Virtualization Technology News and Information
FirstLight 2023 Predictions: An Increasing Sense of Security


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

An Increasing Sense of Security

By Robert Rivas, Vice President of Data Center and Cloud Services/Security Officer at Firstlight Fiber

Over the years, IT organizations, service providers, and other smaller-in-size businesses have neglected to automate disaster recovery. Automation significantly enhances business continuity successes and aids in ensuring the business is protected from every necessary angle. This lack of attention to disaster recovery is due, in part, to the time, complexities, and costs that accompany security solutions. With the massive jump in remote workforces, many workers access sensitive company information on security-weak home and public Wi-Fi networks outside of the office. This non-secure access can open the door to breaches of sensitive information. How companies secure themselves is becoming increasingly important across all networks, both internally and externally. An increasing number of companies are falling victim to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, cryptoware, and other data breaches. It's time to start creating more diverse disaster recovery plans and enhancing security measures with the proper return on investment. This article will explore these trends and drivers and learn how businesses can better secure their networks.

SASE will continue to rise

There are many reasons why companies do not take advantage of disaster recovery solutions. Expertise in the field and the substantial time it takes to vet solutions, or even identify the company's needs, are examples. Another significant reason is budgetary constraints. The lack of practical, affordable solutions has created an active playground for less-than-honorable suspects. This void created a need that has led to the development and rapid adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE): a single overlay platform that addresses a company's cybersecurity needs.

SASE solutions are not multiple products, but rather a single solution that incorporates several functions, such as endpoint encryption and zero trust. By providing a SASE overlay, companies realize secure networks without the higher software costs associated with some packages catering to large customers. Historically, cyber protection fees were cost-prohibitive to smaller entities, leaving those companies with two options: uproot their budgets for DDoS protection, or bear the risk of exposure.

Today, the volume of small and medium-sized (lower headcount) companies needing security outweighs that of large companies. This catalyst spurred vendors to create more accessible options for these smaller companies needing all-in-one solutions at a more attractive price point per user. One such option from Cisco® combines VPN and WAN protections with cloud-based security. The solution enables companies to automate their network border activities while securely managing data access and remote operations.

‘A la carte' security will grow

With the need to make security more accessible, smaller businesses will want to pick and choose the cyber protections they need. Open Source Security Information and Event Management tools (OSSIMs), such as AlienVault, facilitate these ‘a la carte' security options. This kind of flexibility is key for small businesses. It enables rightsizing of the security stack resulting in payment only for features used. Because cybersecurity has many different layers, having customizable options gives network operators the freedom to provide tailored solutions hardened to individual customer needs. Many organizations don't know what they need until things go awry during a breach, so understanding the vast menu of options can be daunting.

Today, there are vendors that audit and provide analytics to identify the strengths and weaknesses within an organization's network infrastructure. One such tool is Rapid7, used by vendors like FirstLight and direct customers alike. Rapid7 provides ongoing oversight, giving businesses the knowledge they need to make real-time, informed decisions about their security environments while providing streamlined remediation.

Companies will seek geographic diversity in their network security

Natural disasters like flooding, high winds, and snowstorms have companies aiming for geographic redundancy in disparate locations. However, disaster recovery and security systems must remain operational when disaster strikes, regardless of geographic location and during failover. For example, if a coastal city suffers a severe storm, a business's operations will remain intact via its recovery systems stored further inland. This level of redundancy will become more prevalent in the marketplace as more companies realize the safety net afforded by geographical distance. As a result, demand will grow for services from network providers that effectively facilitate, secure, and enhance failover instances across a customer's locations.

In the past, storing backups across state lines often caused issues due to variances in state data sovereignty laws. However, single-site vulnerabilities can be avoided with far-reaching, managed underlying networks. For example, FirstLight's fiber optic network runs through Brunswick, Maine, with several Points of Presence (PoPs) across New Hampshire. Companies located in coastal Brunswick can store secure cloud backups inland at a disparate location still within the network. Additional PoPs foster expansion into those geographic locations circumventing issues at the primary site.

To facilitate orchestration from one machine to the next, regardless of location, NSX-T is a unified networking software platform designed to optimize environments and transport. By controlling the network via NSX-T's single interface, companies no longer have to change IPs across different locations. NSX-T provides automated security with reduced complexities, alleviating the need for onsite expertise and overhead.

In Conclusion

We are witnessing many changes across the security sector, ranging from geographic safety nets to consolidated and simplified tools. New products help small businesses operate with greater digital security across their operations. Not only are small businesses utilizing these tools, but network operators such as FirstLight are fortifying and hardening their own networks to meet the growing security demands of their customers. By combining platforms like Cisco, Rapid7, and NSX-T, networks are becoming more secure, and operators can better protect the critical data their clients require.




Robert Rivas joined FirstLight Fiber as Vice President of Data Center and Cloud Services in 2014. In that role, Mr. Rivas is responsible for leading all Cloud Operations and Data Center Operations for fifteen geographically diverse data centers and cloud systems across Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. In 2017, Mr. Rivas also took on the role of Security Officer, in which he is responsible for securing FirstLight's physical and digital systems, including the creation of policies and procedures for business continuity planning, loss prevention, fraud prevention, and privacy. With over twenty-five years of experience in data center and security, Mr. Rivas has held leadership positions at CareTech Solutions (Now HTC Global Services), and ACS Healthcare Solutions.

Mr. Rivas holds an Information Technology Associate's Degree from Manchester Technical Center and a Bachelor's in Information Systems from University of Phoenix.

Published Friday, January 06, 2023 10:01 AM by David Marshall
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