Bolt-on security products can prove difficult to control, says Gerry Carroll
The piecemeal approach deployed by many enterprises to secure their IT infrastructure and protect their critical network operations is patently failing.
The 2004 Pricewaterhouse-Coopers/DTI information br-eaches survey found that 74% of UK businesses had suffered a security breach in the past year, compared to under half of businesses in the same survey two years ago. The report acknowledged that, although progress has been made in putting in place security controls, there is still considerable room for improvement.
Traditional tools such as firewalls and anti-virus software are clearly failing to halt the flood of security infringements, as illustrated by the report findings. Although 93% of businesses implemented anti-virus software, a staggering 74% of companies still suffered a breach.
A number of factors have compounded the problem of securing the enterprise, including the pervasive use of the internet, the deperimeterisation of the network and the insurgence of e-mail. These, combined with a shortage of skilled security specialists and low investment in security have presented IT managers with a considerable corporate headache.
Another change has been the increase in speeds and feeds. The advent of high-speed Ethernet not only accelerated the transmission of data, but also of viruses and worms, and shortened the time available to identify and block a problem. Many IT directors responded to these threats by purchasing a variety of bolt-on products, yet managing this Frankenstein's monster can be complex and time consuming.
A different approach to network security is needed. By embedding security into the network, IT managers can respond to threats, increase operational efficiency, reduce deployment complexity and scale as the network expands without adding to the support overhead.
The key lies in leveraging the infrastructure at the heart of the network, not only to transport vital enterprise data but also to manage, protect and secure access to corporate information.
By using an intelligent network which detects user anomalies and automatically intervenes to quarantine the offending user or deviant device, companies can enforce corporate security policies, protect mission-critical applications and respond to zero-day attacks without negative impact on the cost of ownership.
Employing such an approach will facilitate a move away from viewing security as a brake on corporate communications to it enabling effective enterprise-wide communications and enhanced competitive advantage.
Gerry Carroll is channel and marketing director, Northern Europe, at Enterasys Networks