F5 predicts: The dumb firewall will become obsolete

Based on Gartner’s prediction, by 2016, the financial impact of cybercrime would grow by 10 per cent per year, due to the continuing discovery of new vulnerabilities fuelled by the increasing adoption of mobile collaboration platforms and cloud services. Another study, titled The 2013 Cost of Cyber Crime Study, reveals that the cost of cybercrime in 2013 escalated 78 percent, while the time necessary to resolve problems has increased by nearly 130 percent in four years.

This fundamentally results in the need for organizations to rethink the security defenses that is being deployed to protect their IT infrastructure. Most organizations typically rely on traditional security solutions like network firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) or antivirus software that monitor network traffic and/or system activities for malicious activity.

Today's threat landscape encompasses an increasing range of potential vulnerabilities and demands an appropriately sophisticated response by those charged with cyber defence responsibilities — whether in the family, organization or at the national level. The proliferation of Internet connectivity has allowed malicious software to spread in seconds to millions. And the malware itself has become much better at avoiding detection, taking steps to hide its signature. Most viruses today are obfuscated a number of times and checked to make sure no anti-virus software can detect it - all in a matter of seconds, and all before it's sent out to its victim.

Sensitive data is facing new security threats—evidenced by all the application targeted cyber attacks we see in the news. High profile attacks, such as the Adobe data breach, attack by The Messiah in Singapore, the recent multi-layer distributed denial of service attacks, SQL injection vulnerabilities, and JSON payload violations in AJAX widgets, pose increasing risks to interactive web applications, data, and the business.

Internet threats are widely varied and multi-layered. As these threats evolve, organizations find that traditional firewalls lack the intelligence and the scalability needed to stay effective and responsive under a multi-layered persistent threat scenario. Security practitioners are coming to grasps with the new paradigm of having to handle enterprise security as an end-to-end process from end-user device to networks to applications. The days of finding comfort behind a solitary firewall or a unified threat management device are gone with the current threat landscape. IT staff should be aware that any security solution should be able to handle attacks on multiple levels – i.e. at the network and at the application – providing a defense in depth; simple firewalls will easily be overwhelmed by the scale of the attacks that are experienced by enterprises today.

"The threats that exist today are getting through many of today's existing security controls," warns Gartner Inc. analyst and Research Director Lawrence Pingree. "Advanced threat protection appliances that leverage virtual execution engines as a petri dish for malware are most effective to deal with the latest threats. Also, organizations must continue to upgrade their endpoint protection suites.“

‘Intelligent security’ is becoming more important as cyber criminals become more sophisticated, and this is leading to the rise of security that is flexible and responsive based on factors such as the apps, location or the user. Ultimately, the right tool needs to be tailored for the right attack. One thing is clear: A one-size-fits-all approach to security won't work in 2014 and beyond. At the same time, security cannot be at the expense of performance. End-users are expecting high performance and security cannot be a bottleneck. Much alike the saying that no service can be “good, cheap and fast”, most security practitioners are looking for the ideal solution for an ever changing problem. But in reality we know that there cannot be one solution which can fulfil all requirements and be 100% foolproof. Like how insurance needs evolve over a person’s lifetime, security requirements also evolve over the enterprise business lifecycle. Therefore it is important to adopt an architectural approach to security which continually evolves as the landscape changes. Again remember that security is a function of people, process and technology and without the optimal use of the 3 components, 100% protection could be like a search for the Holy Grail!

What is your view on the changing security landscape? Tell us in the comments below.

Published Mar 04, 2014
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