The pandemic triggered tectonic shifts of our workplace from physical to virtual, almost overnight. This led to enterprises accelerating their digital transformation (DX), thereby, adding high demand on their network capacity. Whether it is the distributed workforce or migration of data and applications to multi-cloud environments, the network is the nerve system connecting the various constituents.
As the network continuously evolves, security needs to be in sync with this changing network paradigm. IT security leaders need to adapt rapidly, collaborate effectively, and recalibrate their security strategies as networks get more dynamic and complex.
Evolution beyond the traditional security models
The hybrid network environment has led to the evolution of multiple layers through which data moves bi-directionally from the client/user to a public or private network and then to multi-cloud environments via cloud gateways. Such a complex network design reduces the effectiveness of well-defined network perimeters.
As networks transition from core to edge, IT Security leaders need to secure their data at each layer of the network to protect Intellectual property without impacting performance or budgets.
What is needed is pervasive visibility across the entire network traffic and security tools that differentiate between normal and malicious activity and help resist any external attacks that the existing security models/frameworks may not detect.
Security needs to be at the forefront of transformational network
Security needs to be the lynchpin for any digital-ready network. It needs to be woven and embedded from the beginning as enterprises build modern networks. Only such a security-led design approach can enable comprehensive filtering of traffic flows, prevention of illegitimate traffic supported by early detection, and responses to threats in real-time.
As the network provides visibility to all traffic flows, a security-enabled network can access a diverse pool of data to identify traffic deviations or anomalies that are potentially malicious security activities. Unfortunately, security is still an afterthought for some organizations, which puts an enormous strain on both the network and the entire IT environment.
Need for effective integration
According to IDC, by 2023, 60% of enterprises will look for integrated solutions with advanced security features, embedding automation and intelligence tools to optimise and secure their core and edge network.
Security and network services need to operate in the cloud and harmony, integrating tools that enable security processes, such as content inspection, secure access, threat detection, and prevention. A network-aware security can proactively take pre-emptive actions on any potential infiltration & a security-aware network could reduce noise and provide better Quality of Service (QoS) for organizations and their customers.
A key aspect is to assess if, network operations and security operations are separate functions. Enterprises would prefer partnering with service providers who are innovative and can offer best-of-breed location-agnostic unified solutions and services across configuration, operational control, incident response.
The right MSSP can make all the difference
Cloud-delivered security solutions are best suited to provide location-agnostic, remote but secure access. Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) delivered from the cloud and accessed over the internet makes it easier to proactively detect security threats and protect assets in real-time. Enterprises prefer an expert managed service provider that can offer cloud-ready security solutions (including Zero Trust Network Access) and have visibility into network traffic to manage security vulnerabilities.
When enterprises select the right MSSP, they get a holistic view of assets, network elements, threats across the organization spread across a multi-cloud environment and thereby simplifying governance, risk, and compliance management. The right MSSP would have the proven expertise to offer core network protection, provide assessment services to baseline and improve the enterprise’s overall security posture. They also help enterprises with additional security controls for a flexible cloud-based approach that enables authentication and secure access.
The need of the hour is to be proactive and adopt a strategic approach that ensures security by design networks, where security is ingrained from the beginning of the DX initiative. Having a combined network and security strategy and partnering with an MSSP that has the competencies to deliver on this will enable safe and speedy digital transformation efforts.
(Avinash Prasad is the Vice President and Head for Managed Security Services and Content Delivery Network, Tata Communications. Views are personal)