When Michael Tryon, Cisco Canada’s Managing Director of Cybersecurity, began his career in the IT industry more than 20 years ago, security involved locking down the network perimeter. That’s no longer the case today, he noted during a presentation at CDW Canada’s annual Business Technology Expo (BTEX) in Toronto this month.
“Security has morphed into protecting multiple perimeters,” he explained. “We have the network, the data centre, branch office, user perimeter, application perimeter, storage perimeter and more. That’s because today applications access an infrastructure we don’t control and information stored in an environment we don’t own.”
Securing against increasingly complex cyberattacks may seem like an impossible task, but Tryon explained that if IT security professionals follow three basic steps they can create an effective defence. Tryon’s steps include:
Step 1: Have a policy framework you can build your solutions strategy around.
A policy framework, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, is a great place to begin building a cybersecurity strategy, Tryon explained. It allows security teams to establish security standards and audit against them to see how their security infrastructures measure up.
Step 2: Build an integrated, end-to-end security infrastructure.
Some organizations acquire best-of-breed endpoint solutions to secure their networks. But, Tryon noted, relying on endpoint solutions is becoming increasingly difficult. “At the most recent RSA Conference there were 775 vendors on the floor,” he said. “It’s an impossible challenge for IT security people to get their heads around each vendor claiming they have a best-of-breed solution in a particular niche.”
Endpoint products may work well in isolation, Tryon noted, but in real-world security situations, these products can’t work in isolation – they need to be integrated with other security products. Getting endpoint products to work with one another and provide a complete security picture can be difficult and leave organizations exposed, he said.
Relying on a partner like Cisco, which has both best-of-breed products and a complete, integrated security product portfolio, gives organizations the best of both worlds, Tryon said. And IT solutions providers like CDW Canada can complement customers’ IT teams by providing lifecycle management, architecture and design experience, he said.
An integrated security infrastructure allows IT security teams to look at the full lifecycle of any cyberattack. For example, Tryon explained, integrated products can gather information from the entire network, set policy orchestration and automation and then establish baseline behaviour across the network, so when an out-of-the-ordinary event occurs it will be spotted and flagged immediately.
Step 3: Support your integrated security with threat intelligence.
A threat intelligence service in today’s security environment is a necessity, Tryon said. A comprehensive service, like Cisco’s Talos Intellgience Group, allows organizations to stay ahead of emerging threats. Talos, for example, includes a team of threat researchers who create intelligence for Cisco products globally and protect them from new and emerging threats, he explained. “If it’s an attack we’re seeing for the first time, we have the ability to update in near real-time all the Cisco devices in your environment,” Tryon said. “This ensures you’re protected regardless of where in the world an event occurs.”
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