In the IoT Era, There Can Be No Tradeoffs Between Security and Performance

March 21, 2016 · steveverbanic · Security  · Comments

For better or worse, the world is growing more connected. Just a few years ago, the world of connected devices included smartphones, tablets, laptops – and not much else. Fast forward to today, and users are inundated with choices, from fitness bands and smartwatches, to connected thermostats and baby monitors, to refrigerators that do their own online shopping and cars that do their own driving.

Even life-saving technologies such as pacemakers and insulin pumps readily participate in the Internet of Things (IoT), an era that is only now beginning to take hold. Gartner estimates 25 billion connected devices will be in use globally by 2020, while the SAIC says that estimate is far too conservative, predicting as many as 50 billion IoT devices in use within the next five years.

More Connections, More Risk

While all these connected devices and innovative applications are a boon to productivity, IoT also introduces a plethora of new risks. Network admins must now manage hundreds if not thousands of additional endpoints, with all the associated network performance issues and risks. Configuration management is difficult enough for a company-owned PC or a BYOD smartphone, but what about a smartwatch with an app that connects to the corporate calendar?

As more employees tether IoT devices to their smartphones, new attack vectors open up, making lost or stolen smartphones even more of a critical vulnerability. In addition, researchers continue to demonstrate how easy it is to hack into connected cars, thermostats, smartphones to use them as launch pads to attack more critical resources. All of this underscores the increasing threat the IoT poses to corporate networks.

Traditional Tools Aren’t Up to the Task

In the IoT era, you need a security platform that provides comprehensive visibility over this ever-expanding attack surface, as well as protection against internal threats. Simple, signature-based solutions won’t cut it any longer, and neither will security technologies that rely on general-purpose CPUs that can’t keep up with or protect against a continuous stream of connection-based threats. Relying on a cadre of point solutions that can’t provide a unified view of all threats across the network won’t work either. As connected devices proliferate and consume increasing amounts of network bandwidth, conventional firewall technologies are quickly overwhelmed, consuming ever more resources, slowing performance and providing only minimal protection.

NGFWs Offer Insight AND Performance

Fortunately, next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) are emerging just as the need for their unique feature set grows. NGFWs operate at the application layer, providing 360-degree network traffic visibility so you can see what’s going on before small threats become big problems. Rather than static signatures, NGFWs focus on patterns and behaviors to give you a better understanding of the threats, enabling you to focus your resources on exactly where you need them, when you need them.

Slait specializes in delivering customized, creative IT solutions for customers in both the commercial and private sector. Our partner, Fortinet, offers an NGFW with a recommended rating from an independent testing authority. It’s fast compared to others, enabling you to balance security and performance. With our broad range of partners and experience, Slait can help you assess and successfully address the biggest risks to your environment. Learn more.