Networks have had to change with the times and the same is true of network security. Some networks are in the cloud, some are virtual, and some rely on application-to-application connections. We live in a complex hybrid world, which means network security can’t stand still. It has to be more comprehensive, intelligent, and responsive than ever. Which means network security architecture must evolve too.
But where do you start? What are some of the key areas to address as you look to evolve your network security architecture? Just as the network is critical to your business, network security is equally important and can’t be ignored. Here are five critical components you need to consider when designing today’s network security architecture.
1. Comprehensive monitoring and analytics
With the many configurations of networks out there, your security architecture needs to monitor and analyze a lot more data than ever before, in different formats, and across different network configurations. A first step in your evolution is to check whether your network security architecture is providing:
- End-to-end coverage, not just perimeter or in/out traffic. All network traffic needs to be monitored, including in the cloud, remote workers, and things like SaaS applications.
- Edge-to-edge encryption. You need to decrypt and inspect traffic at a multitude of control points.
- Access to end-to-end network traffic analysis (NTA) up and down all layers of the OSI stack.
- Basic traffic monitoring as well as detection rules, heuristics, scripting languages etc.
2. Network segmentation to reduce attack surface
The reality is that there is no traditional network edge anymore; networks can be local, in the cloud, a combination or hybrid with resources anywhere, as well as staff in any geography. So, a robust security architecture is one which can deal with all the different types of networks in all the possible locations. By creating multiple smaller networks—or subnets—with granular and separate policies for each, you can reduce the overall attack surface and play a critical part of a zero-trust approach. Your threat protection will improve by limiting how far a malicious attack can spread by confining the attack to one segment.
The benefits to network segmentation are powerful, and go beyond cyber protection:
- Prevent unauthorized network traffic or attacks from reaching portions of the network to which you would like to prevent access.
- Improved, simplified monitoring because you can localize technical network issues.
- Better access control. Network traffic can be isolated and/or filtered to limit and/or prevent access between network segments. This means you can allow users to only access specific network resources.
- Boost network performance by containing certain traffic only to the portions of the network needing to see it.
3. Centralized management of entire network
As your network security architecture evolves, you need to consider consolidating management into a single control plane, likely a cloud-based one. The goal is to have a single network view across your entire network, rather than having to use different tools per vendor or app. This approach is streamlined, simpler and vendor-agnostic. It gives you better visibility and control for essential activities like configuration management, policy management, and change management, meaning you can react more nimbly and ensure greater threat protection. When security, network and cloud operations team share the same view across technologies, you benefit from a reduction in misconfigurations, manual review times, compliance documentation time and much more.
4. Virtualization of your network security architecture
In this hybrid, fast-paced world it goes without saying that network security has to respond faster than ever to changes in network performance needs, traffic volume, types of traffic, encryption levels, network architecture changes … and the list goes on. The security team needs to be able to rapidly provision security applications at the flick of a switch. This isn’t possible if we continue to rely on fixed, single-purpose hardware like physical firewalls. Security practices, capability and functionality need to scale with change and future digitization requirements. The solution is virtualization of the network firewall. Virtualization allows you to scale traffic inspection and threat protection by elastically adding virtual NGFW (Next Generation Firewall) capacity to meet increasing bandwidth demand.
5. Automation of virtual network firewalls
The final component is automation, particularly automating the virtualization of network firewalls. The virtualization of network firewalls is a complex process which relies heavily on DevOps time. No matter how expert your team of engineers may be, manual change is slow and cumbersome and not the best use of your talented network security engineers. Plus, it is prone to error. With automation, you improve the reliability of firewall migration, giving you confidence in the process. You’ll save precious time and resource, speeding up the network change process and increasing productivity. With automation built into your network security architecture, you improve your organization’s business agility for any future changes to come.
The Benefits of an Evolved Network Security Architecture
Network security architecture must evolve if it is to provide sufficient threat protection in our fast-changing digital world. Security teams have to deal with complex networks which include cloud models, remote workers, multiple control points, and new digital applications. Along with comprehensive monitoring and network segmentation, you need to build centralized management, virtualization and automation into the fabric of your network security architecture. These are the critical components which will enable your business to adapt and be agile as we move forward with changes we can’t foresee today.
Discover how Corsa Security can help you modernize your network firewalls as part of your network security architecture evolution.