What is end-to-end security and how do I start?

If you’re running a business of any size, you need to think about protecting your data from bad actors, loss and leaks. Mapping your risk and searching for a robust security suite is a great first step towards a more secure future. So, today we’ll explore your burning question “What is end-to-end security and how do I start?” We’ll give you some practical guidance and tips to launch this security journey.

What is end-to-end security?

When sending messages, creating files, logging into applications, and accessing data; there’s a window where your information might be intercepted without good end-to-end security. It’s a system and set of related policies that protects your data from the second it’s created through to the moment your recipient accesses it – and everywhere in between. It covers all the endpoints, SASE, SD-WAN, Networks and locations, data and apps used within your organisation. As this list of critical risk points can number in the hundreds, it’s important to employ a comprehensive end-to-end security tool to consolidate and manage all these different security functions. You might also want to partner with an organisation that can administer this tool and advise on policies and procedures.

What is an example of end-to-end security?

A simple example of end-to-end security is end-to-end encryption, where things like your communications are transformed into other characters so the real meaning of what you’re saying isn’t interceptible by third parties. This is great if you’re discussing intellectual property and company strategies that you don’t want to be leaked to the wider marketplace. But it’s just one example of a methodology that covers every possible entry point to your network.

Why is it important?

Our data needs to be secured to meet the duty of care we have to our clients and customers but also to adhere to regulatory requirements like GDPR. A robust end-to-end security suite should include; a highly secured SD-WAN, NGFW (Next Generation Firewall Service), ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access), SWG (Secure Web Gateway Service), CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker), RBI (Remote Browser Isolation) and DLP (Data Leak Prevention). Such features are part of a SASE (Secured Access Service Edge) solution. SASE architecture converges network security services into a cloud-based platform, focusing on the identity of users, devices and applications.

How do you start end-to-end?

First, you need to conduct a risk assessment for all areas of the business. The goal here will be to map all the tools and processes used within your organisation. An expert security partner can help you do this quickly and comprehensively.  Then, once the full scope is identified, you’ll want to find providers that meet the needs of your organisation. Let’s start with a secure SD-WAN, for example. You’ll want to look for the following benefits and features, present in market leaders like Cisco.

Full Stack

Here, your enterprise Firewall, IPS, and URL filtering capabilities are built directly into the SD-WAN appliance, so you don’t need further bolt-ons.

Flexible & Scalable

Having something that’s easy to roll out is key. So, zero-touch deployment and automatic provisioning are two must-haves.

Cloud Based

You’ll want a solution that’s accessible from anywhere and offers tools like Cisco Umbrella as a Secure Internet Gateway so you can have direct access breakouts.

Automated Enforcement

There’s a lot of repetition in security, so you’ll want a simple tool that does a lot of the work for you, including application-aware rules and security policies.

Real-time Management

Great SD-WAN services will improve access by optimising link and bandwidth with network or segment-related policies in real time.

Optimised Locally

Ensure you’re getting the best performance across all your segments no matter where they’re located.

How do you ensure end-to-end security?

A robust end-to-end security program isn’t just about the tools and policies you put in place. It’s also about the physical device security and best practices you teach to your teams. This includes using device locks, never sharing, or writing down passwords, not leaving devices in unsecured locations and practising good browsing and email hygiene. Beyond that, moving your whole organisation to a Zero Trust and segmented approach is key.

Why segmentation?

You should have different levels of access for different user profiles within your organisation. This is common practice, and a great example is Guest WiFi. It’s all over the place and as users, we know it’s usually unsecured and will be separate from an organisation’s internal WiFi (for good reason). But segmentations should go further, down to the device and application level. This is because a junior salesperson likely has different access needs to the company director. With its automated and dynamic policies, Cisco SD-WAN security is able to automatically enforce segmentation-based policies based on user and device type discovery and apply different per-application policies to each segment. It also routes the applications in real-time along the optimum path or selected transport to the destination. This ensures a greater level of security versus a one-size-fits-all internal network structure.

Why Zero Trust?

Lastly, it’s important to remind yourself about the criticality of Zero Trust at the heart of any end-to-end security program. No matter what provider you use or what policies you put in place, the core foundation should be Zero Trust. This is where no one is assumed to be a trusted party, internally or externally to your organisation. Every user, service and device is considered a potential threat until the correct access steps have been walked through. It uses multiple data points to verify that each access attempt is authorised. It also uses segmentation and least-privilege access to avoid extra risk and always assumes a breach is in progress by monitoring access etc. That way, when something does happen, the response is swift and reduces the damage caused by that incursion.

Scoping, crafting and deploying an end-to-end security program is a challenge for any organisation, regardless of size. So, if you’d like support to map your estate and find the best provider and policies for your needs; get in touch. We’ll help you create a viable strategy and ensure that it’s scalable and relevant long into the future. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *