Enterprise IT has undergone a major transformation over the last decade. We’ve come a long way from the initial introduction of cloud computing and smartphones. But has your network security kept up? For many, the rapid adoption and proliferation of remote working, mobile connectivity and cloud applications has created a mishmash of network architecture that is susceptible to risk and unsustainable.
Transforming modern business = IT headaches
Two of the most significant drivers transforming modern business are the public cloud and the mobile workforce. According to an analyst from IDC, worldwide public cloud services spending is expected to double by 2019. Additionally, the mobile workforce is predicted to account for 42 percent of the global workforce by 2020, according to a report from Strategy Analytics. This means that organizations have an increasingly large number of assets that are no longer bound to a physical location, and employees expect on-demand access to these assets from various devices.
This shift in how business is conducted has led to increased productivity, lower operating costs and more access to global talent. However, in the rush to take full advantage of cloud and mobile benefits, many companies have overlooked the full impact these changes have had on security and user experience.
This is not an uncommon theme for IT teams tasked with implementing significant technology changes within organizations. Security solutions always tend to lag behind transformative technology adoption because it takes time to uncover vulnerabilities. Usability then becomes sacrificed as security solutions are cobbled together as temporary fixes. However, cloud and mobile adoption has created an especially complicated web of security patches and point solutions that organizations are now left dealing with, such as:
- Appliance sprawl due to relying on maintenance-intensive, limited-capacity hardware spread across multiple locations
- Expensive MPLS networks with limited bandwidth, negating the cost savings achieved through cloud and mobile initiatives
- High-latency VPN access for remote employees and mobile users, resulting in a frustrating user experience
- Cloud access security brokers with complex, time-consuming deployments
- Multi-policy management due to the need for so many devices, tools and applications
With expectations that adoption rates will continue to climb over the next few years, these issues will only get worse if not properly addressed.
Secure the cloud with the cloud
It’s not surprising that the answer to securing the cloud lies within the cloud. While cloud and mobile adoption has significantly challenged the concept of a traditional firewall, perimeters are not dead; they’ve simply evolved. There are a few cloud-based options to help tackle the challenges of modern network security, including secure web gateways, hosted firewalls and the newest option, Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS). In July, Gartner released its Hype Cycle for Infrastructure Protection. According to the report:
- FWaaS is simple, flexible, more secure, and it results in faster deployment and easier maintenance
- FWaaS should provide consistently good latency across all enterprise points of presence and connectivity resilience
- FWaaS benefits also include centralized management and unique security features based on full visibility
Achieving reliable network security and connectivity does not have to be difficult. The biggest challenge will be unraveling the complex architectures we’ve become accustomed to in order to embrace a more modern network approach.
Ofir Agasi is director of product marketing at Cato Networks with over 12 years of network security expertise in systems engineering, product management and research and development. Prior to Cato Networks, Ofir was a product manager at Check Point Software Technologies, where he led mobile security, cloud security, remote access and data protection product lines.