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Great expectations for new era of enterprise firewalls

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(image: Yu Samoilov)
Is your security strategy enterprise ready? (image: Yu Samoilov)

The recent surge in network security preparedness has been driven by threats related to remote access employees – threats that penetrate and persist unnoticed – as well as rapid updates and integrated threat intelligence. This is according to Frost and Sullivan research, published in March 2016.

The same research showed that over two thirds of the respondents expect much more than only threat protection from their firewalls. These expectations include integrated security application control, user ID and IPS; stateful packet filtering; web filtering, network availability and device ID; threat intelligence updates; and advanced threat detection.

Top features needed to protect the entire enterprise thus include the elements of application control, SSL inspection, user identity and device aware controls, and network segmentation. The question businesses have to ask themselves is whether their security strategy is enterprise ready?

A Fortinet white paper, titled ‘Transforming your security: A new era in enterprise firewalls’, highlights that security professionals at enterprises of all sizes worry about the expanding network attack surface, applications, data, and users in a borderless environment. “From the mobile workforce and the data centre, to public, private, and hybrid clouds, SaaS apps, and the Internet of Things (IoT) – all have dramatically increased the attack surface while making it much harder to define and secure. As organisations grow larger over time, perhaps acquiring other companies in the process, they find they have many disparate security vendors’ products deployed at different points across the enterprise.”

The paper stresses that security products don’t communicate with each other in the accidental architectures of today. That is, they must all be managed separately, increasing complexity and leaving gaps in security across the dynamic attack surface. “The enterprise perimeter has stretched so far, it’s no longer recognisable. It’s clear that firewall technology must evolve with the borderless enterprise.”

It is vital for an organisations operating as a borderless enterprise to know where its critical assets are and to bolster defences in order to respond quickly to security threats. Continuous security and monitoring across the entire network infrastructure is key. As the white paper highlights, “Enabling a broad and dynamic defence strategy for the long term by taking a more collaborative approach across the entire network security infrastructure, thus becomes imperative for an organisation.”

The paper further gives impetus to make a strategic move to achieve security without compromise. It states: “Although the next-generation firewall is still the primary means of defence at the enterprise perimeter, security experts know that a borderless enterprise must consider users and deployment needs as well as network size. While the environment is changing, threat actors are targeting weak points, often where IT security has not been invested in. Security experts see that many vendors are not able to provide flexibility in deploying firewalls to the extended enterprise locations, which can result in multiple operating systems with different management consoles. Adding complexity kills security. This explains why organisations are still being breached today. As cyber threats continue to grow in sophistication, firewall technology must evolve beyond applications and network traffic to address the entire threat surface,” it continues.

“The need to secure borderless environments is what’s driving this evolution. This is why IT organisations are looking for greater security effectiveness including compatibility across form factors, consolidation of security areas, a high level of reliable network performance, and simplified security management within a single pane of glass.”

The Fortinet Enterprise Firewall Solution, is distributed throughout Africa by value-added distributor Networks Unlimited, and represents a new era of firewall technology by deploying enterprise firewalls strategically in a collective security fabric that stretches across the expanding network attack surface. “That is, it offers – from a single vendor – a solution to protect every ‘in-point’ of the network,” adds Anton Jacobsz, managing director at Networks Unlimited.

He refers to research from Gartner, which shows that “using firewalls from multiple vendors increases complexity, not security. Most network security leaders should standardise on a single-firewall platform to minimise configuration errors, and to save money and apply resources to other network security technologies to combat modern attacks. Once network security leaders have determined which firewall platform would be ideal to standardise on, they should build a strategy to move to a single brand, using the migration plan as a way to fill in gaps where they exist.”

The three domains of the Fortinet Enterprise Firewall Solution operate as one to remove complexity and increase security.
1. Management domain: This single pane of glass gives security managers a “true north” reference point for security-based logging, configuration, and reporting. Sharing threat intelligence and data across the enterprise via APIs speeds up incident response times and mitigates risk by giving security managers the ability to unify security policy configuration across their infrastructure.
2. Security domain: A consolidated security environment helps reduce or prevent security incidents with layered security modules and maintains performance expectations while being able to apply deeper levels of inspection. Considerations involve: Is this a data centre firewall deployment or an internal segmentation firewall deployment? And, what security inspection technologies will need to be enabled? Is malware inspection needed? What about application control?
3. Fabric domain: The Fortinet Security Fabric is the communication and collaboration interface of the Fortinet Enterprise Firewall Solution. It determines where network and threat intelligence should be shared across the enterprise. The Security Fabric can extend security controls beyond the network layer to the access layer where the endpoint resides, to the application layer where data and information services are presented.

“The Fortinet Security Fabric is assisting the continent’s enterprise security managers in building an accurate and comprehensive collaborative defence infrastructure. Of exceptional value is that a policy that has been created in one section of the Security Fabric is contextually applied across the entire domain, which is extremely advantageous to any organisation serious about security,” concludes Jacobsz.

Staff Writer

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