That is about to change. As discussed in Tech Trends 2019: Beyond the Digital Frontier, technology forces that are increasingly dependent on advanced connectivity capabilities also are reshaping enterprise architecture. Proliferating mobile devices and sensors (commonly associated with the Internet of Things), autoscaling with serverless computing, AI, and automation that rely on exploding volumes of shared data require differentiated connectivity capabilities to achieve their transformative digital potential.
Indeed, with a promise of order-of-magnitude improvements compared to today’s networking capabilities, advanced connectivity is fast becoming a linchpin of digital business.
While this magnitude of change brings new opportunities to an enterprise, it also opens new avenues for threat vectors and cyberattacks on the enterprise. Considerations include:
Build it in. Evolve security tactics as the organization’s connectivity strategy advances. Security capabilities that meet today’s requirements of a homogeneous network model with limited types of end devices connected will not suffice. One approach is to build security controls so that they are embedded, inspected, and enforced at the data, device, and user identity levels.
Segmentation. An expansive, flat network can allow malicious actors—internal or external—to move freely through connected systems if the actor breaches the external perimeter, or otherwise has access to the network, such as a “trusted” third party. Segmenting the network at both a broad level—for example, separating security and administrative traffic from general user traffic from critical business application traffic—and on the device and workload level via micro-segmentation, is a key tactic in building a secure, resilient environment.
Zero-trust networks. A zero-trust approach deploys strategies such as identity and access management, multifactor authentication, encryption, risk scoring, and role-based access controls to enforce strict governance policies for providing users access to specific applications and resources aligned with their roles and responsibilities.
Automation. Automation of security processes enables an organization to tolerate some amount of cyber risk based on the speed and agility with which it can respond to potential threats. For example, when a traditional network experiences a breach, engineers must identify that a breach has occurred, determine which segment it affects, disconnect it, and figure out how to fix the problem. If the breach occurs in the cloud or in a software-defined network environment, the fix can be accomplished in minutes through automation before additional damage can be done. Going forward, it’s likely AI systems will be designed to identify breaches in the environment and contain the attack, identify the right fix, and apply it without human intervention.
Laying the Groundwork to Address Risk
Advanced connectivity adoption is anticipated to co-evolve with technology strategy and enterprise architecture. Taking into consideration the enterprise’s business and technology strategy, organizations should consider building-integrated connectivity and technology capabilities that can be transformative by assessing potential availability and timing of these capabilities and developing strategic execution options. To this end, a roadmap that lays out the enterprise’s vision of advanced connectivity and plans to achieve it should be an integral part of strategic planning.
One potential approach is to utilize scenario planning, which models alternative future states that integrate advanced connectivity evolution with enterprise technology strategy. These models can then be used to build an advanced connectivity roadmap that is aligned with the company’s technology strategy and enterprise architecture. With this roadmap as input, potential cyber risks should be assessed, and an updated risk management strategy and implementation plan developed that is in sync with the advanced connectivity roadmap.