Network security

Network security: 5 fundamentals for 2021

In January 2020, no one could have predicted how unpredictable the year ahead would be. But despite the seismic changes in the way we work, the biggest network security threats to organizations were mostly the same old threats we have faced over the past five years. Yet even the largest organizations with the most advanced next-generation security continue to suffer breaches. Why? Because too often the fundamentals of effective security management are overlooked, which means that security processes are ineffective, which in turn leads to vulnerabilities.

To solve this problem, let’s take a look at five fundamental security management principles that will help keep your organization, users, and customers safe in 2021.

Don’t Fly Blind – Visibility is Key

The issue of visibility comes back to this; you cannot protect what you cannot see. So, the first thing you need to figure out is what you have in your network, which means creating a complete repository of all your network and security devices.

Having complete visibility into your network environments, whether on-premises or in the cloud, is fundamental to establishing and maintaining a robust security and compliance posture. Deep visibility shows which business applications and underlying connectivity flows will be affected by changes in security policies or planned downtime of servers and devices. This is essential for understanding the impact on key applications during server migration or decommissioning or for troubleshooting issues, and for avoiding costly outages.

Without real-time, accurate, and relevant information about vulnerabilities and issues that can impact critical business applications, effective risk management cannot truly be achieved. With global visibility of security across cloud and on-premises networks through a single pane of glass, IT and security teams can easily link vulnerabilities and cybersecurity incidents to specific business applications – and prioritize their decisions and actions by based on strategic and business needs. .

Automation matters

Once you gain visibility into your network and its associated connections, how do you document application connectivity? The obvious choice is to employ a solution that automatically maps the different network traffic flows, servers, and firewall rules for each application.

In a conversation with a major US airline, we found out that it had to manage 56,000 rules; it’s a huge amount of information. Manually checking each of these rules, which are often poorly documented, is extremely time consuming and error prone, leading to configuration errors and potential security breaches. Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report showed that over 40% of all breaches it investigated resulted from configuration errors.

Automation eliminates these manual errors. Achieving true contactless automation in network security is no easy task, but over time you can let your automation solution run hands-free, as you make more changes and gain confidence by increasing levels of automation step by step. Soon you will have achieved the ideal of automating complete, hands-off network change processes – eliminating network “tedious work” and the risk of costly errors resulting from human error. Zero touch also ensures that the balance between security and business continuity is maintained, reducing risk while improving the overall speed and agility of the organization.

Segment for security

Hackers will never give up on targeting large companies, and ransomware attacks will never be completely eradicated. So, if organizations are under constant attack, how should they mitigate the chances of a successful breach and prevent hackers from roaming freely on their networks?

Micro-segmentation minimizes the damage hackers can cause if they gain access, by isolating servers and systems in separate areas to contain intruders or malware, as well as insider threats, much like sealed compartments segmented large vessels.

The move to virtualized data centers using a software-defined network (SDN) enables more advanced and granular zoning, allowing networks to be broken down into hundreds of micro-segments. But virtualization doesn’t eliminate all of the pitfalls involved. Applying security policies and firewall configurations to all systems and in different IT environments always has to be done manually, which is a huge task for the IT security department.

Automated network management makes it easier for companies to define and apply their micro-segmentation strategy. It also ensures that critical business services are not blocked due to misconfigurations and that compliance requirements are met. The right automation solution detects changes in the network that collide with the current micro-segmentation setting, immediately suggests policy changes based on this information and, if desired, validates and applies them automatically. , thus ensuring enhanced security and continuous compliance without resorting to complex procedures, manual support.

Automated audit and compliance

With increasingly stringent regulations governing information handling and security, organizations must undergo much more stringent audits of security policies and controls to maintain their compliance posture. While regulatory and internal audits cover a wide range of security controls, the firewall takes center stage as it is the first line of primary defense.

Ensuring and proving compliance typically requires significant organizational resources and a budget, and with the growing litany of regulations, the cost and time involved increase rapidly. Manual audit work takes a considerable amount of time, as a report must be produced for each firewall in the network. As networks become more and more complex, auditing quickly becomes a colossal task. Automating the firewall audit process is critical because compliance needs to be continuous and not just cover a point in time. Network security management solutions automatically document all firewall and policy changes, and produce audit-ready reports, saving time and effort.

Make the migration to the cloud a success

According to the latest research from Gartner, 90% of its customers use cloud services. It is a multi-billion dollar revenue generator and one of the fastest growing market segments. But, too often, security falls high on the priority list during the migration process, causing long-term problems. A recent cloud security survey found that 75% of organizations were “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about this. And 68% said they’ve used at least two cloud providers, which means security teams often have to use multiple security tools and native management consoles to try and enforce security and compliance across different environments.

To ensure successful cloud migrations, organizations must take a thoughtful and phased approach, knowing that the responsibility for managing cloud security and compliance remains at their doorstep. This requires a deeper understanding of cloud security controls and how they connect and interact with on-premises security appliances, which, in turn, requires global visibility into cloud and on-premises environments, as well. as the automation of network security management processes.

In the shadow of a tough year, now is the time to take stock of your network security processes and make sure you implement these security best practices for 2021.

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