Introducing the Network Built for Security
From its earliest days, network security has always been defined by trade-offs. More robust security has typically meant more complexity, more costs, more work for both network and security teams, and the potential for decreased performance and availability. These compromises have become even more pronounced as organizations strive to adopt Zero Trust principles to combat the onslaught of ransomware and other threat actors focused on infiltrating and spreading within enterprise networks.
Nile is fundamentally changing this game with a new type of enterprise network truly built for Security. We emphasize the capital “S” in Security to signify not only a network that is itself more secure but one that also empowers Security teams and acts as a force multiplier for existing security tools. The white paper Enterprise Wired & Wireless Network Security by Nile fully introduces our unique approach and the many ways it can transform how enterprises approach security.
In this blog, we will tackle three of the most fundamental Nile capabilities and the benefits they deliver to organizations, including:
- How to deliver a Zero Trust network with no networking required
- How to uniquely disrupt ransomware and advanced threats
- How to use the network to supercharge your security stack
Let’s dive in.
A Zero Trust Network With No Networking Required
Zero Trust has become a foundational concept of enterprise security, and virtually every security and technology leader would readily agree with the core concepts. Users and devices can’t be trusted inherently simply because they are inside the network. A user’s connection can’t be trusted merely because they were trusted an hour ago. Security must be continuously re-evaluated, and each device, user, and connection should be verified instead of blindly trusted.
However, those clean, simple ideals almost always have serious complications in the real world. Traditional networks were never designed to isolate each device, so overlaying micro-segmentation onto a conventional network is incredibly complex and requires excessive work from both networking and security teams. This makes true Zero Trust almost impossible for most organizations and leads to overworked staff while falling short of Zero Trust goals. Even worse, more complex networks increase the chances for mistakes - mistakes that can break things, reduce availability, or that can inadvertently leave critical assets exposed.
With Nile, all of these trade-offs disappear because Zero Trust is built-in by design. Each user and device is automatically segmented, and every request must be authenticated and evaluated before access is granted. The network itself automatically handles all the complexity of network segmentation and management. All the busy work and inter-team friction is removed so that Security teams are free to focus on policy instead of network change requests.
Uniquely Ready For Ransomware and Advanced Threats
The proliferation of ransomware has reshaped the threat landscape and how enterprises view risk. While ransomware was already a significant source of risk, the recent rise of double extortion has magnified problems even more. Instead of simply encrypting data and demanding payment, ransomware actors are stealing virtually any type of sensitive data and then threatening to publish it on dark websites. This has two significant impacts. First, while previous ransomware attacks focused on operationally sensitive data that could cause painful downtime, now virtually any private corporate data is fair game. Likewise, it means the impact of an attack can’t be mitigated simply by restoring data backups. Once data or IP is exposed, there is no way to unwind the damage.
This reality dramatically magnifies the need to prevent and disrupt ransomware before there is an enterprise-wide impact. Unfortunately, this is precisely one of the areas where enterprise controls are weakest. Most all ransomware groups focus on gaining (or simply buying) some form of initial access, which they can then use to spread deeper into the network to compromise as many devices and accounts as possible. This ability to spread laterally, escalate privileges, and establish ongoing persistence often relies on local traffic between devices. From performing basic network mapping to discovering potential targets to spreading via SMB or using SSH, telnet, or other common management tools and techniques, attackers can stay low and use a compromised host to spread throughout the enterprise.
The painful irony is that while more and more valid enterprise traffic is moving north-south to and from the cloud, the malicious traffic is increasingly moving east and west between hosts. This direct host-to-host traffic is often poorly controlled in traditional networks. Even when similar devices are grouped into VLANs, they often share identical vulnerabilities, allowing attackers to spread throughout the group.
Nile’s unique architecture secures this soft underbelly of the network and disrupts attacks before damage is done without needing additional network configuration. Since every device is automatically segmented, attackers can no longer directly spread from host to host. When every connection is visible, security teams and policies can immediately see and block lateral movement techniques. Without any complex configuration, security teams can ensure that all connections are seen and controlled no matter where they are in the network. This mitigates one of the most significant advantages attackers have today – they can no longer take a minor vulnerability and turn it into an enterprise-wide breach.
A Network That Supercharges Your Security Stack
Enterprise security is a vast field relying on many interdependent disciplines. And while Nile plays a crucial role in your security strategy, it doesn’t try to be the center of the universe. Nile dramatically magnifies the power of your existing network security tools and investments.
First, let’s consider the firewall. Nile aggregates all user connections and routes them to the firewall for enforcement. Previously, the firewall might only be able to see and enforce traffic that crossed the external perimeter. Now all connections can pass through the firewall, quickly making it the central control point for all enterprise connections. Instead of trying to insert smaller firewalls at chokepoints in the network or developing complex routing to get traffic to the firewall, Nile handles it automatically.
The same concept applies to a wide variety of network-based monitoring, analytics, and threat detection. The network is one of the most powerful tools for detecting threats because it allows security teams to see the big picture and the real actions in the environment. While endpoint security tools and malware are always fighting to deceive one another while on a host, the true behavior will eventually be seen on the network whether in the form of command-and-control, lateral movement, surveillance, and so on. However, this source of truth is only valuable if security tools can see the traffic. Many security tools don’t see the complete picture because they only tap traffic at the core switch. Nile completes the picture by ensuring that all connections can be inspected, thus ensuring that the organization's analytics, behavioral, and AI tools have the best data source possible.
These are just a few ways that Nile redefines network security. At its heart, our approach magnifies the power of the network as a security control while removing the operational burden and complexity. This has the added benefit of reducing the friction that has long existed between enterprise Networking and Security teams. Networking teams are relieved from the busywork of configuration and maintenance, while security teams are free to logically define the security policies they want without requiring work from the networking team.
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