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Unless you’re under a rock, you know that the WannaCry Ransomware cyberattack swept worldwide headlines last week.
Organizations scrambled to apply the latest Microsoft security patch to their computers to prevent the spread of the attack. It’s estimated that the ransomware attack hit more than 300,000 victims in 150 countries.
As editor-in-chief at DevOps.com, I spend a lot of time speaking with organizations about their operations. One of the most consistent themes I hear is that with today’s infrastructure – whether it’s related to code, cloud and virtual environments, on and off-premises, big data or application-centric – the complexity of managing and orchestrating IT is a difficult, if not impossible task.
There’s no doubt that this is most certainly the case with all the aforementioned factors to consider and, respective of that, all the moving parts in modern IT environments. However, I also try to remind people that this is a similar scenario to the realities we have dealt with in managing firewall rules for many years.
When I first started in security last century (not as long ago as that sounds), it was common for an organization to have a firewall or two, maybe even four if they were a really big shop. These firewalls always lived at the perimeter, and truthfully they were relatively simple devices. They could block traffic based on what port it was coming in or out of, and what IP address it was coming from, or going to.
That all sounds pretty simple but even then, in the hands of a network admin or two, the amount of rules that would pile up on top of each other over time would become astounding. Pretty soon you’d have a complex web of policies on your hands, much like the tangled mess wires found inside a data center.
Of course, as firewalls started to proliferate across the network, internally as well as at the border, this situation only grew worse. On top of this, firewalls themselves grew increasingly more complex and the rules you could set became more sophisticated. Layer the rapid employee turnover typical within many IT departments on top of this, and things began to get out of control. Within 18 months you could have rules that were put in place two or three admins ago, leaving the present admins with no clue as to why those rules were even there. Eventually, something had to bring order to this rapidly-scaling Tower of Babel.
Thankfully, driven by this reality, along came solutions like FireMon Security Manager The value proposition of FireMon was pretty straightforward, addressing this operational nightmare and giving practitioners something to help to make the overly complex firewall rules management process simple.
With this innovation, admins could now see what rules they had to address - and maybe even why they were there in the first place - then change them, delete them or enforce them, selectively or not. Eventually, you were able to automate firewall policy monitoring in general, and that brought a whole new approach to larger issues of network security management too.
Fast-forward to the current environment, where it’s not uncommon to find enterprise environments with hundreds of firewalls, where all of those evolving IT management paradigms that I listed are advancing rapidly. Without automated solutions, it’s hard to image how we could even begin to manage a world where organizations have to consider thousands, if not tens of thousands of extremely complex firewall rules and policies.
The folks in IT operations need to consider all of this and take heart, because the evolution of firewall management has proven that it is possible to manage complexity, with the reality that firewalls are still promulgating everywhere as living proof that tackling what may seem hopeless today, will become conceivable.
The truth is, while addressing today’s cloud-sprawling, continent-spanning IT infrastructure appears even more complicated than management of firewall rules at first blush, I’m confident that the market will respond with tools to make this all seem relatively simple someday.
I see this as a great market opportunity that several solutions are already seeking to answer. I don’t know which solution or set of solutions will eventually win, but I do know that it will have to thank tools like FireMon for showing us how to make the once seemingly impossible, possible.
So you’ve purchased a new firewall. Now what?
You’ve got to decide which access is allowed, which isn’t allowed and whether or not rules are compliant with internal and regulatory standards.
Things are running along smoothly and then the dreaded “change.” A user submits a new access request and the fun begins. Is this access necessary? Safe? Compliant? And what happens when it’s time to retire unused rules?
How Effective Security Management Can Help Teams Cover the Exponentially Increasing Gap between Technology & the Resources Available to Manage It
Security teams today are under tremendous pressure due to the rising frequency and impact of breaches and a business that wants to move faster and faster. The answer to both of these challenges has always been to add more technology and staff resources.
However, each new technology added creates complexity. More rules are created and more data is generated. As networks continue to evolve, this complexity will only grow. And while staff resources may increase, they will never match the exponential growth of technology.
FireMon calls this phenomenon The Complexity Gap and has set out to help security teams close it.
Join us for this webinar with Frost & Sullivan where we’ll explore the causes of “The Gap” and how workforce multipliers such as intelligence and automation help staff manage their security more efficiently and more effectively.
Helping Enterprise Security Teams Improve Resource Efficiency & Reduce Overall Risk Exposure
Firewall technology has come a long way since its initial, most rudimentary forms. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are the latest development, and organizations are accelerating adoption to the new technology. But NGFWs aren’t a fix-all solution.