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Want to fight that hacker? Take it outside

A new twist on endpoint security moves the battle from corporate networks to the cloud.

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A growing number of companies offer to protect data on laptops, tablets and other network endpoints in the cloud. Their sales pitch: as a savvy IT decision-maker, you don’t want to battle hackers and malware on your own turf. Instead, take the fight to a secure, cordoned-off corner of the web and let your tough new friends — the cloud endpoint security providers — teach the digital creeps a lesson or two.

Earlier this year, tech security outfit iSheriff unveiled just this sort of service with iSheriff Complete. It’s a cloud program for endpoint, web and email security. The selling feature is separation. “As a cloud-based platform, iSheriff removes potential malware and viruses before they ever reach our customers’ network,” the company says.

iSheriff certainly isn’t alone. ZDNet reports that Dell has developed a security system for computers that relies on the cloud for clout. The PC maker’s new Dell Data Protection Endpoint Security Suite Enterprise offers post-boot BIOS verification that’s designed to ensure the PC is protected from malware. The process takes start-up data and sends it to Dell’s cloud BIOS lab for analysis. The lab sifts through the details, looking for anomalies that could indicate a malware infestation.

According to ZDNet, there’s a distinct advantage to conducting the test in the cloud BIOS lab — a veritable malware-free environment — rather than doing it on a potentially compromised computer.

In an article for Network World, IT security firm CrowdStrike suggests that cloud endpoint protection works as a sort of stakeout where security experts can watch cyber-criminals in action. If a hacker accesses a cloud-based security system to test out novel attacks — with an eye to targeting the service provider’s customers — the service provider can see what the hacker is up to, develop a fix and then thwart the attack as soon as it goes live.

This new approach to endpoint security could convince some cloud naysayers to reconsider their positions. Even for organizations that largely prioritize control (and which typically balk at the idea of outsourcing data protection), it’s difficult to deny that moving endpoint security to the cloud and away from in-house equipment deserves consideration.

After all, if the fight gets messy, wouldn’t you rather have a service provider clean up afterward?

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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