Securing the enterprise in a brave new digital world

By Martyn Young, Systems Engineering Director for ANZ, F5 Networks

The security threat landscape has changed dramatically in ways unfathomable from just a few years ago. In today’s digital world where applications range in the millions, organizations need to be aware of the fact that enterprise infrastructure is not the only vulnerable spot for hackers.

Alongside all the utopian efficiencies and connectivity that this digital world has brought to businesses, it has also provided hackers various channels to commit fraud in many creative forms. Hackers today are sophisticated enough to embed viruses and malwares in applications and networks as well as utilize devices as tools to carry out fraudulent activities. Hence, traditional security methods such as next generation firewalls and reactive security measures are losing the fight of being effective against the new breed of attacks.

Needless to say, the growing complexity and the rise of many unknown forces in the battle for information, has undoubtedly forced Australian organizations to rethink current security strategies in place for their networks, applications and data from ever-changing threats.

Threats continue to loom

Statistically the occurrence of cyber attacks is increasing in an alarming way. In 2015, more than $234 million worth of financial loss was self-reported by individuals and small companies to the new Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.

What is worrying is that Australia has dropped from second to fifth in the Asia Pacific in its ability to protect itself from cyber attacks, according to a report by The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) analysis.

It is fair to say that criminals are evolving faster than many enterprise risk strategies. The bad news is that cyber-attacks are getting larger in scale and more creative in their ways, while not discriminating between SMEs and global multinationals.

Protect your enterprise

We all know that security is a global issue and isn’t going away anytime soon. Enterprises today face attacks of increasing sophistication and frequency, protecting applications and data is a complex and often costly challenge.

As customers deploy more enterprise-grade applications and services across traditional data centre and cloud environments, the need for an in-depth security strategy has never been greater.

Organisations that depend on their online presence for survival require a holistic security strategy that not only protects themselves, employees, customers and end-users against attack vectors, but is also able to react quickly when attacks happen to minimise damage.

So what can organizations in Australia do to protect themselves more effectively?

Securing the enterprise

Predicting a cyber-attack is difficult, and perhaps not quite possible.

With enterprises becoming increasingly interconnected environments, security professionals can no longer take a myopic view on security.

A common misconception held by many is that using technology like a firewall is sufficient to protect an organization’s networks but this no longer holds true today. Organizations’ must look at other technologies, such as web application firewalls.

Web application attacks are often tuned and created for a particular application, and are missed by traditional security measures.

Instead, enterprises need to accept that hackers will infiltrate their networks. Hence, enterprises need to strike an equal balance between protect – mitigate and react – defend approaches.

Tilt the balance, and the security strategy will not be as effective.

Protect– Many enterprises today place a lot of focus on mitigating attacks which is undoubtedly important. There are ways a company can keep their applications, services and even their entire network online, without stopping legitimate traffic. At the same time, understanding who is attacking the business, as well as how and why, can help prevent an attack from causing too much damage and can help protect against future attacks.

React – Defending an attack is equally critical because there is no silver bullet approach to completely eradicating cyber attacks. This is an important process to minimise damage and keep the business and service running.

For example, the Silverline services process incoming traffic and detect, identify and mitigate threats in real-time. As traffic enters the scrubbing centers’, it is triaged based on various traffic characteristics and possible attack methodologies. Traffic continues to be monitored as it traverses the scrubbing centre to confirm the malicious traffic has been fully removed. Clean traffic is then returned through the enterprise’s website with little to no impact to the end user. The clean traffic is then returned to the site, keeping any attacks from reaching the organization’s network and enabling businesses to stay online and available.

…Or risk fading out

As globalization narrows the distance between businesses and people, cyber security threats, which are getting more dynamic and complex, loom low. Businesses will need to focus on implementing an in-depth security strategy to minimize risks and safeguard their brands, reputation, intellectual property, as well as protect their users on all fronts.

The big question to ask before it’s too late is whether your enterprise is safe in the brave new digital world today?

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Tags security threatsprotecthackersSMEsASPIdigital worldattacksnext generation firewallscyber secuirtyEnterprise ManagementfraudsecurityreactionfailureUtopiacybercrime

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