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Endpoints Fail Predictably: Absolute

A security firm based in Vancouver, Canada, has issued a disturbing 2019 Endpoint Security Trends Report that finds security spending not worth the bucks.

Larry Loeb

October 29, 2019

2 Min Read

Absolute, a security firm based in Vancouver, Canada, has issued a disturbing 2019 Endpoint Security Trends Report that finds "much of endpoint security spend is voided because tools and agents fail, reliably and predictably."

The report resulted from a one-year study that was conducted by Absolute's security research team. Data was gathered from over 1 billion change events on over 6 million devices.

The devices represent data from 12,000 anonymized organizations across North America and Europe. Each device had Absolute's endpoint visibility and control platform (the product that they sell) activated.

Researchers applied an Endpoint Resiliency Index to the sample to establish a baseline and monitored the results over a 12-month period. The Endpoint Resiliency Index applies the method used by the World Economic Forum's Environmental Performance Index to track the overall direction of key variables of quality.

The research found that devices can have ten or more endpoint security agents installed -- including encryption, AV/AM and client/patch management options. Since IDC has said that 70% of breaches will originate on the endpoint, and 35% of all breaches are caused by existing vulnerabilities.

Yet the report found that at any given point 28% of endpoints are unprotected, 21% had outdated AV/AM and 7% were missing altogether.\r\nOf those covered, more than one agent designed to perform the same service were present on the majority of devices (1.2 AV/AM agents per endpoint). This can mean collision and decay of the services they are designed to provide.

The report also found that 42% of endpoints experienced encryption failures. Indeed, the report says that encryption failures will occur reliably and predictably -- 2% of encryption agents failed every week. While half of all encryption failures occurred within two weeks, the rate of decay found by Absolute is constant: 8% failure per 30 days. Regardless of industry, 100% of devices experienced encryption failures within one year.

Client management and patching tools were found by the report to break reliably and predictably. Nineteen percent of endpoints were said by the report to require at least one client/patch management repair every month. Of those patching agents requiring repair, 75% reported at least two repair events and 50% reported three or more repair events.

Client patch management agents failed at double the rate of encryption agents. However, once failed, an encryption agent then reported seven times more repair events than client management agents.

The report summarizes is thrust as, "The data has shown how well-functioning controls fail. These failures occur without anyone -- threat actors, negligent users, and bots -- intending for failure to happen. Additionally, it shows how endpoint complexity amplifies this natural propensity for device security to degrade over time."

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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About the Author(s)

Larry Loeb

Blogger, Informationweek

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet protocol. His latest book has the commercially obligatory title of Hack Proofing XML. He's been online since uucp "bang" addressing (where the world existed relative to !decvax), serving as editor of the Macintosh Exchange on BIX and the VARBusiness Exchange. His first Mac had 128 KB of memory, which was a big step up from his first 1130, which had 4 KB, as did his first 1401. You can e-mail him at [email protected].

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