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TAP Into Technology

Leading the Way in Network Technology

Network Visibility: 4 Reasons it Matters for Financial Institutions

Posted by Steve Harris | 9/19/19 8:00 AM

How has your financial institution responded to digital disruption in recent years? If you have struggled to truly unlock the value of technologies like hybrid cloud, API platforms, artificial intelligence, block-chain, instant payments, and more, don’t worry—you are certainly not alone!

One study found that 51% of digital transformation initiatives have stalled or been abandoned completely. In many cases, these failures are entirely due to an inability to transition from a legacy data to one that’s set up to support next-gen technologies.

But even as you make widespread data center upgrades to improve agility, flexibility, and scalability, one flaw can undermine all of your investments—a lack of network visibility. How do you achieve it and why is it important?

As you transform your data center to support digital financial services, there are four main reasons to why you should focus on network visibility: defending against ransomware, managing data flows remotely, minimizing MTTR, and enhancing overall security.

1. Defending Against Ransomware 

It’s no surprise that attackers target financial institutions with ransomware so often. You store a vast amount of sensitive customer and corporate data. You have more cash on hand than companies in many other sectors. And you’re in an industry that’s notorious for outdated IT infrastructure. 

As your data center evolves and you embrace more digital services, you could open your institution up to more ransomware risk if you aren’t careful. Standard advice for defending against ransomware includes:

  • Segmenting network access so that threats can’t spread if they break through your defenses
  • Examining your network for vulnerabilities that are low-hanging fruit for attackers—unpatched systems, weak passwords, infrequent backups, outdated security tools, etc.
  • Maximizing the effectiveness of firewalls and email filters to scan all data packets for threats, filtering suspicious executable files away from users

But it’s important to recognize that attackers are sophisticated and highly skilled. Properly defending against ransomware means going beyond simple vulnerabilities and taking a proactive approach to security. And that means ensuring 100% network visibility for both your IT staff and your security tools.

In a perfect world, extensive awareness training will keep your employees from opening suspicious email attachments that deliver ransomware. But when you have network visibility tools feeding security and monitoring solutions, you can add an extra layer of protection that enables your team to respond to ransomware more proactively. 

Read EMA's Best Practices for Building A Network Visibility Fabric!

2. Managing Data Flows Remotely

The future of IT operations in financial services lies in a hybrid model. Finding your perfect combination of on-premises infrastructure, public cloud workloads, and private cloud environments will give you the ability to make the most of any and all emerging technologies/applications. 

The only problem is that this is a drastic shift from having all of your data flows housed within the core data center. With so many different environments to manage, you’re forced to keep track of a wide array of data flow protocols as well as networking tools from various vendors. Combine sprawling data flow demands with the ever-increasing volume of data packets to analyze, you’re left with a management nightmare.

When network flow monitoring isn’t working effectively in a modern data center, you risk having network performance issues that you can’t solve quickly. In many cases, this is because you aren’t able to manage bandwidth utilization effectively.

Adding network visibility tools that provide central and remote access to data flows means you can quickly address bandwidth utilization issues before they impact application performance. Whether that means remotely configuring data flow policies or digging into data logs to resolve bottlenecks, network visibility provides the foundation of data necessary to keep applications running smoothly.

3. Reducing Mean Time to Resolve Issues

It’s no secret that operating, maintaining, and managing legacy systems and workloads eats up as much as 80% of IT budgets. This “keep the lights on” reality makes it almost impossible to achieve the level of IT efficiency necessary to support digital initiatives.

But it’s not just keeping you from supporting innovative new projects. Spending so much time and money maintaining an over-complicated, monolithic data center also impacts your ability to resolve issues. 

Surveys show that in the majority of cases IT teams don’t know about network degradation until users complain about it. This reactive approach to troubleshooting may have been effective in the past, but will become a significant problem for any financial institution trying to succeed in digital transformation. 

Minimizing your mean time to resolve (MTTR) issues requires greater awareness of network traffic as well as an ability to identify root causes faster and more efficiently. This is another reason why network visibility is so important for your financial institution.

By implementing network TAPs and network packet brokers (NPBs) across your data center, you can ensure monitoring tools receive 100% copies of packets that come into and go out of your network. Being able to dig deep into log files and know that the data is reliable will speed up root causes analyses and, ultimately, drive down MTTR times. 

 

4. Enhancing Overall Security 

One of the biggest differences between traditional IT operations and more modern approaches built for digital organizations is the relationship between NetOps and SecOps. 

Traditionally, there has been a gap between these two sides of the IT organization. While NetOps focused on connecting users to applications and data across the business, SecOps locked down systems to maximize data protection. Now, growing data volumes, faster network speeds, and increasingly demanding applications require seamless collaboration between these two groups.

Collaborating to improve incident detection and response requires an easier path for NetOps to share data with SecOps. And by tapping network links to connect security appliances, NetOps can ensure SecOps has all the data necessary to maximize the effectiveness of its tools.

With the right approach, NetOps can help SecOps analyze traffic before and after inline devices. For example, Garland’s EdgeLens® Inline Security Packet Broker can capture traffic before it goes to tools like web application firewalls, sending copies of data to performance monitoring tools and providing complete visibility coverage. This kind of use case supports collaboration between NetOps and SecOps with the ability to manage multiple inline devices without downtime as well as the ability to analyze traffic before and after appliances. The data SecOps gains from this network visibility layer is invaluable for enhancing the overall security of your financial institution.

Building Your Network Visibility Layer

There are plenty of use cases that show what a true visibility layer can do for financial services. The right network TAP deployment can help you identify and prevent phishing attacks that could result in a ransomware infection. Or, you could use packet brokers to provide total visibility to multiple security appliances that support more proactive SecOps.

But the real key to unlocking the value of network visibility for your financial institution is designing a strategy uniquely suited to your needs. And that’s where we can help.


[Contact us today if you want to learn more about designing the perfect network visibility layer for the security and monitoring needs of your financial institution. ]

Topics: Network TAPs, Network Security, Network Visibility/Monitoring, Network Packet Brokers/Advanced Aggregators, Finance

Written by Steve Harris

As Regional Sales Manager, Northeast for Garland Technology, Steve is responsible for developing and implementing end user and partner strategies.