It seems strange to say it, but the firewall continues to remain the key to enterprise IT security. However, the firewall of today has to deal with new circumstances: a distributed, hybrid workplace, and a threat landscape that has evolved beyond recognition.
A leading supplier of both IT Systems and Services, NIS has the tools to address these challenges: a Cisco Meraki partner, NIS delivers what are called ‘next-generation’ firewalls.
“Gone are the days when if you had a good firewall in the office your systems were, broadly speaking, secure,” said NIS’s chief executive Gerry Buckley.
Today’s threats, such as zero-day viruses, and targeted ransomware are able to evade old-style firewalls. Therefore, a serious security solution will now centre on a firewall that is continuously monitoring every single packet as it comes and goes.
“You need to deliver technologies like IPS intrusion prevention that constantly scans traffic, literally every packet, and while at the same time manages solutions such as DNS spoofing discovery,” Buckley said.
Furthermore, the office itself is fast becoming somewhat of an abstract concept: without a shadow of a doubt, the workplace has evolved and whether we like it or not remote of working is here to stay
This in itself raises many challenges, some technical, some cultural and educational, but in all cases, NIS works on a consultancy basis to provide its clients with solutions.
According to Buckley, “Your workplace either has changed already or is in the process of changing, and we’re here to help you. However, the ‘One-size-fits-all’ approach is no longer enough.”
“Every organisation is on a different journey. Some have taken the route of moving their data to the cloud with Microsoft 365 and Teams, some are using G-Suite or Salesforce, but the increased risk from remote working is something we are already seeing.
What NIS can offer is that we can go in and see where exactly a company is, find out where it wants to be, and to help it develop a strategy for getting from one to the other,” Buckley said.
Recent events, not least three major ransomware attacks in Ireland, have meant that currently security is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But, of course, the risk remains that as time passes it will drop off the agenda.
“We had one large client with whom we had been discussing a major upgrade for some time. Then, the morning after the attack, on the HSE we got an email asking us to proceed,” said Buckley.
In addition, the fact of the matter is that IT security costs money, and no business likes to spend more than it has to. To that extent NIS offers solutions for all eventualities: hardware can be bundled with services and delivered as current expenditure.
“Cisco finance offers zero per cent finance over three to five years, and you can bundle the hardware in as part of that. That takes away the resistance,” said Buckley.
NIS has also been working to ensure security means responding not just to the threat landscape, but contributing to reshaping the national landscape, with the wifi4eu programme making remote work viable.
By delivering wifi4eu projects in Ireland, a €120 million European Commission project, to provide state-of-the-art wifi to towns and localities, NIS and Cisco, worked to give a boost to the community and promote tourism, using the Cisco Meraki brand to deliver the best security features, ease of access and configuration.
Here again, NIS stresses that the infrastructure and, indeed service, cannot be seriously considered without also looking at security.
“It's not just free wifi, it needs to be secure and it needs to protect the people who connect to it.
“Free wifi is one thing, but you have to ensure it is protected,” Buckley said.
In the end, wherever workers are, there is a transformative potential for business. “Many of our customers have seen the value in the move to a modern workplace environment and they plan on continuing to offer this as a standard practice into the future,” said Buckley.
For details visit nis.ie