RSA 2014: Three Key Remote Access Takeaways
This year, with cryptography and information security becoming higher profile than ever before, more than 25,000 attendees made the trip to San Francisco for RSA Conference, which was filled to the brim with interesting discussions of new trends, research and technology. Despite several prominent experts boycotting the event in light of the $10 million the NSA secretly paid RSA, the show still sold out seven months in advance and comedian Stephen Colbert braved the backlash to deliver an electric closing keynote address. Here are three main takeaways from the conference relating to remote access security:
The Internet of Things is growing, and we need to secure it.
The Internet of Things (IoT) was the conference’s number one buzzword, and attendees were concerned with securing the billions of connected devices that are currently proliferating. Quite distressingly, the general feeling at the conference was that the industry is not yet ready to secure devices such as household appliances, medical devices or connected cars. VPNs, however, can provide a solution to secure IoT communications, by ensuring that all of the information traveling between connected devices and users stays within an encrypted tunnel, and the industry as a whole should look towards adopting them more widely within devices.
Point solutions are no longer enough.
Attendees eagerly discussed everything from forensics to advanced persistent threats (APTs), but the common thread was the importance of integrated solutions. From a remote access security perspective, it was refreshing to hear professionals who work on other security components sharing that view. In fact, Network World identified integration as the number one element that security vendors are now focusing on. Jon Oltsik, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) explained how, in the past, vendors have tended to push a collection of point products on a one-off basis. However, CISOs no longer have the resources to manage myriad products that don’t communicate with each other. Oltsik puts is quite plainly, “Smart vendors are responding with more integrated product suites and central management.”
Ease of use is paramount.
As IT administrators are increasingly having to do more with less, ease of use was another hot topic for security professionals at the conference. Gone are the days of lengthy product deployments and overly complicated customization. Now, with so many security products and services to choose from, enterprises and consumers alike are going to select to ones that are the easiest to deploy and manage, with the best user interface. With today’s advanced remote access security solutions, for example, employees can use a centrally managed VPN to connect to their corporate network in just a few clicks.
Of course, an end user friendly interface isn’t the only component for an easy to use solution – automation is another important element. For example, once upon a time, traveling employees had to log back into their VPN each time their Internet network connection changed (i.e. they moved from a coffee shop’s WiFi to a 3G connection). This was obviously disruptive to their work, and frankly, it was pretty annoying, too. But thanks to technologies such as Seamless Roaming and Friendly Net Detection, VPNs can now automatically change connection medums and recognize whether they are connecting via a known and trusted or an unknown, insecure network and automatically activate the necessary firewall rules and security mechanisms.
Overall, it was exciting to hear so much attention being given to solving the real world challenges that enterprises are currently facing. Oltsik said it best, “By all indications, security vendors are finally considering something that was minimized in the past - actual enterprise security requirements. [It is] an obvious, long overdue, and positive step for the industry. “