BTEX 2018: Maintaining Security During Digital Transformation


Digital transformation is a major priority for companies of all sizes. This trend is being driven by the adoption of new mobile devices, new applications that enable collaboration inside and outside the organization and new technologies that allow us to access data from anywhere. But with those technologies comes a complex IT environment to secure. An environment which is inherently based in the cloud and, without the proper security protocols, is susceptible to new threats.

Today’s new cyberthreats are pervasive and continue to result in highly public declarations of breaches from companies that have been impacted. The result of a data breach can be devastating for an organization of any size. During his presentation at CDW Canada’s BTEX 2018, Kevin Farias, presales engineer for Fortinet in Canada, gave the example of Uber, which recently revealed a 2016 intrusion that exposed the names, emails and phone numbers of more than 20 million users of the ridesharing service in the United States. He asked the audience to consider the collateral damage of having to publicly report a data breach, and the lasting effects on the company.

Evolving the “brick and mortar” approach in the cloud

Farias said that common misconceptions can lead us to believe that workloads moved to cloud environments are secured, yet the reality is that workloads are even more susceptible to security vulnerabilities when they are moved to the cloud.

As companies embrace digital transformation, moving toward cloud models may be inevitable, but maintaining a high level of security — such as what is possible if data is being kept inside an organization — should be a priority. Regardless of whether data is being moved to public or private clouds, the proper security products and procedures should be put in place.

One approach in particular that stands out for Farias, using a security monitoring dashboard, gives administrators total visibility into their IT environment through a single view. Once administrators get a full picture of the devices and infrastructure they must protect, they can better develop effective security policies and procedures.

Total visibility into corporate IT environments means “hard and fast” policies can be applied if an untrusted or unrecognized device enters a network. For example, customers and partners bringing their outside devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, into a meeting may be allowed to connect to the network — but these devices could be segmented and not allowed to access corporate data or applications.

Deploying a security fabric to secure your network borders

As companies develop their digital transformation strategies, the key for Farias is to enable them to be efficient in their digital pursuits while maintaining a high level of security. To properly manage new complexity driven by cloud adoption, security tools based on a complete “security fabric” are one way to secure corporate IT environments.

Farias said that traditionally, organizations spend 80 percent of their security budgets at the border of the network. However, security events are evolving so quickly that administrators must now evolve to meet these threats anywhere, even if the threat has already passed the network border. This borderless network will continue to increase in complexity as new devices and applications are added, increasing the difficulty and time required to track down cyberbreaches.

Using a network security fabric solution will automate and orchestrate critical policies. This integrated approach allows policies to be executed as soon as a perceived threat is flagged entering the network. For example, identifying the threat, assigning it a threat score and automatically quarantining it to block the threat from accessing the wider network. By combining this approach with up-to-date security signatures, network administrators can maintain control while being open to digital transformation initiatives.