UPDATED 18:00 EST / DECEMBER 21 2020

SECURITY

How network visibility is empowering IT security and more

For decades, the phrase “The network is the business” has echoed around the industry. Today, it’s common to say that data is now the center of business. And it may be so. But if the best route to data — for visibility, monitoring, security, etc. — is via the network, then security is still a high priority. 

For Anil Singhal (pictured), chief executive officer of NetScout Systems Inc., organizations need to step back and look at where they are getting their data from. “The whole world is talking about artificial intelligence and machine learning,” he said. “But what are you going to learn? Is your data really authentic, or is it truly artificial?” 

Most people are using “accidental data” from devices as the basis of visibility, Singhal added. On the other hand, visibility gained through looking directly at network traffic provides something more — namely, a way to accurately pinpoint real root causes in performance-monitoring and security use cases. 

Singhal spoke with Dave Vellante, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, for a digital CUBE Conversation. They discussed how network visibility is evolving to serve security and analytics needs and NetScout’s move into security analytics. (* Disclosure below.)

Network visibility wears a lot of hats

Some may hear the term “network visibility” and assume it implies a passive monitoring system. This is not the case — at least not for NetScout’s brand of visibility, according to Singhal.

“Visibility is a means to an and. The end could be performance management … could be troubleshooting, could be security forensics,” he said. 

In the case of all kinds of troubleshooting and root-cause discovery, Singhal measures success through what he calls “mean time to know.” When one pursues visibility through the network, it is a bit like going to the doctor with a mysterious ailment, he explained.

“They start looking at all kinds of things; it’s going to take forever. But if I take a blood test, I will know the next thing to do. So in a way, we are doing the blood test of the user experience, security problems. And when we do that, we can come up with some very unique things,” he stated.

Network-level visibility is not just for quick root-cause discovery. In the area of security, it can give professionals a head start on preventing attacks. This is because continuous monitoring of the traffic allows them to know exactly what normal looks like and detect anomalies right away.

“Before they did the ransomware, what were they doing? [To answer] requires continuous monitoring of the traffic. And that’s what we do. So when we do catch the actor, we’re catching the thief, not what they’re stealing — then you’re preventing tomorrow’s attack,” Singhal explained. 

NetScout’s technology for security will be even more powerful with AI and ML added to its Smart Data solutions, which offer packet-level visibility of network communication, according to Singhal. NetScout has typically not shared data with third parties, but has changed its stance in order to benefit from outside analytics.

“This idea has been wildly successful for NetScout in the non-security space,” Singhal concluded. 

What’s next for NetScout? Look out for a big announcement called Smart Cloud Monitoring, allowing users to triage issues across infrastructure. 

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE ConversationsDisclosure: NetScout Systems Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither NetScout nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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