Just like that, we’ve completed another Networking Field Day (NFD). Only this time, we had a customer present: Michael Wynston, Director of Network Architecture and Automation at Fiserv, joined us to share how the Forward Enterprise network digital twin is saving his organization time and money by delivering a trusted source of truth for his network inventory

Additionally, our own Mike Lossmann explained the security benefits of a network digital twin and co-founder, Nikhil Handigol, shared how generative AI is helping engineers of all skill levels gain complex network insights using natural language prompts.   

As usual, the delegates put us through our paces with insightful and sometimes challenging questions, which is the reason we enjoy this event so much: it’s engineers talking to engineers (marketing people like me are verboten), and they don’t hold back. We’re delighted that three of the delegates have published articles detailing their takeaways from our presentations.   

"Forward Networks - The tale of an aptly named company" by Ryan Lambert provides an in-depth exploration of Forward Networks' approach to network digital twins. Lambert delves into the practical applications of network digital twins, highlighting their ability to model network behaviors and streamline network management processes. From compliance verification to outage troubleshooting, he believes that network digital twins promise to revolutionize how organizations manage their networks. 

John Herbert's article, "'AI Assist' is better than 'AI Do It For Me'," offers a candid reflection on the role of artificial intelligence in network management. Herbert emphasizes the importance of maintaining human oversight and control in the face of AI-driven solutions. He likes Forward Networks' AI Assist feature for its user-centric approach, which empowers users to evaluate and modify AI-generated queries, ensuring accuracy and reliability in network management tasks. 

In "Unveiling the power of Digital Twins," Greg Grimes explores the transformative potential of network digital twins in network management. Greg outlines Forward Networks' innovative approach to creating its network digital twin, which eliminates the computational burden associated with traditional virtual appliances. With practical applications ranging from compliance verification to route update predictions, Forward’s network digital twin modernizes network management processes. 

If you get a chance, please take a look at the full-length versions of the articles; they’re written by engineers, not professional journalists or analysts. It’s a window into how “hands-on-keyboard” professionals feel about our capabilities.  

It's that time of year again when the security delegates from Tech Field Day descend on Silicon Valley (well, in this case, descend virtually on Silicon Valley) to hear about the cool new things vendors are doing in the security space. This year, I was fortunate to be one of the presenters at XFD10 along with my partner in crime, Matt Honea, Head of Security and Compliance at Forward Networks. Together, we walked the delegates through how bad actors are becoming more intelligent and how Forward Networks can assist in identifying issues, leading to faster resolution times.

The State of the Security World

Matt discussed how threat actors are more brazen than ever when targeting their victims. Which, for lack of a better word, is horrendous!

Why does it seem that every news headline is “ {{ Insert large company name here }} was breached!”? Our technology footprint (and attack surface) is drastically expanding and increasing in complexity. The proliferation of SaaS apps holding sensitive company data, the move to the cloud, and the explosion of mobile apps, wearables, and devices all create new vulnerabilities.

Matt pointed out that in the ten years between 2013 and 2023, the number of vulnerabilities increased 5x from ~5000 to ~25,000. As a small sample, I decided to take an inventory of my family and see how our technology footprint has expanded, specifically thinking about mobile apps, devices, and wearables. I threw my hands up and stopped counting once I hit 50 devices for a family of four. From cell phones to tablets to watches and IoT devices, it is easy to see how the attack surface has exploded. If you extrapolate this to a large enterprise, tracking the constantly changing footprint is almost impossible.

The Game Changer: Network Digital Twin for Network Security

Given the current level of complexity, NetOps teams need software support to understand the hybrid multi-cloud network, its devices, their connectivity, exposure, and vulnerabilities. I got to show the delegates how Forward Networks provides unprecedented visibility into the network and gives operators the data they need to assist in a security incident (or alert) and detect configuration deviations that could cause a security incident. Here, we will look at common attack types, the protection recommendations, and how Forward Networks can help identify and aid in the remediation.

Third-Party Vulnerability

Synopsis:

Recommendations:

How Forward Networks could assist:

Social Engineering

Recommendations:

How Forward Networks could assist:

Cryptomining Breach

Recommendations:

How Forward Networks could assist:

Forward Enterprise supports L2 - L4 searches and enables engineers to search L7 information, like URLs, UserIDs, and Application IDs.

Forward Networks demonstrated at XFD10 how its network visibility and configuration management platform can effectively address security challenges posed by advanced threat actors. Through specific attack scenarios and recommendations, Forward Networks showcased our capability to detect and remediate such incidents, providing invaluable assistance in safeguarding networks against sophisticated threats. If you would like to watch our #XFD10 presentation, you can click this link: https://techfieldday.com/appearance/forward-networks-presents-at-security-field-day-10/

For me, I’d have to say it’s sitting through a high-pressure demo with a sales guy who needs to close business. Given the choice, I’ll take the dentist office visit anytime, at least they give you meds!

We realize that sales demos aren’t always pleasant. And while we strive to create a comfortable environment for discussion versus trying to convince you to buy, we recognize that previous sales calls may have left you with a mild form of PTSD.

At the same time, a network digital twin has a wide range of capabilities and use cases. This makes it hard to truly understand how it might help you by simply reading the website. You need to be able to ask questions and see it in action before deciding if it’s worth bringing in more people to evaluate how the technology will make your network more secure and improve reliability by preventing outages and discovering issues before they cause a performance problem or outage.

Fortunately, we have a new technical expert on our team who is all about helping people understand how a digital twin could work for them, without working to convince you of anything. Mike Lossmann, who has had his share of “time in the trenches” and understands the day-to-day frustrations of being a network engineer, is now conducting live demos with open Q&A every other week via LinkedIn Live. No need to register—just show up with your curiosity (or skepticism if you wish), and ask Mike all the questions you can think of. The sessions are held every other Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific/2:00 p.m. Eastern. The next session is on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

If you want to attend, there’s no need to register; you can simply go to our events page and watch the live stream. If you miss the September 12 session, the next one will be posted on our LinkedIn page.

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