A Siri for Network Security: How Chatbots can Enhance Business Agility

Imagine how useful it would be if the benefits of chatbots could be applied to enterprise IT environments, to accelerate and automate information-sharing across areas of the business where data has traditionally been siloed and hard to gain access to – even though sharing that information would benefit the organization. A great example of this is the data siloing that often happens with IT and network security teams, and with business application owners.

For example, if an application owner wants an answer to the simple question “Is network traffic currently allowed from this specific server to this second server?” getting it can be complicated if the enterprise does not have a Network Security Management (NSM) solution. The process would involve asking several different stakeholders and having to use multiple firewall and device management consoles.

Even if the organization does use a NSM solution, the application owner might not get an immediate answer to their question: they would have to either access the NSM system and know how to use it themselves, or ask a member of the IT or security team – which may interrupt more important security-related tasks.

Network and security ChatOps
Chatbots have gained popularity over the last few years both for their ease of deployment and enhanced customer engagement. For businesses, digital collaboration tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams can improve cross-silo communication and provide enriched functionality around the way people problem-solve and share information.

So, imagine if it was possible to grant non-technical staff access to expert security knowledge about the enterprise network – such as the status of a business application’s connectivity, which firewalls protect that application, or whether traffic is being allowed to certain servers – without needing to have expertise in using security management tools, or distracting busy networking or security staff.

A chatbot can make this a reality across the organization, enabling users outside the network and security teams – such as application owners, developers or other roles who may not have access to, or permissions, to use a NSM system – to obtain the answers they need about network and application flows. This will help break down siloes of information and democratizes access to critical network and security data to non-specialist users, in non-technical language (based on access rights of course).

Non-technical users can interact with the chatbot in plain languages (not just English – but other common languages too) using a chat application such as Slack or Skype for Business, and ask questions such as ‘is there a connectivity problem with our payments application?’ The chatbot then interrogates the NSM solution to find the answers, and relays them back to the user in seconds – giving them the information they need about network security and connectivity, without needing to interrupt the network security team.

Accelerating the business

By making important network and security information accessible to a wide range of internal stakeholders, chatbots enable faster decision-making and speed up processes.

This in turn will accelerate business productivity, by helping to ensure that security processes don’t unnecessarily delay new initiatives and innovations.

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