You can’t have zero trust without visibility

Requirements for visibility necessitate a fundamental change in how network security is implemented, configured, managed, and maintained.

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Words of wisdom from Sun Tzu: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

One of those battles is defending the network against cyberattacks, and it’s constant. The military general and strategist was wise millennia beyond his time. He knew the power of complete visibility against an enemy who relies on evasive maneuvers.

Network security has not fundamentally changed over the course of the last several decades. While we’ve seen new architectures emerge, if you take a step back, you’ll see that the security industry has simply shifted the same detection and prevention techniques to new locations (on-prem, public cloud, as-a-service from cloud, cloud-native).

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Networks are no longer self-contained and in one place; they are everywhere. The network perimeter is wherever users happen to be; data no longer resides in a single data center, but as many centers of data. The shift to increasingly distributed architectures has increased the volume of chaos around which security teams must wrap their arms. This means hosting providers, public and private application access, tool and technology integrations — and at a very rapid pace to keep up with existing and emerging attack vectors.

Network chaos is the best gift an organization can present to attackers. They love chaos, complexity, and blind spots, but in this new era of increasingly distributed networks, there is a high likelihood that this is the new network normal — unless we fundamentally change the ways in which we secure our networks, which requires visibility.

While Zero Trust implementations are being given priority and security teams are finally receiving more resources to support them, many organizations are still struggling with execution. One of the major challenges with implementing Zero Trust is in doing so piecemeal and without a foundational understanding of who and what is — and should be — on the network.

When a team can consistently answer this question, a true sense of their organization’s security posture comes to light, bringing with it the ability to act wherever there’s a higher-than-acceptable risk. Visibility is an absolute must to achieve this state and to accelerate initiatives to implement zero trust principles.

However, we need to level-set on what “visibility” means. Visibility cannot be partial, manual, or fractured. It must:

  • Cross all network and security architectures, whether private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, cloud-delivered, or any in-between state where architectures are evolving within the organization.
  • Easily integrate. When the burden of integrating systems is on the organization, those integrations rarely happen quickly or completely. Teams are already strapped for time and resources. Achieving security visibility consistently across the entire networkshouldn’t be a herculean task.
  • Provide one place from which to monitor and initiate action.

These requirements for visibility necessitate a fundamental change in how network security is implemented, configured, managed, and maintained. Organizations can no longer afford for their network to be made up of “dumb pipes.” The network must take an active role in defending itself. Point security products must be the exception rather than the rule because threat detection, intelligence, and enforcement need to be everywhere — not just at traditional security choke points, but across every point of connection.

In addition, “complete visibility” must include mechanisms for easily aligning policies as architectural shifts occur without much manual translation and dynamically because networks are absent architectural shifts. For example, between remote user access and access by adjacent applications, are there policy gaps for a private application located in public cloud A? This can be difficult to ascertain when policy frameworks are different between the tool used for remote user access versus the tool used to protect the application in public cloud A.

However, teams must answer questions like this to make considerable progress executing zero trust implementations, and how quickly and consistently a team can find the answer relies on visibility.

With a growing emphasis on zero trust to combat the barrage of successful cyberattacks targeting personal data, intellectual property, national security, and even the connectivity society has come to take for granted, security teams are under even more pressure to implement zero trust policies across the network. Their first step must be achieving complete visibility.

For more on Juniper’s Zero Trust solutions, visit our website.

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