Network Security

How to build a secure fortress

Network enterprises today are constantly under modern-day “cyber” siege by attackers armed with intelligence and the latest technology. For this reason, organizations must be prepared to protect their networks.

Just like it's not enough to build a tall wall or dig a deep moat to protect a fortress, an enterprise's network is equally vulnerable without the necessary added layers of security. It takes more than a firewall to defend against an attack.

So, how should executives strengthen their enterprise cyber defenses?

It's not just a CISO thing anymore.

It's not just up to the CISO, but the entire C-suite to start asking the right questions. How can we bolster our defenses to prevent the increasing numbers of attacks? How can we ensure we're doing everything we can to prevent a breach?

CISOs must educate the rest of the C-suite about the importance of a secure network and the risks associated with their current systems. This is done by connecting technology priorities to business priorities, and illustrating the immediate and future business impact. The C-suite needs to understand why network protection is important to the business performance, not just the technical details about how it will work.

Perimeter protection is not enough.

Traditional security has focused on protecting the perimeter, but reactive “perimeter-based” security is not enough. Enterprises can keep building taller walls but there will always be a taller Trojan horse that can infiltrate. Gartner predicts that enterprises and governments will fail to protect 75 percent of sensitive data by 2020 if organizations continue with a reaction-only approach to intrusions.

With the increasingly complex threat landscape and volume of cybercrime, the C-suite needs to take a step back and look at protecting more than just the enterprise castle walls. They need to start looking at the bigger picture. The average, estimated annual cost of cybercrime for a company in 2013 was $11.6 million. That statistic alone should be enough motivation.

Take a holistic approach.

The C-suite is faced with three options: keep the same security strategies and hope for the best, add more of the same defenses or change their strategy to encompass a more holistic approach. Enterprises need to adopt the latter approach.

Like a castle wall, perimeter tools are a valuable part of the primary defense, but they need to be integrated with various other technologies in order to accelerate the detection and mitigation of cyber threats.

Think about it this way: HTTP is the most common form of network traffic and usually not cause for concern, but if the volume of HTTP traffic entering the network spiked at various times, the combination might point to something malicious. To really know for certain, one must correlate the relationship between what is happening at the firewall level with devices and user behavior to make sense of it.

Security analytics allow enterprises to correlate the relationship between the spike of HTTP traffic from the devices on the network and user behavior to provide context and detect anomalies that pose a serious threat. With the addition of security analytics to the security arsenal, organizations are able to forge new business opportunities and innovative initiatives in the future, knowing their sensitive information is secure.

A more holistic approach to cybersecurity is becoming even more critical as emerging trends like the Internet of Things and software-defined networks are challenging and eroding network boundaries. Executives need to start asking the right questions to make sure they are prepared for the inevitable – a cyber attack – with the ability to react and resolve the problem quickly.

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