Integrated Tech to Boost Your Organisation's Security – ETCIO

A few days ago, a news article caught my eye – the CEO of a global company was talking about how unsuccessful he has been in getting his employees back into the office at pre-pandemic levels. One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that the hybrid world of work is here to stay. In fact, in a survey conducted by Cisco, an overwhelming 64% of employees said that the ability to work from anywhere is a big factor in their decision to stay at a job. It is no wonder that 80% of the Indian organizations surveyed by Forrester plan to adopt a hybrid work model over the next 12-24 months. Moreover, the pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of cloud to unprecedented levels. Gartner forecasts in India, more than half of enterprise IT spending in key market segments will shift to the cloud by 2025.

These two trends combined present an interesting conundrum – users and devices distributed across locations, accessing applications hosted on the public cloud, connected over the public internet – a nightmare scenario for any cybersecurity professional. India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) reported more than 2.12 lakh cybersecurity incidents in 2022. And the most vulnerable to such cyber breaches were the small and medium businesses (SMBs). A Cisco study highlighted that three out of four SMB owners suffered a cyber incident in the last two years. And most importantly, around 97% of SMBs said the difficulty in integrating too many technologies they used was one of the prime reasons for not detecting and preventing such cyber breaches.

Technology integration holds the key to a robust cybersecurity architecture

What compounds this scenario is the evolving sophistication of the threat landscape. It is no longer sufficient to think about security as a bolt-on capability. It must be ubiquitous and integrated with the technology stack at the design stage itself. When everything is connected, businesses need to adopt a new security strategy that moves away from siloed protection and instead builds resilience through a focus on detection, response, and recovery.

To start with, personal identity has become the perimeter of security in this hybrid world and, therefore, the first line of defence. Taking a Zero Trust Approach (ZTA) to device and user security is crucial to be able to scale your endpoint protection. This means technologies like user access, device protection, and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) need to work together, acting as a team, learning from each other, listening, and responding as a coordinated unit. This combination provides automated, always-on security that works everywhere your users go.

Applications are the lifeblood of all businesses today. Modern applications are distributed across public clouds and on-premises infrastructure. Across all these environments, it is critical that network, workload, and application security seamlessly work together to respond to threats in real-time.

It’s all about simplicity and ease of operation

Against an increasingly complex cybersecurity environment, a lack of integration and orchestration between technologies across multiple vendors can prove to be debilitating in the face of a sophisticated, well-coordinated attack. In contrast, with an integrated approach to security, organisations can build intelligent automation that not only saves cost but also reduces response time to cyberattacks apart from incident analysis and remedial measures. As per a Cisco study, companies with well-integrated security technologies were seven times more likely to achieve high levels of automation that enable effective monitoring of cybersecurity threats. In addition, a single dashboard that provides unified visibility, intuitive automation, insights, and context across the entire security portfolio can allow organizations to detect, respond, and recover faster.

Most often, companies that want to build a robust security architecture do so by purchasing platforms and solutions from integrated solution providers rather than building them in-house. This approach saves both time and cost. Moreover, it is always desirable to build the cybersecurity architecture using a platform approach rather than implementing point solutions. Against this backdrop, CIOs and CISOs should review RFP (request for proposal) responses from technology vendors to ensure integration with the company’s current security stack. Moreover, as the world moves to the cloud, cloud-based security solutions are a must to mitigate the ever-evolving threat landscape. With security teams stretched thin and threats looming, having a well-integrated security tech stack is a critical step for increasing efficacy, efficiency, and productivity in the cloud-first world.

Integration is a key aspect of digital transformation, and in the security realm, it can mean the difference between an intrusion attempt and a data breach. However, integration has to mean more than simple co-existence. True integration will improve workflows, productivity, and security outcomes. Tightly integrated products help better secure users, networks, workloads, and applications.

The author is Anand Patil, Senior Director, Systems Engineering, Cisco India & SAARC


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