As modern data center environments increase in complexity, cybersecurity vendors are beginning to offer a whole range of security products. Whether you’re a CIO or a security operator for a mid-sized firm, you want to be sure that you’re getting the right products to secure your network. Apart from the capital costs involved, the operational challenge of integrating the new products into your network environment can be daunting.
In a bid to improve security and meet stricter regulatory requirements, many organizations end up implementing additional security tools like internal firewalls, next-gen perimeter firewalls, UTM, IDS, IPS, etc. While each security tool has its advantages, from an organization’s point of view, your overall cybersecurity infrastructure becomes operations-heavy, leaving your network vulnerable to human errors that could result in internal/external attacks.
Instead of adding more security products, you can simplify your cybersecurity journey by choosing the right security solutions. Recent developments in security technology have made it possible to implement a security infrastructure that helps you monitor, secure, and scale your data center without any additional hardware or an increase in operational costs. Say hello to software-defined security!
Step 1: Start with Centralized Visibility
Industry research has shown that by 2020, 92 percent of workloads will be processed in public and private cloud data centers, and just 8 percent in traditional data centers. This makes visibility a core requirement to maintain security, not just at the network level, but also at the workload level, especially with multiple devices accessing your servers across locations. Using software-defined security solutions, you can manage all your servers and endpoints at the host level. Flow-data between hosts can then be used to provide granular visibility and threat traversal for forensics, reporting, and dashboarding.
By deciphering how users access critical applications and corporate assets, you are in a better position to determine their risk posture. One of the biggest benefits of having complete visibility is the ability to make informed policy decisions by leveraging multi-dimensional context from several sources.
Step 2: Adopt Micro-Segmentation
For a long time, cybersecurity was focused on building perimeter walls to prevent any external threats from attacking systems. In other words, it was primarily aimed at protecting the North-South communications. However, over time, organizations realized that most of the attacks and breaches were a result of internal threats and advanced persistent threats (APT). This was largely because East-West (server to server) traffic, which forms over 75% of the network traffic, was not monitored and segmented well enough.
To counter this challenge, cybersecurity teams began to create VLAN/ACLs and install internal firewalls. While these measures mitigate internal threats, maintaining ACLs, and updating thousands of firewall rules is an operational nightmare in a dynamic business environment. With resources moving across departments/geographies and employee churn, updating the security policies is cumbersome and time-consuming.
In a situation like this, micro-segmentation emerges as a more practical and effective security tool. Micro-segmentation enables you to separate network environments down to the host level so that there is no cross-contamination of data or misuse of critical applications. Once your network is segmented as per your security needs, you can enforce specific security policies for each of your segments. The result is a zero-trust network architecture with high visibility and control.
By taking this approach, you avoid additional investment on high-capacity firewalls. At the same time, you eliminate operational headaches by not having to deal with thousands of firewall rules and time-consuming, error-prone VLANs/ACL configurations.
Step 3: Save On Hardware
Until recently, implementing an enterprise security solution meant installing a combination of hardware like firewalls, routers, and switches. Large network security companies pushed these hardware-based solutions which not only required heavy investment but also locked you in with them. Any change or upgrade would have meant buying more hardware (and associated software) from the same company or hiring consultants to implement changes to meet your business needs. The result was increasing vendor dependency, operational costs, and network complexity.
New developments in security technology have seen a paradigm shift from hardware-based security to a software-defined fabric that simplifies cybersecurity. As mentioned above, software-defined security has multiple advantages when it comes to protecting critical assets and simplifying operations. A comprehensive software-defined network security solution is platform-agnostic and has the capability to integrate with your existing security infrastructure.
This way, you neither incur additional equipment costs nor worry about dismantling your existing cybersecurity systems. An effective software-based security solution would also allow you to eliminate configuration errors and time-consuming manual effort by automating security across every segment (and micro-segment) of your data center.
Step 4: Check for Compliance Compatibility
Most industries today have regulatory standards in place making it either desirable or mandatory for organizations to comply. Regulatory standards like PCI-DSS 4.0 and HIPAA include specific guidelines that organizations in their respective industries need to comply with. These guidelines are put in place to help achieve network security goals and mitigate possible threats.
Considering the sophistication of recent attacks and increasing stress on data privacy by regulatory authorities, achieving 100 percent compliance during audits can be challenging, complicated, and expensive. So, it makes sense to implement cybersecurity solutions that can readily meet your unique business requirements.
Granular micro-segmentation provided by software-defined security solutions can safeguard database and application workloads even in hybrid data center environments. Coupling segmentation with centralized visibility also allows you to create audit and vulnerability reports that help you stay compliant.
Most organizations already operate in complex network environments that include on-site servers, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. Adding a layer of security across various network segments only adds to this complexity. Innovative security models like software-defined security can simplify your cybersecurity while allowing greater visibility, granular segmentation, and implementation of security policies with just a few clicks.
ColorTokens’ software-defined security solutions can help you create zero-trust networks to efficiently secure your dynamic application environments in minutes. Register for a personalized demo to see how it works.