As the workplace evolves, so must your security. Firewalls and other legacy defenses are no longer adequate protection in the modern era where work is no longer necessarily a place. Learn which precautions your IT team can take to stay on top of the latest cyber security threats.  

Today, working remotely is a fact of life. Large enterprises and solo business owners alike don’t have to lose productivity while traveling or being away from the office. Devices barely larger than a deck of cards can be used for communications and finishing detailed work. But all these advancements haven’t been without a price: network security has become a major concern for CTOs and IT professionals as these portable devices that go from one open and unsecured network to another. Meantime, enterprise-level networks only protect users when they’re in the office and using devices in the network’s proximity but not when they’re just ten, let alone thousands of, miles away. This is putting organizations at risk for cyber attacks.

Hackers always seem to be one step ahead, aware of how many people are carrying valuable organizational data on their phones and using everything from smart watches and even devices on skateboards and cars to hold that data for ransom. Transactions can be intercepted in a split second, software sabotaged, and so much more that a simple firewall isn’t able to prevent. As these attacks grow more numerous, IT professionals need to evolve security protocols for these threats.

Legacy Protections Are Not Enough

When employing firewalls and sandboxes, this only prevents attacks that are being leveled at devices on the premises. These defenses don’t provide sufficient enough protection against other endpoints, such as using a tablet at an airport or a phone at a cafe. Even if your IT professionals have secured more endpoints from threats, new threats keeping popping up: ghostware, spear phishing, ransomware, and much more in addition to the typical malware. It’s unwise to continue relying on traditional network security when these modern threats were specially designed to get around legacy methods like firewalls.

As a result of working off-site consistently, sensitive data is now stored in the cloud (such as through G Suite, OneNote, Salesforce, etc.) and accessed through third party networks through a variety of carriers ranging from employees’ wireless plans and public wifi connections. BYOD (bring your own device) policies complicate matters further because IT departments can’t monitor these personal devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) has added more connected devices into the mix for everything from watches to thermostats and cars, increasing the attack surface for hackers and presenting more endpoints that need protection.

The nature of networks has changed and firewalls just aren’t enough anymore. Appliance-based network security wasn’t designed to protect the breadth and depth of modern networks.

Reactive Security No Longer Cuts It

Traditional network security is largely reactive and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, every piece of known malware, phishing threat, and other security issue still affects businesses of all sizes and basic lines of defense like firewalls are intended to protect your system from the most well-known threats.

The main issue with traditional network security is that the protection offered by legacy methods doesn’t extend to the mobile-first, multi-device reality businesses face today. Massive hikes in traffic, constantly-evolving threats, and other dangers that are not easily detected are also not guarded against easily by reactive methods (in that these methods can only protect devices after threats have been detected.) Networks are also left vulnerable because of the gaps inherent to using multiple devices and connections, and the delays in patches and updates.

Making DNS (Domain Name System) the First Line of Defense

Legacy methods help with known threats, but DNS-layer security should be your first line of defense against cyber threats that you can’t see, or immediately be able to repel with a standard firewall. The latter helps with known threats after they’ve been detected but since most unknown attacks can be stopped at the DNS level this is what can help ward them off.

DNS acts as sort of a phonebook since hackers will leave callbacks and domain names behind, and you can point DNS requests to security services in the cloud where you can utilize a community that cross-sections Internet activity and suspicious patterns across domains. WHOIS records and malicious files are also cross-sectioned to mitigate new threats. By adopting a cloud security method with community elements, it also makes your security measures invisible to attackers while keeping systems maintenance uncomplicated.

As more business continually moves to the cloud, so should security so that all devices and users will be protected no matter where they are.

Author: Aaron White, Date: 27th April 2017


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