Are You Getting the Most From Your Network Security? Five Questions to Ask

For nearly 20 years, network security solutions, including firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems, have been the foundational building blocks of an effective security program. However, as attack methods evolve, it is critical to determine whether your network technologies are not only keeping up with the latest threats, but also integrating with the rest of you enterprise security ecosystem.

Consider the following five questions to determine how you may be able to improve your own network security.

1. Do You Have Visibility to the Interior of Your Network?

Most intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) are deployed only at the network perimeter. While this approach can be useful in identifying threats as they enter or leave your network, it leaves you completely blind to active threats that are already inside your network. With 60 percent of attacks starting on the inside, it is critical monitor your network interior. To detect activities such as lateral movement, privilege escalation and pre-exfiltration activities, your network security solution must be deployed everywhere, not just at the edge.

2. Are You Inspecting Encrypted Sessions?

Even novice attackers know that most network security solutions are ineffective against encrypted attacks. Simply put, switching from a HTTP to an HTTPS link for a malware installer would allow an infection to go completely undetected. To avoid this gaping hole, your network security solution must be capable of inspecting SSL/TLS traffic in a manner that properly balances both security and privacy concerns.

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3. Are You Relying on Pattern Matching to Find Malicious Activity?

Many network security products rely on exploit signatures to identify and block malicious activity on your network. However, this reactive approach is only effective for exploits that have been seen before.

These days, many attackers are utilizing zero-day exploits — mutated versions of known exploits and attack techniques that have never been spotted before. As a result, your network security solution must perform full protocol analysis and employ heuristics techniques to detect both known and unknown attack methods.

4. Does Your Network Security Solution Help You Identify Network Anomalies?

Fundamentally, network security solutions monitor every single packet that traverses the point of the network that they are charged with protecting. While identifying and preventing attacks is important, so is leveraging the visibility into the network to detect anomalous activity. Your network security solution must be able to generate metadata, such as flows from layer 2 to layer 7, and use this information to detect anomalies that may indicate attack activity.

5. Do You Have the Flexible Deployment Options to Match Your Business Needs?

Network growth, expanding branch offices, mergers and acquisitions, and hybrid cloud can all affect your network security strategy in big ways. To address these challenges, you must select a solution that offers deployment options in a range of form factors and price points and does not require you to purchase functionality and throughput before you need it.


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Paul Griswold

Program Director, Strategy & Product Management, Threat Protection & X-Force

Paul Griswold is passionate about building software products that solve complex real-world problems. In the earlier part of his career, this involved writing code and architecting products. More recently, his focus has shifted from the nuts and bolts of software development to building software product business lines through roles in product management and product marketing. Paul especially enjoy interacting with customers and partners, determining how cool new technologies can be applied to solve business problems, and working with teams to bring state-of-the-art solutions to market.