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November 28, 2022 by Jesus Vigo

A holistic approach to security: visibility and compliance

What are your endpoints doing that they shouldn’t be (or not doing what they should be)? The symbiotic relationship between visibility and compliance is a delicate, yet powerful one if managed properly. With the proper tooling, organizations can not only deploy secured configurations and roll out policies to enforce secure baselines, but they can also gain deep visibility into each endpoint to verify that each device is operating in alignment with company policies and complying with regulatory requirements.

When discussing compliance, no talk is complete without visibility. After all, what good is understanding the complexities of complying with regulatory requirements when you lack the auditing data to make the necessary changes that bring your endpoints into compliance? Conversely, insight into each and every detail required of your organization to comply with industry, governmental and/or regional regulations will be of little significance if organizations do not know how to put telemetry data to work toward meeting your compliance goals.

To put each to good use, they rely on one to inform the other iteratively. This means that insight into device health statuses will reveal areas of deficiency that IT and Security teams can effectively target to bring endpoints into compliance. While understanding how and where compliance requirements impact your organization will aid those same teams in configuring security tooling to identify and report on device-based auditing data, providing them the information they need to assess endpoint security and provide proof of compliance with standards and requirements.

A tale of two compliances

Compliance = compliance, right?! Yes, except when it doesn’t. Confused yet? Let us explain.

Compliance can mean demonstrating that your endpoint is configured to the necessary standards and requirements. For example, things like a passcode, disk encryption, Bluetooth status, screensaver policy, etc. However, compliance can also mean you’re storing the appropriate logging data relating to endpoint activities in a centralized location for future reference.

Depending on your organization, the industry it falls under and where it does business, it could be subject to any type of compliance — or maybe even both. It really comes down to the organization’s unique needs.

As an example, let’s look at Fintech (financial technology). Since they operate in the finance sector, they are required to ensure that endpoints are hardened against threats. This means deploying secure configurations, app restrictions and enforcing network data to meet certain encryption requirements to name a few of the requirements. At the same time, Fintech organizations are also required to show proof of compliance, meaning endpoint health data must be recorded and logs stored centrally to aid organizations in proving that not only are their devices secured but there’s a paper trail to verify this claim to independent auditors and regulators when needed.

Eliminating the guesswork

Security mantra: if you can’t prove that a device was secure, it wasn’t secure.

In a nutshell, when required to show proof that your endpoints are secured and meet the requirements of the regulatory body that governs your industry, proof of compliance must be provided or else it’s viewed as the organization did (or could) not comply with regulations.

That could directly cost the organization, and sometimes its executives as well, with steep penalties such as large fines, lost business opportunities, loss of eligibility to access government funding and/or even criminal liability. Indirectly, it could lead to a loss of faith amongst your existing customers and clients stemming from a negative impact on your reputation and resulting in loss of revenue or potentially even terminating business operations entirely.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, rather with the right solutions as part of their infrastructure, IT and Security teams can glean the necessary granular data needed to not only stay informed as to the latest information relating to endpoint health but also turn that knowledge into actionable power.

Telemetry

Consider for a minute your organization, the number of endpoints relied upon by employees to get work done and balance that against the needs of the company and its users, as well as any regulatory requirements imposed. Without knowing the specifics of your company or its needs, it’s likely not a simple undertaking.

Now factor in the modern threat landscape, which adds in a bevy of threats and attacks by bad actors, setting that against the backdrop of a work-anywhere world. With endpoints and multiple ownership models to contend with, it can be increasingly challenging as your workforce is dispersed. And without the right tools, a difficult task just became infinitely more of a challenge to resolve.

However, by choosing the right solutions to remotely collect comprehensive logging around the system, user and network activity — and sending gathered data to your single pane of glass — leveraging rich telemetry data is made a whole lot easier, simpler and requires less of an impact on your infrastructure or your users. Moreover, the right tooling helps organizations succeed in their auditing goals by using it to craft configurations that keep devices secured and by implementing policies to enforce device compliance while having real-time visibility data in the form of granular logging and reports that provide exactly the proof to verify compliance. And with a powerful, scalable cloud-based solution on your side, all that data is accessible at your fingertips from anywhere — regardless of where your endpoints are.

Device status

Do you know what the status of say, the endpoint security solution is on all the devices deployed within your organization? Which devices are up-to-date with patches? And if any applications are restricted from use by company policy, which endpoints (if any) have actively broken that rule, potentially putting sensitive company data and the users' own personal and privacy data at risk of exposure?

If the answers to the questions posited above are anything except “Yes”, “They all are.” and “Here’s a current report I just pulled up which shows which devices were caught by our policies, automatically enforcing the rule and bringing the affected devices into compliance.”, then it’s a fair belief that might be endpoints accessing organizational data without the necessary (and possibly required, if regulated) safeguards to provide insight into and enforce compliance goals.

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine having a solution that taps into this granular level of visibility at all times. 24/7/365, your organization can simply tap on an individual endpoint, and gather a group of them that meet or do not meet specific criteria, such as not being on the latest version of macOS, or receiving real-time alerts when endpoints have fallen out of compliance along with why this occurred and how to correct the issue.

Ok, now open your eyes, we’d like you to meet Jamf Protect.

Customizable analytics

Analytics is a cornerstone of Jamf’s endpoint security solutions. They provide pre-defined rule sets that are used to detect and prevent known threats targeting your Mac fleet. Think of malware and its variants and you’ll have an idea of how analytics work when detecting a known strand, kicking into action to promptly remove the threat from your devices without impacting the end user's experience or even breaking a sweat.

But that’s not all! Jamf Protect also employs behavioral analytics that targets unknown threats that may be as yet undetected and lying dormant on your endpoints, waiting for the chance to strike at your users, compromise devices and/or steal sensitive data.

But wait, there’s more! Jamf knows each organization is unique in size, scope and needs, hence why analytics are also customizable, so IT and Security teams can determine how to best configure analytics to meet the needs of their organization. By matching your unique needs, analytics can be finely tuned to provide greater capability for identifying, preventing and remediating threats that pose a greater risk. Also, customizing analytics allows organizations to provide support against Mac-focused security threats, for example, aiding threat-hunting teams in discovering novel threats in a concerted effort to proactively stop attacks before they have a chance to occur.

Extending capabilities

Apple and Jamf have a long, deep relationship, one that extends to all of Jamf’s offerings. Thanks to this, our endpoint security products integrate harmoniously across Apple’s entire lineup of Mac devices, providing deep integration with Apple’s Endpoint Security API for maximum visibility into all device health statuses. Furthermore, the deep level of integration means greater insight and extension of built-in Apple security tools, like Gatekeeper, XProtect and MRT just to name a few.

Speaking of evolving capabilities through integration, Jamf’s RISK API securely connects with first- and third-party solutions to not only expand functionality but also drive comprehensive workflows that holistically protect endpoints while granting administrators increased flexibility when monitoring and identifying threats on endpoints, on-device and in-network threat prevention, triaging and automatic remediation of detected issues and keeping tabs on endpoint compliance levels by evaluating audit data (more on that a bit later).

Reporting

Real-time visibility tracks the goings on occurring in the background on your Mac fleet, arming administrators with the data they need to effectively mitigate risks as they develop – not waiting until risks become too big to contain or lead to a data breach. After all, knowledge is power, and having insight into critical network and system processes, including user activity adds color to what’s being done to the Mac – and on it.

The result? IT and Security teams obtain this data faster by leveraging logging data, permitting them to investigate immediately, mitigating or remediating risk quickly and efficiently.

Looking for more robust reporting options? Leveraging Jamf’s integration capability, streaming real-time data to a third-party solution, like Splunk adds a whole new dimension to reporting by combining all data points gathered with visualizations to paint a more complete picture of the state of your macOS-based endpoints.

Manage and validate compliance

An effective way to illustrate the importance of security and compliance tooling on Apple, even as we agree that Apple makes a very secure operating system, is the ability for organizations to manage and validate compliance. While organizations choose Apple for many different reasons, their natural security advantage is among the chief reasons to adopt Apple at the workplace.

Despite its enhanced security, organizations still have an obligation to meet certain reporting and compliance standards and this requires the right tools to accomplish this on the Mac. Simply put: nobody offers more robust macOS visibility than Jamf.

Plus, our same-day support promise means you, your organization and your users can always embrace the latest features, functionality and capabilities without putting compliance at risk.

Secure baselines

Incorporating secure baseline assessment into your comprehensive security strategy is not only a best practice, but Jamf makes auditing against industry-standard security benchmarks a breeze. Aligning your processes with Center for Internet Security (CIS) Benchmarking standards is available right out-of-the-box.

The built-in presets quickly validate that your fleet meets the requirements set forth by your business or industry, while the aforementioned integration with first-party solutions, like Jamf Pro, allows administrators to develop automated workflows that securely share telemetry data from Jamf Protect with Jamf Pro, where endpoints are then brought back into compliance automatically thanks to the policy-based management groups, ensuring endpoints are protected and stay compliant against risk.

In addition to baking in support for CIS, Jamf supports other device-hardening frameworks, such as:

Policy-based management

A crucial part of compliance management is the identification of risks that have brought endpoints out of compliance, potentially exposing critical data. This is on par with the ongoing management of compliance risk, but what about when devices are found to be out of compliance, what then?

There are, of course, manual options that require a member of IT or your Security team to intervene and mitigate the risk. This is possible certainly, but only as effective as when the issue was caught. If users fail to report anomalies or IT does not detect them for some period of time, this incident could linger, leaving the door open for threats to grow and bad actors to attack, potentially resulting in device compromise, data theft or regulatory penalties – or all of the above, unfortunately.

This is why Jamf solutions incorporate policy-based management, so as to leave nothing to chance. By implementing policies that are aligned with organizational policies and industry regulations, organizations can customize targeting groups to easily audit endpoints while constantly analyzing data to verify that they remain compliant. If endpoints are found to be out of the parameters set, the configured policy executes, automatically remediating the issue and bringing the affected endpoints back into the compliance fold.

Automatically enforcing policies to maintain the compliance goals of your organization, industry and/or region has never been this easy.

Curate auditing data

Preparation is one of the keys to success by making the incident response workflow more comprehensive. This allows security teams to investigate the full picture of an incident with logs that have been stored centrally and have not been manipulated by a malicious actor.

An effective process removes the obstacles by developing a workflow for IT and Security teams to follow when investigating. After all, each minute spent on tasks other than the investigation itself is precious time that a threat or bad actor could use to further compromise devices or make further inroads into breaching your data.

What if your organization is part of a highly regulated industry? One that requires combining compliance and audit alongside analysis tools to minimize non-compliance — while maintaining complete control over where your endpoint telemetry is sent. Jamf Protect High Compliance offers the same level of rich telemetry Jamf Protect customers have come to rely on to drive activity logging and streaming audit data to your preferred SIEM solution, as well as helping IT and Security teams to harden endpoints through compliance using industry-standard security benchmarks.

EDR/XDR integration

As mentioned previously, organizations have different needs, There is no “one size fits all” solution that addresses the needs of each straightaway, so it’s understandable that you might use other endpoint detection and remediation/extended detection and remediation tools, even just a SIEM for the centralized gathering of logging data for holistic visibility.

Bearing this in mind, Jamf provides the most comprehensive endpoint telemetry available on macOS. Bar none. This ensures you’ve got the richest, most complete data flowing into your single pane of glass. By actively monitoring endpoints and updating device health data, administrators are in the best position to know what each endpoint is doing (as well as what’s being done to them), in order to develop the best possible strategies to keep your endpoints secure.

Armed with actionable data at the ready, administrators can proactively assess the device security posture, maintaining devices, users and organizational data secure against any threats or bad actors that may probe for vulnerabilities or find attack vectors to exploit.

Key takeaways:

  • Gain deep visibility into endpoint health data across your entire Mac fleet
  • Make telemetry data actionable through effective management of risk
  • Know the status of your endpoints and verify their compliance levels at all times
  • Leverage rich telemetry data against threat defense and prevention, while maintaining compliance
  • Behavioral analytics find known and unknown threats while permitting organizations to customize analytics to adapt to their unique needs
  • Extend capabilities, functionality, features and protections by securely sharing endpoint health data through Jamf’s RISK API with first- and third-party solutions
  • Obtain deep insight into Apple-native security tooling with support of Apple’s Endpoint Security API
  • Real-time alerting notifies administrators of risks and threats targeting your Mac
  • Align endpoint security with secure baselines from CIS, NIST, DISA STIG and mSCP to assess and maintain compliance security right out-of-the-box
  • Curate auditing data to meet your needs and aid in threat-hunting processes and incident response workflows with your existing EDR/XDR solutions

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This post is one of a series on a holistic approach to security. See a roundup of all of the posts, or read one below:

Don’t think your endpoints might be protected – know and verify their status at all times

while keeping Mac compliant and performing optimally across your entire fleet.

Photo of Jesus Vigo
Jesus Vigo
Jamf
Jesus is a Copywriter, Security focused on expanding the knowledge base of IT, Security Admins - generally anyone with an interest in securing their Apple devices - with Apple Enterprise Management and the Jamf solutions that will aid them in hardening the devices in the Apple ecosystem.
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