The Changing Landscape of Network Security

Network security is a vital capability that enables business to scale through digital innovation – an effective strategy with every organization across multiple industries. Building a cyber-resilient strategy is important for building trust with customers, partners, and the entire supply chain. Industry experts share their insights on why CIOs and IT teams need to prioritize network security now more than ever.

Maher Jadallah, MENA Senior Director, Tenable

In computing, network security consists of maintaining the integrity of a computer network and the data it contains. A network is made up of a number and variety of interconnected devices. Network security is important because it protects sensitive data from cyberattacks and ensures that the network is usable and reliable.

Network security management can involve a wide variety of security tools, both hardware and software. Security becomes more important as networks become more complex and businesses depend more on their networks and data to conduct their business.

Ian Engelbrecht, Veeam Systems Engineering Manager – Africa, Veeam Software, said security, in general, is a key topic and concern for businesses. According to Engelbrecht, in 2021, cyberattacks increased to every 11 seconds, compared to 120 seconds the previous year, with an overall cost amounting to US$20 billion in 2021. “Security has become a crucial topic to introduce solutions on the market. The cybersecurity market is expected to grow from US$16.1 billion in 2020 to US$28.7 billion by 2025,” he said. “Shodan.io keeps track of all devices directly accessible from the Internet. It reveals that there are 513,615 devices exposed across the UAE vulnerable to cybercrime incidents.

Engelbrecht said this demonstrates why cybersecurity and resilience are important for all organizations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), not just businesses. “The $20 billion global cost of ransomware includes not just data ransoms paid, but also reputational damage and downtime,” he said. “Working from home has also increased customer demands, who expect 24/7/365 availability of a platform or service. With a tremendous increase in e-commerce focused businesses, it only takes seconds for a consumer to decide which platform to consume or buy from. If business A (which customers prefer to use) is offline at the time and they want to buy their favorite football shirt at 10 p.m., the sale will go to business B.”

Haider Pasha, Chief Security Officer, Palo Alto Networks, MEA, said network security is a vital capability that enables business to scale through digital innovation – an effective strategy with every organization across multiple industries. . Pasha said that when developing a cyber-resilient strategy, it is important to build trust with customers, partners and the entire supply chain. “The integrity of any organization’s cyber posture is a competitive advantage and ensures that the business involved not only protects the business, but strengthens it,” he said.

Emad Fahmy, Systems Engineering Manager, Middle East, NETSCOUT, said network security and integrity have become key topics in the enterprise segment as companies prefer to protect their networks from risk instead. potential rather than repairing the damage afterwards.

“CIOs and their IT teams should emphasize robust cybersecurity best practices to design a secure network. Best practices include educating users on good cybersecurity hygiene and using network and endpoint cybersecurity protection solutions to detect malware, anomalous activity, or indicators of compromise,” it said. -he declares. “These cyber hygiene solutions and practices should not be limited to the office space only. The new normal includes hybrid and remote work policies, leaving the network at greater risk. »

According to Fahmy, companies should also prioritize the use of reliable DDoS mitigation methods. “Since network security is an umbrella term that includes various subsections, CIOs face four common challenges when designing their network security, including the growing sophistication of cyber threat tools and the lack of knowledge of IT teams on imminent threats and necessary solutions,” he said. “This is combined with a second challenge; the complexity of network security technology, as it requires an increasing number of tools to combat different threats. Another challenge is the expanding attack surface. The increase in the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices connecting to insecure networks and cloud applications has led to an environment more vulnerable to protect.Finally, poorly designed network security has been attributed to the continued shortage of cybersecurity skills, as the scope and complexity of the measures required overwhelms the serv ice understaffed.

For CIOs to select the best tools on the market, they should keep in mind a few key factors influencing their decision, including the optimization of the security solution, its effectiveness, the level of visibility provided, and the support of professional services. offered by the service. vendor.

Maher Jadallah, Senior Director Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Tenable, said the pandemic is opening the door to multiple forms of attacks as organizations’ attack surfaces extend well beyond office walls, home office networks, personal devices, the cloud and third-party partners. According to Jadallah, the result is that shared corporate networks are more vulnerable than ever and can be easily accessed with a single compromised connected device.

“Enterprises now need to make fundamental investments to ensure long-term protection against malicious actors. Shortcuts and solving individual problems will stand no chance against growing and evolving cyber threats, but businesses can stay ahead of the cyber attack curve by investing in and nurturing cyber solutions,” he said. declared.

He explained that organizations need to be able to determine which vulnerabilities exist across their entire infrastructure – both IT and OT, affecting which assets. “In addition, they need to be able to prioritize vulnerabilities that pose a real risk versus a theoretical risk, so those that are actively exploited. This intelligence allows them to focus their efforts on the vulnerabilities that matter and fix them first. When we think of traditional network security, the premise is to fortify the perimeter. The goal is to prevent threats from outside the network from entering. The downside is that once users or malicious actors clear the perimeter, they are free to roam the network, taking whatever they find with them as they leave,” he said. . added.

Traditional perimeter security simply isn’t enough to protect many environments from today’s cybercriminals. Instead, IT and security teams must embrace a model in which nothing – no device, person, or action – is inherently trusted.

Pasha said CIOs and their IT teams need to think in a strategic Zero Trust mindset and focus on understanding where the crown jewels are and what is critical to the business. He said with this understanding, they can develop a cyber response strategy if these crown jewels are attacked and ensure they have full visibility and the ability to respond to every malicious incident they see. .

Haider Pasha, Director of Security, Palo Alto Networks, MEA

“As an organization’s data crosses traditional organizational boundaries, CIOs and IT teams must first identify where the resources (data, applications, assets and services) reside. Today, network security has no borders. Organizations should focus on the cloud, endpoints, and traditional on-premises network as areas to secure, and tools such as next-generation firewalls, cloud security, endpoints, etc. must be automated, simple to deploy and use and above all, easy to integrate,” he added. “They should be used as a single platform versus point providers or tools creating more complexity and fragmentation in the network which will eventually lead to complexity. Generally, selecting the best tool often means determining how easily it can fit into your overall platform. A tool can be very powerful, but if it doesn’t report, orchestrate defense, or share threat intelligence with your other network security tools, it becomes its own silo and therefore needs to be managed separately. which requires more resources.

Pasha said some common mistakes typically made by CIOs and their teams include selecting point products and not focusing on the entire security platform, or not clearly understanding where the crown jewels of the organization and how they share data and depend on the rest of the network. “CIOs when designing their network security sometimes do not follow best practices for securing the environment such as NIST, CIS, ISO among many others. clear road to transformation – often CIOs build an IT strategy without having cybersecurity in mind from the start. It is recommended to use zero trust and an automated security operations center to support the cybersecurity program” , did he declare.

Pasha emphasized that organizations should focus on a cyber-resilient framework that examines organizational culture, policy, process, strategy, and the technology essential to building it. “It is advisable to have consistent penetration testing to understand the gaps, both from an internal and external perspective. My recommendation is to rotate penetration testing partners every year to get different points of view “In addition, organizations using an attack surface management capability that gives a real-time perspective to the attacker is important, as well as building a center highly autonomous security operations to detect malicious behavior in real time.”

Emad Fahmy, Systems Engineering Manager, Middle East, NETSCOUT

According to Tenable’s Jadallah, the focus in the future must also be on securing accounts (employees, service providers, temporary workers, system accounts and others) and their access and permissions on systems. “The old adage that the best defense is offense is true in cyberspace. The more you can prepare and harden the systems, it will help reduce the business risk from cyber threats,” he said.

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Kevin M. Risinger