This article was contributed by Meraki technology partner Openpath.
In today’s security landscape, very few businesses are running without cybersecurity and physical security systems in place. However, as IoT technology continues to evolve, and more systems move into the cloud, companies need to constantly reevaluate their strategies.
Though cybercrime is the top concern when it comes to security, these incidents are often linked to oversights in physical security practices. A comprehensive approach to physical and cyber security convergence will help address the emerging threats of this new security landscape.
Understanding physical and cybersecurity convergence
Traditionally, physical security measures such as access control, security personnel, and surveillance are treated as standalone functions, with little regard for how data and IT systems are intrinsically connected to physical security. When applications and systems are increasingly mobile or cloud-based, it’s nearly impossible to achieve compliance for sensitive data and identity protection without an integrated physical and cybersecurity strategy.
A cyber and physical security convergence strategy employs measures to restrict access to certain spaces, along with cybersecurity practices to secure the IP network and limit access to sensitive data.
Physical security protects cybersecurity by limiting who has access to spaces where data is stored, and the reverse is also true. Physical security components connected to the internet, such as RFID key card door locks, smartphones, and video surveillance cameras, are common targets for hackers. A strong cybersecurity strategy safeguards the sensitive data that physical systems retain. Physical and IT security convergence addresses the interconnected nature of these components and treats them as one rather than as separate business entities.
Best practices for converged security
In order to successfully implement physical and IT security convergence, systems need to function together seamlessly. While physical security measures are important for preventing unwanted access, a physical and cybersecurity convergence strategy should also cover network devices, applications, and software that power smart, cloud-based devices and security systems as well as the people who manage, monitor, and make business decisions for these functions. To successfully implement a physical and IT security convergence strategy:
Install access control and surveillance for any space that houses sensitive data, proprietary information, or personally identifiable information (PII), and secure key entry points, such as the front door, to prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access.
Ensure that both internal teams and security system providers adhere to best practices for cybersecurity, including using multi-factor authentication (MFA), least-privilege access models, stringent data storage and retention policies, required security training, active system monitoring and threat detection, and frequent vulnerability testing.
Restructure security teams so that physical security and IT leaders work together to ensure the right technology is deployed and that the systems are functioning to maximize security across the entire organization.
Establish formal collaboration to give teams a better way to share information from their prospective systems and apply those learnings holistically to improve both cybersecurity and physical security.
Leverage data compiled from integrated systems for a more complete picture of security posturing across the entire organization.
Physical and IT security convergence aligns threat assessment for faster, more accurate incident response, plus shared goals eliminate redundancies for a unified team across physical and IT functions. By merging cyber- and physical security strategies, teams will be better equipped to navigate the emerging security landscape.
For a more detailed look at the impact of security convergence strategies, join our webinar for a three-part discussion on emerging security strategies.
The first Meraki Network user conference is just a few weeks away! To get you ready for an engaging event, here are the leaders, influencers, and experts you’ll want to be logged in to see.
First, your hosts
A great event needs to have illustrious hosts. We’ve got you covered with two Merakians who know a thing or two about standing out.
Rebecca Stone Vice President of Marketing, Cisco Meraki
Rebecca oversees the global marketing team at Meraki, focused on innovative go-to-market, field, market strategy, and product marketing, as well as creative design and global communications. As a marketing leader, Rebecca has overseen a variety of sales development, product marketing, lead generation, and marketing communications teams.
Jason Pernell Vice President of Sales, Cisco Meraki
As the head of the Meraki sales team, Jason “JP” Pernell is passionate about driving the shift from traditional enterprise networking platforms to the latest in cloud-based solutions. Prior to Meraki, Jason held numerous leadership roles at Cisco. He takes great pride in helping customers achieve their vision through Meraki solutions while leading the organization to success within Cisco.
You can hear more about Rebecca’s and JP’s stories and what they’re looking forward to for the event on the Meraki Unboxed Podcast.
We’ve got some big names on our keynote speakers list. Register now and be sure not to miss them!
Reshma Saujani Founder, Girls Who Code and Marshall Plan for Moms
Reshma Saujani is Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, the international nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a computer programmer looks like and does.
Guy Raz Award-winning Reporter, Radio & Podcast Host, and Creator
Guy Raz is an acclaimed radio and podcast personality and creator of the popular podcast “How I Built This” and the “TED Radio Hour.” His shows are heard by more than 19 million people each month around the world.
Denise Thomas Chief Operations Officer, Cisco Meraki
Denise Thomas serves as Chief Operations Officer for Cisco’s Meraki Business Unit, where she’s responsible for inclusion, employee experience, IT, business systems, program management, facilities, and business and manufacturing operations. Denise played a pivotal role in enabling Meraki to grow from 300 employees to over 2,000, helping the team navigate its high-growth startup stage through a successful integration as part of Cisco.
Chris Stori SVP/GM, Enterprise Networking, Meraki, and IoT
Chris is Senior Vice President/General Manager of Enterprise Networking, Meraki, and IoT for Cisco. Chris joined Cisco with the Meraki acquisition in 2012. He stepped into the role of VP, Operations/COO in 2014, and was named SVP/GM of Cisco Meraki in 2020. In May 2021, Chris was elevated to SVP/GM of Cisco’s Enterprise Networking, Meraki, and IoT businesses.
Finally, here are some of the Cisco Meraki customers who will also be joining us for the event. If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time!
Ready to roll up your sleeves and get back to the office? Many employers are eager to get their workforce under one roof. CEOs like Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon and JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon have announced their current remote workforce will soon return to the office either full time or in a hybrid model. The thinking is that face-to-face interactions result in clear communication and collaboration.
As more and more people are getting vaccinated, and with social restrictions being lifted, there is a pent-up demand from customers looking for face-to-face personalized services like banking, insurance, and wealth management. Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed financial services employers in December 2020. The result: 70% said they felt workers should be physically in the office at least three days a week to preserve a company’s competitive edge.
While the thought of returning full time sounds appealing to employers, many questions about creating safe environments remain, such as:
How do I keep my employees and customers safe?
Should everyone come back at the same time? What about a hybrid approach?
What is the best way to monitor workspaces to allow for social distancing?
How can we maintain security and compliance with a distributed workforce?
To help answer these questions, let’s consider a midrange banking services provider with a workforce expected to return to the office full time. In a follow up article, we will consider how a large corporate insurance carrier can provide a hybrid workforce environment.
Under one roof
As employees stream back to the office on a full-time basis, executives should be looking to provide three things: infrastructure and insights, branch and building safety, and cloud-based team support.
Infrastructure and insights
Financial services firms should provide reliable and secure connections with the latest Wi-Fi protocols and the fastest networking capabilities. Employees who have worked from home will appreciate the vastly improved experience back in the office, especially as they won’t need to keep sharing bandwidth with their children’s video games.
Additionally, employers can use networking insights to determine how branch infrastructure is operating for an improved employee experience. Some strategies include installing wireless access points with Wi-Fi 6 capabilities to optimize network visibility and traffic analytics. These insights can provide a drastic reduction in troubleshooting and allow IT resources to focus on the true cause of end-user frustration.
Branch and building safety
Even if all workers are in the office, health and safety protocols may require limited numbers of people in meeting rooms and common areas. Employers will want to evaluate these trends, including analyzing occupancy throughout the day for better on-site employee experiences. Providing video analytics can help intelligently maintain social distancing protocols, as would IoT cameras and sensors.
Cloud-based team support
Financial services teams often work in close collaboration. Employers should insist that their cloud-based solutions support their remote workforce and branch employees in order to collaborate safely. This may include secure policy controls that identify workers capabilities.To learn more about these and other solutions for financial services, read our e-book.
Over the past few years, we have seen colleges and universities adopt online learning as a strategy to reach more students by offering additional programs. However, the campus was still the principal place to learn because of all the benefits of the in-person experience. The pandemic changed all that, and after a year of 100% online learning, reimagining higher education is critical for schools and universities to thrive in the new blended system.
With so much going on, we wanted to learn from an industry expert how the pandemic has reshaped the future of higher education. We spoke with Jenna Linskens, Director of Learning & Innovative Technology at Ithaca College, on lessons she’s learned from navigating the challenges of the last 14 months.
Visit our higher education site to learn more about how Meraki provides IT insights, visibility, and flexibility to improve the college experience. To discover federal funding available for higher education technology investments, check out this blog post.
Over the last several years, it has become clear that organizations that know how to unlock the power of data have exceeded expectations. While large amounts of data can be valuable, whether one can manage and leverage the data effectively is another story. Digital tags enable transformation of an analog physical world into a digital one, which introduces many benefits.
Replacing paper price tags and labels with digital ones opens up various ways to improve profitability for many industries. For retailers, synchronized and optimized pricing, enhanced in-store efficiency, improved customer marketing experiences, and better on-shelf availability can help improve margins. Manufacturing sites can improve production and logistics processes by replacing physical labels and the transportation industry can provide digital signage with relevant travel or seating information. Workplaces can leverage digital signs to provide information to designate when meeting rooms are available.
Digital tags from the cloud
Starting today, your team can enable a secure cloud-managed digital tagging solution by leveraging existing Meraki infrastructure. This solution helps organizations improve efficiencies, automate tasks, and enhance shopping experiences without additional complex hardware.
Many current digital tag and electronic shelf label solutions have complexities, such as PoE requirements, add-on antennas, and servers that may limit the speed and ease of deployment. By leveraging a Meraki wireless access point and built-in IoT radio, architects can deploy digital tags much faster, without the need for additional hardware, and can manage everything remotely via the cloud.
“Our new solution with SES-imagotag will streamline deployment and management of digital smart labels. By bringing in this integrated offering, organizations will benefit from our joint expertise and reuse of their wireless infrastructure. As the market leader of cloud-managed Wi-Fi, we look forward to partnering with SES-imagotag, the market leader of digital smart labels and pricing automation, to transform physical locations seamlessly and securely.”
Matthew Landry, Senior Director of Product Management, Cisco Meraki
The integration can now be enabled within the Meraki dashboard, allowing configuration of Meraki access points and full management of the digital tags via the SES-imagotag VUSION cloud-based IoT management solution. The VUSION Retail IoT Cloud platform provides a secure and reliable cloud platform to integrate label images, track end-to-end operation, integrate data from various sources, control label flashing, and more.
I enjoyed hosting the third “Behind The Network” webisode on April 28, along with representatives from two small-to-midsize businesses. From my perspective, the pandemic has weighed heavily on this particular sector. As we begin returning to the office and school campuses, there will be many considerations. If you missed it, you can watch the recording.
Here’s my recap of what was discussed and my insights into some of the compelling subjects addressed.
Hybrid work is here to stay
Over the next 6 to 12 months, I think returning to work and campus will be decidedly hybrid. The process will likely be slow and measured, with a high degree of location-based service deployment to ensure measures such as COVID-19 contact tracing, proximity, and density monitoring are maintained.
For remote workers, organizations will evaluate connectivity platforms to ensure proper scale and security, and solutions that integrate security into the overall networking stack like SD-WAN and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) should experience rapid adoption. Furthermore, I believe that enterprises will adopt a greater degree of automation to ensure both higher levels of network uptime and a more consistent application experience regardless of location. Network assurance and analytics platforms, including AIOps, should also see broad adoption to monitor performance and provide actionable insights.
Finally, I believe that network operators will also benefit from a cloud-first approach in the form of better scalability, economics, and flexibility to support the new hybrid work model. Most often, I hear customers voice a desire to make networking simple and easy to deploy and manage. Thus, networking as a service (NaaS) should also be a huge consideration long term.
During the panel, I invited Aaron Sturniolo from RRMM Architects and James FitzPatrick from Avenues: The World School to share their experiences during the pandemic and discuss how they pivoted to maintain continuity. We had an interactive question and answer session following the conversation, and a handful of common threads from the panel stood out to me.
First, the pandemic forced both organizations to fundamentally rethink their approach to supporting critical stakeholder needs. Whether you are an architect or a student, it is mission-critical for IT staff to extend a consistent experience from work/campus to remote locations in order to maintain productivity. Second, both fundamentally changed their IT operating models by employing some of the previously mentioned tools to achieve the necessary scale and business resiliency. Finally, one of the silver linings resulting from the pandemic was an acceleration of each organization’s digital journey that will prepare them for unexpected challenges in the future.
The future of work will be hybrid, and IT professionals will require connectivity platforms that scale, are secure, and deliver a consistent application experience regardless of location through automation, assurance, actionable insights, and cloudification. RRMM Architects and Avenues: The World School are two great examples of organizations that leaned into modern tools to not only survive the pandemic but thrive. It has been an interesting journey for all of us, and I believe businesses will be stronger as a result.
Will Townsend is Senior Analyst responsible for networking infrastructure and carrier services at Moor Insights & Strategy. He has been featured on NPR, CNBC, and in the Wall Street Journal, and frequently contributes to Forbes.com, providing insights into enterprise networking and 5G. Townsend is also ranked consistently as one of the world’s top networking analysts, as measured by ARInsights.
There may be no better indicator of the tumultuous year we’ve had than Merriam-Webster’s list of top words for 2020. Pandemic was number one—no surprise there—and quarantine and asymptomatic were also featured, illustrating the outsized impact the pandemic has had on our lives. If you have a look you’ll see other words related to social, cultural, and political moments over the last year that added to our collective frustration.
I have a word in mind that I’d like to see on the 2021 list—transformation.
In our current world, transformation is both a reality and a necessity. Businesses have had to transform their operations. Individuals have had to transform the way they work and interact with others. Meanwhile, entire communities have been left out of ongoing technological transformations that could benefit them greatly.
While the changes transformation brings can be daunting and disruptive, business and technology leaders must be willing to lean into the discomfort in order to survive and compete in the new high-tech world that we are building.
Transform your business
With digital transformation moving at a clip, there will be an increasing need for businesses to rethink how they connect to their customers. The pace at which businesses are adopting digital technology in the wake of the pandemic is staggering. 77% of CIOs say that digital transformation is their top budget priority for 2021 and 89% of businesses plan to adopt a digital-first strategy going forward.
While adopting new technology can be an incredible competitive advantage, businesses will need to ensure they have a reliable and robust network as a backbone to fully leverage their investments. They’ll also need to work hard to ensure security, as every new investment in technology comes with added risks.
Many communities today experience disconnection because they have either insufficient or no access to a fast, reliable broadband connection. According to the FCC, while 97% of Americans have this access, only 65% of rural communities and 40% of those living on tribal lands do. This cuts them off from economic participation, education, critical services, and employment, further deepening existing inequalities.
The sudden and unexpected need to transition almost all human interactions to digital spaces put these technology disparities in sharp relief. It also made the inadequacies of our internet infrastructure glaringly visible across the board. Many corporations, Cisco included, were able to leverage existing technology resources to make the transition with relative ease, but other organizations, particularly in the public sector, struggled. The knock-on effects of these shortcomings in terms of socio-economic impact cannot be understated.
Our fundamental paradigm of work was shattered in 2020. An entire group of workers who were previously overlooked were suddenly (and rightly) characterized as essential, while those in the professional sector faced the disruption of moving from an office space to a desk at home.
Both of these events presented their own technological challenges. According to Pew Research Center, 54% of people who are currently working remotely want to continue doing so. For those who can’t work remotely, 54% of middle-income and 61% of lower-income workers state they are very or somewhat concerned about exposure to COVID-19. How do we continue to protect workers as we move into the next phase of the pandemic? How do we enable workers to continue to enjoy the newfound flexibility of remote work while making it seamless for them to connect and engage with their colleagues? On top of all that, how do we make sure the solutions we develop to address these issues are secure?
Lean into change
Confronting the challenges I’ve outlined above can seem daunting. But I believe that 2021 can be an inflection point where we embrace the opportunities before us and actively chart a course toward the high-tech and equitable future that we all envision.
Two of our core values at Meraki are “be brave” and “everybody in.” I see those values reflected in the theme of our upcoming Meraki Network user conference, “Lean Into Change.” It’s going to take some bravery as a community of technology and business leaders to confront these challenges head on. We’re also going to need to work together to make it happen.
That’s why I hope you will join us on June 16th for an engaging day of learning and growing together towards our shared vision. Here are a few highlights of what you can expect and look forward to:
Hear from industry leaders and top influencers on how to leverage technology in a competitive world to thrive in the new normal.
We know your priority is your people. This event will help you understand how to create a secure and safe environment for your people to return to work. Our secure connectivity strategy will help you provide your customers with a level of service that is best-in-class.
We will discuss important topics centered around how technology is bridging the gap for the underserved in our community as we build an inclusive future for all. I am definitely looking forward to our keynote session with Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.
I look forward to seeing you there! I know that if we embrace transformation and bravely lean into the change that it brings, we can deliver incredible value to our communities, customers, partners, and people.
Needless to say, the last 13 months have forced organizations in all industries to rapidly change how they operate. With employees, customers, students, patients, and every other type of community member moving to digital interactions, IT networks have played a crucial role in keeping everyone and everything connected. And those networks built on a cloud-first approach have allowed businesses to go beyond connectivity to find innovation and growth when business was not “as usual.”
Hear from four Meraki customers: Australia Post, Bay State College, LaSalle College High School, and Tandem Health, as they share their recent stories of agility and resilience while managing through change.
Learn more about how the Meraki platform can keep your IT in the cloud and your business in the lead.
When you’re cooking up a new recipe, chances are you’re going to head off to the shop for the ingredients. If you’re lucky, the planets will align and your local supermarket will stock them all. On the other hand, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of realizing that you’ll need to make multiple stops to get everything you need.
Cooking analogies aside, it’s important to note the significance of a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution provided by a single vendor.Consolidation of networking and security is a central principle of SASE that simplifies the delivery of consistent security and quality of experience (QoE), and delivers valuable other benefits, such as:
Reduction in complexity and costs
End-to-end observability from a device all the way to the application server it’s accessing and everywhere in between—including the internet
Agility to adopt new digital business models
Compromising on consolidation will reduce the technical effectiveness of a SASE solution as well as diminish its overall impact. It stands to reason that an effective SASE solution that is truly consolidated can only be provided by a single vendor.
As I discussed in my previous blog post, a complete SASE solution is technically not available yet. However, there is a “supermarket” where all the ingredients are readily available today, and they are all of the highest, market-leading quality—Cisco. This didn’t happen by chance. For the past 36 years, Cisco has worked with hundreds of thousands of companies to build the network that powers their business. Over the years, we’ve also worked closely with those same companies to bring products and solutions to market that will help them succeed tomorrow, and the acquisition of Meraki is an example of Cisco’s forward-looking technology planning.
The art of consolidation
Cisco Meraki plays a pivotal role in the Cisco SASE solution. Meraki has already converged SD-WAN, networking, security, (and even IoT) onto one platform. Not just any platform though—one that has been at the vanguard of the industry since day one, built on a foundation of over a decade’s worth of experience, meticulously building and honing the industry’s most trusted cloud platform.
Compared to the market at large, the Meraki platform enables the most complete and best-in-class SASE solution available:
A clear road map to delivering as-a-service consistency anywhere through a global network of cloud security points of presence (PoP)—coming soon
Start your SASE journey today—with Meraki
Wherever your starting point may be, the Meraki platform takes complexity out of every step of your SASE journey with open APIs for seamless integration across Cisco technologies and third-party systems. Experience SASE first-hand with a free trial of the Meraki MX Security & SD-WAN appliances. Boasting a powerful punch, highlights of the MX appliances include:
SD-WAN with advanced analytics that monitor and allow QoE remediation at-a-glance
Integration with best-in-class cloud security stack with Cisco Umbrella
Prior to the pandemic, manufacturing as an industry was well on the way to transformation with the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as robotics, automation, AR/VR, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Nonetheless, the disruption of supply chains we’ve seen as a consequence of the pandemic has only reaffirmed the need to compress the timeframe for digital transformation. How manufacturers adapt—and how quickly—will differentiate the survivors from the rest. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three ways the Meraki platform helps facilitate this transformation for our manufacturing customers.
Harness Wi-Fi 6 for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
One key component of digital transformation that smart factories are embracing is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), where everything from robots to forklifts to tooling carts are being connected to networks. This connectivity centralizes control, increases visibility, and leverages analytics to improve efficiency, reduce downtime, and make smarter predictions. With so many wireless devices requiring network access, providing a strong Wi-Fi 6 foundation is critical to ensuring consistent and high-performance IIoT deployments. Also known as the 802.1ax standard, Wi-Fi 6 has the potential to increase average throughput per user by a factor of four, thereby granting manufacturers the raw material (throughput) they need to fully harness the promise of IIoT.
Monitor smart factories with MT environmental sensors
Sensor technologies have allowed manufacturers to take advantage of big data to improve manufacturing processes, predict failure, and ultimately improve the efficiency of modern smart factories. We recently grew our platform to include environmental sensors as a standard component of network deployments. Meraki MT is a family of environmental sensors (indoor temperature/humidity, indoor leak, door open/close) that provide real-time remote visibility and monitoring to help protect assets and facilities 24/7.We imagine this technology to be initially deployed in IT closets, ensuring that critical infrastructure uptime is maintained, but there’s no reason to stop there. Wherever manufacturers need to monitor environmental conditions, we can help by simplifying the set-up process—MT environmental sensors can be provisioned in seconds, as they are battery-powered and use Wi-Fi 6 wireless access points and MV smart cameras as gateways to connect to the network.
Become adaptable with ecosystem partners
To thrive, the modern manufacturer needs to be able to innovate and scale against the backdrop of a complex global supply chain. They must also be able to respond to a diversity of disruptive external pressures, and do so quickly. The Meraki platform makes it easy to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. With the help of open APIs, paired with a community of technology partners, Meraki can support a huge array of potential use cases outside traditional “networking” arenas. For example, one such ecosystem partner, Arista Flow, has an asset tracking app that gives the real-time location of everyone in a facility using Bluetooth tags and Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access points, allowing any employees left behind in an emergency situation to be identified and quickly located.
The network has always been about providing connectivity. Without a strong foundation of connectivity, manufacturers will be slow to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies.
Test-drive the Cisco Meraki platform with an instant demo Contact us and talk to a Cisco Meraki specialist Request a free trial and try Cisco Meraki cloud networking for yourself