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Gartner: Get A Jump On Securing Mobile Users

Don't wait around for mobile and other attacks to evolve, Gartner analyst says
Firewalls, endpoint protection, secure Web gateways, and intrusion prevention systems (IPSes): You've gotta have 'em, but you can't rely on them alone anymore amid today's advanced and targeted attacks.

"People are too complacent leaning on [these] traditional solutions," says Lawrence Orans, research director with Gartner, who will be speaking about the changing threat landscape today at the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit, at National Harbor, Md. "There's a heavy reliance on traditional stuff," which alone can't detect and stop today's malware and attacks, he says.

Orans says organizations spent billions of dollars last year on these products -- $7 billion on firewalls, $3 billion on endpoint protection, $1 billion on IPSes, and $1 billion on secure Web gateways. Meanwhile, stealthier malware is slipping by unimpeded, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are becoming more common and powerful.

More than 70 percent of organizations had experienced anywhere from one to 10 DDoS attacks last year, according to data from Arbor Networks, and 11 percent experienced up to 100 such attacks. The largest reported DDoS attack last year registered at 60 Gbps.

The writing's on the wall that the traditional defenses will be even less effective as malware and attacks continue to evolve, according to Gartner's Orans. "Advanced malware is advanced enough to bypass those detection mechanisms," he says.

Orans recommends trying to get ahead of the mobility trend with security and not waiting around as those threats expand.

Gartner predicts that attacks through 2016 will shift to more enhanced evasion methods, an increase in attacks on the supply chain, and cloud-based attacks. The bad guys also will go after cloud services and virtualization, as well as mobile apps. Look for denial-of-mobile-service attacks, too.

"Attacks are going to continue to evolve," Orans says. "DDoS is a case in point."

Orans says processes are a critical piece of the defense strategy. "There are a lot of attacks and security breaches that could have been avoided if processes," such as change control or vulnerability management, were stronger, he says. "You can have the best tools in the world, but you have to have a strong foundation and that is process."

He recommends a "lean forward" strategy, where organizations begin adopting some next-generation tools, such as forensic analysis and sandboxing at the endpoint, and advanced malware detection and analysis, such as FireEye's and Palo Alto Network's next-generation firewall. In network traffic, he says Damballa, Fidelis, and Sourcefire are among the "lean forward" vendors Gartner cites, as well as RSA NetWitness and Solera Networks' "network DVR" approaches to traffic.

"These technologies are merging into mainstream solutions. The big question for customers is, 'Do I buy best-of-breed or wait until the existing mainstream vendors add them into their products?'" he says.

"It all comes down to [your] risk profile, budget, and overall security posture," Orans says.

Security products overall need better ease of use and automation, he says. "You need a lot of security expertise to interpret the results, so solutions need to be more drop-in and provide alerting that here's a problem," he says.

[Companies that fail to make the most use of automation put themselves at risk, yet doing it wrong can lead to business disruptions. See Moving Safely From Detection To Automated Action.]

With big data, mobile, cloud, and social technologies all on the rise, organizations need to try to get a leg up in at least one of those areas security-wise, he says. "There's a huge inflection point with cloud and mobile," he says.

Orans recommends trying to get ahead of mobility with security. "There's a hole in security [in mobile] because companies don't have the ability to protect employees off the premises, and the traffic that never gets onto the corporate network," he says.

"You need to inject a secure cloud in front of mobile users ... and that secure cloud could be a secure Web gateway, anti-malware, application control on who has Facebook access and who can do what" there, he says.

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