Cybersecurity First: Cyber Literacy Protects Your Valuables

4 minutes read Cyber Literacy Protects Valuable Data

Each year in October, security professionals, educators, computer enthusiasts and others support Cybersecurity Awareness Month—co-led by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)—by raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. Weekly themes give businesses and organizations an opportunity to geek out, err, explain concepts like the layered security model, phishing scams, ransomware, the importance of data backups and so much more. The theme for the final week in October 2021 is cybersecurity first.

It’s Not What You Think

When we talk about, “cybersecurity first,” most think it means cyber threat preparedness, awareness, prioritization or some variation of that (and a cybersecurity-first mindset will definitely get you further down the secured technology road than the set-it-and-forget-it crowd.) But what we’re really talking about is much more foundational to ensuring we can continue to address complex cybersecurity challenges today and well into the future. We’re referring to cyber literacy—a baseline cyber proficiency that doesn’t really exist among non-cyber professionals but should.

We take a collective run at educating businesses and consumers about evolving cyber threats, rapidly-expanding technologies, and the seriousness of our growing dependency upon them as mission-critical functions are increasingly connected to global networks. There’s much to learn and do to adjust our current technical and operational environments to accommodate our changing physical ones.

Fundamentally Secure

Faced with addressing the challenge of safeguarding the work-anywhere remote workforce has caused security professionals to rethink IT fundamentals, noting blind spots, lack of visibility, legacy system vulnerabilities and outdated security strategies. While there isn’t a single technology that will stop every threat, you can, and should, make it as difficult as possible for attackers to penetrate your environment. An attacker may be targeting multiple victims simultaneously to locate the most easily accessible opportunities so, the more barriers in his path, the more likely he may decide it takes too much effort to infiltrate your organization.

A First Line of Defense

A next-gen firewall (NGFW) is a fundamental, and indispensable, frontline defense that sets up a perimeter against harmful network traffic. A NG firewall combines a traditional firewall with other network device filtering functions, such as an application firewall, using in-line deep packet inspection (DPI), that goes beyond simple port and protocol inspection by inspecting data carried in network packets.

With Big Data driving more efficient operations, innovation, and customer insights, enterprise cloud-based storage is now a necessity instead of an option. A vast majority of enterprise firewalls don’t protect cloud storage systems, as it’s not part of the internal network. But the Palo Alto Networks firewall creates a virtualized network that also includes cloud storage, using site-to-site VPN tunnels, to ensure reliable protection of sensitive data  stored in the cloud. Palo Alto Networks is a preferred vendor for smaller enterprises for this very reason—it’s an ideal firewall for protecting networks using cloud-based file-sharing services like Apple iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

Part of a Greater Plan

Though a NG firewall can’t provide 100% protection, it is an important part of the network security mix. Multiple IT teams count on the firewall to enable them to do their jobs effectively and efficiently, for varied reasons:

  1. Networking teams prioritize hassle-free integration with existing architecture, ease of deployment and use, and network performance and uptime.
  2. Security teams focus on seamless integration with security controls, better overall security, and threat prevention.
  3. Security operations teams work best with single-pane management and automation for security features and capabilities.
  4. Data center teams need automated features and capabilities, segmentation of hybrid cloud environments, scalability to meet changing needs, and single-pane management.
  5. Application teams value simple, fast, and secure application development and deployment.

Next-Level Integrations

Blumira’s modern cloud Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platform integrates with Palo Alto Network’s next-gen firewalls to detect cybersecurity threats, automating actionable alerts to remediate when a threat is detected. When Blumira’s dynamic blocklist capabilities are configured to work with Palo Alto Network firewalls, Blumira provides automated blocking of known threats, automatically adding new block rules when threats are detected.

Worth the Risk?

With so much media attention on cyber exploits, it’s easy to question whether the rewards of technological advancements outweigh the risks. Cybersecurity as a priority continues to be compared and weighed against competing business interests and is often deprioritized as a nice-to-have.

When we consider lifestyle-defining technologies like alternating current, semiconductors, logistics systems, automation, fiber optics, telecommunications,  and more—that have resulted in modern marvels like medical centers, manufacturing, transportation systems, Apollo guidance computers… we have to wonder if we’d be where we are if creators had thought of protecting their inventions as a cost center versus an investment. Logic says, risk should naturally accompany innovation, but should there be a question about protecting what’s already been created?

It really comes down to the value you place on what you seek to protect.

Let Path Forward IT help optimize your firewall management to protect valuable data and assets by:

  • Segmenting your network to ease Big Data monitoring; boost performance; localize technical issues and—most importantly—enhance security
  • Upgrading your legacy firewall to ensure sensitive data protection in cloud storage too
  • Right-sizing your next-gen firewall solution to best fit your business needs
  • Auditing your unique environment and deploying the IT assets that will up-level your perimeter protection and improve overall security posture

Let us help you identify the key security priorities for your unique business.


What’s Your Perimeter? Network, Identity, or Endpoint?, CISO Mag

VMware Global Security Insights Report

Partner Perspectives: Disrupt Advanced Threats with Blumira + Carbon Black

Cloud SIEM for Palo Alto Next-Gen Firewalls

5 Critical Mistakes When Evaluating a Next Generation Firewall

Operating in the Dark: Cyber Decision-Making from First Principles, Journal of Information Warfare

The Information Security Practice Principles, IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research