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VMblog Expert Interview: Forward Networks Explains New Enterprise Platform Security Features That Verify And Validate Zero Trust Architectures

Forward Networks Interview 

Forward Networks, an industry leader in network assurance and intent-based verification, recently announced enhancements to its Forward Enterprise platform that will help security professionals.  To find out more, VMblog spoke with Chiara Regale, vice president of product management for Forward Networks. 

VMblog:  Forward Networks has traditionally focused on the network operations teams - and solving operational problems - why did you move into Security?

Chiara Regale:  Our mission as a company is to make networks more agile, predictable and secure - and the NOC is the foundation. Many members of our team are former operations engineers who have felt the pain that comes with not having a single source of truth for the network. The commitment to alleviating this pain is what led our founders to create a digital twin of the network based on mathematical algorithms that is always up-to-date and captures configuration and state information for every device on the network. 

Our customers were incredibly vocal about extending access to this information to the SOC, enabling both teams to work from up-to-date information means they can improve their security posture and verify and validate their zero trust architecture.

VMblog:  What are the new features being added to the Forward Enterprise platform?

Regale:  We wanted to enable security teams to identify, contain and prevent security incidents with greater ease and efficiency than ever before. We added three new features to Forward Enterprise that enable engineers to resolve issues without conducting data calls. Because they provide consumable data with a single mouse click, we like to call them "easy buttons."

  • Blast Radius Identification and Isolation: Using data already collected by the Forward Enterprise platform, this feature provides a granular view of compromised host reachability. With a mouse click, security teams can identify the exposure and where malicious actors could spread to across the network, enabling teams to isolate the devices in a much simpler and faster manner.
  • Zone-to-Zone Connectivity Matrix: Forward Enterprise has always captured firewall configuration information on the network, but now it visualizes connectivity details in an easy-to-read and always-current source of truth for zone-to-zone connectivity. The matrix clearly indicates which zones have full connectivity, partial connectivity, or no connectivity. Through the platform, engineers can also easily determine the cause of unintended connectivity and build verification baselines.
  • Cybersecurity Vulnerability Reporting: Through comparing information from the NIST National Vulnerability Database and the specific device and configuration data collected from the network, Forward Enterprise now automatically and proactively analyzes the network for flagged vulnerabilities. Using API integrations the platform can automatically generate service tickets in popular applications such as ServiceNow-meaning one less action item.

VMblog:  How did you determine which features to focus on?

Regale:  In classic start up tradition, we held a company-wide hack week and encouraged our engineers do anything they wanted. Every project that came out of hack-week had a security focus because that's what our customers were asking for and our people are motivated by solving customer problems.

Using current methodology, enterprise SOC and InfoSec teams spend countless hours tracking down information that is already collected in our platform - our engineers looked at how we could take what we have and create "easy buttons" that would help everyone do their jobs better and faster. We wanted to give the SOC the information they need in a curated way that is easy to understand and act on.

There was a strong focus on helping the security teams be more efficient and effective as the current talent shortage makes hiring additional security professionals is nearly impossible right now. Reducing the time required for frequent tasks and presenting information in an easy to consume manner is fundamental to helping security teams get off the reactivity merry-go-round and assume a proactive posture.

VMblog:  How do you anticipate these features will help network and security operations teams?

Regale:  Having a shared, single source of truth for the network will reduce friction between IT teams and help them work better together. Customers who have already given their SOC and InfoSec teams access to the Forward Enterprise Platform report that it helps everyone achieve their individual priorities faster.

While each IT team has a specific remit, there is a ton of overlap, especially between operations and security. A strong security posture depends on a healthy network and being able to pinpoint and isolate any issues. We provide simple and fast access to the information engineers need to keep the network secure and healthy.

VMblog:  Finally, are there specific industries that are more likely to benefit?

Regale:  Any company with a large network will see improvements in the way their NOC and SOC operate.  Organizations in highly regulated industries such as finance will appreciate the new features we just announced, but also will benefit from the being able to use the intent checks and snapshots within the platform as an always on audit and compliance check. 

Every enterprise is one ACL away from an unwanted headline. To prevent config drift, security teams can set intent alerts within the Forward Enterprise platform so that anytime a device is configured outside of compliance, an alert is generated with specific detail on how to remediate the situation. 

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Published Tuesday, July 06, 2021 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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