Faster, More Reliable Content Distribution at a Lower Cost? Thank you CloudFront

Those of us old enough to remember downloading songs from Napster will recall how frustrating it could be due to the time-consuming, constant buffering process. Fast forward to 2021, when nearly everyone has access not only to streaming music on demand, but endless video content from Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and an ever- growing variety of media apps. It’s never been easier or faster to listen to music or view content whenever and wherever we desire it.

The reason for this huge jump in speed and convenience is content delivery networks, or CDNs. Once only afforded by large corporations like Apple and Facebook, the cloud now gives organizations of all sizes cost-effective access to CDNs. Amazon first introduced its CloudFront CDN back in 2008, and it has evolved into an easy-to-use, convenient add-on for AWS cloud customers. Today, Amazon CloudFront delivers content to end users with lower latency using a global network of 225+ Points of Presence (215+ Edge locations and 13 regional mid-tier caches) in 90 cities across 47 countries. CloudFront customers enjoy three distinct advantages: an enhanced user experience, financial optimization (FinOps) and greater security.

Enhancing the User Experience

End users are provided faster, more reliable content when it’s hosted on a CDN. That’s because the global network of edge locations puts the content physically closer to the user, whether that content is high-def videos or documents and data used for business applications. CloudFront also leverages Amazon’s highly resilient, fully redundant, global backbone network for superior performance and availability for end users. Moreover, it automatically maps network conditions and intelligently routes a user’s traffic to the most performant AWS edge location to serve up cached or dynamic content.

But most users aren’t aware of all of that. All they know is that they’re able to set their eyes (and/or ears) on whatever documents or rich media content they’re seeking without hassle or interruption. And as we know, this has become the expectation. Organizations simply can’t afford to deliver anything other than a seamless user experience.

Harnessing Cost Savings, or FinOps

AWS customers who use CloudFront benefit from a cost-efficient and customizable pay-as-you-go model. Keeping everything “in house” with AWS means there are no transfer fees for origin fetches from any AWS origin (or server). And at no additional charge, AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) lifts the burdensome process of purchasing, uploading and renewing SSL/TLS certificates. Simply put, the data-out charge you pay on AWS is cheaper when you use CloudFront (versus a competitive product).

Earlier this year, Amazon introduced the CloudFront Security Savings Bundle, which, in exchange for a monthly spend commitment, provides businesses with up to 30% savings on their CloudFront bill. Customers looking to take advantage of even steeper discounts and custom pricing can do so by agreeing to minimum traffic commitments typically in the area of 10 TB/month or higher.

Augmenting Security

CloudFront adds an extra layer of protection for websites, as the CDN puts additional security features at the edge location. AWS Shield Standard uses application-level and network-level security assets to keep data safe against common network and transport layer DDoS attacks. Organizations wishing to protect against more complex infrastructure attacks have the option to add products such as AWS Shield Advanced and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF).

Contact Lightstream today to find out how we can help you implement Amazon CloudFront and integrate it with other AWS services such as AWS Shield for DDoS mitigation, Amazon S3, Elastic Load Balancing or Amazon EC2 as origins for your applications and Lambda@Edge to further enhance the user experience by running custom code to personalize content and improve latency.

Lightstream Welcomes Denise Anderson as Senior Director of Partner Business Development

Salt Lake City, UT, August 24, 2021– Lightstream announced today the hiring of Denise Anderson as the company’s new Senior Director of Partner Business Development. In her role, Denise will be responsible for owning the executive partner relationships and helping to drive joint growth strategies.

“We are extremely pleased to have Denise join the Lightstream team,” stated Jim Cassell, Co-CEO of Lightstream.   “She is a natural strategist and corporate thought leader who can identify and implement innovative business development strategies and operational processes that will allow our cross-collaborative teams to achieve and exceed targets. Denise is critical to supporting the explosive growth that Lightstream is experiencing in our cloud, security, and managed services businesses.”

Denise has spent over 20 years in direct and indirect channel sales and service provider organizations.  She has spent the last 10 years primarily focused in cybersecurity channel strategy and partner-to-partner (P2P) business development. She has experience in developing, accelerating and operationalizing channel and partner Go-To-Market strategies with concrete results, including driving an average of 50% YoY growth with strategic partnerships and accelerating partner revenues in excess of $100 million.

According to Denise, “Lightstream represents an exciting opportunity for growth thanks to its combined cloud, security and network practices. Rather than simply identifying gaps, Lightstream’s lifecycle approach enables customers to trust a proven partner who can provide integrated professional, advisory and managed services across a customer’s entire IT stack. I look forward to continuing to solve some of our customers’ biggest challenges through the combined strength of our market-leading partnerships and Lightstream products and services.”

About Lightstream

Lightstream provides full-service cloud, connectivity, and security solutions to enterprises worldwide with a focus on managed services for all three, as well as cloud infrastructure implementation, security, and support.

Lightstream was named Palo Alto Networks Public Cloud Partner of the Year in 2018 and 2019, and is an AWS Security Competency Partner, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, and a Microsoft Cloud Platform Gold Partner with Security Competency. Visit us at http://www.lightstream.tech or LinkedIn.

Media Contact

cynthia.lawton@lightstream.tech

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Ditch the Duct Tape – The Evolution of SECaaS: Security as a Service

It’s no mystery that mid-market companies struggle to manage cybersecurity effectively. Staffing is scarce, products promise to be solutions, and nothing works together as advertised. While ransomware still remains the most prominent threat to mid-size business, it’s just one of the things companies need to be concerned about. For example, malicious emails are up 600% due to COVID-19, according to ABC News. Whether you’re a target of opportunity, or in the cross-hairs of a nation state – security competency has never been more important.

If your organization is looking for shorten time to value and lower upfront costs for security, then it’s time to consider SECaaS. Lightstream’s Chief Security Strategist Rafal Los decrypts this evolving form of on-demand service:  what it is, what it’s not, and why it’s more effective than DIY. Hint:  it’s more about finding the right partner.

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MID-YEAR FOLLOW UP: 2021 Security Anti-Predictions

Back in January, we took a slightly different approach to the annual trend prediction blog post and instead sounded off about what the cybersecurity community predicted would NOT happen in 2021. At the time, industry veteran and Vice President of Security Strategy at Lightstream, Rafal Los took to social media to ask, “What’s the thing that probably won’t happen in cybersecurity in 2021?” Now that we’re midway through the year, we wanted to check in and see how accurate their anti-predictions were.

Tied for #1: Password Elimination & Meaningful Asset Management

Raf’s social media followers resoundingly agreed in January that we wouldn’t see an end to passwords as a means to protect our assets, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this forecast was 100% accurate. We still don’t have a better way to protect our personal and enterprise data, as thumb print and facial recognition technology have not yet evolved to ironclad status.

And though the work-from-home trend is not as strong as it was at the start of the year, the unpredictability of the COVID-19 virus continues to cause skepticism about re-implementing a full-time, on-site work strategy. That means remote workers continue to be at risk for identity-related breaches, and maintaining control of computer-related assets, including software, unauthorized devices and loss of security is still a major priority for corporate IT.

Asset management remains a significant challenge, particularly for the mid-sized business market that lacks the deep pockets to afford the security measures that large corporations have in place. Therefore, IT professionals must utilize the remainder of the year to adopt new ways to improve the identification, tracking and management of employees, applications and devices that access resources.

#2: Widespread Zero Trust Adoption

Most of Rafal Los’s respondents shared the sentiment early in 2021 that while the adoption of Zero Trust principles was imperative for the advancement of cybersecurity, they weren’t confident about it being widely adopted in the immediate future. As it turns out, we’re happy to report that this prediction may have been short sighted.

It’s possible that they underestimated COVID-19’s ability to accelerate the adoption of a Zero Trust model. It seems that the pandemic and resulting rise in cybersecurity attacks have fueled investments in new cybersecurity strategies as well as the buzz surrounding Zero Trust security.

According to CISO Mag, a recent report highlighted that more than three-quarters (78%) of companies around the world say that Zero Trust has increased in priority and nearly 90% are currently working on a Zero Trust initiative (up from just 41% a year ago).

The security of every organization depends on a new way of thinking, and the Zero Trust model of “never trusting, always verifying” is profoundly beneficial in an environment where remote working continues to be a trend. Lightstream’s Managed Security Services platform incorporates automation, Zero Trust concepts, best practices and industry-specific compliance to help IT leaders manage costs effectively, reduce complexity and improve the efficiency and efficacy of data center, network and cloud security.

#3: Fully Patched Environments/Systems

At the outset of 2021, Rafal Los’s social media followers were spot-on in their prediction that fully patched environments and systems would be highly unlikely this year. A perfect example of this is Microsoft’s so-called Printnightmare vulnerability that continues to be an issue as of the date of this blog post. Microsoft released a patch for this Print Spooling vulnerability in June of 2021. However, as we explained in January, much like how water usually finds a way to break through that patch in your garden hose, attackers are experts in finding ways to circumvent applied patches when the underlying cause is not fully remediated.

This patch, like so many others released by software providers, can be bypassed in certain scenarios, effectively defeating the security protections and permitting attackers to run arbitrary code on infected systems.

The process of identifying, categorizing, prioritizing, and resolving vulnerabilities in operating systems, enterprise applications (whether in the cloud or on-premises), browsers and end-user applications is an ongoing process that requires considerable time and resources. Therefore, we stand by our advice for enterprise IT to consider outsourcing this initiative to a trusted provider.

#4: Elimination of Phishing

We were far from shocked when many of Raf’s social media followers were emphatic that phishing scams would continue to haunt corporate IT in 2021. In fact, Digital Information World reported that a recent study found that phishing site volume in Q1 of 2021 outpaced Q1 of 2020 by 47 percent. They further reported that phishing is an ever-growing problem particularly for e-commerce and cryptocurrency platforms, but that social media and other sites and platforms that offer financial services also continue to experience phishing at a high rate.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers were increasingly causing a threat to online retail shoppers, the rental car market, job searchers, and those seeking mortgage relief. They also warned against government imposter scams. The FTC recently issued the following alert:

COVID opened the door for scammers to double down on their worst practices, while preying on consumers during an unprecedented pandemic.

Moreover, Harvard Business Review recently reported that 2021 has seen a dramatic increase in business-related phishing scams, with high-profile ransom attacks against critical infrastructure, private companies, and municipalities grabbing headlines on a daily basis. Lightstream recommends that IT professionals take a multi-faceted security approach to lessen the number of phishing attacks and reduce the impact when attacks do occur.

#5: Unification of C-Suite & Security Professionals

Some of Raf’s respondents forecasted that there would continue to be a dangerous rift between security professionals and the executives/boards they support. A June 2021 Security Magazine article stated that because the majority of security leaders are three steps away from the CEO, only 37% of security professionals believe their organization values and effectively leverages the expertise of the cybersecurity leader. Furthermore, cybersecurity leaders shared they have assumed more accountability and risk, but struggle to achieve the desired security posture, because they are not seen as influential or valued members of their peer group. If you ask us, the next six months represent a major opportunity for companies to develop strategies to ensure accountability “goes both ways.”

#6: Effective Use of Machine Learning

Despite the skepticism expressed by Rafal Los and his social media respondents earlier this year, it seems that enterprise budgets for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have been on the rise in 2021. Inside Big Data reported in July that The AI industry is growing and we’re seeing a shift in priorities to more organizations viewing deployment of practical AI as a core strategy and moving away from mere experimentation. Several media outlets are reporting an uptick in the use of machine learning in healthcare and finance, with AI and ML being used to improve consumer experience and engagement, automate business practices, predict cardiovascular disease and mortality, and translate brain signals from paralyzed patients.

Contact Lightstream to find out how we can help you unify strategies to build secure, generational capabilities that can help your organization accomplish its goals in 2021 and beyond.

Overcoming Security Challenges at Mid-Market Organizations

When it comes to cybersecurity, mid-market organizations are uniquely challenged. They encounter many of the same issues that large enterprises do, but in most cases are forced to try to remedy them without the substantial budgets and IT departments that major corporations have.

According to first quarter 2021 Middle Market Business Index data from advisory firm RSM, 28% of middle market executives reported a data breach at their company in the last year, the highest level since RSM began tracking data in 2015 and a significant increase from 18% in 2019. Larger middle market organizations were most at risk, with 42% of executives at those companies reporting a breach, compared to 16% at smaller counterparts.

As attacks and adversaries ramp up, mid-market businesses find themselves in a battle to sustain their growth and security budget. Facing a shortage of security talent without the deep pockets to pay the high salaries demanded by top-level security professionals, these positions often go unfilled and the responsibilities associated with them are assigned to other staff members who are already overworked and wearing too many hats. In other cases, these positions get filled by less-qualified candidates. Either way, the organization is at risk of increased vulnerability to security breaches.

Another challenge is the siloed nature of security tools. The effectiveness of an organization’s security program on the operational side is often inversely proportionate to how many times IT professionals have to switch screens to figure out what’s going on. If you do not have a highly scalable and optimized security infrastructure backed by a qualified team to analyze threats in near real-time and respond, it puts you at significant risk and disadvantage – no matter how much technology you buy.

The pandemic and resulting economic downturn of 2020 exacerbated these issues. When countless companies throughout the world were forced to shut down, mid-market organizations with outdated infrastructure were unable to scale down in response. They overpaid for technology, licenses and features they no longer needed at a time when they couldn’t afford to waste valuable budget dollars. Moreover, with the majority of staff forced to work from home, users were accessing the network and data from everywhere, making the challenges of protecting assets even greater and requiring an increasing number of resources.

Outsourcing and the evolution of security service providers

What is a security threatened, budget constrained, short-staffed mid-market company to do? Many organizations are led to the decision to fully or partially outsource the day-to-day operations of their security program. For the past 20 years, this meant hiring a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). While doing so took some of the security management responsibilities off of the in-house IT team, it was not without its flaws. In order to remain profitable, most MSSPs rigidly deliver “cookie cutter” solutions. They are paid to monitor a dashboard and if there are any concerns, they simply alert the company to the issue. It is a best-effort model wherein the customer still remains very much engaged – thus delivering little real value.

Today, the MSSP is slowly being replaced by Security as a Service (SECaaS). With this new and improved “all-inclusive” delivery model, the service provider integrates their security services into the corporate infrastructure on a subscription basis. In most cases this is more cost effective than it would be for the midsized organization to manage its own security, particularly when total cost of ownership is considered. With SECaaS, the organization no longer has to worry about purchasing and managing infrastructure, tools and licenses. Instead, it is protected by a provider that partners directly to provide everything needed – tools, expertise, staffing – to deliver a next generation security services in a pay-as-you-go model.

This new model delivers immediate value by completely lifting the day-to-day security management off the IT department. And when the business needs to scale up or down quickly in response to seasonal or other shifts in demand, they can simply add to or remove services and scale up or down as business requires while delivering desired security outcomes.

In today’s world where the unpredictability of life comes at you fast, organizations must have the mindset that “IT comes at you faster.” IT must have the ability to immediately respond, support and thrive under whatever circumstances the organization is experiencing. It is imperative that organizations adopt a zero trust model, which trusts no one and requires continuous verification and multi-factor authentication for anyone trying to access the network. Mid-market companies that partner with the right SECaaS provider can gain peace of mind by relying on their vendor to update settings based on current threats.

For advice on how your midsized business can overcome its security challenges and adopt a zero trust model, contact the experts at Lightstream. As a networking and cloud company that integrates security into everything we build, we specialize in 24x7x365 network monitoring, detecting, protecting, analyzing and remediating security issues. We’ll help you manage costs effectively, reduce complexity and improve the efficiency and efficacy of your data center, network and cloud security.

MSSPs have failed us, now what?

 

Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) have been around for over twenty years. That’s long enough for Lightstream’s V.P. of Security Strategy Raf Los to explain (with conviction) why the model isn’t working anymore. Raf makes a case for “Security as a Service,” what this really means and why this is the new paradigm the industry should be – and is — shifting towards. Here’s a hint: CISOs need to get out the of business of managing security infrastructure.

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Lightstream Achieves Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud Specialization

NextWave Prisma Cloud Specialization will help Lightstream bring Advanced Cloud Security Expertise to Customers 

Salt Lake City, UT, June 3, 2021– Lightstream announced today that it has achieved a Palo Alto Networks NextWave Prisma Cloud Specialization Status. Lightstream has met the key specialization criteria around performance, capabilities, and engagement established by Palo Alto Networks’ NextWave 3.0 Partner Program.

As businesses expand their cloud footprints to innovate and go to market faster, cloud security must keep pace with the needs of both agile software development practices and hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Customers need the expertise and tools to ensure that their entire cloud native application lifecycle is protected and compliant while enabling full stack protection across public or private clouds for hosted, container, and serverless workloads.

Lightstream’s achievement of Palo Alto Networks’ Prisma Cloud Specialization adds further value to its robust cloud and security practice. The practice emphasizes architectural excellence as well as ongoing technical optimization, remediation, and cost performance for core, virtual, and remote infrastructures.  It further validates the capabilities of Lightstream Security Managed Services product portfolio to address the ongoing operational needs of customers.

“Lightstream Cloud Defense, built on Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud, pairs a flexible platform approach with cloud and security engineering expertise and remediation through our 24/7 security operations center (SOC),” said Jeff Collins, chief strategy officer for Lightstream. “Customers benefit from the power of Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud in a pay-as-you-grow managed service designed to fit their needs.”

“The partner of tomorrow will differentiate itself by building security expertise where that need is greatest,” said Karl Soderlund, SVP of Worldwide Channel Sales at Palo Alto Networks. “As a Prisma Cloud Specialized partner, Lightstream will bring expertise and cloud security to our customers who don’t always have the tools or resources to manage integrated DevOps security or secure complex, hybrid-cloud environments. This Cloud specialization is also our commitment to identify and bring high-value opportunities to partners backed by our leading security platform, with the incentives, enablement and support services that will help them establish innovative new solutions.”

About the NextWave Partner Program

The Palo Alto Networks NextWave partner program includes approximately 6,500 partners who help 80,000 customers around the world succeed with Palo Alto Networks Technologies. Its pre-sales, sales, and post-sales capabilities and enablement are instrumental in helping our partners create an optimal customer experience and serve as trusted security experts. Partners’ achievements in the program are proactively monitored and annually assessed.

NextWave 3.0 is a comprehensive set of program specializations, incentives, and enablement initiatives launched by Palo Alto Networks to Enable partner differentiation; enhance partner profitability, expand partner opportunities; and empower partner success.

To learn more about Lightstream’s Security Managed Services, visit our Security Practice page on lightstream.tech.

About Lightstream

Lightstream provides full-service cloud, connectivity, and security solutions to enterprises worldwide with a focus on managed services for all three, as well as cloud infrastructure implementation, security, and support.

Lightstream is an AWS Security Competency Partner, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, a Microsoft Cloud Platform Gold Partner with Security Competency, and was named Palo Alto Networks Public Cloud Partner of the Year in 2018 and 2019. Visit us at http://www.lightstream.tech or LinkedIn.

Media Contact

Cynthia.Lawton@lightstream.tech

 

SOC 2 isn’t your problem. It’s your network.

Information security is a reason for concern for all organizations, including those that outsource key business operations to third-party vendors like SaaS and cloud providers. But beware! Don’t let your network be an afterthought when it comes to achieving SOC 2 compliance.

Lightstream’s Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Collins discusses the basics of SOC 2 and offers concrete advice on what to consider when preparing for an audit or undertaking a digital transformation initiative.

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