Looking to Transform? Don’t Neglect Network Security

By Rob Parsons, Practice Director for Networking and Integrated Security Solutions

So your company is planning to launch a digital transformation strategy. That’s great. But have you really considered the challenges that go along with such a move?

For instance, digital initiatives can introduce new cybersecurity threats, a more complex data governance environment, and regulatory compliance issues. Furthermore, there will be a dramatic increase in traffic on your enterprise network, more users, more devices, and more complexity.

For cybercriminals and other bad actors, this represents a golden opportunity to steal valuable data and otherwise wreak havoc on organizations.

This doesn’t mean your company should abandon its transformation plans — not by a long shot. There are effective ways to address the challenges, by deploying the right technology tools and policies, so that the organization can reap the benefits of transformation without taking unnecessary risks.

Part of the approach to dealing with the challenges is to take into account areas such as compliance, cloud readiness, and IT modernization, while also accounting for trends including the growth of mobility and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement, the ongoing shift toward cloud services, and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) as a major business opportunity.

On the compliance front, organizations today are facing perhaps the most complex and demanding regulatory environment ever. Particularly if your company is in a highly regulated industry such as financial services or healthcare, there are several regulations that mandate data protection and privacy initiatives.

Regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) apply to organizations in any industry. Other states in the U.S. are expected to enact their own data privacy rules.

Some of these regulations carry stiff fines for noncompliance, and failing to comply can also result in negative publicity.

The growth of mobile environments and BYOD, IoT, and the use of cloud services can have big implications for regulatory compliance because they greatly expand the attack surface by increasing the number of endpoints. As more traffic hits networks, it’s easier to lose visibility of what is on the networks and who is accessing critical data.

This is a big challenge for compliance because regulations mandate that organizations protect sensitive data that’s stored or used on mobile devices or moves to and from the cloud.

In addition to compliance, another key area is readiness for the cloud. How prepared is your organization for the cloud, especially from the standpoint of data management and cybersecurity? Does management really understand what the company is responsible for in terms of data management and security, compared with what the cloud provider handles?

Companies need to have a clear understanding of the various roles and responsibilities with the cloud, including what they should be doing to ensure that data is protected.

And as more data moves to the cloud, networks need to be rearchitected in order to accommodate the increased volume and new congestion points. Organizations need to make sure their networks are ready to manage the new traffic flow.

Companies also must ensure they have the management structure and expertise in place to manage multiple cloud services and migrate data and workloads to the cloud.

The third key area is IT modernization. Legacy networks aren’t designed for today’s fast-growing data demands, and keeping them in place can lead to poor performance and weakened security.

With the rising number of users who need access to systems and data from all sorts of devices, secure and reliable network connectivity is more important than ever. By modernizing their networks, organizations can avoid problems such as downtime, security vulnerabilities, higher maintenance costs, and other issues.

It’s vital that organizations put a reliable network security infrastructure in place so that they can address the expanded attack surface resulting from a digital transformation. In that way, they can effectively deal with the issues of compliance, cloud readiness, and modernization.

Companies need to deploy an integrated networking and security portfolio that includes capabilities such as software-defined networking and software-defined data centers; analytics based on machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI); network access control; next-generation firewalls; endpoint security; microsegmentation; and cloud security.

But that’s only part of the solution. They will also likely need consulting, professional, and managed services such as network assessments, strategic planning, network design, and adoption of new technologies such as SD-WAN.

This comprehensive support is required because the IT and networking environment have become more complex and few organizations have the in-house expertise needed.

Technology is available today to help enterprises deploy a secure network that addresses compliance requirements, modernize their networks, and prepare for cloud services. That’s good news for any organization looking to capitalize on digital transformation.

To learn more about how your organization can prepare its network for digital transformation, download the "Network Security: An Assential Element of Digital Transformation" whitepaper.