The idea of IT modernization is not a new one, and has made it possible for organizations to adapt their existing network architecture to suit modern demands. And while many companies have been modernizing their infrastructure slowly over time, the need for secure, flexible IT is more important than ever, since so many members of the global workforce have shifted to working from home.
In the midst of this tumultuous time, the job of IT is to make sure that, no matter where their users may be, they’re enabled to securely access their resources and connect with fellow coworkers. Below, we’ll discuss this idea of modernized security for IT departments, and how admins can take significant steps to protect their workforce and their machines.
What is IT Modernization?
IT modernization is about making transformative changes to existing IT infrastructure, applications, and services to enable organizations to do things in newer, more cost-effective ways. The goal for companies seeking to modernize their legacy infrastructure is to build a foundation that is more effective, efficient, and agile when dealing with the transformative nature that is ever-evolving technology.
Too many organizations are held hostage by their legacy solutions; they often struggle to effectively transition to newer technologies because much of their IT budget goes to maintaining and updating legacy hardware. Organizations that still leverage on-prem equipment, such as that for identity management, applications, and file servers, have quickly realized that legacy infrastructure inhibits their ability to scale and grow their users and their resources. For example, legacy identity infrastructure makes it harder for organizations to leverage more cost- and space-efficient Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms like AWS®.
In fact, a 2016 study conducted by the Government Accountability Office found that 5,233 of the government’s approximately 7,000 IT projects are being funded simply for operations and maintenance purposes. That spending has increased over the past seven years, resulting in a $7.3 billion decline from fiscal years 2010 to 2017 in development, modernization, and enhancement activities.
Not only does modernizing legacy architecture alleviate financial strain for IT departments but it also allows organizations to instantiate more secure data and workflow automation practices.
Modernizing the Approach to Security
Historically, IT security was thought of as a perimeter protecting a network separated by layers of security, and at the center of that network existed critical assets — identities, data, and applications. The cornerstone of this approach was that organizations were not only placing implicit trust in their “impenetrable” perimeter but also in the users that operated within this barrier.
Fast forward to the modern era of technology and bad actors’ methods have evolved to the point that organizations are constantly battling both internal and external threats. Additionally, much of today’s data and applications are stored in the cloud, remote work enables users to attain access to their resources from virtually anywhere, and hacker’s attacks have become more creative and targeted at users and their machines.
The biggest attack vector for organizations is compromised credentials, meaning that for organizational security to be modernized, it must centralize on the user’s identity and spread outwards. The biggest step many organizations can take toward modernized security is implementing a core directory service that uses one-way hashing and salting to protect user identities from attacks like phishing attempts. The core identity provider (IdP) accomplishes this by changing user’s passwords on their systems rather than on websites that can be replicated or infiltrated.
With the user’s identity protected via an identity and access management (IAM) platform, IT departments must then make sure credentials are protected with multi-factor authentication (MFA), which effectively takes the gravity out of stolen/compromised user passwords. Leveraging a modernized core directory service allows IT teams to centralize and protect user credentials so they can then enable processes that protect users, their machines, and their networks, including:
- System-based anti-phishing capabilities
- MFA applied anywhere possible (user identities, applications, and systems)
- Full disk encryption
- Anti-virus/anti-malware software
- Remote wipe
- Virtual private networks (VPNs)
Treating every source of network traffic as a potential threat allows organizations to safeguard themselves against the evolutionary threats that continue to permeate even in times of extensive remote work. Modernizing your approach to security would allow you to get rid of legacy infrastructure previously devoted to maintaining outdated, perimeter-based security.
With a core directory service consolidating user identities and their resources, you can effectively protect credentials, systems, applications, networks, and file servers without needing to add a number of one-stop tools and add-ons.
Keep Users Secure Without Breaking Your Budget
Many organizations are currently struggling to introduce modernized security components when their budgets are already stretched thin maintaining legacy hardware. Modernizing your approach to security effectively consolidates all these processes designed to protect your network architecture under one platform, so your IT team can create a unified approach to protecting identities and abandon legacy hardware maintenance in tandem.
Interested in learning more about modernizing your IT? Feel free to reach out to one of our representatives to find out how JumpCloud® can help you instantiate modern, secure IT infrastructure. You can also check out this video to learn more about how the view on maintaining network security has transformed throughout the years.