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Jon Gold
Senior writer

Growing number of endpoint security tools overwhelm users, leaving devices unprotected

Feb 08, 20233 mins
Endpoint Protection

A new study shows that the sprawl of new management and security tools can end up leaving some endpoints unprotected.

IT professionals / programmers / engineers / developers in a modern workspace.
Credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Enterprises that use endpoint security and management technologies face a problem of growing marketplace “sprawl,” as new tools proliferate and options multiply, according to a study released today by the Enterprise Services Group.

Between the ongoing influence of remote work and IoT, the number and diversity of devices that have to be managed by endpoint security tools is on the rise. As a consequence, the number of available tools to manage them has also risen.

An ESG survey of 380 security professionals in North America, commissioned by cybersecurity company Syxsense, showed that companies using larger numbers of different tools to manage their endpoints had larger proportions of unmanaged endpoints, compared to those with fewer. Put simply, the complexity of the current-day device environment is leading to worse security, according to the research.

Diversity of devices increase

Device diversity, in particular, has increased sharply of late. While Windows PCs were still the most common devices under management, with 65% of survey respondents saying they were managing one or more such devices, IoT devices were the second-most common, at 61% for general purpose devices and 54% for specialized gadgets. Chromebooks, Android devices, and phones and tablets running iOS were also common devices under management.

Overall, however, respondents said that the task of keeping their devices managed has gotten easier in the past two years. Over half — 56% — said that endpoint security is either “somewhat” or “much” easier to handle today as compared to two years ago, while 58% said the same about endpoint management.

Roughly a third of organizations said that they had experienced multiple endpoint-related security incidents. Of those, 54% said that more than 20% of their overall endpoints were unmanaged, while 83% put that figure at between 11% and 20%. More unmanaged endpoints, in short, appear to lead to a greater likelihood of a cyberattack.

Implementing dedicated endpoint protection solutions has a correspondingly positive effect on security, as 44% of respondents said that they discovered unsecured systems when putting such products into production, and 40% said that they found sensitive data in places where it should not be.

The biggest individual challenges in endpoint management, according to ESG’s data, center on patch management. Over a third — or 34% — of respondents said that a major challenge in this area was aligning IT and security priorities for patching, while a similar number said that tracking specific vulnerabilities and patch management were the most serious issue. Unpatchable vulnerabilities were rated as highly difficult by 31%, while automating the endpoint management workflow was cited by 30%.