To stay competitive and meet user demands, organizations are adopting new technologies and architectures, such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), software-defined branch (SD-branch), Internet of Things (IoT ), multi-cloud, and zero trust access (ZTA) – which has led to increasingly complex and fragmented network infrastructures.
To help mitigate this operational complexity, enterprises are embracing the simplicity and efficiency of an integrated architecture. Network integrations enable zero-touch provisioning, centralized management, real-time security analytics, simplified compliance audits and reporting, and automation of manual workflows and network operations.
Network integration solves complexity issues
When it comes to protecting infrastructure, complexity creates challenges for network engineering and operations managers. First, visibility and control of network defenses are reduced due to a buildup of disconnected network products and security points. Second, the global shortage of security talent means most organizations lack people with the skills to manage these tools. Third, new compliance requirements often require manual compilation of reports and audits, adding to the burden on already overstretched teams.
The first step toward addressing these critical issues is to adopt an integrated network security infrastructure that connects all solutions deployed across the organization. This concept, which Gartner calls a “cybersecurity mesh architecture,” provides the foundation for essential features such as simplified provisioning, centralized management, security fabric analysis, transparent compliance reporting, and automated operations. .
According to Gartner, by 2024, organizations that adopt a cybersecurity mesh architecture will reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90%.
An integrated network security architecture can enable advanced security orchestration capabilities for provisioning and configuration. These can alleviate many complex challenges for growing organizations, while improving efficiency or operations and reducing workloads on limited staff resources. As a business grows or adds new offices, automated integration capabilities enable rapid and seamless security scaling across all areas of the organization’s growing network.
An effective cybersecurity mesh architecture supports features like zero-touch deployment to help organizations simplify and speed up bringing new sites online. A zero-touch deployment allows a security appliance, such as a next-generation firewall (NGFW), to be plugged into a branch office or remote location and then automatically configured at headquarters over a broadband connection to avoid the time and cost of truck rolls.
Operations need to be able to monitor the movement of data and identify anomalous activity, but the complexity of security obscures this ability. Siled devices in a disaggregated security architecture do not communicate with each other or share threat intelligence. When network engineering and operations teams have to juggle multiple management consoles from different vendors, it prevents a clear, consistent, and timely view of what’s happening in the organization.
An integrated security architecture with centralized management capabilities simplifies visibility and control by consolidating multiple point device management consoles. An effective management solution should provide an overview to track all solutions deployed to protect the network and apply policy-based controls with ease and consistency.
Virtually all compliance regulations require documentation with a strong audit trail. Depending on the industry and organization, compliance management is very often a highly manual and labor-intensive process requiring months of work involving multiple full-time employees. This is likely why 85% of IT compliance and risk management professionals plan to evaluate new tools in 2022 to streamline and automate their compliance processes.
For organizations with multiple point security products, data should be collated from each and then normalized to ensure regulatory controls are accurately reported. To do this, network operations personnel must monitor security controls using each vendor’s audit tools and then correlate this information to prove compliance. These complex and unwieldy audit processes are inefficient and often ineffective due to human error.
Automating compliance monitoring and reporting at the network operations layer can streamline these processes, allowing limited network and security staff to focus on more critical operations activities. An effective security management solution should provide compliance templates for best practices and regulations to reduce costs and complexity burdens.
Effective security management should also include tools to help network managers assess their environment against industry best practices. Part of this process includes aggregating and reconciling threat data from multiple sources. Then, network operations teams can apply recommendations to protect against threat exposures.
Network automation and real-time security analysis
As the number of branch offices increases within an organization and the attack surface at the network edge expands, network engineering and operations managers must increasingly rely on real-time analytics to instantly measure and identify network and security risks. To address this problem, an integrated security architecture can coordinate data across all deployed parts of the infrastructure to provide comprehensive reports that combine network traffic, applications, and overall network health.
Features like enterprise-grade configuration management and role-based access controls (RBAC) can help network operations and engineering managers easily track changes and mitigate human error. It can also provide service level agreement (SLA) history logging and monitoring, as well as customizable SLA alerts.
Cybersecurity staff shortages
According to the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, there are now more than 4.07 million cybersecurity vacancies worldwide. As a result, analyst investigations take longer, remediation steps are missed, and incidents can be handled inconsistently from day to day. The longer it takes to remedy a breach, the more damage and expense the organization incurs.
Enter security integration, which unleashes the power of network-wide automation: coordinated threat responses that help organizations protect their network with limited human resources. Automated workflow optimizations eliminate manual steps requiring human intervention to reduce the window between threat detection and response. It also helps to omit operational anomalies caused by human errors. Intelligence sharing and automation capabilities are now essential to protect data and operations.
Evolution towards automation-driven network management
An integrated architecture can help untangle complex challenges and reduce risk from the top causes of cyber breaches through what is sometimes called automation-focused network management. This includes simplified provisioning capabilities, management from a single pane of glass, analytics, advanced compliance reporting tools, and network-enabled rapid responses across all parts of the network (on-premises environments , cloud and hybrid).
When evaluating solutions, all teams should consider how best to invest to improve efficiency, reduce risk, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). An integrated network security architecture that prioritizes network automation capabilities can solve the persistent challenges of infrastructure complexity.
Find out how the Fortinet Security Fabric provides comprehensive, integrated, and automated protection across an organization’s entire digital attack surface to provide consistent security across all networks, endpoints and clouds.
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