The Importance of NetSecOps in Network Management

network NetSecOps

Content By Devops .com

The IT landscape has changed beyond recognition in the past decade or so. The vast majority of businesses now operate largely in the cloud, which has had a notable impact on their agility and productivity. A recent survey of 1,900 IT and security professionals found that 41% of organizations are running more of their workloads in public clouds when compared to just one quarter of respondents in 2019. Even businesses that were not digitally mature enough to take full advantage of the cloud will have dramatically altered their strategies in order to support remote working at scale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with cloud innovation so high on the boardroom agenda, security is often left lagging behind, creating a vulnerability gap that businesses can little afford in the current heightened risk landscape. The same survey found the leading concern about cloud adoption was network security (58%).

Managing organizations’ networks and their security should go hand-in-hand, but, as reflected in the survey, there’s no clear ownership of public cloud security. Responsibility is scattered across SecOps, NOCs and DevOps, and these teams don’t consistently collaborate in a way that aligns with business interests. We know from experience that this siloed approach hurts security, so what should businesses do about it? How can they bridge the gap between NetOps and SecOps to keep their network assets secure and prevent missteps?

Building a Case for NetSecOps

Today’s digital infrastructure demands the collaboration – perhaps even the convergence – of NetOps and SecOps to achieve maximum security and productivity. While the majority of businesses do have open communication channels between the two departments, there is still a large proportion of network and security teams working in isolation. This creates unnecessary friction, which can be problematic for services-based businesses that are trying to deliver the best possible end user experience.

The reality is that NetOps and SecOps share several commonalities. They are both responsible for critical aspects of a business and have to navigate constantly evolving environments, often under extremely restrictive conditions. Agility is particularly important for security teams to keep pace with emerging technologies, yet deployments are often stalled or abandoned at the implementation phase due to misconfigurations or poor execution. As enterprises continue to deploy software-defined networks and public cloud architecture, security has become even more important to the network team, which is why this convergence needs to happen sooner rather than later.

We somehow need to insert the network security element into the NetOps pipeline and seamlessly make it just another step in the process. If we could automatically check whether network connectivity is already enabled as part of the pre-delivery testing phase, that could, at least, save us the heartache of deploying something that won’t work. And then, if we do need to open new ports, an automated process that could also raise a change request would save even more time. Better yet, if it’s one of those “make this like that” changes, the change could be automatically implemented on the firewalls – in minutes, not weeks.

With NetSecOps, application developers can get creative without worrying about security slowing them down, and network security teams can sleep soundly, knowing that risk and compliance checks are built in to the continuous delivery process with a full audit trail, so they can even get time back to do some fun stuff.

If we could do all this with only the rare cases of new connectivity requiring approval by security, the NetSecOps dream could become a reality, allowing fast, high-quality delivery. With NetOps and SecOps working together, organizations can establish a collective approach to network management and security, offering equal opportunity for both teams to present and prioritize issues and agree on the fundamental rules from the start; a match made in heaven.

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