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Companies struggling with hybrid IT and zero trust controls – Pulse Secure

28 May 2019
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Software-defined access solutions provider Pulse Secure has released a report that quantifies the threats, gaps and investment as organisations face increasing hybrid IT access challenges.

The 2019 State of Enterprise Secure Access report surveys large enterprises in the US, UK and DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), uncovering business risk and impact resulting in a pivot towards extending Zero Trust capabilities to enable productivity and stem exposures to multi-cloud resources, applications and sensitive data.

While enterprises are taking advantage of cloud computing, the survey data showed all enterprises have ongoing data centre dependencies.

One-fifth of respondents anticipate lowering their data centre investment, while more than 40% indicated a material increase in private and public cloud investment.

According to the report, the shift in how organisations deliver Hybrid IT services to enable digital transformation must also take into consideration empowering a mobile workforce, supporting consumer and IoT devices in the workplace and meeting data privacy compliance obligations – all make for a challenging environment to ensure, monitor and audit access security.

"What was consistent across enterprise sizes, sectors, or location was that secure access for hybrid IT is a current and growing concern with cyber threats, requirements and issues emerging from many sources,” says IDG Connect editorial director Martin Veitch.

“The reporting findings and insights should empower corporate leadership and IT security professionals to rethink how their organisations are protecting resources and sensitive data as they migrate to the cloud.”

Key Findings

The survey found the most impactful incidents were contributed by a lack of user and device access visibility and lax endpoint, authentication and authorisation access controls. Over the last 18 months, half of all companies dealt with malware, unauthorised/vulnerable endpoint use and mobile or web apps exposures.

Nearly half experienced unauthorised access to data and resources due to insecure endpoints and privileged users, as well as unauthorised application access due to poor authentication or encryption controls.

While a third expressed significant confidence, 61% of respondents indicated modest confidence in their security processes, human resources, intelligence and tools to mitigate access security threats.

The survey revealed the top access threat mitigation deficiencies:

  • Defining app, data and resource access and protection requirements
  • Defining, implementing and enforcing user and device access policy
  • Provisioning, monitoring and enforcing BYOD and IoT device access

When survey participants were asked what they perceive as their largest operational gaps for access security, the majority identified hybrid IT application availability; user, device and mobile discovery and exposures; weak device configuration compliance; and inconsistent or incomplete enforcement.

Correspondingly, the participants stated that their organisations are stepping up their access security initiatives:

  • 48% improving endpoint security, remediation prior to access
  • 46% enhancing IoT discovery, isolation and access control
  • 44% fortifying network and cloud access visibility and resource segmentation

The cited incidents, threat mitigation deficiencies and operational gaps are among reasons for the interest in a Zero Trust approach for access security. 

A Zero Trust model authenticates, authorises and verifies users, devices, applications and resources no matter where they reside.

It encompasses proving identity, device and security state before and during a transaction; applying a least privilege access closest to the entities, applications and data; and extending intelligence to allow policies to adapt to changing requirements and conditions.

Adding to management complexity, the report also found that organisations employ three or more secure access tools per each of 13 solutions presented in the survey. 

Larger companies have about 30% more tools than smaller enterprises.

Correspondingly, nearly half of respondents were open to exploring the benefits of consolidating their security tools into suites.

With the migration to cloud, one tool of interest cited by respondents as being implemented or planned over the next 18 months is Software Defined Perimeter (SDP). 

Research Highlights

  • 91% of enterprises plan to increase secure access expenditure over the next 18 months; 30% anticipate an increase spend between 15% to 25%
  • 44% of enterprises use data centre in conjunction with public cloud, 30% in conjunction with private cloud, and 26% utilise all three delivery environments
  • 46% of large enterprises prefer data centre and private cloud; primarily preferred by financial services and UK-based companies
  • 49% or more cited significant access incidents due to malware, unauthorised and vulnerable endpoint use and mobile and web app exposures - healthcare organisations experienced greater mobile and web app exposures
  • 81% expressed gaps in hybrid IT application availability - financial services experienced the most business impact related to application availability
  • 78% indicated the need for greater visibility of users, endpoints and mobile devices; more evident in large enterprises and those in the DACH region
  • 42% will focus on refining privileged user or service account-based access – a top priority in financial services and manufacturing
  • 48% stated a willingness to explore secure access tool consolidation into suites
  • 56% stated a project or pilot of Software Defined Perimeter technology over the next 18 months
  • Over 38% of respondents outsource secure access capabilities to Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) with additional MSSP usage to grow 10% by 2021

The independent research for the report, which offers key insights into the current access security landscape and the maturity of defences, was conducted by IDG Connect.

Survey respondents included more than 300 information security decision makers in enterprises with more than 1,000 employees across US, UK and DACH regions, and covered key verticals including financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and services.