How The Hacker Economy Impacts Your Network & The Cloud

To protect data against growing threats, networks must now act as both sensor and enforcer around traffic that passes through users and data centers to the cloud.

There has definitely been a digital disruption within our industry. I recently attended the Cisco Partner Summit in Montreal and heard some big messages around new kinds of ecosystem technologies that are already making an impact on our datacenters. One of the biggest conversation points at the conference was about security and the evolution of the cybercriminal. 

With so much new data being created every second, advanced persistent threats (APTs) and new threat vectors have forced a new way of thinking around user, cloud, and datacenter security. New technologies are becoming available with better security intelligence, predictive and proactive capabilities, and cross-cloud API security integration. These new security platforms are designed to make your networks smarter, your datacenter more secure and your cloud a lot more agile.

According to the 2015 Accenture Technology Vision Report, 81 percent of executives believe that industry boundaries will dramatically blur as platforms reshape these industries into interconnected ecosystems. This means it’s critical for organizations to align with new security trends, better network designs, and the cloud.

Before we dive into the network, datacenter, and cloud conversation, let’s look at how much your information is actually worth in the current hacker economy. According to Cisco, the current market around cybercrime ranges between $450 billion to $1 trillion per year. Further estimates expect this number to increase. How do the bad guys keep making this kind of money? Simple. Hackers, cyber criminals, hacktivists, and nation states have learned to monetize their opportunities:

  • Social Security Number: $1
  • DDoS as a Service: About $7/hour
  • Medical Records: >$50
  • Credit Card Data: $0.25 - $60
  • Bank Account Info: >$1,000 (Depending on the type of account and balance)
  • Mobile Malware: $150
  • Malware Development: $2,500 (commercial malware)
  • Spam: $50 for about 500k emails (depending on number of emails and destination)
  • Custom Exploits: $100k - $300k
  • Facebook Account: $1 for an account with at least 15 friends

Let’s remember something here: these numbers refer to how much hackers can make off of your data. But what does it actually cost a business to experience a data breach or loss of vital information? New findings from Juniper Research suggests that the rapid digitization of consumers' lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, almost four times the estimated cost of breaches today. Furthermore, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 will exceed $150 million by 2020, as more business infrastructure gets connected.

Welcome to the hacker economy
There are a lot of bad guys out there and this new digital age is creating new kinds of targets. This is where network, compute, and datacenter security intelligence come into play. Your network must now act as the sensor and the enforcer around all traffic that pass through your datacenter. New kinds of intelligence policies will allow you to integrate security APIs with third-party systems, deploy network-wide sensors, create policy and contextual-based data sharing, and allow next-generation firewall technologies to help act as infrastructure enforcers. Ultimately, this creates an end-to-end embedded and dedicated securities architecture for the evolving threat matrix.

Let’s examine two specific areas where new kinds of security technologies are impacting both networks and the cloud.

The network
We are far beyond traditional router and switch capabilities. Network sensors, filters, port controls, and advanced policies are all enabling the modern network to be a lot more intelligent. Enterprise network systems allow you to not only segment traffic but also place security monitors on ports and connections spanning your entire ecosystem. If an exploit is detected, or anomalous traffic is found, you can blackhole the traffic, isolate it, and prevent it from doing damage within your environment.

From there, monitoring, auditing, and logging mechanisms give you new kinds of insights into who, or what, was actually trying to get into your environment. The new idea behind a smart and secure network is simple: Your network must now act as both a sensor and an enforcer. You can extend NGFW security policies from the edge and into your network architecture. This goes beyond DLP, IPS, and IDS. You can have an application assigned to a specific port or traffic point within a network. From there, sensors can detect malformed packets, traffic spikes, or strange connection requests and enforce security policies to stop the potential attack.

The cloud
Cloud security has come a really long way. For example, let’s assume that you have proprietary or compliance-bound workloads that you want to host in the cloud. You have very specific security requirements around encryption, security, and monitoring. What are your options? Because the hybrid cloud is becoming one of the most popular cloud platforms, new ways to secure migrant traffic have emerged. Advanced technologies can encrypt data in real-time prior to sending the information into a cloud environment and decrypt only when an authorized user retrieves the data from the cloud.

When it comes to security, compliance, and policy, encryption keys are stored locally and never leave the user’s site. Furthermore, those keys are never shared with the cloud provider. These kinds of solutions allow you to deploy applications into the cloud and completely control the traffic flow. Once inside the data center, a combination of NGFW systems, network intelligence, VM-level security, and monitoring can round off a powerful cloud-to-datacenter security architecture.

One of my final pieces of advice is to focus your approach to IT on how security directly impacts actual business outcomes. Technology and the modern business are tied at the hip. Moving forward, every organization – regardless of the vertical – will become a digital, technology entity. Creating security platforms built around intelligence, direct visibility into data, and proactive alerting will be the only way to isolate threats and create a business environment aligned with an intelligent security framework spanning your network, the datacenter and into the cloud.

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