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Cutting through the cybersecurity jibber-jabber for faster application delivery

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Organizations typically have mixed environments: a varied assortment of firewalls and network devices from multiple vendors. Managing this mix is a challenge: each generation of firewalls and each vendor’s products use different syntax and semantics for creating and maintaining security policies. That’s a lot of languages to master to get things done.

When applications are extended to cloud deployments, the lack of common language becomes even more noticeable: each new cloud security control has its own language that is as different from the world of firewalls and on-premise networks as Greek is to Korean.

If all that potential for miscommunication isn’t enough, the language of business seems to come from another planet to the technicians of IT. Business application owners speak in terms of business requirements, while IT and security teams speak about networks, servers, ports and IP addresses. Mars and Venus.

In the end, all these different languages, replete with disparate terminologies and meanings, create confusion between teams. Key requirements are lost in translation. Misunderstandings lead to implementation mistakes which, in turn, threaten security posture, impede application delivery and prevent smooth business operation.

However, there is a way for organizations to follow the immortal advice of The A Team’s B. A. Baracus to, “Quit the jibber-jabber!” and start communicating with a common language.

An automated network security policy management (NSPM) solution overcomes the language barriers between the different stakeholders. Clearer communication between the business people and the IT and security teams, along with NSPM’s holistic management of security controls and policies across firewalls and other network devices minimizes misconfigurations and outages, while improving overall security and agility. Let’s take a close look at how NSPM accomplishes this phenomenon.

Addressing translation issues

One of the biggest risks in a mixed security environment, with its wide variety of security controls across multi-vendor on-premise network devices and the cloud, is that a simple mistake or translation error in a network or connectivity change can cascade into catastrophic consequences. The business is suddenly struck with unexpected application outages as crucial application traffic is inadvertently blocked or with security holes as unwanted traffic is accidentally allowed. Multiplying this across the dozens or even hundreds of firewalls in a typical enterprise network is a recipe for disaster.

The NSPM solution translates between

  •  the language of business applications and network security policies
  •  the different syntaxes and phrases that each type of security control (whether on-premise or in the cloud) uses to build its rules and policies

Suddenly, IT and security teams understand the language of the business. Now, the entire security estate can be properly managed from a unified console with a single set of commands. Policies can be applied consistently without the risk of translation errors and their dire consequences. Vital application traffic can move securely across on-premise networks and private/public clouds environments. Compliance can be maintained even while applications migrate.

Closing the disconnection

To provision applications, the delivery team needs to construct appropriate change requests to firewalls, zones, subnets, and the underlying network infrastructure. The required information is often unknown or unclear to the application developer who is not normally concerned with such things. Conversely, business-application requirements and context are not in the realm of the network security team assigned to implement those changes. The attendant tedious back-and-forth communication between the application and network security teams makes the process extremely long, error-prone, inefficient and frustrating to both.

AlgoSec’s Connectivity as Code methodology not only supports automation and agility in the application delivery process, it also bridges the gap between application developers and network security teams.

Automatically creating an abstraction layer that translates between the two worlds, AlgoSec at once grants application developers more control over their applications while helping network security staff understand the business impact of their technical tasks. The AlgoSec NSPM solution automates the translation of the application team’s change requests into accurate network and connectivity terms, simplifying the change process. Risk and compliance checks are baked right into the process.

Bringing self-service to cybersecurity

It can be so demanding and time-consuming to gain accurate security knowledge about the complex enterprise network. Even getting an answer to the simple question, “Is network traffic currently allowed from this server to that server?” can involve different stakeholders and require expertise from multiple firewall and device-management consoles.

This problem is most acutely felt when it comes to spinning up new applications to support new business needs. The application team usually lacks visibility of the traffic flows that support the application connectivity, slowing the delivery process.

Why not enable the application team to ‘self-serve’ via an NSPM solution that includes a chatbot. AlgoSec’s AlgoBot is an intelligent chatbot that handles network security policy management tasks, answers questions submitted in plain English, and assists with security policy change management processes – all of this without requiring manual inputs or time-consuming research.

Application teams can quickly gain access to information about network security and connectivity using an intuitive, self-service interface to provision and change applications faster without side-tracking busy network-security staff.

Ending the Jibber-Jabber

An NSPM solution enables all the stakeholders in organizations to cut through the cybersecurity jibber-jabber with a common language. Eliminating misunderstandings between teams ensures that everyone is on the same page. Applications are delivered much faster while security posture and compliance are improved.

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