What is device security?

Device security is the defense of IT assets against harm and unauthorized use. Although the term “device security” is not as widely used as “cybersecurity,” it is a relevant concept that denotes the full range of practices for securing desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, or Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

To reliably fend off modern security threats, a device security strategy must be multilayered, with multiple security solutions working in tandem with one another and oriented around a consistent set of processes. Moreover, both security personnel and end-users must be aligned on best practices such as keeping software up to date and using the right access points or gateways when accessing applications remotely.

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What does device security include?

Device security has three fundamental components.

People: Security experts, whether in-house or at a cloud service provider, are the core of device security. They decide what tools and controls are implemented and monitor environments for anomalies and threats. Security leaders are also important in educating users about how to prevent sensitive data leakage and avoid risky behaviors, especially when working remotely.

Processes: Effective device security requires a systematic approach to dealing with each threat, with security policies and plans that follow best practices. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology offers a framework with a continuous cycle of Identify > Protect > Detect > Respond > Recover that can be followed when confronted with malware or ransomware.

Technologies: Many technical solutions are available for securing environments against threats. Web application firewalls (WAFs), analytics, bot identification and management platforms, antimalware programs, email security, and more are among the most commonly deployed for this purpose. The exact mix of tools changes over time. For instance, secure internet access may replace a traditional virtual private network (VPN).

Why is device security important?

Data breaches have become costlier over time, and modern cybersecurity is the only way to prevent them. More specifically, device security can mitigate the risks stemming from unauthorized access, unclosed vulnerabilities, and malicious traffic and applications.

Device security is also important because remote work and cloud applications have become the norm. Applications are accessed from numerous locations and mobile devices over the internet. Without the right protections for both the apps themselves and their modes of access, organizations will be exposed to significant risks from hackers and cybercriminals.

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What are the main types of device security?

There are several main subcategories of device security that must be integrated into any overarching cybersecurity strategy, including but not limited to:

Network security

This is the protection of networks against the entry and spread of threats. In recent times, the secure access service edge (SASE) has emerged as an important model for network security, as it combines the features of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) with a variety of controls such as secure web gateways (SWGs) and cloud application security brokers. 

Application security

Application security encompasses all of the measures for making applications themselves secure. Much of this work happens during development, through the inclusion of relevant security features. Subsequent updates to software are then critical to thwarting cyberattacks.

Cloud security

Cloud security includes both the mechanisms for protecting applications (e.g., encryption) and for securing access to them. Across remote work environments, mechanisms in the latter category may include firewalls, SWGs, malware defense, sandboxes, and more. Simultaneously, cloud service providers handle many app-specific security controls on their end.

Data security

In addition to encryption, data security includes tokenization, key management and other measures for protecting sensitive information and personal data. Access controls like multifactor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on, along with data loss prevention (DLP) solutions, are also relevant to this device security subcategory.

Endpoint security

Endpoint security is used to protect end user devices and ensure they're safe to connect to corporate networks. This type of device security especially important at organizations with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs, where employees may access corporate resources from personal devices that lack IT controls and oversight.

Mobile device management

Mobile device management refers to tools designed specifically to help IT implement mobile device security plans. This type of device security is especially important at organizations where data, files, and applications are accessed from personal devices.

What are the biggest device security threats?

Device security threats are numerous, but there are a few that deserve particular attention.

  • Malware: Malware is any type of malicious software. It may be designed to harvest and exfiltrate data, make an operating system unusable or otherwise disrupt the target device. Subtypes of malware include spyware, trojans, worms, viruses, and ransomware.
  • Ransomware: Though it dates back to the 1980s, ransomware has become much more prevalent over time as digital currencies have made it easier for cyberattack perpetrators to receive payments. Ransomware encrypts data and then withholds the decryption key until the victim agrees to pay a ransom, typically in Bitcoin or something similar.
  • Phishing: A phishing attack is a social engineering technique for deceiving a victim into visiting a high-risk domain, handing over personal information, or accessing a malicious file. It most commonly happens via email but can also occur through SMS and social media.

In remote work environments, all of these threats are more pressing, since IT does not have direct control over a defined network perimeter or user behaviors. WAFs, MFA, SD-WAN and zero-trust network access (ZTNA) have all become more important in this context.

Citrix solutions for device security

Device security has become more complex as cloud applications and remote work setups have become more common. The shortage of cybersecurity personnel has also made it difficult for organizations to scale their defenses against sophisticated threats.

Citrix offers multiple device security solutions designed for remote as well as on-site work environments. These solutions streamline and strengthen access to applications of all types, including web, SaaS, virtual, and on-premises apps.

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