These days I had a discussion with a vendor who sells different security tools which make up sort of an Endpoint Security “suite” about my and his view on that market. He was sort of offended by my critical view on today’s endpoint security market and claimed that his company and many of his competitors are selling large amounts of licenses to customers. Thus I must be wrong when telling people that the market isn’t really mature today.
My view on endpoint security is, by the way, not as sceptic as the one I have on the DLP market (Data Leakage Protection/Prevention). I think that well integrated, feature-rich endpoint security solutions are an important element within security strategies. But the bar is set high. Endpoint Security solutions have to fully protect different types of endpoints. That includes AV, local firewalls, WLAN security, encryption, device control, and other elements. All these features have to be well managed. And well managed means centrally managed, integrated with existing and potential other new elements of the overall strategy. Active Directory integration is key in Windows environments. Integration with SIEM tools or at least open interfaces are a required feature. For sure, there needs to be one set of policies for all security features of the endpoint. Existing system-level features should be as well integrated, starting with Bitlocker on new Windows versions and for sure as well including interfaces to Windows Group Policies. To name just a few of the expectations I have on Endpoint Security Suites.
Endpoint Security thus goes well beyond the point solutions in the DLP market which I see even more critical.
Unfortunately, no vendor today fully supports all requirements I have on Endpoint Security solutions. That might change over time. But even then, Endpoint Security will be only one element within a security strategy, which has to be combined with IAM (Identity and Access Management) as the foundation for most parts of security, with more advanced information protection solutions (shielding information not only at rest, but as well on move and on use), centralized solutions (which might even overlap with endpoint security to some degree – look at what Finjan provides) and so on.
Thus this mean that you shouldn’t invest in Endpoint Security tools? No, for sure not. But a customer should be aware of the shortcomings of today’s offerings. And he should understand that he addresses only part of the overall problem (even while Endpoint Security at least might address a larger part of the problem, compared to many of the point solutions offered under the label of DLP). And vendors might use the bar I have set as sort of benchmark for their solutions and sort of advice for their product management instead of complaining that the bar is set to high. The fact that they are selling their products only proves that there is a strong demand for endpoint security solutions and that customers are even willing to buy immature solutions – it doesn’t prove that their solutions are mature.
My advice for customers: Understand the strengths and shortcomings of today’s offering in endpoint security, understand endpoint security as part of a larger IT security initiative, and define your selection criteria according to that.
My advice for vendors: Don’t rest on your current success but go a step back and think about what will be needed tomorrow and in some years from now. The Endpoint Security market will evolve, there will be significant changes. And it will be more and more understood as part of a bigger IT security approach.