Understanding the compelling need for UEM

Blog | 23-02-2022 | 10 Minute read

Understanding the compelling need for UEM

Author: Ray Pretorius

What is UEM?

Unified endpoint management (UEM) is an IT management technique that typically takes existing mobile device management (MDM) practices and adds other devices, like desktops and laptops, into a consolidated management scope. Effective UEM practices can help you take care of all the devices existing both inside and outside your network, all from one location. With new advances in technology emerging each day, the importance of keeping your network devices secure continues to grow exponentially every year; with proper unified endpoint management, you can tackle this never-ending responsibility with confidence.

UEM simplifies endpoint management

Many organizations’ IT environments are compiled of machines in varying departments that work on different operating systems and have their own applications and security configurations. Depending on the demands of each department, a system will have varying levels of security risks associated with it.

For example, the HR department may only work with a few applications, but the product development teams will use multiple tools and applications that not only require constant updates but must stay up and running to facilitate productivity throughout the entire enterprise. Whether your enterprise is running a single operating system or a combination of several different ones, adopting a UEM solution can provide cut costs, bolstered productivity, and centralized management.

Currently, the scope of endpoint management covers servers, desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. A UEM solution can simplify how these various endpoints are managed and secure all heterogeneous user devices from one central location.

With all that said, effective endpoint management, when looped into your existing IT service management (ITSM) and IT operations management (ITOM) practices, can produce impressive results.

When the key to all your devices is in one place, you need the right formula to ensure data security and safety. Patching and whitelisting should be your first steps of defence, which will help you avoid most cyberthreats.

According to a study by research firm Voke Media, of the 318 companies examined, more than 80 per cent of breaches occurred due to outdated operating systems and application patches that had been pending for over a year.

The same study found that 27 per cent of surveyed companies reported a failed audit in the prior 18 months, of which 81 per cent could have been prevented with a patch or configuration change. Similarly, 26 per cent reported a breach, of which 79 per cent could have been prevented by those same two measures.

UEM drives seamless IT security

Remember WannaCry?  In 2017, WannaCry ransomware wreaked havoc around the world, infecting hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe. This outbreak was traced back to a known vulnerability in Windows computers called EternalBlue, which WannaCry exploited. Companies that failed to patch EternalBlue after the WannaCry outbreak also faced the risk of Petya and NotPetya ransomware a few months later.

Users are constantly making changes to information through their devices, whether it’s on laptops or smartphones. In this era of evolving IT environments, you need firm control over user devices, regardless of their location. Most cyberattacks exploiting operating system and application vulnerabilities can be avoided by deploying patches over the internet, without waiting for remote devices to reach your enterprise network. Patching, combined with flexible configurations and deployment capabilities, will drive seamless security for your network.

UEM improves productivity and keeps users happy

After a peak at how UEM drives seamless IT Security, I will share a view on how UEM improves productivity and can facilitate better business decisions.

With all the applications and operating systems that are updated and monitored centrally, users will spend less time concentrating on application level security, allowing them to focus their attention on other aspects of their jobs. UEM keeps endpoints up and running, which eliminates downtime and helps employees reach project deadlines without any technological hiccups.

Regardless of the number of endpoints checking in and out of your network each day, you’re responsible for keeping your security gateways safe from intruders. Managing a heterogeneous environment by deploying security configurations for applications, firewalls, browsers, and hardware can reduce security risks exponentially. For instance, a simple firewall configuration to disable SMBv1 and port 445 could have prevented the EternalBlue exploit, leaving WannaCry stuck within a single, infected system.

UEM facilitates better business decisions

UEM facilitates better business decisions by understanding user behaviour will not only help business decision makers formulate strategies that will help strengthen their IT security and improve employee productivity, but it will also help them better direct their investments. UEM gives you a bird’s-eye view of your IT environment; it provides you with proper reporting capabilities, allowing you to make better business decisions, like whether you should purchase new hardware and software, renew applications, and more. With improved visibility, you can formulate a better IT management strategy—which leads to a better business.

Usage stats come in handy when determining whether or not you have enough licenses for the commercial software used in your network. It’s important to track things like the number of devices using each software, as well as the number of times each software is being used and for how long. If you discover that you’re not actively using all the licenses you’ve purchased, you can save money by not renewing those extra licenses.

The trend of organizations improving employee productivity by providing them mobile devices, with smartphones, Chromebooks, and tablets already dominating work culture. Managing all these endpoints from one spot can be convenient, but only if the challenges surrounding endpoint management are handled in an effective way. This chapter introduces a few major challenges every IT department faces when moving towards a more mobile workforce.

Challenges in managing endpoints

  • Mobile workforce
  • Managing multiple architecture
  • Windows, macOS, and Linux management
  • Third-party application management
  • Android, iOS, and Windows device management
  • Demand for proactive security
  • Handling user requests with remote deployment and troubleshooting
  • Single console for diversified IT security

 

  • Mobile workforce

IT security begins with endpoints. Most high-alert security breaches are avoidable with secure and well-guarded endpoints.

Desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and IoT devices all can be breached into one way or another if their security layers are not properly scrutinized. As more devices are added to an enterprise’s network, the likelihood of that network falling victim to an attack increases.

Each organization’s culture varies from the next; likewise, the devices existing in an organization’s environment differ for each department. Economics runs on the principle of supply and demand; successfully supplying a market’s demands will result in profitable business. That philosophy can apply to IT department as well—if you supply your IT department with the tools they need to effectively perform tasks, you’ll see more efficient work from their department, which will, in turn, free them up to work on other, more pressing matters.

  • Windows, macOS, and Linux management

Each operating system comes with its own pros and cons; Windows comes with better developer compatibility, macOS offers designer harmony, and Linux excels with server adaptability. But it’s the IT administrator who has to unify different operating systems—this is where an endpoint management tool comes in handy.

  • Third-party application management

Organizations often have many different third-party applications that require innovation and dependability. From business meeting software like Skype to document applications like Adobe, third-party application software has proven its worth for most enterprises. Managing all these different, complex, new, and obscure third-party applications from a single console can fix zero-day exploits and prevent remote code executions.

Browsers are some of the most used third-party applications, making them one of the biggest doorways for an attacker to breach. Neglecting updates on these applications leaves attackers with an open door to your network.

Fireball, an adware that took down browsers during July 2017, affected more than 250 million computers worldwide. With the right third-party application management procedure in place, this and similar outbreaks could’ve been avoided by updating the vulnerable browsers and deploying remote scripts to the machines for complicated threat or vulnerability handling.

  • Managing multiple architectures

Many organizations are compiled of different devices ranging from old, outdated OSs like Windows XP to the more recent, like Chrome OS. Effectively securing all these devices in a central location marks a huge milestone for security professionals. Enterprises that fail to reach this milestone are still highly vulnerable to cyberattacks and zero-day exploits.

  • Android, iOS, and Windows device management

A growing trend among enterprises is the adoption of a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. With users switching between public networks and corporate networks, securing the data stored on their BYOD devices from the tide of malware and man-in-the-middle attacks has never been more important. A unified endpoint management system can bring mobile devices running on Android, iOS, and Windows within your enterprise’s management reach.

  • Demand for proactive security

Gartner has stated “Through 2020, 99% of vulnerabilities exploited will continue to be ones known by security and IT professionals for at least one year.” When considering this projected statistic, the idea of ignoring patches and updates sounds downright irrational. In 2017, a string of major ransomware attacks, including WannaCry and NotPetya, exploited unpatched computers, resulting in billions of dollars in damages.  And the infamous Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities from early 2018 places nearly every computer running a modern processor at risk, unless properly patched. These examples alone should be enough of a reason to strengthen your network security and begin deploying patches on time.

  • Handling user requests with remote deployment and troubleshooting

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to physically access all your network’s devices for troubleshooting, especially with the growth enterprises experience each year. You need to be able to remotely troubleshoot systems, fulfill remote deployment requests, run scripts remotely, and other tasks from a central location, regardless of whether the devices are on a LAN or WAN. Remote troubleshooting keeps SLA resolutions times low by enabling multiple requests to be handled quickly. With proper remote control capabilities in place, enterprises can fix nearly any issue from anywhere.

  • Single console for diversified IT security

IT security is a never-ending process. Efficient IT security requires effective handling of different ITSM and ITOM dependencies. You can either employ different procedures to handle this, or try using a product that has good integration capabilities. If you’re able to look into tickets and resolve any IT operation-related issues from a single console, your productivity will improve, thereby reducing SLA resolution times.

Resolving issues related to troubleshooting, deploying software to remote devices, and restarting or shutting down computers remotely, all from your ticket window, can be especially handy. You should also utilize one-click access to multiple device management capabilities and combine ITSM and ITOM together to get a complete ITIL implementation.

Contact us for more information on the right UEM solution for you.

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