The key to securing your cloud perimeter

The key to securing your cloud perimeter

As organizations transform how they conduct business–from embracing IT and OT to pursuing remote work initiatives–many are harnessing the cloud to advance their operations. And while the cloud undoubtedly offers businesses numerous benefits, it also expands an enterprise’s attack surface and introduces new security challenges.

Organizations must establish strong security controls across their entire network, including any cloud infrastructure they use, to maintain agility, meet compliance requirements, and reduce their risk from cyber threats. That’s why more businesses are adopting virtual firewalls alongside traditional firewalls to consistently secure digital assets and devices regardless of where they’re deployed.

Cloud computing delivers on its promise, But security remains a concern

Public cloud computing delivers many essential benefits to enterprises. According to recent research, business leaders say the cloud offers them more flexibility and scalability (53%), better agility (45%), improved availability and business continuity (44%), and accelerated deployment and provisioning (41%). Of those surveyed, 40% said they already have more than half their workloads in the cloud, and 58% aim to reach that level in the next 12 to 18 months.

Despite the advantages enterprises are experiencing because of cloud computing, nearly half of business leaders (43%) believe more significant risks are associated with the cloud than on-premises environments. Survey respondents were concerned about several risks associated with the cloud, including misconfigurations, securing major cloud applications already in use, defending against malware, and having centralized visibility and management across all cloud platforms.

Virtual firewalls are foundational to strong security

The term “firewall” likely conjures up images among seasoned security and IT professionals of a lone enterprise data center protected by firewalls capable of conducting basic packet inspection. Yet it’s safe to say that firewalls have evolved significantly since their inception years ago. Traditional firewalls are now augmented with AI and ML-driven features, can block malicious files and links, detect known threats and vulnerabilities, and so much more. Many organizations are now adding virtual firewalls, cloud-native firewalls, and Firewall-as-a-Service capabilities for comprehensive digital asset protection.

The network firewall–in all its various forms–continues to be the most effective tool for securing business applications and data both on-premises and in the cloud. It reduces deployment complexity, development costs, and demands on internal security and IT teams, all of which effectively reduce organizational risk. Virtual firewalls offer all these benefits for cloud deployments, ultimately giving security teams greater peace of mind as they spin up new workloads to support various digital transformation initiatives.

4 common use cases for virtual firewalls

As cloud adoption grows, deploying virtual firewalls has never been more crucial to effectively manage corporate risk. Below are just a few common use cases for–as well as the advantages of–implementing virtual firewalls.

Robust security in virtualized data centers and private clouds

Many organizations are transforming their traditional data centers into virtualized data centers or private clouds, implementing technologies like software-defined networking (SDN) and virtual desktop infrastructure. In these environments, some enterprises use SDN for the microsegmentation of virtual workloads. Yet threats can lurk deep within traffic flows between trusted sources, which creates security risks that can easily go unnoticed.

A virtual firewall supports service chain integration with SDN platforms so that advanced security services–including sandboxing, DNS security, and more–can easily be integrated to further inspect and protect approved traffic.

Secure connectivity into the cloud

While some organizations are “all in” when it comes to the cloud, many enterprises are shifting only select applications to this platform. A robust virtual firewall offers several reliable connectivity options, giving enterprises more robust security and high performance. This includes SD-WAN capabilities that secure traffic at the branch and data center to and from applications that may reside in the cloud.

Stronger security in the public cloud

As organizations expand their use of cloud computing, they inevitably must spin up multiple Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs). The higher the count of VPCs and cloud workloads an enterprise has, the larger the attack surface becomes. And the lack of access control between workloads and VPCs can quickly result in lateral attacks and data exfiltration. Virtual firewalls are valuable because they can be used to gain deep visibility into application workload traffic to guard against threats and meet IT and regulatory compliance needs.

Consistent security across multiple clouds

Many organizations are leveraging multiple cloud vendors, which introduces a variety of challenges. This includes concerns about the routing and security of application traffic to and from each cloud, maintaining reliable connections, implementing consistent network and security policies, and more. Virtual firewalls offer connectivity and continuous visibility into threats across multiple clouds and virtual data centers and can also be used to enforce consistent policies across a multi-cloud environment.

Virtual firewalls are a must for any organization using the cloud

As businesses pursue digital initiatives requiring flexibility and agility at a level only the cloud can provide, new security challenges emerge. But this rapid pace of innovation doesn’t need to overwhelm security teams. An effective and efficient cloud security strategy should include core foundational components–including virtual firewalls–to streamline daily activities for the security team and deliver secure, consistent experiences to users everywhere.

Fortinet’s virtual firewall, FortiGate-VM, delivers AI-powered threat protection and SD-WAN capabilities for multi-cloud environments so customers can leverage all the benefits of the cloud securely. 

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