In the age of the digital economy, data is the “new gold” or “new oil.” The data may refer to intellectual property, sensitive personal information about customers and employees, confidential business plans, or financial information. Every enterprise has such type of high-value data vital to its success. As threat techniques become more sophisticated, this “new gold” is increasingly vulnerable to exploitation.
Security threats take a costly toll on victims in terms of money and time. From a financial perspective, the average data breach cost US companies USD 4.35 million in 2022. In addition to financial losses, depending on the type of incidents companies suffer, they may lose days, weeks, or months from time to incident response activities.
Millions of employees in today’s organizations have access to Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices that enhance their productivity. Each of these devices represents a potential entry point for threat actors. IT leaders must ensure that they have appropriate controls to protect the data that Windows devices contain. Endpoint security configuration management is a first-rate practice to protect Windows devices from exploitation.
What is Security Configuration Management (Windows 10)
Security configuration management identifies misconfigurations of a system’s default settings. Misconfigurations can lead to a host of problems, including poor system performance, noncompliance, inconsistencies, and security vulnerabilities.
IT security and operations all agree on security configuration management for the enterprise device inventory.
For Windows 10 devices, security configuration management ensures every endpoint is correctly configured, including:
- Windows registry settings and configuration files
- Windows OS patched to the latest security updates
- Third-party software, anti-virus, and malware are updated and running
- Security scans are taking place as per the schedule
- Maintenance of internal policies for data privacy
- Other security or compliance policies are enforced
It is important to understand that endpoint security configuration management isn’t a one-time activity. Rather, it is a continuous activity that should be conducted regularly. Systems can fall out of configuration compliance at any time and for any reason. A continuous assessment provides organizations with the latest snapshot of threats and risks to which endpoints are exposed.
Benefits of Endpoint Security Configuration
- Automation – IT teams must manage too many systems while they have too little time. Without security configuration management, it is difficult to maintain secure configurations across endpoints. A correct tool can be deployed to align misconfigurations while providing real-time insights.
- Compliance – Security configuration management software monitors an organization’s compliance as per internal standards as well as industry best practices. It helps reduce the time to detect noncompliance, avoiding costly penalties and fees.
- Device protection – Managing security configurations can be challenging for organizations with thousands of Windows devices running different OS versions. Security configuration management can address this challenge.
Why is Endpoint Security Configuration Management Important?
As organizations grow, their technology needs become complex. Organizations apply configuration management to track, control, and manage various aspects of the business. Even so, it becomes difficult to maintain security and manage devices. With each new device or application, an organization adds, the volume of what needs to be monitored and protected increases.
For example, are new devices connected to the enterprise network left with default configurations? Or how many users in the network are using default passwords? Businesses eventually feel the need for a security-focused configuration management approach to stay compliant, secure, and available at all times.
How Endpoint Security Configuration Management Works
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, security-focused configuration management has four phases.
Phase 1 – Planning
The planning phase involves developing policies and procedures to include security configuration management into existing IT and security programs and then sharing the policy throughout the organization.
Phase 2 – Identifying and Implementing Configurations
After the planning and preparation activities are complete, a secure baseline configuration for the system is developed, reviewed, approved, and implemented. A secure baseline may address configuration settings, software loads, patch levels, how the information system is physically and logically arranged, how various security controls are implemented, and documentation.
Phase 3 – Controlling Configuration Changes
Organizations ensure that changes are formally identified, proposed, reviewed, analyzed for security impact, tested, and approved prior to implementation. Organizations can employ a variety of access restrictions to limit unauthorized and/or undocumented changes to the system.
Phase 4 – Monitoring
Monitoring activities are used as the mechanism within security configuration management to validate that the system is adhering to organizational policies, procedures, and the approved secure baseline configuration.
Support Windows 10 Security Configuration Management with Mobile Device Management (MDM)
As threats evolve, it is always better to proactively protect the organization’s endpoints. MDM provides a wide range of capabilities for organizations to create a security-focused configuration management system.
Patch management – Regular patching is essential for devices that hold or access sensitive enterprise data. For Windows patch management, Microsoft regularly provides scheduled updates to its Windows OS. MDM scans all managed endpoints to detect missing patches and deploys them to mitigate security risks.
Application control – With MDM, an IT admin can enforce a comprehensive list of approved apps to protect against malware and untrusted changes. To avoid users from downloading unsanctioned apps, organizations can set controls such as app whitelisting, which allows users to access only a directory of approved applications to run on Windows devices.
Password policies – Weak passwords are one of the most common security misconfigurations that enterprises face. MDM can help in creating and implementing strong password policies. MDM can enforce that users adhere to the password requirements such as minimum length, complexity, password expiry, and the number of attempts before the device is locked.
BitLocker encryption – Enabling disk encryption is essential in protecting an organization from data breaches. MDM ensures that BitLocker encryption is enabled to encrypt entire disk volumes to prevent unauthorized access.
Managing security configuration is necessary for every organization. An effective process and the right tools protect against vulnerabilities and security threats while reducing risk, ensuring compliance, and preventing data breaches. Explore how Scalefusion can support your organization’s endpoint security configuration deployment with a 14-day free trial.