s data, applications, networks, and devices from unauthorized intrusions and cyberattacks.
Popular endpoint management solutions are strengthened by hardware-enabled manageability and security features, such as those offered on the Intel vPro® Enterprise platform. Intel works with management software providers to optimize their solutions so that compute-intensive security and manageability processes are less likely to interfere with the device’s performance or interrupt the user’s productivity.