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Staying ahead of advanced threats with Palo Alto Networks

Increased attack surfaces have resulted in faster and more sophisticated cyber-attacks. As bolt-on approaches to cybersecurity are no longer effective, security practitioners must redefine parameters and implement frameworks capable of combating advanced threats effectively. To ensure complete security and reduce the likelihood of cyberattacks, enterprise must follow the “never trust, always verify” principle, said KP Unnikrishnan while interacting with Rahul Raj.

KP Unnikrishnan (Unni) is vice president of Marketing for Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) at Palo Alto Networks, the global leader in Cybersecurity.

Unni has worked in the technology sector for over 2.5 decades. Unni has been instrumental in growing the team in APJ, elevating its brand awareness, and contributing to the company’s rapid growth in the region. Unni and his team have won multiple CMO awards and other industry recognition for brand strategies and campaigns. He was named in the 100 Most Talented Global Marketing Leaders by the World Marketing Congress in 2014.

Rahul: With the threat landscape expanding and evolving, how do you recommend enterprises protect against sophisticated threats with fully integrated layered solutions?

KP Unnikrishnan: The cloud-led shift to hybrid work has meant the introduction of new networks, clouds, and endpoints into corporate networks. As per Palo Alto Networks’ Global IoT Survey 2021, 84% organisations have seen an increase in the amount of non-business IoT devices connected to their business network, while 86% of Indian enterprises believe that the shift to remote working has resulted in an increased number of IoT security incidents. This suggests that expanded attack surfaces are fuelling cyber-attacks faster and more sophisticated than we’ve seen so far. 

 In this scenario, bolt-on approaches to cybersecurity are ineffective. Security practitioners must redefine parameters and adopt frameworks capable of effectively combating advanced threats. One of the main considerations here is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) 2.0. Zero Trust ensures that implicit trust is removed. operates on the principle of “never trust, always verify” and ensures that entities within the network are validated constantly. As a result, security remains airtight, and chances of a breach reduce significantly. 

Rahul: How should security experts go about simplifying complex policies? How does your company assist security experts in accomplishing this?
KP Unnikrishnan: We encourage CISOs to look at securing hybrid workforces as a strategic opportunity. This enables enterprises to be proactive with their cybersecurity efforts instead of reactive which can do more harm than good. This involves: 
  • Looking beyond VPNs to more modern and resilient approaches,
  • Leveraging Cloud-delivered security for scale, agility, and cost effectiveness,
  • Deploying a Zero Trust Network Access framework that removes implicit trust from the equation and constantly validates every device and transaction within the network. This also involves rethinking Zero Trust as a whole where we advise our customers to incorporate ZTNA 2.0 principles like continuous review of identity and connection across their domains to stay secure,
  • Adopting secure access service edge (SASE) to elevate network security as it converges a diverse range of security solutions into one cloud-native service
Our entire product portfolio is built with these policies in mind. One from the line-up that has been instrumental to the security needs of our clients today is Prisma Access, as it consolidates more point-products into a single converged cloud-delivered security platform than any competing solution. Additionally, the streamlined and cloud-managed platform in Prisma Access provides complete visibility of applications and threats across hybrid networks, enabling enterprises to benefit from its secure access service edge (SASE) capabilities.
Rahul: What actions do you recommend enterprises take to manage endpoint security across the organisation?

KP Unnikrishnan: Endpoints have come up to be a major concern for the security operations centre (SOC) in the new normal as many of them now lie outside the umbrella of the corporate network. Cyber adversaries have caught on to this, evolved at alarming speeds, and are now armed with threats too advanced for legacy security infrastructures. Therefore, we encourage our customers to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) into the SOC. AI and ML are far more effective at dealing with fast-moving threats as compared to antivirus signatures and continuously evolve to stop new attacks. This helps in correctly identifying and blocking malware, significantly reducing the attack surface. Furthermore, high performance ML frameworks halt emerging threats which adds an essential extra layer of security. 

Rahul: Given the rapidity at which malware infiltrates infrastructure, how can organisations speed up their threat mitigation efforts?

KP Unnikrishnan: As mentioned earlier, adopting a platform approach is essential for enterprises considering a more holistic approach to security. Threat intelligence and mitigation is a key element of this.  

Antiquated security infrastructures that rely on many siloed services and tools are ineffective against the advanced threats of today as they rely on disjointed threat detection techniques. Even compliance becomes a challenge here as each of these products come with their own policies. Managing these can lead to a waste of precious time and resources. Therefore, consolidating services like cloud-powered threat intelligence, next-gen firewalls, and AI & ML powered automation can go a long way in securing the organisation from recurring and new threats in real-time. Designing and implementing this from the ground up can deliver cybersecurity capable of combating modern threats. 

Rahul: What are your predictions for threat intelligence trends? How do you recommend organisations keep up with and deal with them?

KP Unnikrishnan: As our reliance on technology deepens at an enterprise and individual level, cyber threats will continue to evolve. With the development of 5G and Metaverse, cyber criminals will have new vulnerabilities to exploit and new playgrounds to explore. While the Covid-19 pandemic may have brought great advancements on the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) domain, it is now a high-action area for cyber criminals looking to take more than just the victim’s money. Security will become paramount here as it could save lives.  

From a security point-of-view, enterprises will need to evolve in line with their cyber adversaries. This may involve looking at cybersecurity infrastructures from a completely new lens, doing away with the old, and bringing in the new. Models like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), Extended Detection & Response (XDR), and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA 2.0) that bring automation to the mix and remove the element of human error will be key in the fight against highly advanced threats.   

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