Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Network Security //


12:10 PM
Scott Ferguson
Scott Ferguson
News Analysis-Security Now

Firewall Fail: IT Can't Identify All Network Traffic

With more and more traffic being encrypted, IT departments are having difficulty identifying the source of traffic coming into their network and past the firewall.

SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a dirty secret lying right behind the corporate firewall: The IT department can't identify the traffic coming into the enterprise network.

In fact, IT managers can't identify 45% of the network traffic hitting the firewall on any given day, according to a new report. Additionally, almost one in four IT managers cannot identify 70% of their enterprise's traffic.

Much of that is being caused by increased use of encryption, said Chester Wisniewski, the chief research scientist for Sophos, which sponsored the study, "The Dirty Secrets of Network Firewalls."

"Fifteen years ago, [IT admins] could go into their firewall and look at it from a productivity and a security standpoint and understand what was happening from a security standpoint because stuff was not encrypted," Wisniewski told Security Now.

"You knew this was Spotify and you know this was going to AOL and what was anomalous would stand out, and you could more easily make rules and policy decisions and even forensics," Wisniewski added. "Now, you don't know what was stolen because all the data is encrypted."

Part of that is related to Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols that have helped encrypt more and more traffic passing through the Internet. To help combat that, enterprises can use man-in-the-middle techniques, but that adds complexity to the whole process. Additionally, standards -- specifically TLS 1.3 -- will also change that and make it more difficult.

The result is that 84% of respondents told researchers that lack of application visibility is now a serious security concern.

"What the survey said to us is that these guys don't know what apps are on the network because everything is TLS and SSL," Wisniewski said, adding that in his estimation about 70% of network traffic is encrypted today and that number could reach nearly 100% in the coming years.

The report, which Sophos released this week to coincide with the 2018 RSA Conference here, is based on responses from 2,700 IT professionals in mid-sized enterprises from the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, UK, Australia, Japan, India and South Africa.

The fundamentals of network security are being redefined -- don't get left in the dark by a DDoS attack! Join us in Austin from May 14-16 at the fifth annual Big Communications Event. There's still time to register and communications service providers get in free!

In the coming months, with the increased use in encryption coming, Wisniewski said the challenge for the industry, including vendors such as Sophos, is to get endpoint devices, which know what the traffic is before it's encrypted, to work with and communicate with the firewall to specify what traffic can go past and onto the network.

(For its part, Sophos offers this technology with two offerings: synchronized security technology and Sync App Control.)

Without that, IT admins are losing time to do maintenance. The study found that most enterprises spend an average of seven days each month to remediate and fix about 16 infected machines. Over half of those surveyed expressed concern about loss of productivity from unwanted and unnecessary apps that find their way onto the network.

In addition, nearly 100% of those surveyed want firewall activity that can automatically isolate infected machines.

"We know that you can't block everything, and that's why we have talked about layered security," Wisniewski said. "If someone is in there, within the network, can you at least stop them before they leave with the stolen goods."

Related posts:

— Scott Ferguson, is the managing editor of Light Reading and the editor of Security Now. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
How Enterprises Are Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Environment
The adoption of cloud services spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in pressure on cyber-risk professionals to focus on vulnerabilities and new exposures that stem from pandemic-driven changes. Many cybersecurity pros expect fundamental, long-term changes to their organization's computing and data security due to the shift to more remote work and accelerated cloud adoption. Download this report from Dark Reading to learn more about their challenges and concerns.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-17
In Stormshield SSO Agent 2.x before 2.1.1 and 3.x before 3.0.2, the cleartext user password and PSK are contained in the log file of the .exe installer.
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-17
When using Apache Knox SSO prior to 1.6.1, a request could be crafted to redirect a user to a malicious page due to improper URL parsing. A request that included a specially crafted request parameter could be used to redirect the user to a page controlled by an attacker. This URL would need to be pr...
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-17
Unrestricted Upload of File with Dangerous Type in GitHub repository crater-invoice/crater prior to 6.0.
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-17
IBM FileNet Content Manager 5.5.4, 5.5.6, and 5.5.7 could allow a remote authenticated attacker to execute arbitrary commands on the system by sending a specially crafted request. IBM X-Force ID: 212346.
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-17
managers/views/iframe.js in FuturePress EPub.js before 0.3.89 allows XSS.