Stronger cybersecurity starts with one word: agility

By Nick Alevetsovitis
Nick Alevetsovitis, VP, Enterprise and Commercial Sales, Canada for Fortinet

Right around when the pandemic first took hold, security researchers like Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs which has a significant hub in Canada, noticed something. They observed a drop in malicious activity aimed at traditional network devices, and a sudden spike in attacks on email systems, browsers and home networks. Put simply, criminals saw an opportunity taking shape and took full advantage.

That ability to quickly pivot is, unfortunately, one reason why cybercriminals are so effective. They have learned that agility – the ability to adapt to changing conditions and switch tactics with speed –  is one of their greatest assets. There’s a lesson to be learned here. Organizations need to take a page from their book and weave agility into their security strategies, ensuring that every aspect of their defences can also adapt and pivot as we continue through another year of uncertainty.

Agility as a differentiator

Rather than aiming to be “more agile,” security leads should focus their efforts on two core areas where agility can be a critical difference-maker.

The first is network access. The number of employees using personal devices to access the network pre-COVID-19 was high enough. Now it’s become commonplace. Researchers have shown that criminals are – more than ever before – seeking to gain a foothold in enterprise networks by targeted devices at home.

This should be a priority area for all organizations with sizable numbers of remote workers. A more flexible cybersecurity architecture can help IT teams easily deploy appropriate network controls, but also ensure that those controls are constantly and automatically updated, even in the face of never-before-seen threats. If done right, it can help set up a foundation where employees can log in from any location, using any device, and do so securely, providing peace of mind to IT teams.

Think cloud for survivability

The second area is the multi-cloud. For many, the cloud was a promise of a cheaper way to host data. Today the flexibility of cloud environments is among its chief benefits, allowing for speed as organizations build out their infrastructure. It’s also an effective way to strengthen the availability and survivability for their networks, giving teams the ability to quickly add or drop cloud security services in response to evolving business needs. Achieving this flexibility is not easy and can sometimes add complexity for security if the right strategy is not in place.

To get there, organizations need a combination of hardware and virtual-based firewalls that can be quickly deployed and managed in a way that’s tailored for cloud-based resources. This is where solutions like SD-WAN become vital. On-ramping branch offices and other remote locations to the cloud through SD-WAN extends the cloud’s power, flexibility, and productivity gains to all users. With a secure multi-cloud in place, remote workers can safely access critical cloud-based applications, and businesses benefit from cloud-based and on-premise security that dynamically complements one another.

With an agile cybersecurity foundation, organizations will be better able to withstand the next threat to business continuity by preparing for the unknown.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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