Organizations today rely on the principles of “IT/digital transformation” and the “agile IT organization. But to make those principles a reality, security must keep pace. Especially as organizations grow, and their networks change. If you start building security with point solutions and no architecture, you lose out on full security coverage and operating inefficiencies.
When is the best time to revisit security? When your organization and IT needs are changing. And in this day and age–that should not be an “every so often” proposition.
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For many, architecture is the raison d’etre. For others, it’s something that falls by the wayside. Recently, we talked with Check Point vice president of product management, Gabi Reish to find out why it’s so critical for cyber security. Below is the Q&A from that session.
Q: First off, when we talk about architecture in technology, what do we mean by that and why is it needed?
A: We’re seeing organizations today pivoting on the concepts of “IT/digital transformation” and “agile IT organization.” Things are moving very fast. Organizations are under more pressure than ever to turn on services and get out ahead. They need IT to be agile in order for the business to succeed. But doing that effectively takes a more disciplined approach. And, if you don’t take the time to truly think through your security infrastructure, your ability to drive transformation and agility will be limited. Business, IT, and security must be in lockstep.
Think about the architecture of a building. You start with a blueprint and it defines how you construct your house. Ultimately, you’re bringing multiple components together to build one solid and stable construction. Security architecture is—or should be—no different. It comes down to designing and building what you need—not a habitat—but an overall map of how you provide security to your entire IT Infrastructure.
Q: Is an architecture more important to think about than specific products or solutions? If so, why?
A: In a word, yes! The analogy I always use is that game back in the ‘80s, Tetris. You start playing, but you don’t know how every component fits together. So, over time, it becomes very messy.
Now think about IT. Organizations grow, and their networks change all the time. Maybe you want more branches or more networks. If you start building with a bunch of multi-point solutions and no architecture, you end up without full coverage. Just like that Tetris game, you very quickly find that things don’t match up and you have gaps.
Some organizations think that if they pull in a bunch of solutions that focus on detection or remediation, they’re all set. But that’s really the wrong approach. Let’s go back to the home architecture analogy. Would you skip a proper home design and stock up on duct tape to patch holes and buckets to catch leaks? Probably not. Instead, you’d make sure that the house was built to ensure it was well sealed and you had no cracks or weak points.
Q: What makes a good security architecture? It is possible to measure ROI around it?
A: To begin with, it has to clearly express the business needs of the organization. It has to be scalable and modular so it continues to work for you as your organization grows. Not only that, a good security architecture needs to cover every part of the organization—not just the network or cloud or mobile. Inherent in that is the ability to manage all the different components with one single pane of glass. We also believe the layers need to work together to emphasize prevention over detection. In a nutshell: your architecture needs to secure any architecture you operate in; do it efficiently; and keep the attacks outside.
In terms of ROI, it can be hard to measure. What you see is that sometimes a small security incident can have a significant impact. And you also see that some approaches to security can stifle innovation. The key is to strike the right balance. So here’s another analogy for you: Think about raising a child. When your kid is one year old, you set a lot of boundaries to keep him or her from danger while learning to crawl or walk. But as the child gets older, you want to help him or her grow, so you give a little more freedom. Turning back to IT, you have to ask yourself what is your security strategy? If you decide that you want it to be strictly a system for the sake of compliance, then you’re putting in some specific boundaries that can impede productivity while only providing basic coverage. But if you build good security measures beyond that, you enable your business to perform at a much higher level.
Sure, we can measure and show how a consolidated system is less expensive than point solutions. But the more important point here is that consolidation delivers optimal management. That’s what lets businesses do whatever they need to do, without being hobbled by security issues. So the ROI comes from having security that lets your business grow, innovate, and succeed—without unnecessary constraints or complexity.
Q: What are the pitfalls of a poor (or lack of) security architecture?
A: I think the biggest pitfalls become apparent as you start to grow. You start seeing that what seemed workable to begin with is a liability as you add new solutions or layers. You end up having to validate your security system more, which can be labor intensive. And, you also end up with holes in your safety net, where point solutions don’t always elegantly fit tightly together.
Q: How often should businesses revisit their security architecture?
A: What is important is not the frequency, but what is happening within the organization—and the size of it. For instance, if they are undergoing transformation in their IT organization, they should take a fresh look at their system. Does the current architecture suffice? Is it effective? Or, are they starting to look like a Tetris model.
Q: What are the top three things businesses should think about when it comes to security architecture?
A: Number 1:Assess where you’re at now. Map the different elements of your network—the different points and segments, assets, and the existing protections and levels of enforcement.
Number 2: Consider security architectures that are about prevention, not just detection. You will want Intelligence that feeds through the entire architecture so you can stop threats or attacks before they even have a chance.
Number 3: Look for one consolidated overarching security management to let you manage in one consistent view. You want to be able to see attacks before they reach you.
Q: What are the top 5 considerations to assess if your business needs a comprehensive security architecture?
- If you see you’re not completely covered when it comes to attacks or you’re leaking data, ask yourself how are you providing proactive security.
- If you are under attack, ask yourself how a more structured security system could have mitigated the issue.
- Are you focused only on compliance? Or not much on compliance? Make sure you are informed about new regulations and their relevance to your organization.
- Look at the measure of attacks that are happening in the news and the emerging vulnerabilities. Ask yourself what it means for you—are you vulnerable or susceptible? Make sure you have the right protections in place.
- Look at what others in your industry are doing. We believe that sharing is important—even with competitors. Connect with like businesses and discover if what they’re doing is the right thing and if it is enough. Learn from others’ mistakes or successes.