How many security vendors and appliances are present in your networked enterprise environment? A dozen? Two dozen? One hundred? The typical IT organization has a plethora of disjointed tools with disjointed interfaces, each requiring separate skill sets, each offering incomplete views of the environment, and each issuing distinct alerts indicating there might be a problem. After significant investment in this collection of “solutions,” the last thing IT wants to do is spend hours manually trying to decipher a given alert.
This complex web of security tools originated in adversaries weaponizing applications and content that pass through the limited number of always-open ports in a stateful inspection firewall. Point products emerged to try plugging the holes, leading to the complicated environments that most organizations now must manage. In 2005, Palo Alto Networks reimagined the firewall to inspect all traffic, even if encrypted, with one coherent, cohesive network policy—matched to specific business requirements.
Today, we’ve transformed well beyond the firewall to deliver a complete platform solution that helps agencies address their most pressing current challenge: digital transformation. The public sector, defense and even intelligence communities must enable multiple clouds, remote users, distributed sites, different services and multi-faceted governance, all accelerated by the pandemic and the rush to remote work.
The subsequent increase in security gaps is taxing already-stretched security operations center (SOC) resources, who are grappling with heightened complexity and often unpredictable outcomes. The situation simply exceeds human capacity; instead we must fight adversaries at machine speed.
Palo Alto Networks’ comprehensive security portfolio approach does just that. Our mission is to help agencies protect their networks, data, users, applications and even IoT devices, wherever they reside, at the pace they require.
The Rich Benefits of a Platform Approach
Regardless of how good a point product may be, relying on dozens of them means more complex engineering, more alerts and logs for staff to manage, more interfaces with multiple vendor support teams, and certainly higher costs. Most important is security efficacy, which is weakened by risks inherent in using a patchwork of disparate products, disjointed security policies and inconsistent outcomes.
The platform approach instead enables agencies to implement consistent security protections across all data, users and applications, regardless of the environment in which they run. A platform is simpler to operate, provides far better visibility, given greater information sharing between products, and ultimately leads to reduced total cost of ownership—for instance, consolidating a network operations center and the amount of skilled resources needed to maintain and support it.
Born from a disruptive idea, market disruption is in our DNA; but we also continually disrupt ourselves, developing innovations like inline machine learning woven into our Next-Generation Firewall and the cloud native security of our Prisma™ Cloud solution. With our sustained track record of delivering best-of-breed capabilities to secure complex, dynamic enterprises, we’re proud to provide the world’s most comprehensive portfolio to secure today’s and tomorrow’s diverse array of technologies and endpoints.
Here are some of the outcomes agencies can expect from our solutions:
Threat intelligence at machine speed: Our bedrock threat intelligence cloud can discover previously unknown threats within minutes and stream them in near-real time to every operational Palo Alto Networks firewall, anywhere. Our platform identifies threats across data, users and applications, wherever they reside: physical, virtual, containerized or as-a-service. This provides agencies with the flexibility to deploy security solutions that map to their environment and enable their digital transformation.
Secure cloud transformation: With the shift to a cloud-first world, moving data and development across multiple cloud providers creates risk that can slow innovation and open agencies to new threats. We’re the only company that can help secure any cloud—public, private, hybrid and SaaS applications—while enabling full visibility and control to innovate and operate anywhere. Our security suite provides a centralized view of agency security posture and potential risks across all of their cloud environments.
Intelligent network security: With hybrid clouds, IoT devices and home offices, network definitions are widening. Reactive security can’t keep up. Instead, we’re making machine learning-powered network security intelligent and proactive. This gives our customers the peace of mind in knowing that their security policies meet best practices and that they’re protected against known and unknown threats.
Software-defined WAN: There is a pressing need to secure remote workforces and expanding vulnerable endpoints. Our cloud-delivered SD-WAN and advanced security services for remote users and branch offices connect users directly, safely and seamlessly to the applications they need.
Enabling the autonomous SOC: Typically, agencies have to automate capabilities across multiple on-premises or cloud-based point products, adjusted for all required use cases. Instead, using Palo Alto Networks products means security automation capabilities for lifecycle, configuration, and inline policies are designed once and then implemented everywhere, even in highly dynamic cloud environments.
For example, a cloud instance or virtual machine could be tagged as a web server. Tags can then be automatically ingested and updated according to security policy—a far simpler and more manageable solution than trying to track volumes of continually changing IP addresses. There’s also our external dynamic list (EDL) capability, where automated security policy applies updates and changes within minutes. That’s a significant improvement over waiting days, or weeks, for engineering orders or change requests to be approved.
Even with our comprehensive portfolio, we realize legacy products are a fact of life. Our fully open design can tightly integrate with other products that agencies may need to maintain. For example, our security suite can ingest other firewall logs and run analytics through our own automated logic, instantly responding to the range of alerts and incidents that would otherwise take up SOC analysts’ time.
Whatever the need, Palo Alto Networks is all about solving agency security challenges and implementing consistent security across a breadth of environments and use cases. If you’d like to learn more about our industry-leading comprehensive security portfolio, please visit www.paloaltonetworks.com/us-federal.
This article is authored by Bryan Wenger.
Native to the DMV, Bryan has spent his career supporting Federal Agencies across DoD and Civilian markets. He has a decade of experience architecting networking and cybersecurity solutions. Bryan is a CCIE and CISSP certified professional who joined Palo Alto Networks from Cisco Systems. While at Palo Alto Networks Bryan has partnered with Federal System Integrators, Cloud Service Providers, and other vendors to deliver secure solutions across Federal markets. He enjoys teaching others about cybersecurity and loves helping customers solve diverse problems.