A look at how network protection will change as cyberthreats continue to escalate.
Will 2018 be another big year for enterprise IT security? You'd better believe it. From a business standpoint, network security is expected to remain a top priority.
According to the Interop ITX and InformationWeek 2018 State of Infrastructure study, network security is by far the biggest driver for network investments this year. Fifty-nine percent of the 150 IT leaders and practitioners polled cited network security as one of their top three networking priorities. The focus is understandable in the wake of so many high-profile breaches, including the massive Equifax hack. While regulatory compliance plays a big role in driving corporate emphasis on security, organizations rely on a secure, reliable network for their digital initiatives.
As security continues to rise to the top of corporate agendas, the network security engineer plays a critical role. The value enterprises place on IT pros with security skills is clear: According to the Robert Half 2018 Technology and IT salary guide, network security engineers and network security administrators are among the top five best- paying networking jobs.
The role of the network security administrator likely will change based on the types of threats on the horizon, as well as advances in the technologies and processes companies use to combat those threats. In this slideshow, I discuss five ways network security will evolve in the coming year and reshape the role of the network security administrator.
Network security as a central hub
At one time, it made sense to designate a group of IT professionals as the “security team.” But in 2018, IT security can no longer be simply a subset within the overall IT department; the responsibility of security should be distributed to all areas within IT including: servers, applications, DevOps, unified communications and the network. The network security role will be required to act as the centralized “hub” for all other areas of IT.
Because the network touches every aspect of IT, it will be the network security admin’s duty to ensure other administrators are receiving what they need to protect the various parts of the infrastructure. Additionally, the network will be looked on to centrally enforce policy using network-based security tools such as firewalls, IPS and network-based malware prevention.
Getting serious about the endpoint
The rise of threats such as "VIP spoofware" in which attackers identify VIPs in an organization and use spoofed emails to trick employees into installing malware on the network has made endpoint security a priority. However, companies have taken a rather piecemeal approach. For example, when BYOD became popular, many IT security departments implemented mobile device management (MDM) platforms to extend security policy to non-corporate owned devices. More recently, network security administrators have deployed advanced security to protect the corporate network from potentially risky IoT sensors.
In 2018, enterprises will look for more holistic approaches to end point security in order to streamline security processes, reduce the number of endpoint protection tools, and ultimately, provide better protection for all devices that connect to the corporate network.
Dynamic security as a service
The days of manually configuring IPS updates, website whitelisting/blacklisting, and other common security tasks will soon be behind us. In 2018, more IT departments will implement cloud-based managed services that perform these tasks as part of a monthly or annual service contract. In some cases, security adjustments that once took several hours per week have been replaced with a simple subscription plan, enabling dynamic security on network hardware.
(Image: Krisda Ponchaipulltawee/Shutterstock)
More frequent penetration testing
If you're lucky, your IT budget for this year includes funding to hire an outside firm to perform penetration (pen) testing on an annual or biannual basis. Pen testing is useful for identifying gaps in security overlooked by internal staff, but often expensive and time intensive.
Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are driving both the cost and execution time for pen testing down to the point where it’s conceivable that testing can be performed on a semi-annual or even quarterly basis. More frequent pen testing is especially important for keeping up with the increasing speed of new technology deployed within the enterprise.
Multi-cloud security orchestration
One of the top challenges for network security admins that's emerged over the past few years has been how to unify security policy across private and public clouds. In 2018, look for security engineers to begin leveraging multi-cloud management platforms that create virtual overlays between private data centers and one or more cloud providers. This gives network security professionals a single security control plane for data/app classification and policy enforcement.