Industry Trends

The Rise of Security-Driven Networking and the Future of Network Security

By Fortinet | December 05, 2019

This is a summary of a Q&A session with Ken Xie, Fortinet’s Founder, Chairman of the Board, CEO and Zeus Karravala of ZK Research for Network World. The entire article can be accessed here.

Digital innovation is accelerating, causing the transformation of business networks and their underlying security systems at an unprecedented rate. Business applications, rich media services, and digital transactions are not only the cornerstones of the modern economy, but they require ever-increasing volumes of bandwidth, speed, and scalability. As a result, security and network operation teams that have traditionally operated independently – and sometimes even at odds with each other's goals – now need to be closely aligned. 

Cybercriminals are paying attention and are willing and able to exploit even the tiniest gaps in a security system. In this new threat landscape, security can no longer afford to operate in a reactive mode, constantly catching up to networked environments in a constant state of flux. To meet and secure the new demands of today’s dynamic and demanding networking environment, organizations need a new generation of security that is tightly integrated with the network, giving rise to the new concept of security-driven networking.

The Next Generation of Security

Security has to always be evolving. According to Fortinet’s Ken Xie, “Security can no longer function as a moat around a castle. Instead, today’s digital networks and data are distributed across growing numbers of virtual clouds, edges, and physical devices.”

In this new digital world, security needs to not only be integrated into the network but also help drive its development. That requires a strategy that integrates security and networking together into a single system ensures that whenever the networking infrastructure evolves or expands, security automatically adapts as an integrated part of that environment.

Of course, integration is only part of the challenge. Performance and interconnectivity are also essential, and network and security policies need to be able to meet constantly evolving requirements at digital speeds. According to Ken Xie, “to keep pace with the ongoing digital transformation of our interconnected environments, security and the network will have to converge. This is the only way that threat detection and prevention can continue to span the evolving network and respond at network speeds.”

The Impact of the Evolving Edge

Today’s smart homes today have many different edges – smart appliances, voice-activated assistants, laptops, smartphones, connected security systems such as video surveillance and smart locks, smart lighting and power outlets, and entertainment systems integrated into the entire home environment. To be effective, security needs to span all of them to ensure the modern home is protected. From a business perspective, branch offices are undergoing the same sort of transformation and edges are increasing. Traditional hub and spoke connection models are disappearing because MPLS is too rigid and the central data center is moving to the cloud

SD-WAN is a perfect example of how businesses can deploy security and networking as a single solution, not only supporting advanced routing protocols, such as load balancing and optimizing connections, but also providing advanced security. Without that integration, the branch will become the weakest link in an organization’s security chain. 

The Growth of the Edge Requires a New Security Paradigm

But that’s just the start. Billions of new devices will create new edge networks and platforms, many of them ad hoc and temporary, enabling new immersive technologies such as VR and AR-based communications, rich media, collaborative experiences, and interactive tools that tie multiple services together in new technology areas such as autonomous cars and smart cities. This will require the convergence of networking and security to ensure the integrity of data and devices.

In these new environments, transactions and decisions will need to be made in microseconds – which means they will often need to be made locally. According to Ken Xie, achieving this level of performance “will require the implementation of specialized physical and virtual processors that can accelerate decision making.” Which is why Fortinet has spent years developing and refining specially-designed security processors (SPUs) that provide unmatched performance at a fraction of the cost of traditional CPUs. Other visionary organizations, such as Amazon and Google, have done the same thing, accelerating the transition to cloud-based networking.

Tomorrow’s Edge Computing will Rely on Edge Computing and AI

Because new edge platforms will be comprised of an enormous number of constantly shifting and interconnected devices, security will need to refocus on prevention, which is far more difficult and processor-intensive. And, because high-performance transactions will require immediate decision-making, security will not only need to also live on new edge-based IoT and networking devices, but AI will have to be built into the next generation of security solutions to meet new performance and decision-making demands.

Fortunately, Fortinet has also spent the past decade building, training, and refining the largest and most comprehensive Artificial Neural Network designed for security in the world – comprised of billions of interconnected nodes. Because this AI system has been able to take over critical threat detection and analysis functions successfully, we have now begun to weave it into our portfolio of security solutions – a feat that, according to Ken Xie is, “like our advanced security and networking processors, no other vendor is even close to replicating.”

This is a summary of a Q&A session with Ken Xie and Zeus Karravala of ZK Research for Network World. The entire article can be accessed here.

Learn how Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN Solution uses a security-driven networking approach to improve user experience and simplify operations at the WAN Edge.

Read these customer case studies to see how Warrior Invictus Holding Co., Inc. and the District School Board of Niagara implemented Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN to alleviate network complexity, increase bandwidth, and reduce security costs.