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In this series, FireMon looks at the five most important capabilities a network operator must build into their management practices in order to keep their environments secure, compliant, and ready to grow. Here is the third: adapt to change. 

Pillar #3 – Adapt to Change

To err is human, and with many enterprises managing 100 firewalls or more, there are plenty of chances for humans to err. Almost two out of every three businesses are still using manual firewall change management processes, despite ever-increasing volumes of change requests. And as if manual processes weren’t vulnerable enough, almost three out of every four companies have two or more teams involved in their change request process.

The rate at which environments change is accelerating, and organizations that continue to rely on manual processes are in for a bumpy ride. A large enterprise may have more than 2 million rules in use, and most are still using spreadsheets for at least part of their change process. It’s easy to see why 69 percent of companies  find it difficult or even impossible to maintain standardized and synchronized policies across their firewalls.  Manual processes prevent them from handling the growing complexity of their firewall rule sets, compliance assessment requirements, and next generation devices, and doesn’t help them predict the impact of policy changes.

So, these enterprises remain caught in the guessing game of What Did I Just Break? Misconfigurations turn into unplanned downtime, compliance risk, and security exposures. , And often points of exposure are missed because no one can detect new leak paths and breach avenues. With such massive volumes of changes, especially in cloud apps and DevOps, policy enforcement can never catch up.

Speed to market is the greatest signal of whether a business is fit to innovate, and manual processes tend to be  the greatest hindrance to speed to market. Organizations that are committed to growing in a dynamic marketplace need to modernize their firewall change management processes and workflows.

FireMon Simplifies the Complex

Businesses need security-friendly capabilities to prevent misconfigurations and rule errors from creeping into the network and remaining undetected and unremediated for undetermined amounts of time.

FireMon’s  automated change management meets these needs by dynamically and continuously responding to evolving requirements and environments, even after policies have been deployed.

The strategic benefits of automated firewall change management ripple across the organization. Network policies can be optimized with actionable recommendations, changes to the attack surface can be discovered and responded to in real-time, and pre-change risk, compliance assessments, and what-if analyses can be conducted before changes are actually made.

Despite the obvious benefits of automated network change management, not all enterprises are ready to dive headfirst into the deep end of the automation pond, and that’s okay. Businesses don’t have to automate all at once, and in fact, most automate at a pace they find comfortable and do more as their confidence levels grow.

The Economics of Adaptability

The costs of managing firewalls are often hidden. In addition to CAPEX and OPEX, there are costs of audits, vulnerability assessments, risk assessments, penetration tests, remote access, compensating controls, and so on. Any reduction in these costs benefits the organization as a whole, and automated network policy management reduces costs in a big way.

In one case, a FireMon customer that was spending the equivalent of 625 days per year on rule creation and change processes before adopting FireMon was able to reduce that time to 121 days per year after implementation. Overall, FireMon customers report 400 percent faster policy review times and 90 percent reductions in firewall rule creation time. On top of that, removing all those unnecessary firewall rules can result in a 40 percent reduction in complexity, which not only saves money but enables greater agility.

You’re Always in Control with FireMon’s Agile Network Security Management

FireMon solutions deliver intelligent, automated workflow and provisioning that enables network security and operations teams to implement the right changes with absolute precision.

  • Automated change management lets you manage every stage of the change management process with customized workflows that conform to your unique goals and standards.
  • Real-time risk assessment instantly identifies risks associated with new access requests, scopes the potential impact of proposed changes, and streamlines the access request approval process.
  • Vulnerability management not only shows which assets are exposed to threats, it turns that information into a prioritized plan for patching efforts.
  • Rule set behavior analysis looks at the current behavior of rule sets and determines necessary changes in real-time.
  • Continuous compliance is accomplished as newly added rules or configuration changes are compared to compliance policies during the rule planning stage. Audit results can be viewed before making changes to be sure requirements will be met.

See for yourself how FireMon can help you automate your policy management, manage your firewalls, and protect your cloud. Spending 30 minutes on a FireMon demo today can save you hundreds of hours of work every year.

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