Opportunities Abound in a Digitally Connected Asean

Four months after the Asean Economic Community (AEC) came into being, observers and analysts are watching as integration unfolds. Asean has always been about working together. Economies, cultures and even digital adoption vary widely across the region, yet trade, cooperation and tourism continue to prosper. The AEC heralds the beginning of a new era where this existing cooperation can take further shape and propel Asean into further growth.

With a combined gross domestic product of $2.6 trillion, Asean countries together make up the seventh largest economy in the world. Taken together, the bloc’s population of 620 million makes it the world’s thirds largest, after China and India. The AEC promises unbounded opportunities, especially for local businesses, which make up more than 97% of the total enterprises in the region and employ more than half of the workforce. Mid-sized businesses that already enjoy stable operations at home or in the region and have the resources to grow beyond Asean’s borders are expected to benefit most from the open economies of the AEC. However, its diversity could prove to be a web of challenges for those unprepared to navigate this freer yet hyperconnected world.

The answer lies in technology, a great leveler for businesses of all sizes and scale. At the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, a small- and medium-sized enterprises’ working group noted that technology adoption and the digital economy are crucial to harnessing APEC’s potential for economic growth. Leaders recognised that digital technologies can springboard developments for Asean nations and urged local businesses to embrace true digital transformation.

With that in mind, it is time that APEC chief information officers (CTOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) take another look at their technology environment and remove the inhibitors of business transformation. Here is a quick checklist for Asean businesses to reap the benefits of the AEC and grow successfully in this exciting new chapter for the region.

Mobility needs to sit at the heart of every business’ strategy

According to US-based research firm International Data Corporation, enterprise and consumer spending on mobile devices and related software and services in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) will reach $578 billion by 2019, making it the largest region in the world in terms of mobile-related spend. In Asean, smartphones accounted for three-fifths of the total mobile phone market. CIOs who don’t prioritise mobile are limited in their ability to reach Asean’s 600 million consumers.

Information silos must be broken down

Information silos—information management systems that are unable to freely communicate with other information management systems—stop data being shared across departments. This prevents the delivery of the type of personalised, omnichannel experience that customers expect today. Information silos create a disjointed view of the customer and, as a result, service falters and the company becomes blind to up- and cross-sell opportunities. Having access to all the data and intelligence facilitates innovations and closer customer engagement. In the digital economy, the ability to differentiate the user experience will be a winning strategy.

Automation will drive innovation

Manual processes limit what organisations can get out of their other enterprise-wide investments. The ‘internet of things’ (IoT) and robotics are fast changing every aspect of businesses. According to Frost & Sullivan, IoT investments will be one of the major trends in Asean economies, estimated to grow to $7.53 billion in 2020. In today’s context, without automation driving the back office, CIOs will constantly spend resources physically connecting processes that span the rest of the business. Automation helps businesses concentrate on using technology in innovative ways to gain competitive advantage.

Monolithic systems must be upgraded

Legacy investments that are preserved for too long are often hugely detrimental to the modern goals of business, and create two massive problems. First, maintaining them takes a huge amount of time and energy, leaving little room for investment in the true innovation that drives digital transformation. Second, trying to modernise on the back of a monolithic system is similar to dressing your car with a spoiler, when what you really need to do is look under the hood and service the engine.

Cybersecurity is key

For businesses today, cybersecurity remains at the forefront of business strategy and technology decision-making. For organisations working toward digital transformation, the first step in creating a digital security strategy is understanding exactly what it is that a potential hacker would be interested in. From there, the CIO is in an informed position to build a strategy from the ground up.

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APTs Part 1: Protection Against Advanced Persistent Threats to Your Data

Hardly a day goes by without hearing about a data breach somewhere in the world. So it’s timely that we launch this new blog series about Security. To kick the series off, we’ll take a look at some of the alarming trends in the development of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). We’ll explore what they are and how they operate. Along the way, we’ll provide simple advice to help you limit their impact on your enterprise.

In the old days, we mainly dealt with fly-by automated attacks. We all recall worms and Trojans and the other little beasts in the menagerie of malware. They were fairly simple at first but as time moved forward, the degree of sophistication and stealthy behavior of this code has drastically increased. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, code naturally evolves as multiple individuals contribute to its evolution, growing in feature set or reliability. Even malicious code benefits from collaborative development. Second, the design goal has changed from doing immediate damage to remaining hidden. This is the goal of the APT.

  • APTs are advanced.

    Typically, they come from a sizable group of individuals who are well-funded and equipped. Many people will automatically think APTs come from China and Russia, but the reality is they can be and are anywhere. The U.K. is one of the leading nations and there are plenty in the U.S. as well. They are also given a set of targets or perhaps even a single target.

  • APTs are persistent.

    This is a group that owes its whole existence to penetrating the assigned target. Many times, there are handsome bonuses for success. They will persist for months and even years, if necessary, waiting for the right moment.

  • And while they do not seek to do immediate damage, they most definitely are a threat.

    Their goal is to penetrate and access sensitive information, and establish command and control points within the network with devastating results. The recent data breach at Yahoo is the latest, with roughly 400 million records stolen. Let’s also not forget that the NSA itself was breached with the result being the exfiltration of sensitive cyberattack tools.

While many will still say “not in my network,” research indicates the attacker in most breaches is resident in the network for an average of 256 days without being discovered. Further, about 81% of those breached did not identify it themselves. They were notified by third parties such as banks, credit card vendors, or law enforcement—and though we can’t tell exactly, it’s suspected that up to 94% don’t know they’ve been hacked until long afterward.

Now don’t get me wrong, we still have plenty of malware out there and it’s growing in volume every day. As an example, there are 25 million new instances of malware that cannot be blocked by traditional antivirus solutions. The added venom to the mix, however, is that now there are well-equipped teams using malware in a tightly orchestrated fashion. It’s reported that 70% of known breaches involved the use of malware, but the breaches are done in a well-thought-out orchestrated manner. The rules have changed so we had better up our game. In my next blog, we’ll take a closer look at a typical method of APT operations and the concepts of kill chains and attack trees, as well as how they go about getting into your enterprise.

You’re likely wondering what you can do to protect yourself. Well, the NSA recommends implementing highly granular microsegments. This prevents lateral movement, which is critical to the attackers’ ability to escalate privilege into the environment. They also recommend creating stealth or black networks that yield little or no information to scans and probes. Finally, these secure microsegments should ideally be ships in the night with no or at least very constricted communications capability to other segments.

Avaya has embraced this philosophy in our recent security launch. Hyper-segmentation provides for high granular segmentation, stealth provides for the black network environment, and elasticity provides for strong perimeter protection, allowing access to users and devices only once they have been vetted, established as trusted, and authenticated. We’ll go much deeper into this in the third installment of this series on APTs. Until then, don’t be afraid. Be prepared.

The Brave New World of Network Security

In light of highly-publicized data breaches that have shaken some of the world’s top brands, where should IT leaders focus their security efforts?

The frequency of malicious, cybersecurity attacks is increasing. Security breaches, such as hospitals being immobilized and held for ransom, were unimaginable a year ago. The FBI recently recognized the significance of the ransomware epidemic and has asked business and software security experts for help. As a result of these trends, cybersecurity is top of mind for IT leaders across the globe in all industries.

Unfortunately, no company is immune from suffering a security breach. Furthermore, there is no one-size-fits-all security strategy. What’s right for you is based on the industry you are in, the data you need to protect, how and when the data needs to be protected, the expectations of your customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders, the regulatory requirements, your network infrastructure, the competitive condition of your market—the list is virtually endless.

The good news is that there are several simple steps that you can take to help protect your enterprise from costly network breaches. At Avaya, we bring the expertise that comes from decades of experience implementing smart, cost-effective network security controls for leading enterprises.

Avaya has delivered advanced security solutions that provide the secure foundation that is leveraged in industries with strict security and compliance requirements, such financial services, healthcare and manufacturing. Avaya secure network infrastructure, based on the industry leading Fabric Connect technology, has stood the test of time against penetration tests administered by financial and government institutions.

To learn how you can implement smart, multilevel security capabilities that simplify access control, overcome the inherent vulnerabilities in the IP protocol and enable new levels of network segmentation and isolation, download ‘The New World of Network Security’ white paper.

Avaya’s industry-leading solutions, such as Fabric Connect, Identity Engines and SDN FxTM Healthcare break new ground in enabling enterprises to mitigate the tradeoffs between security, cost and agility.

To learn more, visit us at the Avaya Technology Forum 2016 in Orlando or Dublin and see our security solutions in action.

Avaya Offers End-to-End Network Security Solutions for BYOD

Cybersecurity threats within organizations are on the rise, driven by increased employee mobility and bring your own device policies.

While enterprises need to look at holistic solutions to solve these security challenges (i.e., from a data as well as voice viewpoint), migrating from time-division multiplexing to SIP trunking and cloud-based communications solutions pose particular security threats to businesses as investments in SIP and Unified Communications as a Service grow exponentially.

In addition, businesses are discovering how challenging it is to develop an effective BYOD strategy. Many customers I’ve talked to don’t want to manage the overhead of virtual private network solutions and instead are moving toward a VPN-less offering—a decision that not only reduces overhead but also lessens the complexities involved in supporting BYOD policies.

Avaya has developed two cutting-edge offerings that deliver an end-to-end BYOD strategy: Defense in Depth (also known as the Castle Approach) and Defense in Breadth solutions.

Defense in Depth is a multilayered security approach that covers the voice network end to end, freeing remote workers while securing the organization’s voice and data infrastructure.

The solution begins with the Avaya Session Border Controller, which provides organizations with the ability to extend their unified communications collaboration environment outside the enterprise network securely and still deliver extended capabilities (i.e., voice, video, instant messaging and collaboration) to remote workers using a VPN-less solution with encryption for both signaling and media.

The Defense in Depth solution also allows organizations to secure their core UC infrastructure with the Avaya intrusion detection system, intrusion prevention system and SIP firewalling capabilities embedded with Avaya Session Border Controller. Furthermore, Avaya secure SIP trunking using ASBC prevents toll fraud and denial of service/distributed denial of service attacks.

With devices connecting to already-secured voice networks, Avaya applies a number of security solutions to ensure that they are authorized for the VPN-less network.

For example, the Avaya Identity Engines Portfolio delivers a single sign-on capability through Active Directory and enables fingerprint authentication for BYOD equipment that can be tied to access control, policy management and posture.

The Avaya IDE solution integrates with a Citrix (XenMobile) and other mobile device management solutions that check whether the BYOD equipment is “jailbroken” (i.e., has been tampered with to circumvent policies, procedures or protocols) and has the correct software version. With IDE, Avaya is extending the flexibility of BYOD to connect not only on premise but also from remote locations to allow employees to work from anywhere any place at any time.

The integration between Avaya SBC and IDE will be in our upcoming ASBC release 7.0 due to be out in August 2015.

The Avaya Defense in Breadth solution using Avaya Fabric Connect and Fabric Attach solution, combined with the Defense in Depth solution, provides organizations with end-to-end Avaya layered security for BYOD.

Avaya Defense in Depth and Defense in Breadth solutions focus on meeting the challenges of tomorrow, including the Internet of Things, which can allow smart devices to connect to the Internet without human intervention.

With an increasing demand for smart cities and the relevance of IOT, security does not have to be an overwhelming challenge if an effective network infrastructure is in place, consisting not only of a smart foundation that enables and accelerates IOT, but does so in the most secure manner.

Today’s legacy networks, built on a server/client topology, expose an organization’s network surface area, leaving it open to hackers who can use IP hopping to gain full exposure to the network. Fabric technology from Avaya, using an Ethernet-based topology, significantly reduces the network’s surface exposure, making it completely invisible. Avaya fabric has no IP and is based on Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/Internet Engineering Task Force standards for Shortest-Path Bridging.

An enterprise end-to-end approach to network security has become a necessity, rather than a luxury, for organizations. Avaya not only delivers the best mobile and cloud-enabled communications solutions in the industry, but also offers strategies to help organizations implement them in the most secure manner.

To learn more about Avaya Defense in Depth and Defense in Breadth solutions, please contact your local account team for more information.