Why security is failing #3: It lacks coordination

CloudCorporateNetworkPartnersNext-Generation Enduser Protection

cloud-150Last week, I posited that the security industry is, by and large, failing to meet the needs of today’s businesses. I introduced two reasons for this failure: security solutions are incomplete, and security is overly complex.

Today, I’ll wrap up with the third challenge businesses face: inconsistent and uncoordinated security.

While attackers continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, security technology struggles to keep up. How else to explain the 48% increase in the number of security incidents reported by businesses worldwide in 2014 compared to the year before?

At the root of this struggle is the “a la carte” nature of security products. With disparate point solutions, you get less effective security, both because it’s difficult to apply policies consistently and because the parts don’t work together as a system for optimal protection. Let’s look at these one at a time.

First, the issue of consistency. A critical part of any security strategy is to enforce policies consistently throughout an organization. Suppose, for example, that you don’t want users to visit file-sharing websites. If you block these websites on the corporate firewall, but your users can get around the block by taking their laptops home with them, you’re not getting consistent security.

Or if your desktop support manager is setting policies for Windows endpoints in one product and your mobile specialist is setting policies for Android devices in another, chances are high that some inconsistencies will creep in.

It’s only when products share a common management infrastructure — not just a console, but a shared set of policies — that you can guarantee consistency across your organization.

Yet the solution runs deeper than just integrating the policies. It also requires addressing a structural problem with today’s approach to security architecture. We all know that layered security is considered the gold standard, but typically, the layers don’t work together.

It’s like having a secure building protected by security guards that each work independently and don’t communicate with the others. There’s no opportunity to share information (“hey, I think I saw someone sneaking around; can you check it out?”) or coordinate a response (“you block the west exit, I’ll block the east!”).

Security products have the same problem: the left hand (e.g., endpoint protection) doesn’t know what the right hand (e.g., encryption or network firewall) is doing. The result is malware and advanced threats that slip through the gaps, exploiting the lack of coordination.

Sophos has done a lot of work to bring our products together for both consistent policy enforcement and coordinated security.

Our Secure Web Gateway and our Endpoint Protection, for example, work together to ensure consistent web filtering across platforms, both on and off the corporate network.

And Sophos Cloud brings unified, user-based policies that work across Windows, Mac and mobile devices.

Check out our blog tomorrow, January 20, to see how we’re making our products even more effective by making the components and products work together as a system.

And, for more detail, check out our webinar on the features in Next-Generation Enduser Protection.

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