Industry Trends

Three Advantages of Integrated Security at the LAN Edge

By John Maddison | December 27, 2021

The LAN edge presents a broad and potentially vulnerable target for cyber criminals, and many LAN solutions lack built-in security, so they end up being secured with add-on solutions that add cost and complexity. Even solutions that have security often aren't integrated with the LAN edge, which can lead to opportunities for configurations to drift and cybercriminals to slip through the gaps. When it comes to managing the LAN edge, IT organizations face a number of challenges:

  • Keeping different configurations in sync
  • Gaining visibility across the network
  • Managing differing levels of access
  • Dealing with high total cost of ownership (TCO)

Although users want fast Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections, IT staff needs secure solutions that reduce complexity and overhead so they can focus their time on strategic initiatives rather than spending time managing common network issues.

Attacks are increasing with threats like ransomware on the rise (more than 1100% from June 2020 to July 2021). Lack of qualified personnel and network complexity are leading to security gaps and increased risk. A recent IBM survey suggests organizations have an average of 45 security tools deployed and each incident requires coordination across 19 different tools. The dwell time for security breaches is now measured in months with costs exceeding $8.6 million per breach.

To address these challenges and to better manage a secure network, more organizations are considering integrated platform approaches or a meshed cybersecurity architecture. Solutions that combine management for wired, wireless, and security functions are becoming more common as organizations attempt to streamline their operations.

The convergence of networking and security breaks down silos and centralizes data from users and the network that can be used to improve security and performance. By putting a next-generation firewall (NGFW) at the heart of the network, the network is secure by design from the ground up. This type of integrated platform approach that converges networking and security offers three key advantages.

Three Advantages of Converging Networking and Security

1. Simpler Configuration

In large sprawling networks, making even one small change can have a ripple effect and disrupt other areas of the network. IT staff need to be able to be sure that any additions, changes, or updates can be tracked and managed, so that all areas of the network remain in sync and operational. Network deployment at remote sites can have the potential for configuration problems as well. The work required to install and oversee a common standard across many remote locations and disparate branch topologies can quickly drain IT resources. Integrated security-driven networking solutions are easier to scale and extend without sacrificing security.

2. Better Visibility for Easier Management

Today's networks are constantly changing with devices from employees, contractors, and guests joining and leaving the network all the time. Typical LAN edge visibility can provide details about device connections, but may be missing upper-layer device context such as the level of user authentication and associated resource access limits. The ever-increasing number of Internet of things (IoT) devices are a particular challenge in terms of visibility because as they appear on the network, the applications they represent must be enabled without putting the overall security of the network at risk. In locations without on-site IT staff, dealing with IoT devices can be even more challenging because the information in the access layer interface is the only information provided. Good LAN edge solutions are able to deal with all types of devices and users as they connect without constant involvement from IT staff.

3. Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Even if solutions can provide the visibility and management an organization needs, the cumulative costs for licensing, enabling, and subscribing to capabilities on a piecemeal basis can add up. Organizations must carefully track how many systems and solutions need to be purchased to get everything to work across the entire organization. They need to determine how many licenses they need and if various features require recurring subscriptions. Calculating the cost of ownership also needs to take staff time into account. The time required for deployment and maintenance of operations can also vary quite a bit among solutions, so it's important to understand how complicated a given solution is to manage and if it needs additional products to function properly. Consolidating solutions with a high-performance mesh platform approach can dramatically simplify licensing and reduce costs.

Integrated Security That Reduces Complexity

Wired and wireless LAN networks are the backbone of an organization and require a significant investment of both time and money. But building, securing and managing local area networks doesn’t have to be challenging, time consuming and expensive. For the best possible protection, these networks should be built and maintained with security top of mind, not as an afterthought.

Integrated solutions make it possible to streamline the architecture and can alleviate configuration and management burdens for IT staff. This applies not only to the LAN, but to SD-WAN and ZTNA as well. By implementing an adaptive and integrated platform, organizations can eliminate appliance, configuration, and licensing sprawl. This type of platform approach saves both time and money so organizations can deliver on their business objectives while keeping day- to-day network management simple.

Read more about why the Fortinet Security Fabric is the industry’s highest-performing cybersecurity mesh platform.