Enterprise IT infrastructures have never been so dynamic, or complex. Cloud computing has enabled organisations to deploy applications and services more rapidly than ever before. The Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up a great many new opportunities for data gathering, business intelligence and the development of new products and services. Mobility solutions means that employees can work just as effectively from home or on the move. Furthermore, these mobility solutions may include employee owned devices also known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which may bring further complexity to manage.
Yet all this dynamism and complexity engenders new challenges when it comes to protecting those infrastructures. The more complex and fast-moving your IT environment becomes, the harder it is to deliver comprehensive IT security across all corners of that environment.
This is the first of two blogs in which we’ll be exploring some of the key security challenges engendered by the complexity of today’s enterprise IT landscape, and discussing how your organisation can best manage those challenges.
Cloud computing alters network visibility
IT security begins with an understanding of what you are trying to protect. Which servers, databases, applications and devices exist within your IT infrastructure? How are they connected to each other?
This is complicated enough when your entire infrastructure is hosted on-premise and managed by your internal IT team; when some of your infrastructure is migrated out to the cloud and assets come from 3rd party platforms and networks, it can become even more complicated and almost impossible to control.
Cloud computing brings massive business benefits in terms of agility, scalability and flexibility, and it enables small organisations to take advantage of the same sophisticated applications as larger businesses in a cost-effective way. However, it moves elements of your infrastructure off-premise, generating new security challenges in terms of visibility and control.
The IoT increases endpoints
The Internet of Things (IoT) is, quite rightly, one of the hottest enterprise IT concepts of the moment. Deploy IoT devices throughout your organisation and you can gather previously untapped data, generate new business intelligence and ultimately drive powerful efficiencies and even the development of new products and services.
However, every connected device, no matter how small or simple it is on its own, is also a brand-new endpoint to be added to your infrastructure. Once, the endpoints within an organisation simply consisted of the computers and phones that staff were issued with – there might just be a few dozen in a small organisation. Now, that same small organisation can easily have a list of hundreds or even thousands of endpoints, thanks to IoT sensors, GPS trackers and so on. Every one of these is a potential route into the network for a malicious hacker – which means every one of them needs protecting, and managing. This is no small task.
Security threats are rapidly evolving
Looking beyond each business’s own IT infrastructure, it is important to consider the broader cyber threat landscape which organisations need to protect themselves against. Unfortunately, like enterprise IT itself, this is a world which has developed dramatically in sophistication in recent years – and it is still evolving.
Today’s cyber threats are multifaceted, different to identify and often highly tailored to the target organisation through sophisticated social engineering techniques. All it takes is for a single employee to click on a compromised link or download an infected attachment and insidious malware can get inside the organisation – often undetected. On top of this, regulations like GDPR mean that organisations across all sectors face ever stricter requirements to identify and report cyber incidents as soon as possible after they occur.
Collectively, these are just some of the trends that have made the enterprise IT landscape – and, by extension, the enterprise IT security landscape more complex than ever before in recent years. Fortunately, the security industry has developed a wealth of tools and techniques to enable organisations to defend themselves amidst this complexity. We’ll be looking at some of the key principles in our next blog.