Until recently, network and security teams could do their jobs entirely effectively without requiring more than a casual partnership between them. If the network teams were responsible for the roads on which the business data was transported, the security teams were responsible for the barriers, guard rails, and toll booths. The two groups usually worked in a shared working environment, but with evident and separate areas of activity. However, times have changed: These parallel but separate activities are no longer practical due to the digital transformation and its effects.
Performance Vs. Security
Digital change has many faces. Ultimately, however, the vast majority of transformation projects result in the cloud becoming increasingly important. And this is precisely the reason for the fundamental changes in the areas of networks/infrastructure and security: While network and infrastructure teams focus on performance, security teams put the security of data and employees first. In the cloud, these two aspects cannot be easily separated: Conventional security approaches directly impact performance and user-friendliness, but network environments that are too open offer little protection for sensitive and regulated company data that is no longer within the perimeter.
As a result, both teams need to work more closely together. Sometimes teams and budgets are even brought together to introduce a SASE architecture to ensure that neither performance nor protection loses priority. However, this restructuring is not easy, as it is also about breaking decades-old habits and looking at some things in new ways. However, a corresponding transformation can be achieved with the following three steps.
Agree On Common Metrics
The network and security teams should agree on a standard set of metrics for digital risk, network performance, and user experience to avoid conflicting priorities and optimization measures. Any action taken should be assessed against these.
A basic understanding that these are common goals is essential. Both teams are equally responsible. Using this consensus as a foundation ensures that no procurement decision is made that negatively impacts any other KPI. Rather, the metrics enable couples to choose technologies that can help them accomplish multiple goals.
Ensure Full Transparency
The advantages of the cloud – especially in the phase of the rapid switch to remote workplaces – mean companies have to accept compromises, such as the lack of transparency about what is being used by whom, when, and in what way. Often, performance, cost, and ease of use took precedence over risk management. However, a lack of transparency can no longer be accepted as an inevitable side effect of the cloud.
Newer approaches such as SASE or SSE correct this by protecting data wherever it is located or transported, whether inside or outside the company infrastructure. Network and security teams should use the telemetry data provided by an advanced SASE platform to generate a range of new and detailed insights. These provide information about the actual business activities and processes. In this way, potentials can be tapped, and possibilities for optimizing services and guidelines can be identified. This transparency enables constant learning about the way the company works and a deep understanding of employees’ actions, behaviors, and processes.
Address New Threats With A Unified Approach
The deep transparency and the standard metrics can also be used to identify risks and develop defense strategies. This enables business, network, and security plans to be created one step ahead of threats. Just as standard metrics prevent security professionals from designing architectures that result in unacceptable performance degradation, network professionals can use threat intelligence to build a more robust access infrastructure. A shared network and security strategy becomes essential. If both teams have internalized this and have the appropriate support from the management, the transformation processes are much smoother.
The term “beaten path” is common among UX designers. Instead of taking the paved path, many prefer to use the shortcut across the meadow, as it seems to be faster. Over the past decade, application teams have better understood the power of user desires as shadow IT spreads across the enterprise. Now it is the security and network teams who have to rethink their infrastructure because of these requests. Employees use the devices of their choice and access the applications that they believe will best increase productivity. If you do not recognize these wishes and do not react to them, you will not adequately support the business processes and working methods. However, if these beaten tracks endanger company data, they must be acted upon. Therefore, networking and security professionals must work together to create an infrastructure that enables both the protection and sharing of the data they need. Without common goals and metrics, conflicts and conflicting positions cannot be overcome.