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July 14, 20226 min read

The True Cost of Centralized Endpoint Management

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For most enterprises – the edge is where business happens, but it is also where cyberattacks are increasingly happening.

In partnership with Ponemon Institute, we’re proud to release the inaugural Managing Costs and Risks at the Edge Report, which looks at the effectiveness of enterprise-level endpoint management. Employees in IT security and operations were surveyed on their confidence in managing risk in a cost-effective manner. Spoiler alert, their responses don’t instill confidence.

Key article takeaways:

  • Centralized distribution points no longer serve a remote workforce
  • Endpoint management innovation has been dormant
  • Risks to networks have risen sharply, but the ability to secure endpoints hasn't
  • IT management has yet to see the impact true automation can have

For most enterprises – the edge is where business happens, but it is also where cyberattacks are increasingly happening. Employees use an array of devices, aka endpoints, to get their work done anywhere and everywhere. Those employees serve customers, who might also use a device/endpoint (ATM, point-of-sale kiosk, etc.) to transact with a business. This device proliferation, along with the behaviors of the employees and customers using those devices, puts businesses on the path to an IT disaster. If it hasn’t happened to you, then you’re likely on the brink. Why is that? Let’s take a look.

Centralization is antiquated in a remote world

The heart of the problem is the ongoing reliance on centralized distribution servers either in the cloud or on-prem. It’s pretty simple, the predominant endpoint management tools of the day rely on distribution points to share necessary content for devices to stay updated, configured, and patched. The more endpoints you have, in more locations, the more distribution points you’ll have to manage; and distribution point sprawl increases your attack surface exponentially. It’s a dated, precarious paradigm of cobbled together Frankenstein architectures that are complex to manage on their own. What’s needed is an entirely new model.

Innovation has neglected IT management

The last big advancement in endpoint management came with the introduction of public cloud computing (yay for scale!). This was over 20 years ago, and still leaves IT managing a complex array of infrastructure that comes with unpredictable costs as usage grows. At the time things looked a lot different. There were fewer devices, and they were typically on shared networks. The likelihood of an attack was far less likely. Now devices are no longer bound to the protection of the office. They’re at home or anywhere else there’s a data connection. The boundaries of the workplace have been eliminated. Remote work is now the norm, not the exception.

But, even in the cloud, centralized servers can only do so much. They are fraught with fundamental limitations. They struggle to find endpoints if they unexpectedly relocate, as in whenever an employee takes a laptop away from the office. Suddenly, that device becomes invisible to the servers built to protect it. Yet, the user is still capable of interacting with company resources. This quickly becomes a dangerous proposition. Survey respondents report nearly half of their endpoints are at risk because IT can’t detect them, or they have an outdated operating system. Therefore, security gaps can’t be remediated because as far as the servers are concerned, these endpoints don’t exist. The problem isn’t going unnoticed either, as visibility is cited as the greatest barrier to achieving a strong endpoint security posture by those polled.

Check out our white paper: Endpoint Management Powered by Your Edge

Security is not keeping up with growing risks

Criminals are opportunists by nature. Think of the prowlers who wander city streets looking for unlocked car doors. Most aren’t smashing every window to see what they can find. But if someone is careless and forgets to lock their car, then the thieves have easy access to anything in the vehicle. This can be a horrible experience for an individual. Now imagine thieves taking the same approach not just on a block of cars, but on all the endpoints in your company. The keys to your kingdom may be just sitting there for anyone to cause damage. If it is that easy to break into a computer, then a whole lot more opportunists are going to come out of the woodwork.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed had an average of five attacks on their organization over the past year costing an average of $1.8 million. The cascading effect of system downtime and disruptions in productivity are leaving organizations scrambling. The number of threats enterprise endpoints face today are far greater than any time in the past 20 years. The attacks are coming more often and do a lot more damage to an organization’s data, productivity, and reputation.

The number is only growing as enterprises add more and more endpoints. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents say that the number of endpoints they manage has grown 10-20 percent in the past two years. That’s a lot of unlocked car doors and it just takes one to wreak havoc on an organization.

Companies have attempted to manage these issues by throwing money at the problem. Twenty percent of the overall IT budget is dedicated to security (an average of $46.1m), but only 5% of the overall IT budget is spent on endpoint management (an average of $9.2m). Security solutions will not help an organization gain visibility over all their endpoints, nor will they keep devices up to date. They scan for attacks and fix the issue when found. What good is that $46 million budget if those security tools are only scanning 50% of your endpoints? You could increase that budget to $100 million – and your network will still be facing the same level of risks. This “solution” only extends an unsolved problem.

Endpoint management needs actual automation

While automation has helped ease some of the workload, the Ponemon survey indicates that IT leaders claim it would only save a company 25% of the cost of a breach. While not insignificant, it’s not the mic drop you might expect. To understand where these respondents might be coming from, one must consider the kind of automation they have come to expect – which is essentially compiler software that just finds problems and reports back to the people. Then it is up to them to implement the fixes. This isn’t true automation. It sounds like the machines are just rounding up more work for the people to do.

Fundamentally, this workflow keeps people doing the repetitive tasks that should be offloaded to a computer. It doesn’t change the flat-footed, reactionary posture that IT has been trapped in for decades. IT needs tools that give them total and complete visibility over their endpoints, with real-time delivery of content to continuously keep them configured appropriately and up to date. This will plug what are currently gaping holes in the endpoint network to ensure no cheap shots get through an unpatched, or invisible device. Automation can get us there – but understandably the data shows that automation in endpoint management has only made minimal gains so far.

At Adaptiva, we have a solution to resolve these headaches for enterprise-level organizations. Our Adaptiva OneSite Platform combined with the endpoint management applications that it runs such as OneSite Anywhere, OneSite Health, and our forthcoming OneSite Patch solution ensures you are always prepared against attacks with instant updates and data deployments through our revolutionary edge cloud platform. There is a better way to take care of your endpoints and we can help.


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