network security matters

Network Security Matters (And This Time We Really Mean It!)

network security mattersA new study from Infonetics Research reports that “Security is #1 concern for enterprise access networks.” The biggest change of its annual study of WLAN deployments is improving the security of access networks, stated Infonetics’ Matthias Machowinski, Directing Analyst, Enterprise Networks and Video.

Enterprise access networks are undergoing a major transformation, driven by an influx of new devices, greater device diversity, and new application models, he said. However, not only are companies upgrading and expanding coverage to accommodate their growing needs, they’re also rethinking their approach to network operations and are looking to unify network silos and implement more flexible management approaches, and security is generating greater interest. “The last year has seen a number of high profile data breaches, and companies can’t afford to become the next victim.”

According to the survey:

  • Respondent companies intend to grow the number of access points in their wireless networks by about 19% per year over the next 2 years;
  • The number of bring-your-own devices is growing from 29% of all devices today to almost 40% by 2016, driven by wider user adoption within existing BYOD companies, as well as multiple devices per user; and,
  • User populations are expected to grow by 10% per year over the next 2 years, driven to a large extent by guest access, which will account for only 18% of the user population by 2016

A recent report from Frost & Sullivan found that many companies are struggling to keep their networks secure, saying, “Despite increasingly sophisticated attacks and rising complexity in the technological and regulatory landscapes, companies still typically rely on outdated methods to keep data secure.” For example, the 2013 Global Information Security Workforce Study revealed that out of 12,396 respondents, 42% ranked social media as a top security concern. However, 25% admitted they were not addressing this threat vector. The Internet of Things, computing everywhere and analytics figured prominently in Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015, but while Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection came in tenth, security was considered essential.

Jon Oltsik, Enterprise Strategy GroupSenior Principal Analyst and the founder of the firm’s information security service, recently blogged that enterprises are establishing a Cybersecurity Cavalry, a new group of security intelligence/malware/threat management/forensic/SOC experts. It is made up of highly-skilled and well-armed troops that establish security outposts to encounter adversaries out on the frontier. And ESG research indicates that 47% of enterprise organizations now have a dedicated network security group responsible for the whole enchilada, and the most important aspect of this transition is that this group ultimately reports to the CISO and not the VP of network operations. Oltsik notes several impacts of this transition, including:

  • Network security is tilting away from the network toward security, a major shift from past behavior that favors security arms dealers like Blue Coat, Check Point, FireEye, Fortinet, IBM, McAfee, Palo Alto Networks, and Trend Micro;
  • The hiring wars will get even hotter because elite cybersecurity cavalry troops are in high-demand but there aren’t nearly enough to go around; and,
  • Many enterprises don’t have the skills, staff size, or budgets to establish a cybersecurity cavalry of their own. As a result, phones will be ringing off the hook at MSSPs like BT, CSC, Dell/SecureWorks, Unisys, Symantec, and Verizon.

It’s easy to see why network security is under the spotlight. The latest Gartner numbers show that mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, will account for more than 2 billion of the 2.3 billion devices to be shipped this year. Next year they’ll edge up to more than 2.2 billion of the 2.5 billion devices expected to ship. And if mobile hardware use is skyrocketing, how about the applications to power that growth? By 2016 there will be 305 billion mobile app downloads, more than 4X the 70 billion in 2013, with 5 business apps per device – and more than 75% — will fail basic security tests through 2015.

Gartner did note in its Top 10 list that organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100% secured environment and they will begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. The ultimate result will be new models of building security directly into applications. According to Gartner, “Perimeters and firewalls are no longer enough; every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.”

Welcome to the future of security, coming soon(ish) to a network near you. Trust me: This time we really mean it!

About the author
Steve Wexler
Steve is a proficient IT journalist, editor, publisher, and marketing communications professional. For the past two-plus decades, he has worked for the world’s leading high-technology publishers. Currently a contributor to Network Computing, Steve has served as editor and reporter for the Canadian affiliates of IDG and CMP, as well as Ziff Davis and UBM in the U.S. His strong knowledge of computers and networking technology complement his understanding of what’s important to the builders, sellers and buyers of IT products and services.