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Data privacy day in the time of cloud-first networks

Data privacy day in the time of cloud-first networks
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

On the 14th anniversary of Data Privacy Day, we found the technology landscape radically different from the early days of cloud adoption when few could have predicted that software would rule the world. Corporate environments have evolved from on-premises networks to cloud-first environments that must deliver productivity applications to endpoints wherever they may be. Since March 2020, COVID-19 shutdowns have accelerated workforce transformation with more than 90% of business leaders committed to building borderless enterprises.

The network's extension into hybrid, multi-cloud environments demands that security move from physically contained (on-premises) boundaries to a data-centric model that can be deployed remotely and protects geographically dispersed workers. The human is now the perimeter. In this paradigm, securing the expanded network provides the means for achieving privacy, which builds trust. Landmark privacy legislations, the GDPR and the CCPA, have codified that companies have a responsibility to provide adequate protection that advance the interlocked cause.

Framework building questions

Defenders can cover their bases by asking framework building questions:

  • Where is my key data and is it appropriately protected and monitored?
  • Are there multiple lines of defense protecting my data (defense in depth)?
  • Are the controls close to the data?
  • How well are we protecting access beyond the campus walls?
  • Am I spending my limited resources on the right things (risk management)?

Addressing visibility

Key to addressing these questions is the ability to scale visibility and foundational security to every endpoint, every application, everything that collectively makes up the modern enterprise. Visibility across the entire IT stack gives teams contextual awareness into what each device connected to the system is doing. As the network expands out beyond the four walls, DDI (DNS, DHCP and IPAM) enables companies to use a technology they already implemented (for devices to communicate with each other) to glean enhanced insight into network activities.

Since more than 90 percent of malware touches DNS — the first D in DDI — to break in and out of networks, DDI sheds light on blind spots that the existing security tools, such as firewalls, antivirus, and SIEMs, miss. Layering on DDI enhances visibility into previously hidden spaces to provide a clearer picture of what situations may require investigation, which is crucial to putting teams on the path to control.

Zero trust

In addition to visibility, defending a hybrid environment requires foundational security that enables the zero trust model to extend security beyond the reach of on-premises defenses. Zero trust is the strongest approach a company can take to secure data both in the cloud and on the traditional network as it layers in security technologies from an “assume breach” standpoint.

This model bases access to data, apps, and devices on a user's identity and the minimum required access. In order for this approach to be effective, an accurate inventory of both users and devices is required. DDI solutions can assist by supplying accurate and up-to-date contextual data from these assigned devices. These insights can accelerate threat investigation and remediation as well as optimizes the performance of the entire security ecosystem.

Investing in security

Data Privacy Day draws awareness to the work defenders do every day to protect their companies from attackers. The alternative is leaving open gaps that, if exploited, could cost a company 4% of its annual revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is higher. In addition to hefty fines, poor security jeopardizes customer privacy, which diminishes trust - another precious currency. By investing in sound security practices, companies can protect themselves against potential financial and reputational damages. That's the outcome security teams work towards in face of the multiplying threats that come with the expanding network.

Ed Hunter

As CISO at Infoblox, Ed Hunter is an experienced security, risk and compliance professional with 20 years of industry experience in solving complex business issues while balancing cost and risk.