06 Oct Can Intent-Based Networking Solve The Data Breach Pandemic?

These days, it seems like there’s news of a new data breach almost daily. Has the move from on-premise to disaggregated computing and cloudification accelerated the problem? Are IT staff simply ill-equipped and over their heads when it comes to managing network security? I’ve written about intent-based networking in the past, which you can read here if interested. It is a philosophy that defines the desired state of a given network and utilizes automation to implement network policies. Can such an approach neutralize—or more importantly, prevent future data breaches?

The network is leaking

Remember the story of the Little Dutch Boy from your childhood? Written by American author Mary Mapes Dodge, the story is about a boy that walks past a dike and notices a small leak.  Acting quickly, he puts his finger in the hole to stop the flow of water until others arrived to help make the repairs. The moral of the story is that disaster can be averted if you act quickly enough. It’s also a great parallel to this year’s bevy of “leaks,” or data breaches, and the power of intent-based networking to facilitate the repair.

Equifax is currently in the hot seat for exposing nearly half of the U.S. population’s sensitive financial information (including my own). As a result, its CEO recently resigned. Yahoo!, which is now folded into Verizon’s Oath Inc. subsidiary, admitted this week that in 2013 EVERY one of its 3 billion accounts were compromised. The latest incident involves the NFLPlayers Union—this week it reported a breach of player information, including the much-maligned quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s home address and mobile phone number.

Houston, do we have a user problem?

Does the root of the data breach issue center on the networks themselves, or rather with user error? Veriflow seems to think the latter. The company provides tools to model, manage and protect networks, leveraging a patented network verification technology. In a recently published survey of 300 network professionals on its website, Veriflow reported that 97% of respondents admitted that human error causes network outages and problems, with over two-thirds stating that monitoring solutions fail to predict most issues.

Is there a cure for the network security pandemic?

In addition to Veriflow, there are a handful of enterprise networking companies that are focused on shoring up the current crisis around network security. This summer, Cisco Systems launched a new intent-based networking strategy, with the goal of identifying even encrypted malware through the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence (our chief analyst Patrick Moorhead wrote a column on the announcement here). Palo Alto Networks claims that its set of solutions provides total network visibility, precise control, and threat protection over network traffic. The cybersecurity company Fortinet delivers its solution through a network security fabric, that claims to secure any enterprise IT network infrastructure.

Cyberattacks and the resulting data breaches are unfortunately here to stay. There may not be a magic pill that solves the problem entirely, but it seems to me that the predictive and self-healing capabilities of intent-based networking solutions have the power to stem the tide.