Robert Whiteley and Natalie Lambert have seen the future—and in it, traditional network security is dead. At least that is the message the two Forrester Research analysts delivered to a crowd at the Forrester Security Forum in Atlanta Sept. 6.
According to them, in the next five years the Internet will be the primary connectivity method for businesses, replacing their private network infrastructure as the number of mobile workers, contractors and other third-party users continues to grow. In this new world, which Whiteley and Lambert called "Internet Everywhere," corporations will have to redefine network security and focus on data encryption, managing risk at the endpoint and having strict data access controls, they said.
Some corporations, such as the energy giant BP, have already taken big steps towards deperimeterization—a term created by the Jericho Forum to describe a strategy that focuses on protecting data with tactics such as encryption rather than traditional efforts aimed at fending off attacks from intruders at the networks boundary. BP has taken some 18,000 of its 85,000 laptops off its LAN and allowed them to connect directly to the Internet, the two said.
One of the end results of the death of traditional network security will be a growth in desktop virtualization, Whiteley said.
"Well see more significant adoption of [desktop] virtualization in three to five years," he said after the presentation, adding that in five years it will be an integral part of doing business.
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Desktop virtualization allows a PCs operating system and applications to execute in a secure area separate from the underlying hardware and software platform. Its security advantages have become a major selling point, as all a virtualized terminal can do is display information; if it is lost or stolen, no corporate data would likely be compromised since it wouldnt be stored on the local hard drive.
The adoption of PC virtualization would mean companies would no longer have to provision corporate machines to untrusted users, Lambert said. Desktop virtualization simply equals a more secure environment, she said.
"The primary security benefit is data security," she said after the presentation. "Keeping the data constantly in the safety of the data center is a very large driver for these technologies. In addition, patch management is made much easier in a virtualized environment because patching happens natively. This is important as patching systems—or the fear of unpatched systems—still keeps IT managers up at night."
But desktop virtualization is not without its drawbacks. There are performance issues tied to bandwidth and latency that are created, Whiteley said.
Still, the analysts predicted corporations ultimately will be forced to abandon traditional network security in favor of desktop virtualization and the Internet Everywhere environment, emphasizing access control over firewalls and supplementing it all with application level gateways in the data center.
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