Factoring 5G into your security outlook

Azim Makan - VP, Systems Engineering - Canada, Fortinet
Azim Makan

By Azim Makan, VP, Systems Engineering – Canada, Fortinet

The COVID-19 pandemic may have dramatically tightened our social circles, but it had the opposite effect on the network perimeter. Once a narrow point of access at the edge of the network, now the network perimeter extends across the entire IT infrastructure – from mobile and home offices to branch offices, enterprise data centers, and public clouds.

While most businesses were probably already heading toward this flexible anywhere, anytime remote access model, there is no doubt that COVID-19 sped up the process. The pandemic – and the fallout for IT managers everywhere – underscores the importance of business continuity plans and anticipating future challenges.

And those challenges are coming. With the arrival of 5G, the focus will move beyond just ensuring secure, remote access to information from anywhere, using any application on any device. It will enable data and transactional decision-making to move closer to the network’s edge and out to the cloud. Protecting these systems will require changing the way we think about networks and security to ensure data and devices’ integrity.

IT managers will soon need to start looking beyond the challenges of COVID-19 to lay the groundwork for a long-term strategy that is 5G-ready. Preparing for this future state will require a focus on three key areas.

First, security solutions need to be performance-led. Security devices should never become a bottleneck or sacrifice visibility, user experience, or security to achieve application performance. With the addition of faster devices and more distributed access to resources, businesses need security tools capable of supporting hyperscalable and hyperconnected infrastructures and experiences. However, many security solutions fail to keep pace with new technologies and business requirements – let alone cyber criminals’ nefarious efforts.

Not all vendors have spent the time and resources required to ensure their security devices can operate at the speed modern businesses demand. Given the promise of 5G to deliver low latency, high performance, and massive scalability, IT managers will need to do their homework to ensure their security mix is 5G-ready.

Second, there needs to be a shift where the network and security are seen as a single integrated system. Today’s networks are highly fluid, as business demands constantly shift and impact the network, yet security systems often focus on just one part or segment of a network. A single, integrated approach would ensure that security can seamlessly adapt and scale whenever the networking infrastructure evolves or expands.

Performance and interconnectivity between security and the network are also essential. This convergence is the only way that threat detection and prevention can continue to span the evolving network and respond at 5G network speeds.

That brings us to the final point of focus – building security solutions with speed in mind. New integrated platforms and evolving edge environments will include shifting interconnected devices and applications. The high-performance transactions in these new edge environments will require immediate decision-making, requiring advanced AI to meet demands.

It is unlikely that the traditional security solutions some businesses rely on will meet the demands of a 5G world. The next-generation challenges 5G will bring will require next-generation solutions. Businesses would do well by planning for this future now, focusing on performance, integration, and speed. Creating a plan today will make it easier to integrate the advanced security solutions needed for this next technology revolution.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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