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On May 31st, 2019
Network Security Devices to Secure the Distributed Enterprise

Today’s distributed enterprise is a sprawling network construct encompassing LANs and WANs providing connectivity to countless end-user endpoints. Enterprises are all grappling with the reality that traditional network security devices cannot protect these end points. These endpoints range from mobile devices to IoT sensors, live connections to the public internet, and complex interconnectivity between other branch or retail location.

The disappearing network edge and ubiquitous cloud connectivity via IaaS, PaaS and SaaS only adds to the countless digital attack surfaces across the network’s footprint. What is also clear is that secure remote access to network resources is non-negotiable for every distributed enterprise.

In fact, the 8th annual State of the Network study from IDG shows that 69 percent of network professionals find it difficult to balance availability vs. a secure network. A mobile and distributed workforce, third-party vendors and others need to access network systems and applications from outside the firewall. The problem is that this granular level of remote access only increases the potential attack surfaces while exposing the limits of network security devices.

The Limits of Network Security Devices

Many companies have gone the route of the trusted private network by applying countless VPNs and data security hardware solutions like firewalls with complex topologies to manage the chaos. The VPN approach to network security has several shortcomings that include:

  • The potential need for a manually configured separate VPN gateway for onsite and cloud enterprise applications
  • Universal authentication that grants all users complete access to the authenticated network
  • Inability to adapt to evolving security threats and today’s edgeless network
  • Provides data transport outside of the network where it is vulnerable to attacks and theft

Because VPNs act as application and data repository front and back doors, they are ideal targets for actors looking for a means of unauthorized systems access. They’re also vulnerable to configuration resets and other changes that can wreak havoc on the network. This all opens the door to a variety of threats such as malware and spyware infiltration, data exfiltration, ransomware and more.

The various network and data security systems used by distributed enterprises have role priorities that compound the challenges of adaptable and simple secure remote access. Network security hardware and software solutions such as antivirus, email security, and intrusion prevention systems protect against network incursions rather than protecting data that leaves the network.

Data encryption solutions for data at rest and in transit such as volume encryption lacks granular access control and data separation. Cell-level encryption provides that granular control but makes it difficult to manage and scale applications and dependencies. While encryption has its place, the distributed enterprise also needs a means of handling secure network data access for the mobile workforce.

Moving Beyond Network Security Devices for Granular Access Authorization

Third-party vendor access to the network is a constant recurring need that can’t be easily managed with traditional network security devices alone. The need for temporary and limited access to network resources can be a challenge equal or greater to providing the tiered access to specific network resources for every member of the workforce.

The permission and authorization process can be difficult to monitor and manage within a distributed enterprise. That’s because roles, needs, users and entire groups can change based on project lifecycles and onboarding/offboarding of employees. All these scenarios require fine-grained permission controls across different user groups and network systems.

The best way to protect a distributed enterprise from security threats is through a holistic, secure remote access solution that can adapt to every endpoint, mobile device, location, and application. The goal is to create a holistic, adaptable and scalable solution that includes:

  • Embedded encryption protocols
  • Full integration with all network security hardware
  • Assurance that data will never leave the network
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Adaptability to needed form factors
  • Assurance that data will never leave the network

Today’s remote access security solutions must go beyond the limitations of traditional data security hardware. System administrators for distributed enterprises in the digital age need fine-grained permission authorization controls that are easy to set up, manage, and monitor. That’s the only way for these enterprises to meet and adapt to evolving data security needs in a way that takes the costs and chaos out of network security management.