In the “speed vs. security” battle, speed still wins

The increasing number and severity of recent data breaches and cyber attacks have made one thing clear among major corporations and government entities: developing a strong security posture is mission critical.

Yet, according to the results of a Crossbeam Systems survey, IT security personnel within large corporations are shutting off critical functionality in security applications to meet network performance demands for business applications. This “security for speed” trade-off puts employees, customers, partners and other constituents at risk in order to meet business demands.

The survey, which polled nearly 500 network security, IT and C-level executives at global enterprises and service providers, reveals the extent to which IT personnel are struggling to address the “speed vs. security” trade-off.

Ninety percent of the respondents admit to making a trade-off between security and throughput performance. Moreover, while a majority of respondents (67 percent) agree that if forced to choose, security would trump performance when evaluating a security solution, 81 percent also admit to shutting off functionality in a security product because it was slowing down their network.

Other survey findings reveal key factors driving the security vs. performance challenge, including:

  • IT security personnel are not testing security products under real-world conditions – 42 percent of respondents did not test the security solutions they were evaluating under real-world traffic loads. Among those that have conducted real-world tests, many of the basic security functions, such as intrusion prevention capabilities enabled with recommended policies, were not included.
  • Security vendor performance claims are misleading – More than 93 percent of respondents agree that security hardware vendor data sheet performance metrics are misleading, with 58 percent affirming that they simply do not trust the these performance metrics. The result of this market confusion: more than 60 percent of respondents admit they have been forced to purchase additional hardware for a security solution to address the disparity between what vendors claimed their products could do and reality.
  • IT security personnel do not plan for the long term – The massive growth in data traffic demands, caused in part by the use of smartphones, tablets and other personal mobile devices to share multi-media, high-bandwidth content, is forcing IT personnel to anticipate their performance needs years in advance in order to build scalable and secure networks. Yet, survey results reveal a surprisingly low number of IT personnel at major corporations are thinking beyond the short term. Just over half (51 percent) report that they only evaluate their performance needs less than a year to 24 months in advance.
  • Security products are not being fully optimized – Security products have become more sophisticated and multi-layered in their defenses. While this has helped organizations prevent attacks and protect users, these products have also become more complex to manage. Next-generation firewalls (NGFW), for example, promise to help IT security personnel achieve greater application visibility and control over their networks with a device that integrates functions such as advanced firewalls, intrusion prevention and application-awareness capabilities. However, the reality is that most survey respondents are not using the full capabilities of their NGFW and are, in fact, only using the minimum features. According to survey results, stateful firewall remains the core function being used (91 percent of respondents), followed by NAT (73 percent), IPSEC/VPN (71 percent), and IDS/IPS (65 percent).

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