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Make Sure Your Security Fits into Your Business

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Right now we’re seeing a boom across the board with most business – both small and large – adopting some kind of technology strategy and it’s clear that IT is now considered a direct enabler to business growth. Organizations are using a variety of technologies to empower their businesses to run faster and perform better: virtualization, more multi-tenant systems, better application delivery methodologies, and of course – more mobility. But through it all, where does security really fit in?

Too often organizations build their business, deploy IT, and only then think about security a few steps down the line. But with so many major breaches and the rise of advanced persistent threats (APTs), it’s time to realign your security strategy so that it scales with your business. This shift happens when you understand how your security infrastructure spans a variety of different systems – both on premise and in the cloud — and recognize that the cloud and your infrastructure are actually drivers to deploy better security strategies.

So how can you deliver proactive security across so many systems that enables the business rather than hinders it?  Here are a few tips from my many years of experience as an IT director:

  • Interactive security visibility. This has become one of the most critical issues when creating an environment which can support rapid growth. Is there anomalous traffic hitting an application? Is a certain network experiencing a network traffic flood? Can you detect rogue devices or access points? Can you lock down any segment of your infrastructure from one console? What about deploying policies to different types of security devices? Security visibility and monitoring must become an interactive – and proactive – process which is much more detailed and granular than ever before. Security is no longer just at the edge. It also revolves around network policy control, mobility management, remote user management, and data integrity. A good management and monitoring system should go far beyond just showing you numbers and metrics. It should show you data correlation and help you to make intelligent decisions around the evolution of your security platform.
  • Heterogeneous security model. Say your edge device is a Cisco ASA, and you have Citrix XenMobile as your mobility management control system. You also monitor internal applications and traffic with a series of Palo Alto Networks VM-series virtual appliances, and you have a Sourcefire IPS engine. How do you monitor all of this? Most importantly, how do you deploy policies across different devices? What if they’re in different locations? One big problem with security today is that there are more devices than ever before to lock down yet too often your security platforms don’t speak to one another. Your new security strategy must be able to aggregate these services and allow you deploy security policies across a number of different platforms. Additionally, you need the ability scale these policies across data centers and the cloud.
  • DLP, vulnerability assessments, NAC and MDM, archiving and encryption. Let’s start with data loss prevention (DLP). Are your networks really locked down? Are you scanning for anomalous traffic hitting an application? Do you have alerts set up that monitor for credit card or social security numbers? This is where DLP platforms can help. Similarly, by performing regular vulnerability assessments, you’re able to find holes before the bad guys do. Is a policy misconfigured? Are there open ports which are no longer associated with an application? Firewall management tools will help keep you updated on the workings of your policies. With an ever-growing number of mobile users accessing your data, you have to address the security aspects of mobility. Using NAC and MDA you can granularly control where and how data and applications are accessed. You can lock down devices and entire application ecosystems based on location, user groups, or even compliance standards. Keep in mind, however that the part of the goal here is to empower the user, while still keeping them secure. And last but not least, when looking at your environment, you’ll see that you simply have more data than ever to control and retain. This is where creating a secure data hosting and archiving system is critical. If you can’t host it yourself – look for a partner that can. Otherwise, take the appropriate security steps to lock down your data locker. Encrypt, monitor, and secure your data archive.

Most importantly, take a holistic approach. The new security paradigm requires taking a much more holistic approach to control and management. This means that you should no longer look at all your systems – your firewalls, edge devices, DLP/IPS/IDS services, policy management, mobility control, and other security services – as isolated security parameters within your organization. Rather, they must all be managed and monitored holistically to create a truly proactive security system. When you combine these security services and start looking at true security risk management, then you will be able to truly evolve security at the pace of your business.

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