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Why the Firewall is Increasingly Irrelevant
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RyonKnight
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RyonKnight,
User Rank: Strategist
6/23/2015 | 7:28:41 AM
Don't denigrate the firewall

Firewalls are still a critical part of a company's defences, and dismissing them as a relic from a bygone era is unhelpful.  Yes, you need to consider the modern challenges of cloud and mobile working, but not at the expense of your firewalls.  Issues such as company data on personal devices and dropbox need to be addressed in addition to securing the network with firewalls, not instead of.  

I'm also tired of hearing people say that we should shrug our shoulders and accept that employees are going to keep company data on insecure personal devices regardless of company policies and so forth. Simply caving to the whims of users who don't care about security and expecting security professionals to work around them and find solutions is not good for anyone.  Give your security policies some backbone and enforce them.  Give your employees decent IT, at least as good as what they have at home, and make your security policies and guidance sensible and proportionate.  Make mobile device management good enough to secure your data but not intrusive or onerous.  If you do this there is no reason not to expect your users to work remotely in a sensible and secure manner.

Know how the cloud services you use secure your data.  Know what they've got that's yours, where it is, how it is encrypted, backed up, how they'll handle a transfer if you change or quit their service, and so on.

None of this negates the need for firewalls.  The firewall on its own won't keep you safe, but it's a key part of your defence in depth and you'd be foolish not to give it its due.

RayM227
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RayM227,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/17/2015 | 12:54:26 AM
It will take a while
I can't picture a real data center functioning without firewalls. As messy as they may be, network firewalls create restricted enclaves to discourage unauthorized access while permitting relatively freer access between enclave components. Server vulnerabilities will always be with us, and firewalls help mitigate them either temporarily or permanently.

A big chunk of the next generation IT workers seems to have a relaxed attitude regarding PII and sensitive information. For example, many I talk to think that keeping SSNs private is a silly and antiquated notion. I have little doubt that we will be seeing more high profile data breaches due to just plain old lack of concern and/or carelessness.

Since data is quite often an organization's most valuable asset, it should be treated as such.   Hence it should be assumed that routinely transmitting bulk data to storage systems not under direct control, and mobile devices, will only eventually compromise an organization's prime assets for the sake of convenience.

This stuff just isn't fun. My career dates back to pre-internet days when we were rolling out applications on closed internal systems. Hacking attacks from China and Russia were unknown and not even contemplated. We were able to expend our energies on innovation, not maddening security issues.  
jweiler021
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jweiler021,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2015 | 7:52:42 PM
Data volume is essential consideration
You never talk about the volume of data in the various locations that you cite as evidence of decreasing firewall relevance. The amount of sensitive data on mobile devices or cloud storage services is orders of magnitude less than data center servers, for which firewall protection is essential. Simply because the number of sensitive data locations that cannot be protected by firewalls is increasing, does not mean every firewall is less relevant. New protection technologies are certainly needed for these new locations, just as existing technology has some vital role in protecting other locations.
alejoseb
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alejoseb,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2015 | 6:41:21 PM
Many traditional technologies are not useful anymore
Thank you for your post. I would add that not only firewalls are increasingly irrelevant, many traditional technologies like antivirus software are not useful anymore to protect information assets. Mobile devices, cloud applications and negligent or careless users are jeopardizing this issue. However, your three points are very clear, we do not have fight  the ubiquitous modern  technologies (BYOD, cloud apps); instead, we must implement procedures that enable a secure use of these technologies in a hurry, before risky actions become habits that are not easily modifiable as you state on your second point.


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