Opinion: Securing the Empowered Enterprise

Dominique Honnay gives us her views on how to secure the empowered enterprise

August 4, 2011

By Dominique Honnay, Director of EMEA Distributors, SonicWALL

The modern IT and communications landscape has evolved dramatically over the years, with Web 2.0 applications, cloud based services, Software as a Service (SaaS) and social media becoming commonplace tools in the modern business. Social media in particular has revolutionised the way people interact, with media such as Instant Messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others dominating Internet usage today.

Blocking these applications and websites in the workplace is simply no longer an option, since they have become a strong communication tool and denying employees access to them can remove an important competitive advantage. For the younger generation too, these media have become their primary means of communication and removing them could also cause loss of productivity.

However this poses a challenge for IT professionals in terms of allowing access while still adequately protecting the network from a growing number of threats and ensuring controlled bandwidth usage for these often intensive applications.

This challenge is compounded by an ever increasing number of devices that provide internet access, including smartphones and tablet PCs which are not necessarily issued or managed by the IT department. Allowing these devices to access corporate networks and email services is part of empowering employees and the enterprise, but again can open the organisation up to a number of threats, increasing the complexity of network security.

The threat landscape too has changed and cybercrime has become a multi-billion dollar industry across the world. Malware has become increasingly sophisticated as web based applications become more commonplace, and threats now attack mobile devices and alternate operating systems and are evolving at the application layer itself. Viruses and malware are spread more readily than ever before, and it is vital to ensure that corporate networks are adequately protected. This includes protecting the endpoints themselves, including mobile devices, and having security policies in place to manage them.

With technology evolution it is now vital to not only inspect external incoming traffic for malware, but also internal traffic between various devices. Allowing access to new media forms and Web 2.0 sites is important for business success, but it needs to be controlled and activities restricted to ensure that bandwidth consumption is regulated and the organisation is not compromised.

The reality is that a standard firewall no longer offers the right protection. The old firewall generation cannot protect the organisation anymore, as this technology was designed for a mode of internet and network usage that has become drastically outdated. In order to empower the organisation by allowing access while maintaining the levels of security needed in the modern enterprise, next generation firewall technology is a vital weapon in the IT professional’s arsenal.