What is the Benefit of Network Visibility for Compliance?
April 16, 2018

Keith Bromley
Ixia

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While regulatory compliance is an important activity for medium to large businesses, easy and cost-effective solutions can be difficult to find. Network visibility is an often overlooked, but critically important, activity that can help lower costs and make life easier for IT personnel that are responsible for these regulatory compliance solutions.

Devices like network packet brokers (NPBs) allow you to mask sensitive data, perform packet slicing, implement lawful intercept, and discover rogue IT. Purpose-built compliance solutions can also use data filtered by NPBs to perform activities better, and also allow IT to demonstrate their regulatory compliance in an easy manner.

Here are some example use cases of what you can accomplish when a visibility architecture is combined with performance monitoring tools. An initial activity would be to integrate an NPB with your regulatory compliance strategy.

This will allow you to:

■ Provide masking of sensitive data. This includes data masking for one or more digits so that security and monitoring tools downstream don’t receive clear text data.

Remove the data packet payload with packet trimming. When packet header information is all you need, packet slicing allows you to eliminate the propagation of unnecessary and dangerous data within the payload of the packet.

Perform lawful intercept of data from specified IP addresses and VLANs. This provides an easy way to capture and forward data requested by court orders and government laws (like the Turkish 5651 law that requires logging of financial data).

■ Create regular expression search strings using application intelligence to enable better searches for specific data.

In addition, there are at least two areas where NPBs can help a security architecture to:

Discover rogue IT (unauthorized applications and devices), which helps avoid policy and compliance issues. Unknown applications can be identified so that IT can ascertain how and where those applications are being used.

Enforce IT policies, like detecting off-network storage and unapproved web-based email solutions. This allows IT to identify exfiltration of data which could be a potential security/compliance risk. For instance, a former employee could have stored a file to an off-network data storage and then could retrieve after leaving the company and no one would know about it.

Data from NPBs can also be fed to purpose-built compliance solutions and logging tools to support the demonstration of regulatory and endpoint compliance to auditors. The data being fed to these tools can be either lightly filtered or filtered based upon detailed Layer 2 – 4 and/or Layer 7 parameters. It all depends upon what you need and are looking for.

In the end, any regulatory compliance strategy is only as good as the quality of data that is being fed to the tools. The most important part of your regulatory compliance plan will be the architecture, as this piece will determine what, if any, policies and procedures are being adhered to.

Keith Bromley is Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing at Ixia Solutions Group, a Keysight Technologies business
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