In just the past few years, network architectures have begun to evolve from traditional, point-to-point connections between controlled network devices to a highly meshed ecosystem of interconnected networks. This hyper-connected architecture of traditional, private, public cloud, and remote networks and devices is being driven by the need to leverage data as both a competitive advantage and a new profit center. It is both supported by and driving the explosive growth of mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud.
Data is the fuel of this new digital economy. New technologies make it possible to correlate, analyze, and make decisions from data like never before. Because data can live anywhere, intuitive network and computing environments are moving beyond the traditional data center, remote office, or even mobile worker to highly flexible, and often temporary, on-demand networks in the cloud. And with the growth of automation, networks and devices are also increasingly able to make autonomous and semi-autonomous decisions at the speed of business, with little to no human intervention.
The new digital business model provides horizontal scalability combined with a cost model that allows organizations to only pay for those resources they actually consume. It has massive advantages in terms of reducing capital expenses and network management overhead. That said, however, many organizations are still wrestling with a challenge that prevents its full adoption: security. This is where a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) can help.
Securing Dynamic Networks
Given the complexity of their networks, many organizations face challenges to a wholesale move of their entire operation to a cloud-based network. They may require on-premises solutions rather the ability to hand off to private or public cloud environments. This means they need to maintain a hybrid collection of networks, which potentially creates challenges around visibility and control.
While service providers have come a long way in terms of expanding visibility into the cloud domain, there have been challenges around the ability to apply and enforce consistent security policy to data that moves between the network’s traditional, controlled environment and other domains.
And cloud security is not necessarily defined or enforced by the CSP, as they allow for open-compute in their environments. Cloud environments can be just as vulnerable to the same sorts of threats as any other network. An infected endpoint device connecting to the cloud can introduce malware into that network just as easily as it can to a local network.
Partnering with an MSSP
With today’s highly elastic network, and data moving freely between virtual devices and domains, finding threats and protecting data in motion can be problematic. Few service providers offer much more in the way of default security than domain segmentation and Layer 2 security zones. While they also usually offer a variety of security-as-a-service applications, usually provided by third-party vendors that can be selected and deployed on a pay-as-you-go basis, that simply adds another layer of complexity to an already overburdened IT security team.
The other challenge is the growing cybersecurity skills gap. It is estimated that there are currently over a million unfilled cybersecurity job openings, and the growth of demand continues to outpace the supply of trained security specialists – especially seasoned professionals.
This is why many executives are increasingly deciding to offload the management of their security to MSSPs staffed by professionals who are immersed in this challenge every day. MSSP teams are experts at building consistent security implementations between traditional, private cloud, and public cloud networks, applying appropriate analytics across the entire distributed ecosystem and constantly making sure that your security is actually working.
Using an MSSP means that organizations don’t have to hire security manpower; buy, deploy, and manage equipment; try to keep up with security changes and shifts in the threat landscape; or scour massive amounts of data to detect and thwart increasingly sophisticated threats. All of which requires time, money, and expertise that might be better applied to an organization’s core business.
What to Look For
There are several factors any organization should consider when choosing a service provider to work with. Here are a couple:
- Does the MSSP or cloud solution complement your current security deployment? Some organizations are looking to adopt a complete, turnkey MSSP security solution. An MSSP can provide essential expertise to ensure your environment is secure. It is important that both you and your MSSP can see across the distributed security deployment, are aware of changes to the infrastructure, and can easily share threat intelligence between management systems and devices. Look to see if your MSSP uses open application programming interfaces (APIs), unified management and orchestration (MANO) platforms, and integrated reports and analysis that can be tied to your existing security framework.
- Can deployed security devices operate as a synchronized system? Organizations are likely to have security devices deployed in the local network, at remote branches, on mobile devices, and in the cloud. While an MSSP may be able to support some or all of these, security is significantly simplified when devices can share, automate, and correlate threat intelligence and apply appropriate threat responses anywhere across the distributed network. Isolated, siloed security devices increase complexity, even for an MSSP. Check to ensure that your MSSP’s solutions can be automated and integrated with your existing security deployment.
The transition to a digital business model and the resulting distributed network introduces new security challenges for any business. This is happening at the same time that the cybercrime ecosystem continues to mature, compliance obligations continue to evolve, and the security skills gap continues to widen. Organizations are understandably looking for innovative security solutions and partners to help them securely embrace the new digital economy. MSSPs, when carefully selected, can be a powerful partner in helping you capitalize on the potential of the new digital economy.