Security Must Adapt to Change
As circumstances change, security solutions must adapt or be replaced. Sometimes, organizations grow organically out of their existing stacks. Other times, an external event, such as a pandemic, forces change. Internal situations, such as deploying a new network or new applications, can also render an existing security stack insufficient.
“Companies are always realizing that they are outgrowing their security architectures,” says Frank Dickson, program vice president of IDC’s cybersecurity products research practice.
To combat constantly changing cyberthreats, organizations must continually review their security postures and adapt to changing circumstances and requirements, and that includes updating or augmenting their security tools — and training employees on security best practices — to safeguard their organizations, he says.
Gain Cyber Protection Without Sacrifice
Di Popolo says he knew his law firm, based in Parsippany, N.J., had outgrown its existing firewall when several issues arose simultaneously last year.
Besides slow, spotty VPN access, the IT department had replaced an old phone system with Cisco Unified Communications Manager — but the new IP phone system wouldn’t work properly with the existing firewall. IT staffers were on the phone with the firewall vendor for up to six hours a day for two weeks in search of a workaround.
Slow email filtering was also a problem. The firewall was single-threaded, meaning it scanned emails for malicious content one at a time. When the firewall came across a large email attachment, it would take hours to scan, clog up the email system and crash the firewall, forcing the IT staff to reboot.
“We paid extra for a product that’s meant to keep us secure, but it denied our ability to use email,” Di Popolo says. “It worked as if it was a denial of service attack.”
Eventually, the team had to turn off the threat protection to get email working again.
In February, Di Popolo upgraded to two new Cisco FirePower 1000 Series next-generation firewall appliances, a Cisco Secure Email appliance and Cisco AnyConnect VPN client software. He also subscribed to Cisco Threat Defense 2.0, a service that analyzes network traffic and rapidly detects and responds to security threats.
The two firewalls, which are paired for high availability, are more user-friendly. While the previous firewall required 15 steps to create a policy, the new Cisco firewall requires only three steps, Di Popolo says. Cisco Secure Email not only filters email for malicious content but also has data loss prevention features that block staffers from sending sensitive information over email, he says.
Employees are also getting faster and more stable VPN connections, allowing them to securely access a homegrown application they use for daily operations, along with Microsoft Office and Cisco’s Jabber communication and collaboration software.
“Once we switched over, the bandwidth was wide open again,” he says. “Overall, we are satisfied with the new solutions and the additional security levels we have now.”