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Context-Aware Security: What is it, and why do you need it?

Context-Aware Security: What is it, and why do you need it?

context-aware-security When it comes to securing the enterprise, the rise of cloud, BYOD and mobile working have changed the rules of the game. Today’s IT teams have to cope with ever more complex networks – opening up vulnerabilities to a rapidly expanding array of threats. And the proliferation of devices that are connecting to corporate networks has ramped up the number of endpoints companies need to monitor. So it’s no surprise we’re seeing a move away from tactical static solutions to solve a problem at a point-in-time – like firewalls, IPS probes and URL filters. And instead, are witnessing the adoption of new end-to-end approaches that deliver increased context to security events. In a world where rapid IT expansion has to adapt to the requirements of cloud computing amid the risks of increasingly sophisticated cybercrime, enterprises of all sizes are having to rethink their IT security strategies.

Security – it’s more than just technology

Meeting the demands of today’s fast-paced, multi-device and mobile world of business means an adaptive security infrastructure is becoming a must have. Firewalls and anti-virus software are no longer enough to protect highly sensitive data in today’s complex environments. The good news is that today’s next-generation security technologies are designed to keep pace with challenges like advanced attacks, performance demands and automation. And there are significant benefits when these solutions are utilised in a ‘joined-up’ approach that includes cloud-based services to help improve information security:
  • You achieve end-to-end visibility of security threats
  • You can undertake a unified security and management approach across multiple security functions (a ‘single pane of glass’)
  • Real-time updates identify and help prevent attacks before they happen
  • You need less on-premise hardware – simply tap into subscription-based add-on services like URL filtering and anti-malware
This enhanced capability has given rise to what’s become known as ‘context-aware’ security -a dynamic methodology and approach that combines adaptive on-premise hardware solutions with additional functionality that allows enterprises to cope with emerging threats fast. What’s more, it’s an approach that enables companies to simultaneously evolve their business requirements for greater openness. Let’s explore the concept in more detail.

Context-aware security – a smarter approach

Today’s enterprises need to be able to grant access to sensitive information using a highly flexible means of enforcement. But these new, vital access requirements require context-sensitive and privacy policies. Say hello to context-aware security, which uses situational information – like identity, time of day, or type of endpoint device – to improve information security decisions. It’s a requirement that is set to become even more prevalent as the use of BYOD increases. That because, when it comes to mobility management, context-aware security balances the ease with which users can access network services against the need to prevent data breaches and protect private and sensitive information. All of which enables the enterprise to grant access to authorised users and trusted mobile devices only – by enforcing specific security policy requirements. The key advantages this next-generation security approach enables include:
  • Role-based access control – rather than just a user-ID, access will be granted (or denied) to services based upon much more granular information
  • Network security policy can be enforced across the entire network, rather than just a single ingress point
It’s an exciting evolution that enables the faster, more responsive security decisions that today’s dynamic business and IT environments need.
By John Broadway | ISN Technical Director
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