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FCW : January and February 2017
Government networks looked drastically different ten years ago than they do today. Ten years ago, virtualization was just taking hold. Other advances, like cloud infrastructure, pervasive mobility, the use of sensors and digital government, were just getting started. These changes have created more network traffic, more complexity, and more blind spots. All these advances mean multiple network connections. To remain productive and secure, agencies need consistent and thorough visibility into all these connections. Yet today, many organizations don’t have the visibility they need. A 2016 survey from SANS, for example, found only 16 percent of respondents consider their network visibility infrastructure mature. 1 There are several ways to increase network visibility. At the very least, revisit existing policies and tools with an eye toward plugging the gaps, says Dan Conde, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. He recommends a more holistic, platform approach. Most organizations have dozens of point solutions for network management and monitoring, but are missing important tools to improve network visibility. By separately managing each tool, it’s easy for connections to fall through the gaps. Instead, base your network visibility capabilities on a strong platform such as NetFlow or SFlow. A strong platform will help external solutions such as intrusion detection systems and firewalls plug in via APIs. These platforms usually have easy-to-use, configurable management consoles and ensure all tools work together to provide the requisite visibility. NETWORK VISIBILITY: THE CORNERSTONE OF EFFECTIVE CYBERSECURITY Cybersecurity remains a top priority for government agencies. In 2016 alone, the White House announced its intentions to implement the Cybersecurity National Action Plan. Among other things, this would create the position of Federal Chief Information Security Officer. The White House also has allocated more than $19 billion for cybersecurity in the FY 2017 budget—that’s more than a 35 percent increase from FY 2016. Part of that funding is allocated for agencies to retire and replace legacy IT systems with more modern, effective technology. That’s a golden opportunity to switch from traditional endpoint cybersecurity tools to new solutions that address today’s complex networks. While legacy cybersecurity tools still have value, they often don’t provide the comprehensive visibility required for tight security control. The rise of virtualization, cloud storage and services, and other 21st century technologies have created blind spots that prevent full visibility. This makes it increasingly difficult to identify and prevent malicious activities. According to ESG’s Network Security Monitoring Trends Report, about one- third of organizations report blind spots are one of the top challenges related to network security monitoring. Limited visibility makes it harder to monitor network flow to detect breaches or attempted breaches, both on traditional and WiFi networks. To ensure full visibility, experts recommend tools that can: n Monitor both north-south and east- west traffic n Continuously monitor, analyze, categorize, separate and store all relevant activity n Use multiple data sources to provide a full view of security incidents over time as they evolve and move through networks n See the type, operating system, compliance status, connection method and geographic location for every connected device n Use intelligent packet capture n Set policy and behavior thresholds n Employ security analytics New Challenges Raise Stakes for Network Visibility GameChanger NETWORK VISIBILITY FOR COMPLEX NETWORKS SPONSORED REPORT IMPROVE CYBERSECURITY WITH NETWORK VISIBILITY Shutterstock.com A holistic approach is better suited toward today’s complex networks. 1 https://www.sans.org/reading-room/whitepapers/incident/incident-response-capabilities-2016-2016-incident-response-survey-37047
November and December 2016