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Forcepoint expert on taking an integrated approach to security to improve cyber-resilience

Forcepoint expert on taking an integrated approach to security to improve cyber-resilience

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Cybersecurity is a priority for all organisations today, given the shift to remote and hybrid workforces, but many CISOs have an overwhelming stack of security products which they may not be getting the best out of. Nick Savvides, Director of Strategic Accounts for Asia Pacific at Forcepoint, highlights how an integrated approach may be one solution for managing tool sprawl, as well as how Forcepoint is helping customers to navigate this new environment.

Nick Savvides, Director of Strategic Accounts for Asia Pacific at Forcepoint

Can you give us some insight into what the threat landscape looks like for organisations today?

The threat landscape has continued to evolve. In 2021 – and into 2022 – most of the challenges that organisations face are related to users and their data, particularly because many organisations are still operating with a remote working environment.

We’re moving from the response phase of remote working to the ‘business as usual’ phase. This means that tools, processes and technologies need to adapt.

Ransomware is also still likely to play a big role in certain industries, with a change of focus from corporate environments to critical infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare and government settings.

Tell us about the impact of work from home policies, including on individual employees and the consequences for security?

What was impossible from an IT or a cybersecurity perspective at the start of 2020 became possible by April. We made compromises in the way that we dealt with security, such as policy changes that allowed remote access. Over the last 12 months, some of these changes have become more permanent.

Organisations have rolled out improved VPN environments and made their applications more available through the cloud and adopted more cloud services to enable employees to work from home.

However, the ability to monitor employees’ web access and block certain activities has become more difficult and there is no longer the social pressure of being in the office. The number of targeted attacks being sent to users via email channels are increasing because they’re expecting more information that way.

How complex is today’s environment given that many workforces are now hybrid?

Pre-pandemic, we would optimise for the workplace. We had 80% of employees in the office and 20% remote. Then, as employees were sent to work from home, the bulk of the workforce became remote and organisations adopted a separate security stack for remote people.

Now we’re working in a scenario where workforces are hybrid, which means managing two separate large environments. If you don’t have the same level of efficacy across both, then that’s where the attacker is going to go. If you don’t have the same level of visibility, that’s where problems are going to manifest.

In a hybrid world, you need to be able to operate in a way that provides universal control, visibility and, importantly, efficacy across both environments.

What does your data show about the steps that companies and employees have taken to protect against the risks of hybrid work environments?

Some organisations were well prepared for the transition because they were already on a transformation journey. They wanted to be more agile and productive, with employees empowered by technology.

Organisations that weren’t prepared were the ones that struggled most. Those who thought that Digital Transformation was something trendy that didn’t really apply to them moved slowly and then suddenly had to scramble.

And those two different starting positions defined responses as some organisations scrambled to implement new cloud technologies to keep the business operating, while others simply took what they were already doing and expanded it.

The common thread across both camps was increased application of cloud native security. Many technologies that saw organisations through the pandemic originated in the cloud, though extending enterprise security or on-premises security into the cloud is harder than many realise. We’ve seen massive growth in the use of cloud access security brokers and cloud web security gateways, as well as data protection technologies.

Data protection technologies have rapidly grown in adoption in the last 12 months, because there’s been a realisation that people are risking their organisation’s data and, as custodians of that data, they’ve realised what they need to do to protect that in the transformed world.

Why is an integrated suite of security technologies so important in helping organisations navigate this new environment?

I think this is something that’s been relevant for a long time but its need is now amplified.

The cybersecurity space has evolved over time – it was once called network security, then information security and now cybersecurity. With that evolution, there has also been an increase in the number of security controls we now have.

In a typical large enterprise today, there will be anywhere between 50 and 80 cybersecurity tools – an incredibly difficult number to manage and get the most out of. It reduces your efficacy and puts a big strain on security operations.

In a bid to solve this problem, the industry now has suites of products that integrate into a broader ecosystem of products.

The challenges that we face now could be the catalyst for that change, to move to a platform-based approach where you can utilise the entire cloud as a platform.

As a CISO, this would mean having highly efficacious offerings that consolidate several functions that are pre-integrated to enable a better outcome.

It requires not just a technology change but a cultural and mindset change in the entire security practice. It’s important to ensure that you not only have an integrated approach, but one which has good interoperability with your other systems. That is a big change that organisations need to face and why an integrated platform is critical.

How has Forcepoint helped customers navigate these challenges?

We were fortunate at the start of the pandemic because we had already been building our technologies for this and already operated in a distributed environment.

We have been assisting customers who have our existing on-premises technology to extend these into the cloud so they can run unified security across both of those environments. We’re taking the enterprise into the cloud and we’re taking the cloud into the enterprise.

It’s not just about the technology, it’s about the outcome for the customer. I want to know what the customer is thinking between now and the horizon. What are the priorities of the business? Then we put security tooling into an adoption roadmap that is consumable by that organisation.

We’re trying to bring our advanced enterprise technologies that banks, government agencies and intelligence services utilise and make it consumable by every organisation.

The threat landscape continues to get more sophisticated and all enterprises are equal as victims now, whether there are 10,000 users, 5,000 users or 200 users. With employees working remotely, you’ve gone from having one entry point to having every employee as an entry point into an organisation.

Advanced technologies are very efficacious at protecting users, but they were previously out of reach. We’re bringing Zero Trust to those organisations and want to deliver it to as many people as possible, democratising those advanced capabilities.

What advice would you offer organisations for improving cyber-resilience?

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. This is something that a lot of organisations try and chase. That’s how they ended up with 80 tools and unable to manage them all.

The second piece is don’t treat cybersecurity as a technology-only problem. It’s a business problem. You need to think big, think business, engage with the board and talk the language of the board.

The board doesn’t care what sort of security tools you’re using. They care about risk and being able to articulate the risk to your executive, to your board, to a CEO, in an efficient and effective manner will see you through a far better outcome.

And finally, reach out to your local Forcepoint rep and have a conversation with us because we can add value to most organisations.

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