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Survey: Screwing up network changes one of biggest causes for security, management failures

According to a survey of 182 IT security and operations professionals, one of the biggest security and management challenges they face is ... how they screw up their own networks.

Yes, it's internal IT screw-ups caused by unscheduled out-of-process changes to systems that are in place, especially firewalls, that have resulted in either an outage, a data breach or an audit failure, according to 77% of the survey's respondents. System outages occurred about twice as frequently as data breaches or audit failures.

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The survey, sponsored by Algosec last month, only identified problems known to the respondents. "Time-consuming manual processes, and a lack of visibility, top the list of the greatest challenges in managing network security devices," the report published today states.

According to the survey, slightly over 40% of the respondents said they have implemented next-generation firewalls (NGFW), which make use of sometimes complex application-level controls rather than just IP-based policies. Fully 84% who had installed an NGFW had the sense they were "more secure," with "better control" and "increased visibility" cited most often.

However, 16% of those with an NGFW answered the opposite, saying they felt less secure with an NGFW, citing "increased policy management" as an impediment or "increased incidence in out-of-policy changes." The survey report also indicated that NGFWs added an average of one hour per day per full-time employee in the firewall-management process.

When these respondents were asked why NGFWs have added to the workload, about 40% answered that NGFW policies are handled separately from traditional firewall policies. But about one-quarter of them with centralized management in place found that prevented the additional work.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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