Why is it more important than ever to invest in the security of IT networks? Let’s discuss the current challenges and trends in cybersecurity with Marcin Laskowski, Extreme’s Country Manager in Poland and Bulgaria.
Why is it so important to continuously educate the market about IT security?
There have always been two sides to the development of ICT technologies. On the one hand we can enjoy the increasingly useful, intelligent IoT devices and better ICT systems that facilitate the everyday work of many businesses and institutions. On the other – it has never been more vital to maintain security and proper “hygiene” of those systems. And it’s not only about using advanced security solutions. Sure, you can’t do much without them. But what’s probably even more important is the proper education of the users and systems operators.
Though the IT departments are more and more aware of the importance of the network security thanks to regular meetings, online courses and authorized workshops, we still come across an insufficient level of knowledge about cyberthreats, let alone the tools to combat them with.
The best proof of that would be the bafflement we see when explaining that it’s not enough to just protect the network edge. For many IT specialists, a high-quality NGFW solution closes the discussion about cybersecurity. Meanwhile, the biggest threats usually come… from inside the organization.
This is why it’s so important to educate the market on topics like authorized access management (including guest network access), security policies management, safeguarding and encrypting the IoT device communication, solutions for secure remote working and building secure campus networks in a way that enables hypersegmentation. This kind of knowledge will always be very useful.
Marcin Laskowski, Country Manager Poland & Bulgaria
How did the cyberthreats landscape change during the past 2 years?
In most cases, the move towards remote working, which I’ve just mentioned, virtually turned the matter of cybersecurity upside down. Instead of connecting from inside their companies, employees working on VPNs started to connect through remote communication tools. Since the employee stays out of the reach of the corporate authorization and access control tools, he or she becomes vulnerable to different kinds of threats lying in wait in the Internet.
However, there are some positive sides to the current situation. IT departments have gained lots of precious time to get their security systems inside their networks right, which should pay off in the future, when the pandemic ends and employees get back to their offices. We can see that the companies are putting strong emphasis on flexible network access solutions. Those who owned large NGFW solutions, set out to purchase even bigger solutions due to the limitations of the bandwidth.
What are the biggest cyberthreats for small and medium enterprises in this regard? How to protect from them?
Today we should definitely pay close attention to the threats stemming from home offices and highly distributed work environments. In this regard, a cloud-managed network model proves to be of big help to the IT departments. It’s an investment worth considering not only because of the pandemic. According to the analyses of the real estate and HR experts, employees will want to work at home more, even after everything comes back to normal.
Secure distributed connectivity is one of the key features of our flagship solution – the world’s first and only fourth generation cloud-management platform ExtremeCloud IQ, which won the CRN magazine’s “2020 Product of the Year” award. Combined with the properly selected access points and routers, this solution guarantees high level of security, excellent network visibility and simplified management from any point on Earth for the IT departments.
What’s more, with the power of ML & AI capabilities, ExtremeCloud IQ platform streamlines the deployment, configuration, monitoring, management, troubleshooting, alerting and reporting of the devices within WLAN networks. It is perfectly complemented by Extreme AirDefense – the world’s most advanced Wireless Intrusion Prevention System.
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Of course, we shouldn’t forget about the unauthorized access from within the network and the good old network access control.
In that regard, we are proposing our ExtremeControl solution which, as opposed to “traditional” NAC systems, enables very simple and secure onboarding of the wired and wireless devices, detailed profiling with access and app analytics data, and context-based policies, including the policies based on security posture of IoT devices
And since IoT is considered one of the weakest points on the map of cyberthreats (second only to the user), it’d be definitely wise to take proper care of the endpoints that have limited or insufficient internal safeguards, such as medical equipment. This can be fixed with the Extreme Defender for IoT solution which allows for an easy integration and effective monitoring of the IoT devices and enables administrators to safely isolate network devices within secure zones and maintain control over who is getting access to the Internet.
Speaking of threats from within the network, we shouldn’t fail to mention the Stealth Networking and Hypersegmentation technologies. The latter allows us to easily drum up thousands of secure zones which we can expand across the entire network infrastructure (point-to-point), thus offering the possibility of isolating the traffic according to certain types of services, applications or IoT device definitions. Both Stealth Networking and Hypersegmentation are vital parts of our Fabric Connect solution.
See how Hypersegmentation helps increase the network security of one of the largest healthcare providers in the Netherlands!
Which cybersecurity trends will be most prevalent in the near future?
I think the companies will continue to invest in solutions enabling secure remote working and access to the corporate assets for their employees. Since radio will always be tempting for hackers who are on the constant lookout for potential vulnerabilities, I expect to see the growing importance of Wireless Intrusion Prevention Systems (WIPS) such as the aforementioned Extreme AirDefense.
Also, a lot of attention will revolve around Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions. It’s a new concept of cybersecurity, described for the first time in the Garner’s “The Future of Network Security Is in the Cloud” report from August 2019.
In the post-pandemic world, organizations will require an instant and uninterrupted access to their users, no matter where they are located physically. In the age of increasing number of remote users, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, more and more data transferred from the data centers to cloud services and increasing traffic towards public cloud services, a new approach to network security has arisen.
Seeing an enormous potential in this new technology, Extreme announced the intent to acquire Ipanema, the SD-WAN division of Infovista. Ipanema's SASE ecosystem provides increased performance and improved quality of experience, even under diverse conditions across various types of cloud-managed WAN connectivity.
Gartner forecasts that at least 40% of enterprises will have SASE adoption strategies in place by 2024
What do you consider the biggest surprise in the rapidly changing world of cybersecurity?
As per an unwritten rule of cybersecurity, only one thing is certain: nothing is certain. IT security is definitely one of the fastest growing sector of the market. Constant changes and technology developments popping around every corner are a pretty common sight. That is why I can’t really say I have been surprised by anything.