Occasionally folks forget about covering the fundamentals of security and start off down a rabbit hole following some shiny new technology that turns out to be just a rat hole. With today's limited security budgets you need to be sure that you've adequately covered your highest risk areas before moving on to other things. The high-risk areas are, of course, not the same for everyone and will change on you fairly frequently. The bad guys are always mixing it up; the attacks we see prevalent today are not those that we saw just a few years ago. Thus the reason for this article, to take a look at the top 5 security solutions you can put in place today to cover the widest scope of current and emerging threats. In many respects these solutions are considered obvious "no brainers". But, you'd be surprised by how many companies (big and small) that don't have them in place. Many times it is the obvious that temporarily escapes us (or at least escapes those holding the purse strings ☺)
These 5 items working together will stop more cyber attacks on your data, network and users than any other 5 items in the marketplace today. There are lots of other very useful security solutions on the market but when it comes to picking the top five most effective and readily available ones here are my choices:
Firewall – The keystone of network defense for a decade or more is still required for solid foundational security. Its job is still fairly simplistic; control what data flows can go where. Without firewalls in place to drop unwanted flows, your job of protecting your assets increases exponentially. Firewalls need to be present at your external perimeters but also inside of your network for secure segmentation of data. Deploying firewalls internally is a relatively new best practice. It is largely driven by the dissolution of any sense of a tangible, reliable network border that can differentiate trusted network traffic from untrusted external network traffic anymore. Our nice clean Internet border of old just doesn't exist anymore in modern networks. What has also recently changed is that firewalls are getting smarter and more granular in there definition of data flows. It is now common for a firewall to be able to control a data flow based on the type of application or even application function it represents. For example, a firewall can block a SIP voice call based on what number was dialed.
Secure Router (FW, IPS, QoS, VPN) – Routers are everywhere in most networks. By tradition they have been used just as traffic cops for flows. But modern routers can do so much more than that! Routers are chock full of security features, sometimes even more so than a modern firewall. Most routers in the industry today are capable of robust firewalling features, some semblance of useful IDS/IPS functionality, robust quality of service and traffic management tools and of course strong Virtual Private Network data encryption features. The list doesn't stop there either. The power of modern routers to add to the security of your network is commonly overlooked today. With modern vpn technology it is fairly straight-forward to start encrypting all of the data crossing your WAN links, but very few people do so. It is also too atypical that folks use the firewall functions and IPS features in their routers. Turn 'em on and see your security posture improve!
Wireless WPA2 – This is the no-brainer of them all. If you aren't using WPA2 wireless security then stop what you are doing and form a plan to start doing so. Many other methods of wireless security are not secure and can be compromised in minutes. Don't make it easy for the bad guys, turn on WPA2 with AES encryption today.