News Feature | July 31, 2014

Automation Is Key To Network Security

By Rick Delgado, contributing writer

Network Security Automation

In more ways than one, the key to the future is automation. The more we can have computers and some of the latest technology handle daily tasks, the more that frees us up for other pursuits. Some of these automation changes may be seismic in their impact, like with the self-driving car phenomenon. Much of the automation revolution, however, will likely take place behind the scenes, away from our view. When it comes to the business world, company leaders are always on the lookout for ways to make their businesses more productive, and automation is a key ingredient to that goal. One of the topmost concerns for businesses is making sure company data is secure, and for that to happen, many are turning to automation as a way to enhance network security.

Network security is no easy task for businesses to grapple with, and its complexity is only growing as security threats continue to evolve. Put in simple terms, network security consists of the tools that monitor systems and traffic within the network. A good network security system will detect possible threats, in turn alerting network administrators of the problem. Some systems will even take care of the problem on their own. Usually, network security systems will have some form of automation in responding to threats, but with the risks growing more varied, handling network security manually has become extremely difficult. In fact, automation seems to be the only effective way of dealing with threats to the network, and luckily, there are many benefits to adopting network security automation.

The first benefit gained from automated network security is how it takes many of the mundane, repetitive tasks of the process and turns it over to the security software. A lot of time and effort from IT personnel is required to maintain the equipment involved in network security, and monitoring an entire network is no small chore. By turning to automation for these maintenance jobs, companies can help free up a lot more time for their IT workers. What they do with more time on their hands will largely be up to the company, but most businesses will have IT personnel work on more strategic projects. Giving the IT department a more strategic focus may help them come up with new ways to fight current and future threats.

Automation can also greatly improve network security as a whole. Risks pop up time and time again, ready to attack a network, but with automation in place, security systems are able to respond to these threats at a much more rapid pace. By tackling these problems before they grow and infect the entire network, security ensures that data stays safe and computer and devices aren’t compromised. Enhanced security can also come from tighter control over permissions and access. With automation, devices can be automatically configured so that they only accept connections with the authorized network, and the automated security system can constantly check on this. With this in place, the chances of having an unauthorized user access the network are greatly diminished since unapproved devices are instantly detected.

Another excellent benefit from automated network security is the way it cuts costs. As was mentioned above, with more automated systems, IT personnel would have more free time, which in turn means there’s less need for a large IT staff. With fewer personnel, businesses would be able to save money. A good automated security system needs a substantial investment up front, of course, but in the long run companies will likely save money due to less downtime needed to upgrade systems and a decreased risk of having data lost or stolen.

One other important advantage from network security automation is how it also reduces the chances of human error. Since human workers wouldn’t be handling the bulk of the tasks associated with security, they likely won’t make as many mistakes. An example of this is granting access to employees when they join a company, while deactivating that access when they leave. Automating this process ensures the system is always up-to-date with who has access and who doesn’t, whereas IT workers may not be as current with that important information. Automated systems can also be updated with the latest patches and upgrades without needing constant checking from IT personnel.

Network security automation is already gaining more widespread acceptance among big companies. Organizations like Twitter and even parts of the federal government have taken the leap into automated security, and it’s likely other businesses have adopted it while not necessarily divulging that fact. There are numerous benefits from network security automation, and as companies become more familiar with it, they’ll likely make it a part of their operations.

Rick Delgado is an enterprise tech writer whose work has been published on websites such as Wired, IT Pro Portal, and Smart Data Collective. He loves writing about new technologies, especially on the enterprise level.

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