The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a huge shift in where and how work is performed, as companies are forced to adopt remote and hybrid arrangements for their teams and accelerate the digital transformation of their organizations. These changes have opened businesses around the world to heightened cybersecurity risks and challenges, and many have been deliberating on how to bolster their cyber defenses to face the post-COVID era.
Helping companies thrive under this new paradigm is Fortinet, the world’s foremost network security innovator. By utilizing its fast, scalable, and flexible solutions, Fortinet’s clients can better shape their cybersecurity strategies and mitigate the risk of network attacks and intrusions.
Founded in Sunnyvale, California, Fortinet has been providing the Taiwan government and businesses with advanced security products and solutions for nearly 20 years. Its Taiwan operations include FortiGuard Labs, which conducts threat intelligence, research and development, and logistics, strengthening both Taiwan’s cybersecurity industry chain and the cybersecurity of its businesses.
“For enterprises, an effective cybersecurity strategy must incorporate two fundamental concepts,” says Spencer Chen, Fortinet’s senior director of North Asia. “One is the constantly evolving drive of corporations, and the other is implementing rapidly adjustable security threat response tactics.”
Chen says that in the wake of COVID-19, Fortinet has observed a marked uptick in the number of clients looking to adopt innovative network security solutions such as SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network), which employs software to control connectivity for all edge devices in remote networks. Such systems provide for a high level of visibility into a company’s business applications. Fortinet’s FortiGate SD-WAN products stand out among competitors for their built-in security functions, including threat detection and threat rejection, which can be enabled within minutes.
In addition, these businesses must begin considering more comprehensive models for protecting their networks, such as the security-driven networking approach, which combines SD-WAN, next-generation firewalls (NGFW), and advanced routing capabilities. Chen notes that a security-driven networking strategy considers all potential vulnerable points in a connected environment, including endpoints, users, core networks, branches, and clouds, to respond to rapidly changing security challenges. Fortinet is once again being positioned as a Leader in the 2021 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for WAN Edge Infrastructure. This marks the second year in a row that Fortinet has been recognized as a Leader for Fortinet Secure SD-WAN.
One major threat that industries are facing in this new era is the growing preference of hackers to exploit vulnerabilities through ransomware attacks. Citing from FortiGuard Labs’ 2021 mid-year Global Threat Landscape Report, Chen says that the increase in cyber threats has been ransomware, which saw a staggering more than tenfold increase over the past 12 months. The data also shows that the average weekly ransomware activity in June 2021 was around 150,000 times.
In Taiwan, widely publicized ransomware attacks on some the island’s biggest companies, particularly those within the tech sector, have caught the attention of the public. Yet this type of cybercrime can and has impacted a range of targets, including in the medical field, education, industry, and government. In most cases, victims have no choice but to pay the amount demanded by the hackers or risk losing their valuable data.
“This indicates that the average security strategy used by these organizations is unable to prevent ransomware attacks,” says Chen. “Rather, they should be using a combination of NGFW, endpoint security management, and active threat intelligence, as well as AI and machine learning analytical capabilities.” Through targeted use of these tools, he adds, companies can implement a more multifaceted, cohesive cybersecurity strategy.
Given the increasing adoption and sophistication of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in recent years, malicious users have been finding new ways to use it to their advantage. Whereas hacking into a network used to take months, AI and machine learning tools reduce that process to a matter of days. Fortinet, says Chen, understands that to repel cybercriminals, companies must beat them at their own game by using these technologies for good.
AI technology can also help alleviate the current global shortage of cybersecurity talent. According to a 2019 study compiled by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, nearly two thirds of companies lack sufficient information cybersecurity personnel. And as the volume and speed of threats multiply in a changing digital environment, already understaffed teams must spend more time responding to too many alerts on too many devices and management systems. AI can integrate the data of various platforms and help security teams analyze and investigate new threats in the shortest possible amount of time.
Recognizing the need to begin filling the talent gap, Fortinet in 2020 launched a training initiative called the Network Security Expert (NSE) program, which offers free access to 24 high-level courses across eight stages. Through the NSE, partners in 100 countries around the world have established training centers, which in 2021 alone have awarded more than 500,000 certifications. “The free courses provided through the NSE program are open to everyone, and any interested IT professional can use them to expand their knowledge and skills,” says Chen. “In this way, they can more effectively protect the remote operations of their company or organization and provide leak-proof security each time a pandemic event creates a ‘new normal.’”