By Azim Makan, VP, Systems Engineering – Canada, Fortinet
Speed has dictated much of what has unfolded in recent months. It started with the sudden shift to working from home, followed by the need to maintain business continuity by adopting or expanding virtual business practices, and learning how to implement arms-length business transactions. Those tasked with cybersecurity saw the impact of this rapid transition firsthand, along with the pressure to ensure that this new business model was properly protected against new and evolving threats.
Adaptability is key to survival in this new paradigm, which makes staying agile more important than ever. That includes the ability to make rapid network changes to meet evolving demands. However, that’s often easier said than done. The fixed-in-place security solutions many organizations rely on were never designed with agility in mind, making these kinds of network adjustments nearly impossible to fulfill. The result is lag time between the execution of a new network configuration in response to dynamically shifting business requirements and the ability for security to adjust to that new environmental change. This can result in a security gap that attackers can easily exploit, multiplied hundreds or thousands of times a day.
Improving Business Agility with Security-Driven Networking
Boosting the agility of an organization to function optimally in an environment that is constantly in flux requires rethinking and retooling key elements of the network. Here are five factors to consider.
Personal devices. For months now, millions of workers have accessed information on company networks using their personal devices, opening up a new area of risk. VPNs alone are not enough to provide adequate defenses. Modern security solutions feature sophisticated endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions that provide real-time protection. This enables them to defuse threats before they have the chance to cause damage. That means devices can continue to function securely, in in the middle of a live malware attack, without any manual intervention needed from IT teams.
Accessing the cloud: With so many people accessing cloud services from outside the network perimeter, it’s hard to know who is using them—or how they’re being used. It’s essential, therefore, to have security solutions at your fingertips, such as a Cloud-Based Security Broker (CASB) solution. CASB is designed to protect access to SaaS applications to ensure that cloud-based applications and data are visible and protected. Cloud-based security solutions can also add extra protection to things like email applications, where so many phishing attacks take root. Extending security to the cloud, while keeping the entire security framework—both physical and virtual—part of a single, unified platform will further remove pressure from IT departments, ensuring they have maximum visibility while avoiding spending time dealing with preventable issues.
Accessing the network. Controlling access to the network and its resources has become far more difficult since the start of the pandemic. Armed with the right access solutions, including things like multifactor authentication (MFA) and network access control (NAC), security teams can instantly identify everyone seeking access to a network, see which devices are already connected, monitor their behavior while connected, and implement appropriate controls wherever necessary. Once dynamic access control has been established, it’s critical to then segment the network. That way, even if a threat makes its way in, it will be possible to restrict it to a predefined area, thereby ensuring that the rest of the network remains unaffected.
Real-time threat intelligence. Cybercriminals have begun to leverage AI-based tools to launch cyberattacks. So it only makes sense that organizations use AI to repel them. Modern, AI-driven security offerings can spot and stop attacks before anyone on the IT team even knows that such an attack has even happened. Not only that, the sheer amount of data that AI systems can collect and correlate as people continue to access networks from home will help users understand their areas of risk in ways they couldn’t before, and greatly improve their cybersecurity footing.
The power of integration. Many organizations have inherited a mix of security solutions that perform specific tasks, and that cannot—nor were they designed to—connect to each other. The result is that IT teams must manually intervene, hand-correlating log files and replicating configurations between different machines, putting a growing strain on resources. If this sounds familiar, now is the time to look for security solutions built on a Security Fabric, which provides a broad level of integration and automation. This gives IT teams peace of mind and lowers management overhead, allowing these critical resources more time to focus on other areas of the business.
During these times of rapid change, deploying fully integrated security protections will need to be a top priority. But with the right combination of solutions in place, your remote worker strategy can be managed efficiently, securely, and cost-effectively, even in the most dynamic business environments.
Want to learn more? Discover how Fortinet Teleworker Solutions enable secure remote access at scale to support employees with a wide array of access requirements. Also, learn how security leaders are using SD-WAN to protect their networks.