Blogs & Opinions 28.12.2023

Why Convergence is Gold For Networking and Security

Dave Greenfield believes in the power of converged networking and security teams, and he’s put pen to paper to explain why

The convergence of networking with security forms a pivotal foundation in protecting IT infrastructures against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. This union not only safeguards sensitive data and critical resources, but also bolsters an organisation’s overall resilience and integrity.

In tandem with the convergence of these two fields, the roles of networking and security teams have also evolved. This collaborative approach not only enhances operational efficiency, but also eliminates the longstanding turf wars that have historically troubled IT departments. By harnessing the collective expertise of security and networking personnel, potential vulnerabilities stemming from network alterations are promptly identified and rectified. Simultaneously, any operational challenges in implementing security changes are met with unparalleled agility.

This integrative approach adopted by IT leaders across industries signifies a shift from being a mere consideration to an imperative within organisations. Indeed, as per our latest survey on SASE Adoption in 2023, 74% of respondents reported that management has a clear strategy, requiring teams to collaborate or adopt shared processes. The fusion of networking and security teams now stands as a universally embraced practice, reinforcing the collective effort to enhance organisational security and resilience.

Combining knowledge and expertise

When network engineers and security professionals collaborate, they pool their knowledge and expertise, resulting in heightened efficiency and effectiveness in tackling network security challenges.

47% of companies are facing hurdles related to facilitating remote access from various locations

Integrating networking and security functions affords companies a deeper understanding of network traffic patterns and security events. Networking teams possess intricate knowledge of the network infrastructure, a facet that security experts may not always be well-versed in. By equipping security teams with this valuable network information, organisations can proactively detect and mitigate threats.

This closer alliance translates to swifter and more efficient incident resolution, mitigating the potential disruptions posed by cyber threats to business operations. Through this concerted effort, organisations can fine-tune network resource allocation while upholding stringent security measures. This ensures a seamless user experience without compromising the overall level of protection.

In addition to these advantages, a converged team approach leads to streamlined operations, accelerated incident response times, a comprehensive risk management strategy, and notable cost savings. These collective benefits culminate in an augmented security posture for organisations, cementing their resilience against evolving threats.

A unified team and platform

By bringing teams together, organisations lay the foundation for improved efficiency right from the outset, embedding security measures into the very fabric of their design and configuration.

According to the 2023 SASE Adoption Survey, a significant number of organisations (68%) currently employ distinct platforms for managing security and networking operations. However, an overwhelming majority (76%) recognise the potential benefits of consolidating both functions under a single platform, seeing it as a catalyst for improved collaboration between their networking and security teams. Additionally, over half of respondents express a desire for a unified data repository encompassing networking and security events.

This emphasis on unified efforts extends to the selection of a SASE solution. In a majority of cases, the responsibility falls on both the networking and security teams to lead the charge in choosing the optimal solution. The formation of a SASE selection committee further exemplifies this joint endeavour, with 47% of respondents noting it as primarily a security team initiative, supplemented by the involvement of the networking team as needed. Conversely, 39% of respondents flip the dynamic, with the networking team spearheading the project and seeking input from the security team to vet potential vendors.

As these teams converge, it becomes evident that their preference lies in leveraging a single, cohesive platform tailored to their specific roles. A resounding 62% of respondents highlight the importance of having a unified dashboard for overseeing both security and networking functions in their consideration.

Embracing the shift

The remote and hybrid model has taken on heightened significance in today’s workplace, particularly as organisations grapple with challenges in their existing infrastructure. Nearly half of companies (47%) are facing hurdles related to facilitating remote access from various locations, adopting a zero-trust security stance for all access types, and ensuring comprehensive visibility and control over sensitive data and threat protection across all access channels.

“Augmenting security operations with enhanced network visibility and intelligence has become imperative”

The unique challenge lies in ensuring secure remote access, especially considering the diverse locations of users, spanning personal spaces to branch sites needing network connectivity. A striking 63% of respondents emphasise the need to support workers on a global or regional scale, encompassing sites in neighbouring countries. These regional and global sites are dispersed across every corner of the globe, including areas where traditional telecommunications services may not be as readily available, such as Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, and China.

Secure remote access remains imperative to uphold organisations’ hybrid work policies, as remote work continues to be a preferred mode for both employees and employers. It’s evident that flexible and hybrid work arrangements are now firmly entrenched, necessitating organisations to fine-tune their technological infrastructure to seamlessly support this evolution.

A proactive approach

The convergence of networking and security teams in organisations marks a pivotal shift in cybersecurity strategy. This proactive approach is no longer just a consideration, but a definitive action embraced by IT leaders across industries. In the relentless battle against evolving cyber threats, augmenting security operations with enhanced network visibility and intelligence has become imperative.

By uniting the expertise of network engineers and security professionals, organisations forge a path towards a secure and resilient network architecture. This collective effort equips companies to navigate the ever-changing threat landscape with confidence and effectiveness, safeguarding sensitive data and ensuring uninterrupted operations.

In essence, this unified approach not only strengthens organisational security but also optimises operations and drives cost savings. It creates a comprehensive solution that underscores the critical importance of converging networking and security teams in today’s digital landscape.

Dave Greenfield is a veteran of IT industry. He’s spent more than 20 years as an award-winning journalist and independent technology consultant. Today, he serves as a secure networking evangelist for CatoNetworks.

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