In 2014, 26% of businesses increased their network security budgets, and that number is expected to grow to 40% by the end of this year, driven primarily by the rapid adoption of MPLS, unified communications, the bring-you-own-device (BYOD) trend, and the demand for always-on access to corporate resources. With an improving business environment and an increasingly mobile workforce, we will continue to see a rise in secure network investments.

As the definition of “network” grows in complexity, so does the need to address increased security—across device types, connectivity type or data type. This puts an additional burden on IT to keep corporate networks secure, but also invites an opportunity. The network security services market is growing, and expected to reach $11 billion in revenue by 2018. This growth provides an opportunity for partners to become more strategically integral to their customers’ security plans.

To capitalize on this opportunity, and to meet the evolving needs of customers, it’s critical that channel partners understand and address potential network security risks. The larger and more complex a business, the more advanced solutions are required. The first step in securing a corporate network is undergoing a risk assessment to determine the value of the data and systems that need protection—and the risks that are introduced by applications and devices connected to that data.

Understanding the vulnerabilities

With the adoption of cloud networking, new security vulnerabilities emerge. As channel partners design security solutions for customers, key vulnerability areas need to be considered.

  • Malware: Software intended to disable or damage data centers from an infection via the network through branch offices or BYOD mobile devices.
  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks: Malicious compromising of a server or network resource that makes them unavailable to users.
  • Partner abuse: Misused access to spy and steal information or compromise bandwidth usage.
  • Intercepted data: The hijacking of sensitive data as it travels the network.

Security Considerations

Once there is a clear understanding of general risks, partners and their customers must understand the specific ways in which they can secure remote offices and distributed branches while controlling costs and meeting compliance demands.

  • Encryption: According to Nemertes Research, more than 50 percent of network traffic is visible and vulnerable. At minimum, there is an opportunity to improve this statistic with cloud-based encryption.
    Web use policy enforcement: It is not enough to simply have a policy, the enforcement of content filtering and Web usage business policy is critical to protect sensitive corporate data.
  • Network access control: Effective, enforced security policies are imperative as businesses adopt cloud network services or connect their networks to the public Internet.
  • Regulatory compliance: Specialized industries like retail, healthcare, and financial services face governmental and industry regulatory mandates. At both a state and federal level, they must address these requirements within their cloud networking strategy. Examples: Dodd-Frank compliance, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
  • Endpoint protection and access management: A secure network is critical to protecting corporate data—especially as new mobile technologies increase vulnerability. Controlling which devices are authorized to access the network protects against abuse and compromises.
  • Business continuity: Any disruption in network bandwidth can critically inhibit productivity. Strategic partners must consider the implications of bandwidth utilization, equipment performance, and protections from attacks including hosted firewalls and network analytics and management solutions.

While this list can seem overwhelming or daunting, it is important to remember that while cloud-based networks face a wide number of security risks, cloud-based solutions can provide greater protections and advanced capabilities to counteract these threats.

Channel partners should seek technology solutions that provide integrated security solutions. We have engineered a fully integrated, cloud-based security suite that is designed to meet the changing threat landscape and provide simple, easy-to-implement security for distributed businesses. Our secure 10G MPLS network, hosted firewalls, identity management, access control solutions, intrusion detection and prevention systems, endpoint security products, content filtering and URL blocking, and unified threat management products work together to create a safe environment for sensitive corporate data.

Secure cloud-based networks with integrated security technologies represent great opportunities for channel partners. As cloud networking and BYOD evolves, partners have the opportunity to create ongoing revenue streams while meeting customer needs and building trusted customer/channel partner relationships. In our case, we are focused on providing strong security technologies and improving overall security for our customers, through our network of channel partners.