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The Battle for Perimeter-Centric Security: Why It's Time to Evolve


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    Just in time for RSA 2024, news of the attack against Cisco firewalls serves as another sobering reminder that the battle for perimeter-centric security may have already been lost.

    The incident, dubbed ArcaneDoor by Cisco's security division Talos, involved state-sponsored hackers exploiting two zero-day vulnerabilities in Cisco's Adaptive Security Appliances to compromise government networks globally. The attack highlights the growing trend of hackers targeting edge devices such as firewalls, email servers, and VPNs, as weak links in an organization's security architecture.

    Traditionally, these perimeter-centric devices have been viewed as the castle walls meant to keep hackers at bay. However, as the ArcaneDoor campaign and other recent incidents demonstrate, these devices are increasingly becoming the very entry points that allow digital intruders to pillage the systems they were designed to protect. This alarming trend underscores the need for organizations to rethink their approach to security and adopt a more granular, data-centric strategy.

    Given the current threat landscape, it is prudent for organizations to operate under the assumption that some portion of their perimeter defenses have already been breached. By acknowledging this reality, organizations can shift their focus towards implementing security architectures and policy controls that are more granular and closer to the data itself.  Evolving in this manner will help security leaders achieve two distinct imperatives:

    1. prevent sensitive data from being unintentionally lost or stolen,
    2. promote sharing of sensitive data in a manner that advances productivity without sacrificing governance, privacy, or control.

    Trusted Data Format (TDF) is an open standard that is growing in popularity because of its unique ability to enable the later half of this evolution. Specifically, adoption of TDF is growing within the national defense community because it offers a standardized way define and enforce granular policy and access controls on sensitive information that must be shared with mission partners and applications operating in highly dynamic environments and workflows.  TDF allows organizations to maintain control over their information even if perimeter defenses are compromised. This shift to data-centric security is crucial in an era where collaboration with allied partners has never been more critical, and where the traditional network perimeter is becoming increasingly porous and difficult to defend.

    The ArcaneDoor campaign serves as yet another wake-up call for organizations relying solely on perimeter-centric security measures. As state-sponsored hackers continue to target network edge devices with growing sophistication, it is plausible that the battle for perimeter security has already been lost. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations must evolve their security strategies and adopt a more granular, data-centric approach. By embracing and implementing standards like TDF, companies can ensure that their most valuable asset – their data – remains secure even in the face of increasingly complex and persistent threats.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

    Matt Howard

    Matt Howard

    A proven executive and entrepreneur with over 25 years experience developing high-growth software companies, Matt serves as Virtu’s CMO and leads all aspects of the company’s go-to-market motion within the data protection and Zero Trust security ecosystems.

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