Enterprise cybersecurity is a complex challenge to tackle. The wide range of enterprise application technology, from network endpoints to IoT connectivity, makes security a puzzle. Where does an enterprise begin, and which solutions offer the best fit?
While many service providers offer end-to-end solutions, the best approach is to adopt a best-of-breed framework where companies choose the best network security solution for a specific use case. Given the number of functionalities enterprises have to protect these days, it makes sense to choose hyperspecialization instead of general expertise.
The stakes are high. IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach report estimated that the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million.
Cybersecurity is as much a part of any business as product development. In this article, we’ll break down the concept of enterprise network cybersecurity and look at the various elements that are a part of the equation.
What Is Enterprise Network Security?
Modern enterprise networks are a complex web of applications and third-party software interacting with each other. As such, configuration errors routinely occur due to updates in one part of the system affecting another.
Access points add complexity to this picture thanks to multiple users logging into the network across a variety of devices. These days, remote work has added another layer of complexity, thanks to users logging in with devices that are not always secured to an enterprise level.
Cybersecurity has evolved from a one-size-fits-all solution approach to a specialized approach that seeks to cover individual elements.
There are platforms that tie all these disparate elements together to provide a unified view. Generally speaking, enterprises adopt a best-of-breed approach and rely on a few solutions to give them a complete picture of the threats against infrastructure, software, and networks.
Elements of a Complete Network Security Solution
There are many elements of enterprise cybersecurity. Truth be told, companies can go as granular as they like.
However, the following elements can be considered the bare minimum. Given the pace at which the threat matrix to enterprises changes, many solution providers combine these offerings or separate them over time.
Breach and Attack Simulation
Breach and attack simulation allows companies to test their systems for vulnerabilities proactively. This is an advanced security testing method and encourages security teams to think like a hacker. During these tests, teams mimic paths and attack vectors that a malicious actor is most likely to choose.
This method of stress testing a network system sounds a lot like pen testing and red teaming. However, there is a major difference. While the latter methods are scheduled, breach and attack simulation is a continuous effort, requiring teams to work on solutions and adapt to new attack vectors all the time.
Threat prevention is a set of policies and tools that protect the network perimeter.
Thanks to a wide range of threats such as malware and ransomware arriving through a range of attack vectors, threat prevention is a multilayered process. Typically, this includes policy definitions, threat detection tools, malware protection, and endpoint detection and response tools.
As such, threat prevention overlaps with some of the other factors mentioned in this section, but it’s a critical part of your cybersecurity posture. On a broad level, threat prevention helps secure the network perimeter, ensure complete user security, minimize intrusion effects, and ensure smart network segmentation to prevent lateral threat movement.
All attacks, save for malicious insider attacks, begin at network edges. Firewalls form the first line of defense.
Next-Generation Firewalls or NGFWs are network security devices that incorporate features such as application awareness and control, and integrated intrusion prevention. Most of these firewalls are backed by cloud-based threat intelligence updates to help them stay up to speed with the threat matrix.
Application-aware security postures are also an important part of an NGFW’s functionality.
The term “application awareness” refers to a security platform’s ability to map the execution patterns of each application and secure them at memory level while running. The NGFW provider’s solution must ensure that all application components haven’t been modified and aren’t deviating from the norm. This posture is essential to detect threats and intrusions.
Gartner helpfully lays out standards that an NGFW must have. At the very least, these solutions must have stateful inspection abilities, automated application awareness to block risky apps, threat intelligence sources, and integrated intrusion prevention.
Endpoint Detection and Response
Also called EDR, this functionality refers to the monitoring and detection of any activities occurring at network endpoints.
All EDR solutions provide enterprises threat visibility along a timeline as well as real-time alerts. Visibility is at the core of all EDR solutions and it’s a line of defense in case NGFWs fail to spot any intrusions.
The term “threat surface” is often used in the context of EDR. This refers to the processes running on the network, the devices that are logged in, and the apps accessing the network. A good way to think of EDR is to liken it to a plane’s black box. It records everything and provides helpful post-mortem data.
Identity Access and Management
IAM defines who can access a company’s data, which rules they ought to adhere to, and which devices can log in to view sensitive data. The primary objective is to prevent unauthorized access and simplify secured access for vendors, customers, and employees.
Some important IAM functions include single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication functionality.
MFA is particularly relevant since it allows companies to ditch passwords and provide seamless login experiences while ensuring complete security. IAM also plays a critical role in audit post-mortems since it records who logged in to view data.
Network Access Control
Called NAC, these solutions support network visibility and access management through the enforcement of security policies.
NAC covers all users and devices accessing a network. Typically, all NAC solutions will have security policy management functionalities, security posture checks, incident responses, and full integration with other security solutions.
There is a significant overlap between NAC and IAM. The cybersecurity world often debates which solution is better.
Instead of better versus worse, it’s easier to think of the issue as one of functionality. IAM providers often cover functionality that comes under a traditional NAC umbrella and vice versa. Before deciding to install NAC, it’s best to review IAM functionality to check whether these solutions already exist in-house.
Security Information and Event Management
SIEM offers real-time monitoring and analysis of events. These solutions also log and track all security data for compliance and auditing purposes.
SIEM helps organizations recognize potential threats before they occur. Many service providers use AI for threat detection and incident response.
This functionality originally started off as simple log management but has morphed into an advanced suite offering insight into user and entity behavior via analytics.
Network Security Solutions Companies You Must Know in the Coming Year
The type of network security solutions an enterprise decides to go with depends largely on its security posture. Every enterprise has a different network and the solutions they choose will differ. Here are the top companies every enterprise must familiarize themselves with.
Check Point’s Quantum Network Security provides scalables and power-efficient protection from Gen V cyber threats, according to the company. It has an illustrious history in this space, having invented stateful firewall inspection technology. Quantum’s solution works on 5 pillars namely, hardware, network, threat prevention, unified management, and their ThreatCloud.
By ensuring the highest quality in these building blocks, Check Point delivers market-leading performance.
Of particular note is the company’s claim that its customers are already protected against the top 25 exploits currently being used by malicious actors. The National Security Agency (NSA) released a list of these exploits, and Check Point’s solutions didn’t require any additional modification, unlike its competitors.
Checkpoint also offers application-aware security functionality. Companies can create granular security policies based on a large number of criteria and prevent lateral threat movement.
Its R81 unified security management allows organizations the ability to manage all network security functions regardless of the location of enforcement points. Whether it’s physical infrastructure protecting WAN edges, or virtual appliances protecting cloud environments, Check Point’s solution had it all covered.
All of this coupled with the platform’s ease of use makes it a great choice for enterprises looking for robust and dynamic security solutions.
Check Point’s solution offers an integrated bundle of NGFW, EDR, NAC, and SIEM. The company’s Harmony EDR solution automates threat detection, containment, and responses, with minimal manual input. The platform also automatically creates a forensic report that outlines infected assets, attack flow, and correlates mitigation actions with the MITRe ATT&CK framework.
When combined with the other products in its suite, Check Point offers the most comprehensive security solutions for enterprises on the market. With a single purchase, companies can instantly upgrade their security postures. This also gives enterprises complete threat prevention mechanisms they can rely on from day one.
When it comes to IAM, Okta has long been a leader via its Identity Cloud solution.
The platform offers multiple functionalities, from SSO to identity lifecycle management. Okta highlights that companies that adopted its cloud-based SSO solution experienced 75% fewer login-related queries and an astonishing 500% integration with newly acquired businesses. Thanks to over 7,000 integrations, enterprises will find it easy to connect to all their apps.
Network admins can monitor user access from a single panel and create adaptive security policies. Okta provides recommendations regarding best practices to ensure enterprise teams are always up to date. Okta’s adaptive MFA solution reportedly increased user productivity by 50%, enabling access from remote devices.
The platform makes it easy for enterprises to secure employee, contractor, customer, vendor, and partner access by allowing contextual policy creation. Teams can even integrate external risk signals to build additional context into their policies. Best of all, the end-user access experience is streamlined and eliminates friction.
The elimination of passwords is key. This is something that enterprises ought to have done away with a long time ago.
Crucially, some industries require MFA authentication for different user groups, as defined by regulators. Okta simplifies access by allowing enterprises to choose from a wide range of assurance factors such as knowledge, possession, inherence, and time. Companies can thus authenticate users via one touch, one click, or a scan. Best of all, the platform integrates with other cybersecurity vendors such as Check Point.
Cisco’s Identity Services Engine provides detailed visibility into access points and unified access control dashboards, whether it’s wired, wireless, or VPN-based. It also helps enterprises define policy and contain threats. Major clients utilizing this service include companies in banking, healthcare, and government.
Cisco’s ISE also helps companies accelerate their progress towards establishing a zero-trust security framework. Zero-trust is an important goal for organizations since software-defined segmentation reduces attack surface areas. As a result, mitigating ransomware attacks and nullifying threats becomes much simpler.
Helpfully, Cisco quantifies the savings enterprises can experience by offering ROI numbers.
The company claims clients can save up to $1.6 million over three years by avoiding security incidents using its ISE solution. Cisco also claims man-hour savings of 200 hours or more thanks to avoiding incident remediation. Companies can also reduce network change implementation time by 98%.
Automated threat containment is one of the best features Cisco’s ISE offers. ISE automatically processes threats and reacts to them based on policy definitions. Teams can define customized policies and set thresholds for manual intervention.
While Cisco understandably recommends using other products in its portfolio to ensure optimal performance, ISE integrates with a wide range of solutions in the market such as Check Point.
Scaling Network Security Solutions to Enterprises
Modern enterprise systems vary in size and complexity, with no single solution covering everything. Enterprises need to assess their needs and choose the right solutions.
In addition, enterprises must also focus on installing support and infrastructure that can mobilize these resources. A software solution must be backed by expertise and nimble organization workflows at all times.