Theorizing what the most important IT security issues to address may be at any given time is always a highly subjective issue, particularly in this world of advocates, specialists and vendors fixated on their own particular piece of the puzzle.

However, inherent bias aside, based on the very nature of layered security and attack escalation there’s no question that network security sits at the very heart of it all. While a huge number of threats filter in through Port 80 and other avenues, if network security is properly aligned and continuously adjusted a lot of problems can be mitigated even if not altogether avoided.

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

As such, here’s a rundown of the most pressing NETWORK security issues that remain heavily in play looking ahead into 2014, and for that matter, nearly all of the time.

Regardless of whatever area of security that you’re focused or the specific types of threats you seek to limit, I’d submit that if these specific areas were addressed more effectively, there’s much to gain and a lot less to be lost.

1. Misconfiguration proliferation. Gartner notes that after 20-plus years as a building block of any security practice, more than 95 percent of firewall breaches will be caused by misconfigurations through 2018, not vulnerabilities.

2. VIP access laxness. The proliferation of overly permissive connectivity allotted to legitimate partners continues to prove very dangerous. A quick look at some of the largest data breaches in recent history highlights that organizations must improve their ability to track and control these important pathways into their networks.

3. Botnets not caught yet. Botnets undeniably remain a major issue, with malware architects still flexing their muscles by leveraging established beachheads within enterprise networks. A lot of work remains to be done to better police both inbound and outbound traffic and thwart such attacks.

4. Security orchestration with IT automation. With virtualization, software defined networking (SDN) and DevOps being adopted at a furious pace to increase flexibility and optimize networks there remain sizable hurdles for practitioners in keeping controls in lock step with changing infrastructure. Keep your eyes on this one for sure.

5. Mobility instability. For years we had experts telling us that the rise of mobile malware would be a huge problem very soon… and then nothing happened. Now everyone is attempting to address the great tide of handheld attacks that have finally arrived and this should refocus efforts on keeping internal controls validated to halt attack escalation once handhelds inevitably get owned.

These conclusions may not appear to be very landmark, or all that different from years past, but this would appear to be the cold hard truth, at least to my eyes.

If your organization is seeking to address any of these individual challenges, or more likely some combination of all, you should take a closer look at FireMon Security Manager 7.0 and the full range of functions therein that can provide the analysis and visibility necessary to help evolve your approach.

Happy New Year? Cripes. It seems a bit early to even consider saying that. More like Happy Thanksgiving, and, let’s face it, the prospect for good tidings in the world of IT security in 2014 seem as treacherous as ever.