BYOD and Network Security

By Paul Ginn, Director of Marketing, APCON — April 08, 2013

According to Gartner, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access devices this year, and by 2015, more than 80% of the handsets sold in mature markets are expected to be smartphones. This trend applies not only to personal and social Internet usage, but within the enterprise as well.

 
As a result, many companies will need to adjust their network security policies to meet increases in mobile traffic. A number of organizations (31%) already have a “governance process to manage the use of mobile applications,” but the majority of companies have yet to establish a mobile security strategy.
 
When devising a security plan for mobile, it’s not just the amount of traffic coming in that network security managers have to worry about — it’s where that traffic is coming from. With the increase of bring your own device (BYOD), a plethora of new devices have infiltrated the enterprise, and all of these new devices need to be securely managed from a central IT organization.
 
This consumerization of the enterprise brings great convenience and flexibility to employees, but it also creates a number of challenges for IT, including:
  • More complexity in the company end point strategy
  • More end points to monitor
  • More uncertainty around the security threats each mobile device brings to the network
More End Points, More Problems 
Do you see a trend in the bullets above? Yes, it’s “more, more, more.” As in more tools to manage, more costs, and more risk from having so many different external devices coming into the enterprise network.

From a cost perspective, it is prohibitively expensive to buy a tool for every possible function at every monitoring point in a modern enterprise network. And manually moving tools and re-patching is prohibitively dangerous in terms of cabling errors as well as time consuming for the data center staff.
 
Yet enterprise IT teams need to be able to observe all network activity in real time, to not only maintain stringent security standards, but also network performance. Connecting all these tools in real time to various points in the network requires an intelligent traffic monitoring system capable of aggregating, directing  and filtering data streams to appropriate tools instantly.
 
Test Access Points (TAP) throughout a network are particularly useful, as they provide access to the raw data traversing these data centers. Passive TAPs can sit in line to the network while switch-embedded. Managed TAPs can provide more flexibility and capability within the network monitoring environment.  
 
The Right Tools
New advanced tools can help bring greater security through efficient, scalable and high visibility network monitoring. When looking for these tools, the following are a must-have in the network monitoring architecture — particularly when evaluating the complexity impacts of BYOD:
  • Intelligent data traffic management switch, specifically one with 72 ports of 10G Ethernet to gather up the data streams from the network TAPs and direct that data to the appropriate tools. These switches (also known as network packet brokers) provide packet aggregation — the ability to merge separate data streams into one — along with effective filtering, de-duplication and packet slicing to reduce the data stream to a manageable size for the tool in question.
  • Filtering, deduplication and packet slicing are features to definitely look out for, as they especially benefit data center networks with a strong legacy of 1G Ethernet tools. Using data rate conversion in combination with filtering on the monitoring switch, 1G tools may be used to monitor 10G network links.
  • Dynamic load balancing for aggregated data streams optimize the use of intelligent data traffic management switches, allowing multiple tools to each receive a portion of the monitored traffic. In some cases, time stamping each packet as it enters the monitoring system helps monitor quality of service and security breaches throughout the network.
By adding advanced network monitoring solutions to their security tool sets, enterprise IT teams will be able to monitor VoIP activity and other mobile transactions more efficiently and with greater visibility. This visibility—tied in with an aggregation monitoring environment—is key to securing the enterprise network for BYOD, while helping ensure optimal performance.

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