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I hate spiders, a lot. But I really hate the idea of a Scattered Spider Attack which can jump between environments that you may have believed were segmented at an alarming rate. That is the stuff of real nightmares for networking and security professionals.

Keeping up with your security posture isn’t easy. We’re all doing our best, but is it good enough? One CISO we talked to hired a consulting firm to map out their security posture. $3 million and 3 months later, they had a security posture matrix that was already out of date. Understanding your security posture is priceless, but only if the information is accurate. This is precisely the knowledge that the SecOps team would need to stop such an attack in its tracks.

Can your organization visualize lateral movement in your network to understand what an attacker can potentially access once inside your network? There may be diagrams that could show this level of data, but let's face it: how often are these updated? The same holds for spreadsheets; this connectivity may live in several spreadsheets, but even if they are updated promptly, how can you correlate this data in an easy-to-understand way? Teams need to understand the potential fallout from the point of view of a compromised host. This is all just in your on-premise infrastructure; what happens when you add the cloud? You just increased the difficulty of obtaining a clear picture of how an attacker can laterally move around the network to impossible.

Using Forward Enterprise's Blast Radius feature gives the appropriate team unprecedented visibility into data that is impossible to piece together in a timely manner without a network digital twin. This gives operators a view into the environment like they have never had before. Suppose you suspect a host is compromised or would like to do a routine audit to ensure your segmentation policies are configured as they should be. By using Forward’s Blast Radius feature, you can see data for both on-premise and cloud endpoints to instantly identify all devices reachable by a compromised host to streamline remediation efforts by quickly disabling the port the device is connected to. This is done for both on-premise devices and in the cloud if there is an integration with endpoint vulnerability scanners like Rapid7 and Tenable.SC to pull in and see pertinent information about the device's vulnerabilities.

Is it just me or is the announcement of a significant CVE becoming a holiday tradition? Discovered on December 9, 2021 by Minecraft players, the Apache Log4Shell vulnerability is uniquely insidious because it infects servers which are traditionally well insulated from attacks, perceived as unreachable by intruders, and not at risk for CVEs. Log4Shell is an entirely different can of worms that proves this assumption wrong.


Using simple text-based chats, Log4Shell essentially gives bad actors the keys to your kingdom by enabling them to download anything web accessible and gain ACE (arbitrary code execution) privileges. At that point, Java reads the log entry as a command and executes it, empowering bad actors to download anything that is network accessible from the infected host.


You’ve probably updated your software and even investigated the vendors you think may have been vulnerable. That means that your network is safe today, but how do you know what was previously at risk? Without historical snapshots and diffing capabilities, you don’t. And that means you may actually still be exposed.

Identify Log4Shell Exposure In Seconds 

READ THE FORWARD USE CASE


Forward Networks customers are not guessing – they are using Forward Enterprise to verify if all hosts, including the ones potentially breached, can communicate with the Internet. Consequently, those hosts that are Internet accessible are the ones that need to be immediately looked at and remediated. Using the blast radius feature, Forward customers can determine in seconds where in the infrastructure compromised end-hosts can and could have reached. Additionally, the network snapshots collected over time provide the necessary data to identify all devices that may have been previously infected or communicated with an infected host.


Forward Networks does not use Log4j in our shipping software (including past versions). If you are a Forward Networks customer and have additional questions, please contact your Customer Support Architect or email support@forwardnetworks.com.

When your organization is inevitably hit by a cyberattack, you want your security operations engineers to move lightning fast to identify the scope, duration, and impact of the attack, contain the disruption and prevent any costly or lasting damage. To do that, they need access to actionable information about everything that’s in your network — where devices are located, how they interact, and all the relevant details about their configuration and state.

Insight for Security Engineers

Security teams need this insight so they can isolate devices and cut off all possible pathways that attackers might travel to reach your critical assets. But do your teams have that insight at their fingertips? Or is it trapped in spreadsheets, bogged down by other time-consuming, manual processes, or simply, impossible to get to? If it’s the latter, you’re allowing attackers to have the upper hand.

Now, imagine if your security operations pros had an “easy button” they could hit whenever attackers strike, which would allow them to contain and remediate cyber threats ultra-fast? Even better, what if they could use that easy button to help ensure hosts aren’t vulnerable to attack in the first place?

No need to wonder, “What if?” This easy button exists. It’s the blast radius identification and isolation feature we recently added to the Forward Enterprise platform.

Blast Radius Identification in a Single Click

The blast radius feature uses data about your network that our platform already collects. Blast radius enables security teams — with a single mouse click — to identify the full reach of a compromised host and then isolate exposed devices swiftly.

Many of our customers had told us their security teams could benefit from having access to the same searchable, actionable information about their network topology and behavior that their network engineers use every day. That feedback inspired us to develop and deliver this brand-new feature to help security teams be even more effective in their work to protect the enterprise — especially during a crisis.

Want to learn more about the blast radius for identification and isolation feature in Forward Enterprise? Check out this use case to see how easy this “easy button” truly is.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to attend two technology events IN PERSON!!! Seeing people “mask-to-mask” has been fun and educational.   

Forward Networks recently exhibited at Black Hat in Las Vegas and AFCEA TechNet Augusta. Obviously, security was the topic at Black Hat, but it was also top of mind for TechNet attendees, and attendees at both events stressed the need for better network behavioral insight. A common theme amongst these totally different demographics speaks volumes about the need to improve how NetOps and SecOps share network insights to protect its health and integrity. (For those who are unfamiliar, the halls of Black Hat are filled with hackers while TechNet Augusta hosted U.S. Army technical experts).  

Obtaining current, detailed information presented in an easy to understand manner is critical for network health. Because SecOps and NetOps teams need the same network information to remediate and prevent incidents, there should be a seamless way to interact. Unfortunately, that’s not possible using most currently available tools. Engineers are stuck making calls, sending emails, opening tickets, and waiting for information that should be at their fingertips, thus creating unnecessary speedbumps. In June, we added security features to our platform that were specifically intended to help SecOps and InfoSec teams by creating “easy buttons” that eliminate these barriers.   

Prior to getting out and talking to the people “in the trenches,” we felt pretty good about the platform enhancements, but we also knew that the attendees at both TechNet and Black Hat would give us the unfiltered truth.  

The security features we announced in June (single-click blast radius detection, Zone-to-Zone security matrix, and an up-to-date Network CVE matrix) generated interest because they help SecOps folks work better and faster. Nobody wants to spend an unnecessary second of their work life combing through vender alerts, tracing paths, or inspecting code to find out the cause of an issue.   

While the positive reception was encouraging, what I found incredibly interesting was the level of interest in how network modeling can enhance security posture by detecting and preventing situations that traditional tools will miss because they aren’t designed with the nuances of SDN in mind.  

 What did we hear at Black Hat and TechNet Augusta?  

Well aside from schooling us on how to protect the world from Space Invaders while playing our classic Atari console, the resounding theme was when it comes to understanding and enforcing organizational security posture, the network is critical. Security engineers want to query the network in ways that traditional security tools don’t allow. SDN is changing the way threats are enacted and detected, and SecOps needs better info. 

For example, the Forward Enterprise platform can identify network-based vulnerabilities due to traffic being virtually routed around enforcement points. Since the days of mandatory physical connectivity to the firewall are in the past, it’s easy to mistakenly configure devices in a manner that allows traffic to bypass enforcement points. Manipulated packets passing through NAT may not be recognized by firewall rules, ergo traffic you think is being blocked could be permitted creating vulnerabilities or, traffic that should be permitted could be dropped, negatively impacting the user experience.  

Most of the well-known products in this space cannot detect these network-created issues because they don’t have a mathematical model of the network. Packets that are mutated in transit are unlikely to trigger the right policy response because they are unrecognizable.  

The technical practitioners I spoke with were excited to learn that not only can Forward Networks detect these types of issues, but using custom intent checks, the platform can alert engineering staff if an out-of-policy configuration change is implemented. Knowing that the platform can instantly provide correct information on policy adherence and detect out-of-policy configurations before they cause an issue was of significant interest to everyone I talked to.   

Do you believe in zero trust? 

If you work in networking, you can’t do anything without getting some sort of message that you need to improve your zero trust architecture. Lots of companies offer to sell you the solution to all of your zero trust woes.   

Because it’s been a topic of discussion internally – we decided that this was the perfect opportunity to put the hype to the test and see what people really think. So, my Seeking Truth in Networking Podcast co-host (and Forward Networks Co-Founder) Brandon and I decided to mic-up and talk to people for Episode 11: Zero Trust at Black Hat 2021: Networking meets Security. The conversations were sometimes funny and always enlightening. So, we turned it into our latest podcast. At the end of the day, yes there’s a healthy dose of skepticism – as there should be – but there are also real lessons to be learned and interesting ways people are applying these principles. 

Listen to the podcast to hear more, and tell us what you think! 

Learn more about how Forward Enterprise can help improve and protect your security posture. 

Using the visualization, verification, search, predict, and diffs function within the Forward Networks platform can help engineers ensure their zero trust architecture is designed and functioning as intended.  To learn how, read the zero trust use case.

Between us — there’s no such thing as zero trust — it’s a catchy term used to describe a very complicated approach to security. But just because marketing loves the term doesn’t mean we should ignore the concept.

The idea of zero trust is the assumption that users should be granted the least access possible to be productive, and that security should be verified at every level with consistent protection measures. No device or person can be automatically trusted and everything must be verified before providing access to systems, and policy adherence must be continually validated.

Achieving this requires full network visibility, after all, how can you protect what you cannot see? To implement a zero trust architecture, network and security operations teams must be able to fully visualize all possible data paths and network traffic behaviors to truly understand potential vulnerabilities. Only then can they implement and enforce policies that eliminate risky pathways and segment the network effectively.

In addition to visibility, validation is critical for ensuring zero trust. Security policies are definitely not a “set it and forget it” situation.  Because the network is constantly being changed by the people that manage it, consistent and frequent validation is necessary to ensure that policies are performing as intended.

While this may seem like stating the obvious, it’s anything but easy.  Most networks have evolved over decades, it’s common for our customers to discover hundreds of devices they didn’t know they had. One of the biggest frustrations we hear from security teams is the amount of config drift in their network – which prevents the security policies from functioning as intended.  If you struggle with these issues (as most enterprises do), a zero trust architecture is beyond reach.

Using the visualization, verification, search, predict, and diffs function within the Forward Networks platform can help engineers ensure their zero trust architecture is designed and functioning as intended.  To learn how, read the zero trust use case.

With the constant rise of modern cyber threats, many businesses are aiming for zero-trust infrastructure to keep themselves and their customers safe. But a zero-trust environment, where only authorized people can access information and resources, is often more difficult to implement than anticipated. If security teams and network engineers cannot visualize the network and its possible traffic paths and behaviors, they can’t possibly secure the environment.

Forward Enterprise is designed to collect detailed config and state information on the entire network and then help engineers visualize, verify, search, predict and understand diffs following change windows. This information is invaluable to companies seeking to implement zero trust as it provides detailed connectivity information in a way that is easy to consume and act upon. We’ve recently added three new features to Forward Enterprise, that curate critical security information making it easy to understand device connectivity and potential vulnerabilities.

Regardless of how large or complicated a network is, Forward Enterprise empowers IT to improve network operations and avoid outages. This is thanks to its unique mathematical model that creates a digital twin of the network, allowing network operators to map all possible traffic flows, verify intent, predict network behavior, and more.

Our platform also helps security operations professionals with new visualizations of East-West traffic flows, endpoint-to-endpoint connectivity analysis matrices, and timely non-compliance alerts. These new features for Forward Enterprise make security teams’ lives easier by simplifying and streamlining traditionally labor-intensive network processes.

Blast Radius Identification

Today it is not a question of “if” a device will be compromised – but “when.” During an attack, it is critical that security operations professionals immediately identify the full impact of compromised devices so that they can contain the threat. With Forward’s blast radius, security teams can now identify the full exposure and reach of a compromised host with a single mouse click, making isolation and remediation a much simpler and faster process.

Zone-to-Zone Connectivity Posture

Having full insight into how and where devices and applications communicate over the network is fundamental to security. And yet this is one of the most difficult security tasks to perform, with most teams working from out-of-date spreadsheets and tribal knowledge to try and figure things out manually. Unsurprisingly, this is incredibly inefficient and error-prone.

But with Forward Enterprise correlating routing information and security policies, security teams can now easily see how their security posture is enacted on the network. With a graphical matrix that clearly delineates which zones have full connectivity, partial connectivity or no connectivity, security operations professionals can have full confidence of their zone-to-zone connectivity posture.

Network OS Vulnerability Identification

Trying to stay ahead of the unending stream of network device OS vulnerability alerts can be a full-time job – but it does not have to be. Forward Enterprise now uses the latest information from the NIST National Vulnerability Database, along with specific device and configuration data collected from your network, to automatically recognize and flag potential network OS vulnerabilities. Security teams can save time and stress with proactive vulnerabilities updates presented in an easily actionable format.

To see these security features in action, please request a demo.

On June 28, we announced new features within Forward Enterprise that help security engineers spend less time on reactive tasks so they can be more proactive. Why would a networking company expand into the security space?  Good question.  Let me share some of the reasoning that led to expanding deeper into this space, and why I am excited about it.

Reason 1: The overwhelming and urgent need. 

Last year, the SolarWinds hack shocked the world with both the vector and its breadth of reach across the world, reminding us all of the importance of security, especially within the network.  Since then we’ve continued to see additional examples such as the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.  These are both preventable and containable.

Reason 2: Demand from our customers.  

Deployments that were originally triggered by a need for network operator-oriented visibility and verification have also seen adoption and used by their peer security engineers to solve a range of daily work tasks.  These security engineers have been highly enthusiastic about the time savings they gain by getting instant answers to network questions with Forward Networks, without needing to talk to a long chain of humans and spending hours to days gathering such information in their old way of working.  Based on this success, they have been asking us for an expanded security capability set, with an ultimate goal of a single unified view and platform for both the network and security teams to collaborate around.

Reason 3: Unique capabilities from unique technology.  

What do we do?  Put simply, we use math to organize network information, in the form of a digital twin, and make that network information accessible to people and machines.  This approach requires analyzing every possible way a packet could flow through your network.  And yes, that is effectively a comprehensive pen test that runs on our customers’ global networks  10s of times per day!  That data enables network verification like that is nothing like the testing or mapping you’re used to.

Reason 4: Hack Week.  

In April, our engineering team had a week to work on anything.  What did they choose to do?  Security.  Working closely with customers and having an impact is why they are here.  Many of the projects created “easy buttons” for common (and highly complex) security tasks, and when shown to security teams, their feedback was clear: “I want this, yesterday.”

Those are all solid reasons, but I want to add my own take, from doing SecOps at a Stanford Lab, to setting up security infrastructure when founding this company, and now answering to a board about security.

A large fraction of security incidents can be both prevented, or at least tightly contained – but only if a strong network security and segmentation policy has been implemented.  An ever-growing list of vendors are scrambling to provide different components of a Zero Trust solution for your business, but even if you buy one (or more) of these solutions, how do you know if you’ve implemented them correctly?  In the financial world, we have auditors to confirm that we have correctly implemented the appropriate financial practices. The same mechanism is critical for network security, and this is what Forward Networks provides in the form of network and security visibility and verification.

I’m proud to announce our latest release, 21.5, which includes these new marquee security-focused features:

All of these new capabilities can be used on both your live network, as well as any historical snapshot you’ve taken in the past (for forensics), and all can be easily integrated via API into your automation framework of choice.

This is just the beginning of our security journey, and we’d like to bring our unique capabilities as a partner on your Zero Trust security journey.  If you’d like to learn more, please request a demo.

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