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Guest Editor: IT Security is Dead – Long Live IT Security!

It’s a sobering fact that the only things outpacing increases in security spend (which is growing rapidly, in absolute terms and as a proportion of flat or falling IT budgets) are the financial losses incurred due to security breaches.

Given new digital business models, the growing diversity of computing devices and applications, the explosion of cloud and the inexorable rise of disruptive technologies such as IoT and AI, is traditional IT security fit for purpose in 2018 when there’s no definable network perimeter in modern organizations any more?

The sole concern can’t any longer be breach prevention at all costs. We have to transform IT security to build in multiple layers of defense, making life as difficult for cyber-criminals as possible. There’s no question that networks will be breached at some point, no matter how good external firewalls are: increasingly, we have to think about security as being about near instant detection of breaches, followed by rapid, automated remediation and audit – how fast can you detect a breach? How effective is the response taken in limiting damage and reporting to the authorities?

Since time began, security has been focused on ‘securing the perimeter’ – everything from moats in castles to locks on front doors and, in the modern world, CCTV and network firewalls. The traditional IT approach was to try to secure the network perimeter alone – ever higher, wider and more expensive firewalls with the objective of preventing breaches altogether.

"The new normal has to be security everywhere, not just at the network perimeter"

However, this is no longer practical. Current estimates show there are 1.3 million completely new instances of malware every day – there’s simply no possibility that traditional firewall technology alone, no matter how technically advanced, can stand up to an unprecedented onslaught like this, in a diverse and changing environment it was never designed to deal with.

The new normal has to be security everywhere, not just at the network perimeter. Inserting security throughout an infrastructure can enable greater business velocity and agility through wider collaboration, whilst allowing greater control and insight. Secure velocity, agility and collaboration can lead directly to quantifiably improved business efficiency and competitive advantage.

This more holistic view – security everywhere, designed in from scratch, throughout the infrastructure – is known as, ‘…security by default and design…’, and is becoming a fundamental requirement in emerging international data protection legislation, such as the EU GDPR and Canada’s PIPEDA.

This doesn’t mean abandoning the perimeter firewall, but it does mean not relying on it as the only defense. VMware’s disruptive approach is to add multiple layers of security throughout the infrastructure: from firewalls at the perimeter, encryption of data and virtual machines both in transit and at rest, micro-segmentation internally within the network, whitelisting technology to detect deviations from ‘good’ at the virtual application level, through to enterprise mobility management to help secure endpoint devices and user identity, all backed up with automation and management by policy to drive speed, efficiency and better governance/compliance reporting.

If organizations can’t implement effective IT security at the speed of business, then security – either the lack of it, or an inflexible excess of it – becomes an inhibitor for progress and innovation rather than an enabler. Against a threat landscape that’s expanding exponentially every year, effective IT security is required more than ever to protect and enable modern business – but just not as we’ve known it in the past. The old 35-year-old model just doesn’t work any longer in today’s interconnected, diverse, collaborative and usually hostile environments. We need a new way of securing our networked world and VMware believes that security by default and design – holistic IT security throughout the infrastructure rather than just at its edge – is the right route to take.

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