Network Security Investment Priority #1: Automation

Global Independent Study of 500 Senior Level Respondents Provides Clear Picture for the Future of Network Security

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The Future of
Network Security

This is part 2 of a 6-part series addressing The Future of Network Security findings. Read Part 1 here.

In the survey, The Future of Network Security, IT security leaders’ top priority was clear: automation. The need to automate is driven by the maturing status of digital transformation, the need to do more with fewer cybersecurity professionals, and the need to build agility into every business’ DNA. Enterprises are eager to streamline their security workflows and increase their operational efficiency without raising their risk level. The need for speed is driving widespread investments in security automation.

More than 50 percent of organizations are currently investing in automating policy management to safeguard against inefficient and risky functions.


How do you combat rising complexity?

Complexity caused by accelerated adoption of cloud/hybrid networks is skyrocketing and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Automation is the right answer for any organization that would benefit from removing slow, error-producing manual processes from their daily operations.

A single process can have dozens or even hundreds of steps and, when performed manually, each one provides an opportunity for misconfiguration. Multiply that possibility by the number of processes, and the reason so many IT leaders are focusing on automation is clear: automation makes human error impossible, changes can be accomplished more rapidly, and if a problem is discovered, it can be tracked down and repaired one time in one place.


Nearly 80% of respondents to The Future of Network Security survey plan to implement security orchestration and automation within the next 2 years.


Many have chosen to start their automation journey by applying automation to a function that has historically eroded their efficiency and prevented them from innovating — network security policy management (NSPM).
Top Drivers
Managing network security policies has been such a source of friction that nearly 100% of organizations have already automated some piece of their policy management process, and this year, 53% are planning to invest in NSPM.

91% of respondents identified NSPM as a strategic investment that will help them improve speed and responsiveness. Automating network security policy management is proven to deliver quantifiable results, such as a 400% faster policy review time and an 80% reduction in firewall and cloud security group misconfigurations. Businesses striving to digitally transform or migrate to the cloud will find that an NSPM solution will accelerate their progress and enable them to block attackers across thousands of globally-distributed devices in minutes.

Automate Openly

When choosing an automation solution, the two features to examine first are integrations and the workflow experience.

If the point of automation is to improve efficiency, it only makes sense to choose a solution that is easy to connect to other systems. And in the case of an NSPM solution, integration is critical – otherwise, comprehensive visibility will not be possible to achieve. Look for a product that offers a robust set of APIs that allow access to the entire platform. Conversely, the solution should be able to ingest data from SOAR, ITSM, CI/CD, SIEM, vulnerability management, environmental changes, custom scripts, email and spreadsheets, and endpoint device management. Access to a broad and deep range of integrations will enable DevOps to use its own toolchain instead of multiple proprietary SDKs.

Once everything is connected via API, the data and services need to be easy to feed into workflows, so avoid solutions that restrict you to using only pre-built workflows. One-size-fits-all doesn’t make sense in a complex environment. Instead, look for customizable workflows that can easily be built, revised, and scaled to serve your needs as your business evolves. A visual display is a key differentiator as well – workflows are often long, complex, and interrelated, so the ability to glance at a screen and understand the flow of actions will return the greatest gains in efficiency, flexibility, and accuracy.

Automation is now an imperative

Recently, a global SaaS leader came to FireMon to meet 3 key challenges:

  • Lack of clear visibility into security risks and compliance within their existing network policy processes. They had four different sources of “truth” to support their security policy workflows. This limited the effectiveness of their existing security automation processes and, made it difficult to ensure compliance and to predict the impacts of rule changes before implementation.
  • Support for their digital transformation initiative. The company is migrating on-premise services to a multi-vendor hybrid cloud model to improve data portability and scalability. To support this migration, security needed to normalize policies across environments. Otherwise any attempts to automate processes and ensure compliance would be difficult, resource-intensive, and error prone.
  • The need to accelerate application availability. Given the company’s large, global customer base, application updates are delivered continuously. Processes must be fast and automated, including appropriate security and compliance checks.

Find out why they chose FireMon to automate their network security

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