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SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Adam Vincent, Roger Strukhoff

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Cloud Expo: Article

So, Just What Is REACT? And How Does It Change Security Strategies?

Examining the advantages of cloud-based unified security

Last month, I published an article about a new unified security platform called REACT (Realtime Event & Access Correlation Technology).  All in all, it received some very positive notices, but also raised some questions as to what exactly the platform is, and why it should matter.

Simply put, REACT is an approach whereby an organization leverages the capabilities of several security solutions into one central correlated repository of security intelligence. For instance, key information from an Access Management tool (such as SaaS SSO logins or views of/modifications on/additions to protected data) can be shared, processed and analyzed through a SIEM correlation engine. When this is done in real time, not only do you expand the centralized visibility, but more importantly any suspicious activity is immediately identified and alerted.  When these systems are running in parallel, but not unified, it might be days or weeks before these anomalous instances are discovered and remedied.

REACT incorporates four elements: SIEM, Access Management, Identity Management and Log Management. Each, independently, addresses certain security and/or compliance functions. As a deployment of centralized and unified security, they enhance the enterprise’s ability to perform, improve the granular visibility across independent silos and provide a true field of play in which to… yes…react!  But the key is this monitoring must be done in real time to gain the advantages of proactive readiness and agile and accurate response.

Think of REACT like an apple pie. You might have apples, dough crust, butter and spices. Each can be used on their own. However, when using each of the ingredients together, you create a tasty result that is more than the sum of its parts. As a platform, REACT is similar. Your organization may already have Identity Management or SSO, but if it isn’t “baked” together with forensic analytics like SIEM and/or Log management, you only get a portion of the information and a slice of the capability.

Why does that matter? Let’s break it down into 3 key business advantages:

1. Creating 360o Visibility -In the current complex, multi-networked and interlaced  business environment, the ability to know who is doing what, when and where to any part of the monitored IT landscape has moved beyond the “nice-to-have” strategy. Anything less is short sighted, and honestly, dangerous. It seems every few weeks, we hear about a large organization suffering some kind of breach. It could be internal sabotage, user carelessness, or hackers, but either way, sensitive data has been put at risk. By employing the unique advantage of multi-silo correlation and information distillation, the ability to expand visibility manifests as a huge return on investment through prevented breaches, supported work practices and easier compliance.

This enhanced visibility goes a long way toward internal proactive defense planning: who is logging in (or failing), modifying records, accessing data from any affiliated app across the entire extended network. When you have the right level of visibility, you can make better decisions faster...especially when factoring Big Data and BYOD.

2. Improved compliance - One of the top concerns for enterprises are compliance requirements. Hundreds of man-hours and other resources must be deployed per month just to provide the reports auditors require. When approaching security from a non-unified approach, IT needs to look at machine data and logs from many different servers from many different sectors of the network. It’s a Herculean task given the best of circumstances. With multiple audits from multiple agencies, it takes an inordinate amount of time away from other core business needs. Yet when unifying and centralizing (and automating) the data required by audits, compliance becomes less of a burden. The automations across the enterprise now deliver the prescribed data in the right format, fully completed by the imposed deadlines

And also consider, requirements from agencies like HIPAA, PCI, FFIEC, CIP GLBA, SOX are not going to lessen. If history teaches us anything, the demands of such organizations are only going to increase as the usage cases of your online assets continue to diversify and evolve.

3. More capability for less cost - In many circumstances, asking an organization to make investments in all sorts of security solutions is cost prohibitive. Not to mention all the other time, personnel and computing resources needed to properly deploy the initiative. By leveraging the security functionality from the cloud, companies gain additional and immediate solution bandwidth along with expanded capabilities. As a unified security deployment from the cloud, the cost-to-function ratio dramatically drops. Colloquially speaking, you get more bang for the buck. But because the solutions are managed from the cloud it is not an apples-to-apples comparison. REACT can work as an on-premises platform, but through multi-tenancy, centralization and other economies of scale, cloud-based security users get best of breed solutions for pennies against the on premises dollar. In short the cloud provides a unique advantage in functionality, affordability and control for any sized company—not just the big boys.

So to recap… REACT is not a collection of individual solutions and functions, but an interpolation of all the data across the enterprise to gain a truly holistic security vantage point. AND REACT matters because you can see more, see it faster, manage it cheaper and protect a greater swath of your enterprise. It’s a simple calculation-especially from the cloud.

Kevin Nikkhoo
A Cloud REACTionary

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

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