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Helping organisations navigate the perfect security storm on Vodafone IE

Helping organisations navigate

the perfect security storm

Summary:  Organisations need network and security expertise that can be tailored to their needs and the changing cyber threat landscape. Vodafone's Secure Connected Enterprise can fulfil this very demanding brief.

Vodafone Head of Product Management and Partnerships, Kevin Relihan in the lobby of the Vodafone Dublin office

This article originally appeared on the Irish Times on June 22, 2023.

Vodafone has launched Secure Connected Enterprise which brings world leading network connectivity together with best-of-breed cybersecurity and managed threat detection to protect data regardless of location. The new solution has been developed in response to the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape facing today’s businesses.

"Organisations are now hybrid and are moving systems to the cloud while facing ever increasing security threats from a myriad of sources," says Vodafone Head of Product Management and Partnerships, Kevin Relihan.

"Secure Connected Enterprise (SCE) leverages Vodafone’s trusted national and global connectivity, business applications aware network (SD WAN) and a curated suite of security services that can be selected depending on individual requirements to create tailored solutions for our customers."

He says the changing nature of organisations is driving the need for more sophisticated and tailored security solutions, adding that recent research from EY shows that 90 per cent of employees want to work flexibly. This has turned the security model on its head with those accessing the organisation's data and applications now sitting outside traditional physical environments, he explains, "Security now needs to help provide access close to these users."

Vodafone Head of Product Management and Partnerships, Kevin Relihan in front of laptop in Vodafone's Dublin office

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is another consideration. While it brings many benefits to businesses and their customers it is also driving workloads and applications to the cloud creating new challenges on how best to secure traffic and data.

These changes are occurring against a backdrop of rising cyber threats, one in which US-based Cyber Edge Group stated that 85 per cent of organisations experienced a cyberattack in 2021. Of concern to companies is the fact that each data breach cost, on average, US$4.2 million and took 287 days to identify and contain.

The threat continues to grow with new technologies such as AI being utilised by cybercriminals to increase the volume and sophistication of attacks.

Vodafone’s SCE’s solution incorporates two key security strategies – Zero Trust and secure access service edge (SASE).

The rise of zero trust and zero exceptions

Zero trust is an approach to security that requires all users, whether inside or outside the organisation, to be authenticated, authorised and continuously validated at every single point of entry. In short, it eliminates trust in any source attempting to access data or applications, Relihan explains. "There are no exceptions to this policy," he says firmly.

In essence, it means that even when people have been granted access to the network, they can't do anything without continuous verification and authorisation.

Relihan points out that an executive order from the Biden administration in the US has mandated that all of US government agencies and the third parties serving them have to use it. "In Europe, over one third of businesses have adopted a Zero-Trust strategy. It reduces the chance of a breach happening, reduces the cost of a breach if it does happen, and reduces the time taken to identify and contain it."

Laptop on desk showing the text Vodafone Secure Connected Enterprise

What is SASE

Alongside Zero Trust, SASE is a technology Vodafone utilises as part of Secure Connect Enterprise. It is used to deliver wide area network and security controls as a cloud service directly to the source of the connection rather than to a datacentre. It reduces the amount of network traffic going to datacentres with endpoint traffic routed to the cloud for authentication and verification. It means employees can be working from anywhere when trying to access the company network.

“Technically, if you are working from the office you are protected by firewalls. SASE brings security out to the end user, be they working from home, using an internet-of-things device or on an automated production line."

How to ensure your business is secure and connected

Vodafone’s Secure Connected Enterprise works with customers on a consultancy basis, Relihan explains. It looks at each business and the industry it’s in, the challenges and opportunities that face them and tailors solutions to their specific needs.

The assessment begins with a review of the current network and security environment and the organisation’s readiness for the implementation of Zero Trust and SASE strategies. “We then work with the client to identify a roadmap to position the business to successfully implement security strategies. We also provide vendor agnostic guidance on best-in-class technologies required for those strategies” states Relihan.

What is unique about Vodafone’s approach is that it looks at the overall business, from end to end, that is from the network to the user endpoint devices, he explains. “Through our experience and expertise running some of the world’s largest fixed and mobile networks and our IOT platforms we have unique understandings and approaches to providing a seamless end to end level of protection.”

Vodafone Head of Product Management and Partnerships, Kevin Relihan in Vodafone's Dublin office

Vodafone leads from the viewpoint that security and network are better addressed together - essentially that the technologies involved have become so enmeshed that they are now very inefficient to separate and manage independently.

“We have a proven track record,” says Relihan. “Our expertise is valued by global organisation with 70 per cent of Fortune 500 companies working with Vodafone. We carry 20 per cent of the world’s internet traffic protecting more data across our networks than any other provider. We provide a single service of many parts that can be custom-built to your company’s requirements. Individual vendors do not provide the same cutting-edge connectivity. Vodafone ensures that network connectivity, SD WAN and end points work together in a seamless manner. Crucially, we also have 15,000 security and network experts around the world who are available to help monitor and manage our customers’ security around the clock.”

Vodafone brings its global scale and vast expertise to ensure its Secure Connected Enterprise solution delivers on its core objective, that of supporting business growth by giving customers’ teams the freedom and agility to work confidently, consistently, and securely from anywhere. It provides a level of scalability and flexibility that other providers simply cannot match, he says “This is delivered through a highly flexible commercial and consumption model as a single service.”

2023, "How businesses can stay cool when navigating the perfect security storm", Irish Times, June 22. Available at: https://www.irishtimes.com/sponsored/2023/06/22/helping-organisations-navigate-the-perfect-security-storm/

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