VPNs, SDPs, SWGs, and More: Top Cybersecurity Tools and Trends to Look out for as Businesses Reopen

James RogerJames Roger wrote 11/10/2020 at 12:02 • 4 min read • Like

As businesses reopen and restore to normal, they should be looking to secure remote access and protect endpoints. According to a Mckinsey report, cybersecurity niches that would be high priorities for spending include perimeter security, next-generation identity and access controls, and remote access, among others.

This article examines how three specific technologies (one legacy and two emerging) are important for those specific aspects of cybersecurity going forward. 

Virtual Private Network

VPNs have been around for a long time and despite longings for new and more advanced tools, none of the latest emerging technologies have been able to fully cover the functionality of VPNs. In fact, VPNs are going to become more efficient and at the same time more secure going forward. This is due to the increasing adoption of zero-trust components to better protect endpoints. Likewise, AI and automation will have huge impacts on client VPNs.

The coronavirus pandemic has imposed on us a new reality of work: remote. Apparently, as reported by multiple agents, global demand for enterprise VPNs rose in the wake of the pandemic. That was not surprising at all. From a cybersecurity perspective, remote working is very risky as it increases the attack surface, reduces network visibility, and escalates remote access vulnerability.

VPNs, which are meant for securing connections, can quickly become attack targets themselves. Note that even before the pandemic, enterprise VPNs have been the targets of several DDoS and MitM attacks. 

To avoid these, it is important to use VPNs like Surfshark with strong encryption. One of the advantages of VPNs over the latest security technologies is that they (the former) are easy to set up. And if you do have one, upon returning to full work schedules (whether remotely or physically), one of the foremost measures to undertake should be patching and updating the company’s VPN.

Software-Defined Perimeter

Data is the world’s most valuable resource and much of cybersecurity attacks are attempts to seize control of confidential data, particularly personally identifiable information. Because of the rising spate of data breaches, the cybersecurity world now turns towards zero-trust approaches for data security. 

SDP is the leading technology established on zero-trust principles. Most access control tools grant access based on authenticating devices. VPNs and firewalls, for instance, validate IP addresses. On the other hand, SDP uses a need-to-know model where it authorizes users themselves instead of the devices.

In addition, upon authentication, it does not grant access to the entire network infrastructure. Instead, the user only gains access to a personalized set of resources required for their work at the time. This greatly reduces the attack surface and the potential impacts of a breach, if one were to occur. 

SDP is being hailed as the next-generation VPN, and that doesn’t seem far-fetched at all. As SDP adoption accelerates, its market size is estimated to increase at a CAGR of 33.67% over the next five years.

Secure Web Gateway

Whether you want to protect your employees from phishing scams or need to ensure that they use the web within the acceptable conditions defined by the company, an SWG provides a fitting framework. An SWG interfaces between a device and the internet, inspecting all traffic for filtering malicious content and enforcing the company’s cybersecurity policy.

Call it an advanced firewall if you wish. After all, like a firewall, it is usually delivered on-premise or as a cloud-based SaaS application. In fact, SWGs are quite similar to Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs).

The bigger an enterprise, the harder it is to secure its endpoints. It’s worse when employees work remotely. And cybercriminals are not relenting in their efforts, embedding malicious components in seemingly innocuous sources (such as fake but professional-looking websites) that are sophisticated enough to escape detection, but not an SWG.

An SWG filters web traffic by inspecting URLs against a database of websites, granting or denying access based on the allowlist and the blocklist. An SWG does more than URL filtering though. It must also be equipped with data loss prevention features. This means that no data comes into or exits the network without inspection.

Adapting to the New Normal

It has been only six months since WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. But in that time, the world (and work) has undergone a series of significant changes. Some temporary, others permanent. Cybersecurity is not exempted. For one, there has been a whopping 800% surge in the rate of cyberattacks per day since the pandemic. In addition, attacks are taking new forms as the attackers are forced to innovate too.

In addition, depending on how significantly COVID-19 has affected your operations, many businesses would need to draft new cybersecurity policies, capturing the new reality about cyber threats and their actors. According to this author, “Some changes made to address the pandemic may need to be institutionalized; others may need to be replaced with more secure and permanent solutions.” Or your business might need to overhaul your entire cybersecurity structure for a more resilient model. 

Finally, and this goes without saying, updating your cybersecurity structure would require fresh awareness training for all workers. They should be made familiar with the latest threats and new tools and approaches that the company is adopting (if any). A business is only as protected as its endpoints are, and employees make the frontline. Hence, proper awareness is necessary