Embrace an Integrated Network Security Infrastructure

istock 1133924836
iStock

To stay competitive and meet user demands, organizations are adopting new technologies and architectures—such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), software-defined branch (SD-branch), Internet-of-Things (IoT), multi-cloud, and zero-trust access (ZTA)—which has led to network infrastructures becoming increasingly complex and fragmented.

To help mitigate this operational complexity, enterprises are embracing the simplicity and efficiency of an integrated architecture. Network integrations enable zero-touch provisioning, centralized management, real-time security analytics, simplified compliance auditing and reporting, and automation of manual workflows and network operations.

Network Integration Addresses Complexity Issues

When it comes to protecting infrastructures, complexity creates challenges for network engineering and operations leaders. First, visibility and control of network defenses is reduced due to an accumulation of disconnected network and security point products. Second, the worldwide shortage of security talent means most organizations lack people with the skills to manage these tools. Third, new compliance requirements often need manual compilation for reports and audits—putting more burden on already-strained teams.

The first step toward solving these critical problems is embracing an integrated network security infrastructure that connects all deployed solutions across the organization. This concept, which Gartner calls a “cybersecurity mesh architecture,” provides the foundation for critical capabilities such as simplified provisioning, centralized management, security fabric analytics, seamless compliance reporting, and automated operations.

According to Gartner, by 2024, organizations adopting a cybersecurity mesh architecture will reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90%.

Simplified Provisioning
An integrated network security architecture can enable advanced security orchestration capabilities for provisioning and configuration. These can alleviate many complex challenges for growing organizations—all while improving efficiency or operations and reducing the workflow burdens on limited staff resources. As a business expands or adds new offices, automated onboarding capabilities allow for fast and seamless scalability of security to all areas of the organization’s expanding network.

An effective cybersecurity mesh architecture supports capabilities like zero-touch deployment to help organizations simplify and accelerate bringing new locations online. A zero-touch deployment enables a security device—such as a next-generation firewall (NGFW)—to be plugged in at a branch office or remote location and then automatically configured at the main office via broadband connection to avoid the time and cost of truck rolls.

Centralized Management

Operations must be able to monitor data movement and identify anomalous activity, but security complexity obscures this ability. Siloed devices in a disaggregated security architecture do not communicate with one another or share threat intelligence. When network engineering and operations teams must juggle multiple management consoles from different vendors, this inhibits clear, consistent, and timely insight into what is happening across the organization.  

An integrated security architecture with centralized management capabilities simplifies visibility and control by consolidating the multiple management consoles of point devices. An effective management solution should provide a single-pane-of-glass view to track all the solutions deployed to protect the network and apply policy-based controls with ease and consistency.

Compliance Reporting

Virtually all compliance regulations require documentation with a strong audit trail. Depending upon the industry and organization, compliance management is very often a heavily manual, labor-intensive process requiring months of work involving multiple full-time staff. This is most likely why 85% of IT compliance and risk management professionals plan to evaluate new tools in 2022 to streamline and automate their compliance processes.

For organizations with multiple, point-security products, data must be assembled from each of them and then normalized to ensure that regulatory controls are reported accurately. To do so, network operations staff must monitor security controls using each individual vendor’s audit tools and subsequently correlate that information to prove compliance. These complex and unwieldy auditing processes are inefficient and often ineffective due to human errors.

Automation of compliance tracking and reporting at the network operations layer can streamline these processes, allowing limited networking and security staff to focus on more critical operations activities. An effective security management solution should provide compliance templates for both best practices and regulations to help reduce the cost and burdens of complexity.

Effective security management should also include tools to help networking leaders evaluate their environment against industry best practices. Part of this process includes aggregation and reconciliation of threat data from multiple sources. Then, network operations teams can apply recommendations to protect against threat exposures.

Network Automation and Real-time Security Analytics

As the number of branches grows within an organization and the network-edge attack surface expands, network engineering and operations leaders increasingly need to rely on real-time analytics to instantly measure and identify network and security risks. To address this, an integrated security architecture can coordinate data across all deployed parts of the infrastructure to provide comprehensive reports that combine network traffic, applications, and overall network health.

Features such as enterprise-grade configuration management and role-based access controls (RBAC) can help network operations and engineering leaders easily track changes and mitigate human errors. It also can provide service level agreement (SLA) logging and history monitoring as well as customizable SLA alerting.

Cybersecurity Staff Shortages

According to the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, there are now more than 4.07 million unfilled cybersecurity positions across the world. As a result, analyst investigations take longer, remediation steps get missed, and incidents may be handled inconsistently from day to day. The longer it takes to remediate a breach, the more damage and expense to the organization.

Enter security integration, which unlocks the power of automation across the network—coordinated responses to threats that help organizations protect their network with limited staff resources. Automated workflow optimizations eliminate manual steps requiring human intervention to shrink the window between detection of and response to threats. It also helps to omit operational anomalies caused by human errors. Intelligence sharing and automation capabilities are now critical to protecting data and operations.

Evolving to Automation-driven Network Management

An integrated architecture can help detangle complex challenges and reduce risk around key causes of cyber breaches through what is sometimes called automation-driven network management. This includes simplified provisioning capabilities, single pane-of-glass management, analytics, advanced compliance reporting tools, and network-aware rapid responses across all parts of the network (on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments).

When evaluating solutions, all teams should examine how best to invest to improve efficiency, reduce risk, and decrease total cost of ownership (TCO). An integrated network security architecture that prioritizes network automation capabilities can solve the persistent challenges of infrastructure complexity.

Find out how the Fortinet Security Fabric platform delivers broad, integrated, and automated protection across an organization’s entire digital attack surface to deliver consistent security across all networks, endpoints, and clouds.

 

Related:

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.