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Network Security challenges to watch out for
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Network Security challenges to watch out for

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Emad Fahmy, Systems Engineering Manager, Middle East, NETSCOUT, discusses the network security challenges to watch out for.

The growing reliance on hybrid IT infrastructures to support cloud-based applications, and a largely remote workforce is creating network security and performance challenges for many enterprises. According to research from a recent white paper by The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), 85 percent of organizations believe network security is more difficult today than two years ago.

When network security becomes difficult to manage, there are consequences, especially in areas like threat prevention, detection, and response. This is one reason why cyber-adversaries can maintain lengthy dwell times, move laterally across networks undetected, and conduct damaging and costly data breaches and ransomware attacks. Some factors that contribute to the growing challenge of network security are:

1. Increasingly sophisticated cyberthreat tools
It’s not easy to keep track of cyberthreats, correlate cyber threat intelligence with internal security telemetry, and keep up with adversary tactics, techniques, and procedures. The truth is that bad actors have access to an ever-expanding arsenal of innovative and complex tools, including artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, many targeted companies are unaware of the looming threats and lack adequate protections to mitigate the risk.

2. Expanding attack surface
With an increasing number of components such as remote users, mobile devices, sanctioned/unsanctioned cloud applications, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, enterprises must defend a continually growing attack surface. This puts the onus on security teams to know what’s connected to the network, scan for vulnerable assets, monitor network traffic, and fine-tune security controls.

3. Increasingly complex network security technology
One-third of security professionals believe network security has become more difficult as the number of disparate network security tools required to address various threat vectors and use cases has grown. Deploying, configuring, and operating a variety of network security point tools will only become more difficult as the attack surface expands.

4. Cybersecurity skills shortages
According to the ESG study, 23 percent of IT security departments are understaffed. These departments tend to be overwhelmed by the scope and complexity of cybersecurity. This is a common problem as other research indicates that more than half of organizations claim the global cybersecurity skills shortage impacts them.

We Have Met the Enemy, and It is Us
These four challenges exacerbate an already difficult job, as competing goals and objectives frequently impede network security and IT operations teams’ ability to collaborate and communicate effectively. Typically, network teams prioritize availability and mean-time-between-failure, whereas security prioritizes visibility and mean-time-to-detect, mean-time-to-respond, and mean-time-to-acknowledge. Metrics. This tends to increase friction and finger-pointing rather than collaboration and cooperation. Unless the proper controls are in place, both groups may end up working against each other. Furthermore, because security and network operations teams typically rely on manual processes, handoffs and process management can be time-consuming and inefficient.

Moreover, IT and security teams frequently work with different tools and rely on separate data as their sources of truth. As a result, IT and security teams end up with differing views of network reality, which leaves each group missing critical insights needed to keep the network secure and running at peak performance.

The Bigger Truth
CISOs must deal with two opposing forces at the same time. As a result of business trends such as digital transformation, cloud computing, and remote worker support, the attack surface continues to grow in size and complexity. Moreover, network security is becoming more difficult due to factors such as the dangerous threat landscape and tool proliferation. Security teams will need all the assistance they can get to deal with these forces. This begins with resolving any conflict between the security and network operations teams. CISOs and their CIO counterparts must ensure that these two groups have consistent goals, unified processes, and interoperable technologies so that they can work in harmony.

While bringing the organization together, security and networking teams should also consider common networking and security technologies that can support the need for protecting the network while maintaining network uptime and performance for business operations. Finally, security and networking team process and technology collaboration can lead to reduced cost due to shared instrumentation, training, and operational efficiencies. A “network security without borders” technology stack seeks to fulfil this goal with the right data, visibility, analytics, and threat detection capabilities.

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