Online security

How to stay safe even if business circumstances change

Security must adapt to change

Businesses and nonprofits today face growing security challenges, which may require them to invest in more robust protection.

As circumstances change, security solutions must adapt or be replaced. Sometimes organizations grow organically from their existing stacks. Other times, an external event, such as a pandemic, forces change. Internal situations, such as deploying a new network or new applications, can also make an existing security stack insufficient.

“Organizations always realize that they are going beyond their security architectures,” said Frank Dickson, vice president of the program. IDCcybersecurity product research practice.

To combat evolving cyber threats, organizations must continually review their security postures and adapt to changing circumstances and requirements, which includes updating or increasing their security tools – and training employees in security best practices – to protect their organizations, he says.

Benefit from cyber protection without sacrificing

Di Popolo says he knew his law firm, based in Parsippany, NJ, broke through its existing firewall when several issues cropped up simultaneously last year.

In addition to slow and spotty VPN access, IT had replaced an old phone system with Cisco Unified Communications Manager – but the new IP telephony system would not work properly with the existing firewall. IT staff were on the phone with the firewall vendor for up to six hours a day for two weeks looking for a workaround.

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Slow email filtering was also a problem. The firewall was single-threaded, meaning it scanned emails one by one for malicious content. When the firewall encountered a large attachment, the scan would take hours, clog the email system, and crash the firewall, forcing IT staff to restart.

“We paid extra for a product to keep us safe, but he denied us the ability to use email,” says Di Popolo. “It worked as if it was a denial of service attack.”

Eventually, the team had to turn off threat protection to get the emails to work again.

In February, Di Popolo switched to two new Cisco FirePower 1000 Series next-generation firewall appliances, a Cisco Secure Messaging device and Cisco AnyConnect VPN client software. He also subscribed to Cisco Threat Defense 2.0, a service that analyzes network traffic and quickly detects and responds to security threats.

The two firewalls, which are combined for high availability, are more user-friendly. While the previous firewall required 15 steps to create a policy, the new Cisco firewall only requires three steps, says Di Popolo. Cisco Secure Email not only filters emails for malicious content, but also has data loss prevention features that prevent employees from sending sensitive information via email, he says.

Employees also benefit from faster and more stable VPN connections, allowing them to securely access a local application they use for day-to-day operations, as well as Microsoft Office and Cisco Jabber communication and collaboration software.

“Once we switched, the bandwidth was wide open again,” he says. “Overall, we are satisfied with the new solutions and the additional levels of security we currently have.”

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