Cybercrime is perhaps the most serious threat to businesses today, yet many executives still underestimate the risk that it poses to their organisation.
Today’s hackers are working around the clock to get to intellectual property, sensitive data, and private information. A successful data breach could potentially cost organisations millions and in minutes, damage a businesses reputation that has been developed over decades. As data security legislation across Europe tightens, organisations must invest in extra precautions to protect their infrastructure against the advancing cyber threats of the digital age.
The issue is not that risks to cyber security are going unrecognised, but that perimeter protection is no longer enough. Today, most organisations already have a strong perimeter security in place; however, often the controls throughout the data centre don’t have the same security focus. In particular, controls around virtual desktop infrastructure and application server environments. Whilst the sophistication of cyber crime continues to advance, as little as one in five (22%) IT leaders believe their organisation is ‘very well prepared’ to respond to a cyber attack, according to new research by Harvey Nash and KPMG.
Are IT leaders ready to respond to the advancing threat?
Protecting data is quite difficult to get right; organisations must strive to strike the right balance between fostering a collaborative environment and adequately segmenting access to critical data. In today’s drive for data access anywhere and anytime, where does the security boundary and risk end?
Universities provide a classic case example to this widespread struggle. Universities must protect their student’s data, along with protecting the reputational position of the University, without prohibiting or impeding research.
Tim Hearn- UK’s Director of Government- echoes the growing vulnerability concerns shared by many IT Leaders, quoting that Universities risked ‘falling behind’ in their response to cyber security.
“While universities may be world class in terms of quality of student experience and teaching, many risk falling behind in terms of IT security.”
How real is the risk?
According to a VMware study through approximately 50 universities across the UK, 87 per cent had suffered a successful cyber attack, with nearly half (43 per cent) having exam results infiltrated. 63 per cent claimed that their own students also posed a threat to data.
Failure to take necessary precautions not only creates more vulnerability for business leaders, but also limits the effectiveness of response when a data breach occurs. A risk that in 2017, according to the General Data Protection Act, could carry a hefty price tag up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover. Whichever one is greater!
How can organisations respond today?
Cyber security has significantly elevated on the majority of organisation’s priorities over the past five years, and thankfully, so has technology’s ability to respond to it.
Following the proliferation of endpoint access, the data centre perimeter isn’t as easy to define anymore. Security policies must be applied wherever workloads and data reside, a security measure that is now achievable using VMware’s NSX technology. NSX acts as a single security layer that operates across all virtual workloads, throughout the entire data centre. Thus enforcing firewall filtering and third party firewall service insertion at a micro-granular level, making micro segmentation, or a zero trust security approach more practical and cost effective.
One NSX customer - a University striving not to echo Tim Hearn’s concerns- is The University of York, who recently deployed NSX to protect both their server environments and virtual desktop infrastructure.
The University of York deployment demonstrates how micro segmentation, enabled by software defined networking can allow universities to be more flexible in how they store and access information, providing the collaborative environment they desire, without compromising on security.
The University of York is not alone in recognising NSX’s next-generation security capabilities, with VMware's September report revealing there were over 1,700 paying customers, growing 100% year-over-year. (Watch how our financial customer, London Capital Group, uses NSX here)
As the threat of cybercrime continues to rise through organisations, the role of IT leaders to protect growth and reputation is more important than ever. Thankfully, network virtualisation has opened the door to a new generation of security services that allows leaders to focus on the micro-granular organisation, automation and security of data, re-building confidence in maximum security.