Is endpoint security a cloud based solution?

Endpoint security refers to securing end user devices like desktops, laptops, and mobile devices as well as servers in a network. Traditionally, endpoint security solutions were delivered as on-premises software installed on each endpoint. However, with the rise of cloud computing, there are now cloud-based endpoint security options as well. So is endpoint security shifting to the cloud?

What is endpoint security?

Endpoint security encompasses various capabilities for protecting endpoints, including:

  • Antivirus/anti-malware scanning to detect and remove viruses, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs
  • Host-based firewalls to control inbound and outbound network traffic
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR) to continuously monitor endpoints, detect threats, and enable rapid response
  • Full disk and file encryption to prevent unauthorized access to data
  • Application control to whitelist authorized apps and block malicious ones
  • Port and device control to restrict the use of ports and peripheral devices
  • Web filtering to control access to risky websites
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) to prevent exfiltration of sensitive data

Endpoint security is critical because endpoints are frequent targets of attack. Securing endpoints prevents threats from penetrating deeper into the network.

What are the limitations of traditional endpoint security?

Traditional on-premises endpoint security solutions have some key limitations:

  • Deployment and management challenges – Installing agents on every endpoint is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Pushing updates and managing security policies across endpoints requires significant effort.
  • Lack of central visibility – With scattered endpoints, IT teams often lack centralized visibility and control. This makes it difficult to view their security status or respond to threats.
  • Infrequent updates – Updating on-premises software happens only periodically, leaving endpoints exposed to new threats in between update cycles.
  • Performance impact – Running intensive security scans on endpoints can negatively impact end user productivity.
  • High overhead costs – Maintaining servers and software for on-premises solutions has significant capital and operational costs.

These limitations have IT teams looking to the cloud as a modern approach to solving these endpoint security challenges.

How does cloud-based endpoint security work?

Cloud-based endpoint security offloads the burden from individual endpoints to the cloud. This works in several ways:

  • Lightweight cloud agent – A small, lightweight agent is installed on each endpoint. This agent requires minimal resources and has nearly zero impact on endpoint performance.
  • Cloud-based management console – All policies, configurations, and dashboards are provided via a cloud-based management console that IT teams can access from anywhere.
  • Cloud platform handles processing – Instead of running security scans on the endpoint itself, the installed agent streams telemetry data to the cloud platform, which runs scans and detects threats.
  • Rapid updates and responses – Pattern files, scanning logic, and other security components are updated in the cloud in near real-time and immediately deployed across all endpoints.
  • Centralized visibility and control – IT teams gain centralized visibility into their entire endpoint security environment and can respond to threats system-wide via the cloud console.

This cloud-based architecture solves many limitations of traditional on-premises endpoint security.

What are the benefits of cloud-based endpoint security?

Cloud-based endpoint security provides significant advantages, including:

  • Faster deployment – With no on-premises infrastructure to deploy, cloud-based solutions can be up and running in minutes or hours by just installing a small agent on each endpoint.
  • Reduced management overhead – Managing security from the cloud console is vastly simpler than having to handle software updates and policy changes on every individual endpoint.
  • Improved security effectiveness – The cloud platform has the scalability to support advanced scanning, analytics, and threat response capabilities that surpass on-premises solutions.
  • Better user experience – With minimal impact on endpoint resources, user productivity sees little disruption from security processes.
  • Constant protection – Cloud platforms enable continuous delivery of new threat protections across endpoints in real-time.
  • Operational efficiency – No on-premises infrastructure to manage results in lower overhead costs.

What are the potential downsides of cloud-based endpoint security?

There are a few potential downsides to weigh when considering cloud-based endpoint security:

  • Dependence on internet connectivity – The cloud platform requires an active internet connection to function. Endpoints that lose connectivity would lose real-time protection.
  • Cloud security risks – Storing data with cloud providers raises concerns around data security, privacy, and sovereignty.
  • Limited customization – Cloud solutions tend to offer less tailoring compared to on-premises solutions.
  • Subscription costs – Cloud solutions are priced via ongoing subscriptions versus one-time license purchases.

However, providers address many of these concerns through SLAs, data security measures, configuration options, and competitive pricing.

When does it make sense to choose cloud-based endpoint security?

Here are some key factors that make cloud-based endpoint security a strong choice:

  • Lack of existing investments – With no current on-premises solutions to protect and leverage, cloud offers a faster and cheaper path to gain robust endpoint security.
  • Remote/mobile workforce – For companies with employees working remotely outside the office, cloud offers centralized protection regardless of endpoint location.
  • Constant threats – The surge in ransomware and fileless attacks make real-time threat protection in the cloud advantageous.
  • Regulatory compliance – Cloud solutions can aid compliance with regulations requiring current security protections and centralized controls.
  • Limited IT resources – Cloud solutions reduce the endpoint management burden on short-staffed IT teams.

Here is a comparison table summarizing factors to consider:

Factor Favors Cloud Security Favors On-Prem Security
Implementation speed Much faster to deploy in cloud On-prem requires lengthy installation process
Endpoint performance impact Lightweight agent has minimal impact On-prem solutions can degrade endpoint performance
Ongoing management Cloud management is simpler On-prem provides more customization
Cost Cloud pricing provides flexibility Large upfront costs for on-prem
Scalability Cloud scales easily to new endpoints Adding endpoints is complex with on-prem

Examples of leading cloud-based endpoint security solutions

Many top cybersecurity vendors now offer cloud-based endpoint security solutions, including:

  • CrowdStrike Falcon – Uses AI for next-gen antivirus, EDR, threat intelligence, and incident response via a unified cloud platform.
  • SentinelOne Singularity – Provides real-time threat protection and autonomous response powered by AI and machine learning in the cloud.
  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint – Delivers integrated EDR, antivirus, cloud-powered threat protection, and unified security management for Microsoft 365 customers.
  • BitDefender GravityZone – Gives organizations centralized visibility and control over patch management, encryption, firewalls, antivirus, EDR, and more.
  • Symantec Endpoint Security – Leverages the Symantec Integrated Cyber Defense Platform to protect laptops, desktops, servers, and mobile devices from the cloud.

These represent just a sample of the leading options to consider. Comparing capabilities and costs across solutions is important to select the right cloud-based endpoint security provider.


Endpoint security is becoming a predominantly cloud-driven market category. The limitations of traditional on-premises security together with the benefits of cloud-based offerings make the cloud the best choice for most organizations’ endpoint security strategies. With remote work on the rise and threats constantly evolving, the visibility, automation, and real-time threat protection of cloud-based endpoint security is becoming a necessity. Leading cybersecurity vendors provide proven options for securing heterogeneous endpoint environments through flexible and scalable cloud platforms. Going forward, investments in endpoint security will focus heavily on advancing detection, response, user security, and zero trust access built around the advantages of cloud delivery.