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USE CASE

Verify Security Policies in
the Cloud with Confidence

Visibility That Can Uncover 
Otherwise Undetected Agency Risks

As workloads move to and between clouds, agencies need to
continually verify whether security policies are being effectively
executed. Despite the scalability and agility that the cloud delivers,
moving to the cloud often comes with unpredictable costs,
enhanced complexity, and increased difficulty enforcing security
policies.

Hybrid cloud has become the de facto strategy for agencies
needing to scale mission-ready services while keeping sensitive
workloads on-premises to meet security and regulatory mandates.
Cloud Smart policies are providing more options for hybrid clouds,
such as blueprints for deploying shared and unique private
clouds in various combinations. Whatever strategy your agency
is pursuing, the need to manage across on-premises and cloud
platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud
Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure, is fundamental to everyday
operations within federal agencies.

A standard configuration to maintain security policies seems simple
but rationalizing and validating traffic flows – from on-premises
to the cloud and intercloud – can be almost impossible without
full visibility. The tools used by network and security operations to
validate on-premises or cloud connectivity and security are different
from those used for cloud. Each cloud provider also has its own
terminology, methodology, visualization, and toolset (see Figure
1). The release of new services and features further complicates
the picture, making it even harder for teams to understand flow
visibility. Deploying traditional security controls proves ineffective in
this complex environment since defensible perimeters are erased,
component virtualization and decentralization obscures visibility,
and automated configuration tools are required at scale.
Figure 1: Securing a hybrid multi-cloud environment is complex due to differing protocols and processes.

A Unified Approach to Verifying
Security Posture in the Cloud

An inflection point has been reached where already stretched
IT resources need a new approach to more efficiently navigate
the silos, different operational dynamics, and growing toolsets
around agency cloud environments. A grade of C- from U.S. Senate
investigators on the Homeland Security Committee for failing to
implement basic safeguards against cyberattacks underscores the
urgency to find a better approach to ensure consistent governance
and security across on-premises and cloud estates.

There’s a better way to understand how networks behave. The first
step is gaining visibility.

With Forward Networks’ multi-vendor network model, agencies
can use a mathematically accurate network digital twin of the
agency’s physical, virtual, and cloud networks to understand their
cloud environment. Forward Enterprise delivers complete visibility
into all possible traffic paths with automated analysis to scale
the complexity of federal environments to instantly verify security
policies and quickly identify misconfigurations.

Using a digital twin, network, security, and cloud teams can take a
holistic and more proactive approach to enforce security policies
and verify compliance with cloud security postures. Forward
Networks provides:

• A single source of truth for complete visibility across onpremises
and multiple clouds
• Automated intent checks to instantly verify the compliance of
cloud security policies
• Zone-to-zone connectivity matrix to provide insight into the
agency’s security posture at a glance

Single Source of Truth
for Complete Visibility 

The Forward Enterprise platform unifies visibility across distributed,
hybrid agency environments. Network engineers can now visualize
on-premises data centers, private and public clouds (AWS, GCP,
and Microsoft Azure), and high-side and low-side environments in
a single, easy-to-navigate view. By gathering and normalizing data
into an intuitive digital twin, the platform helps make sense of the
cloud estate so that agency teams can see that the same policies
used on-premises are being enforced in the cloud.

Figure 2 shows how network, security, and cloud teams can use
a network digital twin for clutter-free navigation that cuts through
silos and drills down into specific pathways or scales to view the
environment and understand connectivity holistically.
Figure 2: Normalized view of virtual private clouds within Forward Enterprise
For more detail about a specific element within the network,
such as a cloud platform, a click on that element provides this
information. For example, clicking on a platform from a major cloud
provider could show four virtual private cloud instances (VPCs), one
transit VPC, and several subnets related to that platform (see Figure
3).

And if at any time visibility is needed into which cloud platforms
Forward Enterprise is pulling and collecting this data from, click on
“Cloud Objects” in the Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)
dashboard to see all the details.

Forward Networks collects configuration and state data from all
on-premises devices, such as routers, switches, and firewalls, and
uses publicly available APIs to gather similar read-only information
from various cloud accounts to create a network digital twin that
incorporates physical, virtual, and cloud estates. Forward Enterprise
needs only a basic set of API connectivity to access the data
required to model and visualize all possible traffic paths in specified
cloud environments. All permissions used to collect data are readonly
(see Figure 4).
Figure 3: Detailed view of cloud resources
Figure 4: Required permissions for snapshot collection

Automated Intent Checks
Instantly Verify Compliance of
Security Policies in the Cloud

Forward Enterprise’s mathematical model normalizes disparate
data across agency estates and creates a digital twin for exhaustive
analysis and verification of current network behaviors. The digital
twin simplifies and augments CSPM efforts by allowing automated
verification checks in the cloud to prove that safeguards remain
in place for sensitive workflows. This allows network and security
teams to move away from time-consuming manual processes while
maintaining compliance with zero trust security and DISA STIGS.

Agencies can jump-start verification using Forward Enterprise’s
library of intent checks. Or teams can customize intent checks
for a specific mandate, such as validating zero trust, that will
run in an automated fashion and ensure permanent compliance
of agency security policies in the cloud. Mathematically certain
documentation proves that all traffic flows are going through
authorized security chokepoints to continuously enforce barriers
between segmented, mission-critical networks.

Anytime a non-compliant change is detected within the cloud
estate, the appropriate teams will receive specific, actionable
information about which instantiation is non-compliant and why.
This enables rapid resolution. Intent checks can also be used to
identify costly routing errors with mathematically certain proof for
accountability.

Furthermore, Forward Enterprise supports regular data collection
that creates stored network snapshots, allowing teams to see
exactly what changes occurred over a specified period of time.
These snapshot collections provide an always up-to-date forensic
audit tool in the case of a security event.

Zone-to-Zone Connectivity Matrix
to Validate Agency Security
Postures at a Glance

Given the unique mission and security requirements of many
federal agencies, the ability to instantly assess true, up-to-date
connectivity across estates can enable more proactive protection
of sensitive work like workloads with CUI or PII or warfighter and
classified operations where critical network barriers must be
enforced for complete isolation.

Forward Enterprise supports CSPM efforts by providing a visual
connectivity matrix, including any hybrid connectivity (e.g., a virtual
firewall) that may have been set up in cloud platforms, but it’s
more than just a firewall manager. Forward Enterprise provides a
complete view of the entire network estate. Up-to-date connectivity
details are provided for all IP addresses, ports, and protocols
between sites identified as key bases, communities of interest
(COI), and data centers in the network that includes NATs and
tunneling.

At a glance, IT security, network, and cloud managers gain the
ability to drill down into specific rules between any zones, regions,
sites, and subnets. They can examine connectivity to see whether
the activity is permitted between the various zones and set up
intent checks to continuously verify that desired security controls
are working as intended. If something changes, actionable alerts
are automatically sent about non-compliance with security policies
(see Figure 5), proving the segmentation of high-side networks or
individual applications that require isolation protection.
Figure 5: Cloud zone security matrix

A Single Source of Truth for Your
On-Premises, Hybrid, and
Multi-Cloud Estate

Forward Networks’ mathematical model creates a complete and
always current digital twin of your physical, virtual, and multicloud
network estate, including config and state information for all
network elements and your hybrid or multi-cloud environment. The
digital twin provides a comprehensive view of all network behavior,
with visibility into every possible path a packet can take. It brings
mathematical certainty to network security validations by enabling
security operations teams to:

VISUALIZE network layer 2 – 4 topology and all possible traffic
paths within a single pane of glass including on-premises, Cloud
(AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure), and virtualized environments.
Then, drill down to specific devices and traffic flows, including
configuration and state data. View the global network in a single
view or drill down to a single device.

SEARCH the entire estate as simply as a database. Our browser-like
search feature performs the industry’s most in-depth, end-to-end
path analyses across the network for both on-premises and cloud
infrastructure. This also enables you to locate devices and access
detailed information on their location, configuration, and state in
milliseconds.

VERIFY that the security policies are extended to the cloud
using purpose-built (custom) intent checks. Forward Enterprise
offers the most advanced network segmentation tool available
with support for multi-vendor on-prem, hybrid-cloud and multicloud
environments. Continuously audit the network and receive
actionable alerts for non-compliance with your security policies.
Know that applications are compliant before provisioning them.

COMPARE network changes over time to understand their impact
on the network and prevent incidents from reoccurring. The network
collector frequently scans the network, taking and saving network
configurations, topology, and device state snapshots. These
“snapshots” become a searchable, historical record of network
behavior and compliance at any point in time. And the behavior
diffs feature makes it easy to quickly find and compare snapshots
to identify changes that may violate your security policy.

Explore All Aspects of Your
Compute Environment With
Forward Enterprise

Are you seeking a more proactive stance without adding additional
specialized expertise? See how the Forward Enterprise digital
twin can help your agency network and security teams monitor
and verify estate-wide controls through a single pane of glass and
explore any object in the cloud environment to ensure everything is
working as intended. Regardless of which cloud strategy is most
important for your agency, keeping data safe and meeting zero trust
mandates will depend on understanding what’s in the full agency
network estate and how connectivity behavior can be visualized to
keep connections safe.

Learn more at forwardnetworks.com/cloud. To see the Cloud Smart
feature and the power of a network digital twin in action, watch the
Forward Cloud video. Request a personal demo today, contact us at
forwardnetworks.com/federal.

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