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Archive for July 2015

Adaptive security is becoming more important
as breaches appear to become inevitable.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post discussing why security needs to be adaptive. The high-profile breaches of big-name firms like Target and Bank of America, not to mention the Office of Personnel Management, have acted as a wake-up call to businesses. No matter how much money and how many people are thrown at securing the perimeter, it will not stop 100% of malicious traffic from penetrating the enterprise.

Solving the security challenge continues to confound IT professionals as well. In the 2015 Network Purchase Intention Study, run jointly by ZK Research and Tech Target, we asked over 1,000 respondents globally, “What are your company’s top 3 priorities for next 12 months?” To no surprise, security came back as the No. 1 response. Another question we asked was, “What IT products are taking up more time than in previous years?” Again, security was overwhelmingly the No. 1 response. So security is a top initiative for IT, but it’s taking more and more time. Something has to change if the acceleration of breaches the industry has seen over the past few years is going to reverse course (disclosure: I am an employee of ZK Research).

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In a digital world, the companies that can
differentiate themselves in the way they engage
customers will be the ones that come out on top.

In the past few months, I’ve written several posts on the impact of digital transformation, such as this one outlining how IT needs to change, as well as a few on the topic of the need to expand the Internet edge. I thought it would make sense to now discuss how the two are related. In fact, it’s my belief that the expansion of the Internet edge is a key component of the shift to a more digital world.

The term “digital transformation” has become one of those buzzwords that everyone likes to toss around, but I think it’s important to understand what it means and the implications of it. In a digital world, competitive advantage isn’t determined by which company has the best widget or the lowest price. Market leadership in a digital world will be based on the organizations that can differentiate themselves in the way they engage customers.

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IT security is a fascinating topic because it tends to oscillate between being critically important to the most important thing IT and business leaders are working on. Right now, because of the high profile breaches such as Target and Bank of America, it’s fair to say it’s the top initiative for most companies. The most recent ZK Research IT priority survey shows that security remains the top IT priority again for 2015 as it was for 2014 and for 2013. The difficulty for security professionals is that security has evolved rapidly over the past five years. Securing the perimeter is obviously a core task of security teams but it’s the only point need securing. Security needs to extend past the edge of the network.

Perimeter firewalls do a great job today, and all the vendors offer a top-quality products and perform well in both protecting businesses from letting in bad traffic and also keeping sensitive traffic from leaving the organization.

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With a new DNS firewall solution, Verisign makes
use of its in-depth information on top-level domains
to protect the enterprise from online threats.

People talking illustration security viruses malware

Protecting an enterprise from cyberattacks is a task that is becoming increasingly tough. Just when one thinks the problem is solved, new attack surfaces are created that open the door to new threats. When there was but a single ingress/egress point into the network, a firewall could protect the organization. However, hackers have become more sophisticated and have been circumventing the firewall by focusing on the user.

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A look at the high-tech tools Cisco employs to establish
communications in areas that have recently suffered a disaster.

Credit: REUTERS/Albert Gea

Although Cisco Live 2015 is in the books now, the memories of it certainly lives on. Each event I attend is different and gives me a better understanding of how Cisco operates as a company. I’ve written many posts over the years on Cisco’s ability to be innovative to capture market transitions and drive the company’s growth. One of the things I’ve liked about Cisco over the years is the philanthropic side to the company that resonates from CEO John Chambers down to all of the employees. I’ve heard Mr. Chambers talk on more than one occasion about corporate social responsibility and how important that is to the Cisco culture.

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The job for today’s IT security teams is becoming more and more difficult. Applications are moving to the cloud, infrastructure is rapidly becoming virtualized, and endpoints are largely the property of the worker. Add in the fact that businesses are rapidly becoming digital organizations where the reliance of IT is at an all-time high, and it’s easy to see why a security breach today is exponentially more damaging than just a few years ago.

However, despite the evolution of servers, networks, and storage, security really hasn’t kept pace and evolved along with the rest of IT. Security is fighting the good fight, but they’re working with archaic tools. We live in a digital, mobile world but most security tools were designed for an era of static IT. No matter how smart the team is and how hard they work, security teams can’t keep up because the security technology hasn’t evolved.

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