Today’s networks are wide-ranging, complex assets that offer more connectivity and more touchpoints than ever.
As businesses expand to new locations, adopt tools such as mobile devices, and embrace trends such as home working, this means the corporate network is no longer a self-contained solution that can be protected by your perimeter firewall.
This presents many new opportunities for hackers and other bad actors to gain access, steal information or otherwise do damage. To guard against these threats, you need a solution that can protect all your diverse assets and give you a clear picture of what’s happening across your entire network at all times.
The need for total visibility, all the time
One of the first challenges for many businesses is simply identifying all the endpoints they have connected to their network that will need protection. Remote workers, for example, may be logging into key applications from smartphones or tablets via unsecured Wi-Fi or mobile networks, while it can be difficult to ensure security for home workers using personally-owned laptops.
That’s why a robust monitoring solution needs to be a key part of any network security strategy. This should provide a clear record of who is accessing your resources, where they are doing it from, and when they do so.
This information can then be used to create access management policies, filter traffic to your web applications and quickly identify any unusual activity.
For instance, this can enable you to enact policies such as zero-trust network access (ZTNA), which allows you to offer a secure solution for remote access via company or personally-owned devices, ensuring you can keep productivity high without compromising on protection.
This is set to be the future for many businesses. Indeed, Gartner has forecast that by 2022, 80 per cent of new digital business applications will be accessed via ZTNA tools, while by the following year, 60 per cent of enterprises will phase out older remote access tools such as virtual private networks in favour of ZTNA.
Internet of Things – a new range of vulnerabilities
When it comes to maintaining secure remote access to your network, there’s another category of endpoints you need to consider – Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
The use of these solutions is increasing rapidly in firms of all sizes, yet these rollouts are often outpacing the development of security solutions to ensure they do not pose vulnerabilities.
For example, research by Palo Alto Networks has found nine in ten UK businesses reported a rise in the number of IoT devices connecting to their networks over the last year.
However, it also noted that 98 per cent of traffic using these devices is unencrypted, while 57 per cent of IoT devices are vulnerable to medium or high-severity attacks. This makes them easy targets for hackers.
As such, it’s vital that network security and monitoring tools don’t overlook these devices. Keeping them isolated from other parts of the network wherever possible, authenticating any access to them, changing default passwords and adding tough encryption measures are all part of this.
The benefits of turning to the cloud
Keeping control of these sprawling networks can prove a major challenge for many firms, especially for smaller companies that may not have the resources to manage a large IT team. Therefore, it pays to turn to cloud-based network security offerings in order to protect remote networks.
These can offer tools such as next-generation firewalls, which provide many more advanced features than traditional solutions. These include better user management tools, the ability to identify different types of traffic and set specific rules for them, and segmentation solutions that can prevent traffic passing between different parts of the network.
An integrated solution that can reach every touchpoint, delivered by a trusted, expert partner, could be the difference between a costly attack and one that is repelled before it causes any damage.
Click here to see the 5 key elements every cyber security plan needs.