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Indian businesses at risk due to unidentified network traffic: Sophos survey

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Sophos has announced the India findings of its survey, The Dirty Secrets of Network Firewalls, which revealed that majority of Indian IT managers have legal liabilities when it comes to unidentified traffic in their organisations. Nearly one-in-four globally cannot identify 70 per cent of their network traffic. The lack of visibility creates significant security challenges for today’s businesses and impacts effective network management. The survey polled more than 2,700 IT decision makers across mid-sized businesses in 10 countries worldwide, including the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, UK, Australia, Japan, South Africa and India.

Considering the debilitating impact cyber-attacks can have on a business, it’s unsurprising that 90 per cent of respondents agree that a lack of application visibility is a serious security concern. Without the ability to identify what’s running on their network, IT managers are blind to ransomware, unknown malware, data breaches and other advanced threats, as well as potentially malicious applications and rogue users. Network firewalls with signature-based detection are unable to provide adequate visibility into application traffic due to a variety of factors such as the increasing use of encryption, browser emulation, and advanced evasion techniques.

“Controlling network traffic is an essential role of every firewall yet 61 per cent IT managers can’t tell you how their bandwidth is being consumed. If you can’t see everything on your network, you can’t ever be confident that your organisation is protected from threats. IT professionals have been ‘flying blind’ for too long and cybercriminals take advantage of this,” said Sunil Sharma, Managing Director – Sales, Sophos India & SAARC.

The survey further stated that 61 per cent would like to see better perimeter security in their organisation’s network firewall along with better threat visibility and better protection.

Organisation’s firewall is the gateway between network and internet. Together with endpoint protection, it’s an integral pillar of security infrastructure. Despite the importance of its role in defenses, the survey revealed that firewalls are failing organisations when it comes to delivering the protection they need. On an average, Indian organizations face 26 infected machines a month; approximately 60 per cent higher infected devices in comparison to the global average.

“Ineffective firewalls are costing you time and money. On an average, organizations are spending 7 working days to remediate infected machines. A single network breach often leads to the compromise of multiple computers, so the faster you can stop the infection from spreading the more you limit the damage and time needed to clean it up. Companies are looking for the kind of next-generation, integrated network and endpoint protection that can stop advanced threats and prevent an isolated incident from turning into a widespread outbreak. Sophisticated exploits such as MimiKatz and EternalBlue reminded everyone that network protection is critical to endpoint security and vice versa. Only direct intelligence sharing between these two can reveal the true nature of who and what is operating on your network,” added Sharma.

Explaining the findings, Sharma highlighted the importance of simplicity in all aspects of the security process; network, endpoint or server. He said, “Reducing complexity is absolutely fundamental to ensuring data and device security; a fact reflected in the research. According to the data 79 per cent respondents have security risks from unwanted or unnecessary apps, and a further 60 per cent are concerned by productivity loss due to unwanted ones. Unnecessary complexity compromises transparency for a network manager and the end user, and can lead to – not merely security concerns – but, even, liability and compliance issues. The concept of simplicity is central to Sophos, in the way our products are designed and in the counsel we provide. We believe that the simpler the security protocols are to implement, the more likely they are to be effective.”

Organisations acknowledge the need for better protection, visibility and response. The survey revealed that 84 per cent of IT managers polled want better protection from their current firewall. 99 per cent want their firewall technology to automatically isolate infected computers, and 96 per cent want endpoint and firewall protection from the same vendor if it improves detection rates and incident response.

Security is not the only risk to businesses
Following security risks, 60 per cent organisations are concerned about loss of productivity from unproductive apps. Business productivity can be negatively impacted if IT is unable to prioritise bandwidth for critical applications.

For industries that rely on custom software to meet specific business needs, an inability to prioritise these mission critical applications over less important traffic could be costly. 69 per cent of IT professionals who had invested in custom applications admitted that their firewall could not identify the traffic and therefore were unable to maximise their return on investment. Lack of visibility also creates a blind spot for the potential transfer of illegal or inappropriate content on corporate networks, making companies vulnerable to litigation and compliance issues.

“Organisations need a firewall that protects their investment in business-critical and custom applications by allowing employees to have prioritized access to the applications they need. Increasing network visibility requires a radically different approach. By enabling the firewall to receive information directly from the endpoint security, it can now positively identify all applications – even obscure or custom applications,” added Sharma.

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