• United States

Secure the Edge Without Compromising Productivity

Mar 30, 20225 mins
Edge Computing

flying through emerging digital structures blue loopable data network picture id1341632157
Credit: iStock

Many organizations still use a traditional hub and spoke architecture to connect offices to the data center for application access. However, with users working remotely and applications distributed across multiple clouds and the need for cloud application access, older network architectures can reduce productivity.

Network edges are no longer a branch or a campus. The edge may be at home, in a car, a motel room, or a coffee shop. No matter where users are, they need fast, secure, reliable connections. To meet the needs of users, networking and security must converge. The pandemic caused more users to work from home, acting as “a branch of one,” and led to more focus on security at the network edge. But for people to work productively, security has to work seamlessly with connectivity to ensure fast, secure access to applications across rapidly changing connections.

Network and Security Convergence

Security can’t be bolted onto the network as an afterthought. When security solutions are not well-integrated with each other or the underlying network, security risks and gaps arise as the attack surface expands and adapts. These blind spots are vulnerable to sophisticated multi-step attacks and are partly responsible for a dramatic rise in successful ransomware attacks. Organizations should look for solutions with built-in SD-WAN, 5G, LAN, and WLAN security.

With a security-driven network strategy, networking and security function as a unified solution to deliver consistent and reliable connections from anywhere in the network. This type of unified security framework provides automated security that spans the entire attack surface. Whether SD-WAN, access points or switches, or secure access service edge (SASE), security is applied consistently everywhere, regardless of WAN transport such as broadband, satellite, LTE/4G/5G, or MPLS so that policies can follow users and applications.

Security Everywhere

As organizations adopt hybrid work, they need to extend security to employees no matter where they may be located. The work from anywhere (WFA) model presents security risks, so it’s critical for organizations to provide enterprise-level security everywhere users may be working, whether they’re at home, in the office, or on the road. To support WFA, network edges are created both on-premises and in the cloud and protect employees as they shift between office, home, coffee shop, airports, and everywhere in between.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is a key element of WFA because it secures application access and continuous verification of users and devices, taking remote access to the next level with security that goes beyond the network. It supports WFA both by providing consistent security and offering the same user experience no matter where an employee may be working. Users have the same security policies, checks, and verifications applied before being granted access.

For the user, the experience of using ZTNA is consistent and seamless. It doesn’t slow them down and works the same way everywhere. A secure, encrypted tunnel is automatically created when they launch an application and verify their identity. Organizations with hybrid networks need ZTNA solutions that support both on-premises and cloud, so security is applied consistently everywhere.

Consolidation to Reduce Complexity

Network complexity is another potential problem that affects the user experience. The exponential growth of network edges, cloud platforms, and tools increases operational complexity and leads to poor visibility and security gaps. When IT staff can’t tell what’s happening, users on the network are inevitably affected, which lowers productivity throughout the organization.

Network complexity increases the time it takes to configure, manage, and troubleshoot problems. It also increases the likelihood of errors that can cause network outages and reduce flexibility. Traditional network performance monitoring, IT infrastructure monitoring, and application performance monitoring don’t provide enough visibility or offer insights into the performance of critical business applications.

By consolidating solutions and reducing the number of vendors, organizations can gain better visibility with centralized and automated management that covers the entire network and security stack. Reducing the amount of manual configuration also reduces downtime and security breaches.

With a modern digital experience monitoring platform, it’s possible to observe any application, starting from the end-user, across any network, and to the infrastructure the application is hosted on. It also can provide information for incident management and help staff remediate performance issues.

Improve Productivity Through Consolidation and Simplification

Those organizations that adopt modern networking technologies with integrated security and simplified operations gain a return on their investment in the form of improved employee productivity. A cybersecurity mesh architecture can help organizations reduce complexity and improve security. A mesh architecture like the Fortinet Security Fabric places security everywhere it’s needed, with consistent policies and automation, deep visibility across their full deployments, whether on the network on in the cloud and the ability to interoperate with a broad ecosystem of networking and security solutions. The Security Fabric protects the three key areas found in all networks. It controls who and what can connect to the network through Zero Trust Access. And it protects the converged physical network through security-driven networking and the virtual extension of the network into the public cloud with adaptive cloud security.

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.