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VMblog Expert Interview: Forward Networks Explores Findings From New Survey, Revealing Misalignment on Zero Trust Initiatives

interview forward networks 

Data from a published survey conducted by IDG on behalf of Forward Networks in July 2021 shows that 70% of IT leaders strongly agree that their network architecture follows a zero-trust approach, compared to just 53% of IT managers who feel the same.  The report found a host of fresh and informative information.  To dig in deeper, VMblog spoke to Chiara Regale, Vice President, Product and User Experience, at Forward Networks to learn more.

VMblog:  What was the focus of your most recent research report?  And why did you decide to focus on this topic?

Chiara Regale:  The focus of this research is on the current state of network security, the pain points organizations are dealing with, and how different organizational leaders are viewing the rise of zero-trust.

We commissioned research on this topic because we believe that much of the visibility information we're known for providing to NetOps teams could be useful to SecOps teams.  The research investigates the security challenges that are exacerbated by lack of visibility. The survey results made it clear that network visibility, as well as transparency between management and practitioners, are issues preventing companies from achieving their security posture potential.

VMblog:  Can you summarize the report's key takeaways and why they matter?

Regale:  The report revealed a serious misalignment between management, IT managers and security practitioners. Executives are confident, but their teams feel that siloed and poorly integrated systems are continuing to undermine network visibility and security.

For example, the research found that 70% of IT leaders strongly agree that their network architecture follows a zero-trust approach, compared to just 53% of IT managers who feel the same. Additionally, 59% of executives said their organizations were building or already employing zero-trust architectures, just 39% of IT managers said the same. Furthermore, more than half (58%) of executive respondents rated their overall network security as ahead of the curve compared to their competitors, while another third (37%) said it was on par with others. At the same time, only 48% of managers rated their security ahead of competitors, while nearly half (47%) rated it on par.

Despite their high confidence levels, IT decision makers report widespread challenges when ensuring that their network is secure. 
  • 81% struggle to identify the depth of a breach
  • 69% are unable to quickly identify when something is out of compliance
  • 71% cited the inability to obtain endpoint-to-endpoint connectivity analysis, and
  • 68% indicated knowing what devices are in the network and its topology is challenging.

Survey respondents also said they are seeking to improve multiple areas of network security management for greater efficiency.

  • 88% want real-time monitoring capabilities
  • 85%: are seeking diligent compliance with all security protocols
  • 73% want validation that their network architecture follows a zero-trust approach
  • 85% are seeking improvement in network-breach response times.

This tension between management and the frontline IT/Security teams has big implications, none of which are positive for security posture, staff morale or retention.

VMblog:  What was the most eye opening finding uncovered by this research and why?

Regale:  There was not one "a-ha" statistic that stood out from the rest, but the overall disparity in perspectives is a real cause for concern. When executives view the world through rose-colored glasses and overestimate their current capabilities, their investment decisions are disconnected from reality, putting added pressures on frontline staff. They might ignore or underfund critical network security issues and they are not inspiring confidence in their already overstretched staff. Based on these results, it's clear that visibility and complexity, problems that have plagued the security industry for decades, are still huge issues.

VMblog:  What should companies be doing better to protect themselves?

Regale:  You can't secure what you can't see. This is not newsworthy, but companies need simple, straightforward ways to provide new visibility into what is basically an old problem. Network and security operations teams need to work together to fully visualize all possible data paths and network traffic behaviors to truly understand potential vulnerabilities. Only then can they implement and enforce policies that eliminate risky pathways and segment the network effectively. This can't be a "one and done" solution. The network is constantly being changed by the people that manage it so consistent and frequent validation is necessary to ensure that policies are performing as intended. Right now, IT leaders spend a lot of time putting out fires related to increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, but the only way to minimize the risks associated with these breaches is to have full visibility across the entire IT infrastructure.

VMblog:  This has been great information.  Where can VMblog readers go to get their hands on the report?

Regale:  Readers can find the full report at:


Published Friday, October 08, 2021 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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