Fortinet, ZTE, CUJO AI and Colt all had standout entries for most innovative security strategy in this year's Leading Lights contest.

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

April 28, 2019

5 Min Read
Leading Lights 2019 Finalists: Most Innovative Security Strategy

Fewer than 15% of companies take a proactive approach to cybersecurity and digital risk, according to Ovum, and that leaves most with reactive point products to address specific cybersecurity threats. While they're in reactive mode, several companies are aiming to become more efficient by way of using the cloud and virtualized infrastructure -- necessary steps for a digital transformation that add a layer of complexity to security.

It's a great time to evaluate how the approaches to security are evolving alongside other mile markers of digital transformation. This specific Leading Light award will go to the communications service provider, systems integrator or technology developer that has "unveiled the most innovative security strategy during the past year." Entries that touted a single product to the exclusion of all else didn't do well in this category.

The winners and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at the Leading Lights Awards dinner, which will be held at the Pinnacle Club in Denver, on Monday, May 6, on the eve of the Big 5G Event. Find out about how to book a table and attend the awards dinner by clicking on this link.

Here are some details about the shortlisted entries in the category of Most Innovative Security Strategy:

Colt Technology Services
Colt's cybersecurity approach includes bringing together a wide variety of single-point solutions -- firewalls, DDoS mitigation, encryption -- and offering it as a single portfolio of managed services that protect its customers' data and IT infrastructure. The services combine to proactively monitor, manage and report on network issues and vulnerabilities. Supporting all of this is the service provider's own encryption solution, which is applied throughout the optical, Ethernet and IP layers. Other service providers are turning to Colt for its cybersecurity services, a sign that even the most trusted names in telecom think of Colt as a needed ally. We're not sure of the timing here -- Colt has been offering individual cybersecurity services for a while -- but the whole portfolio, as a service, is a solid entry for this year's Leading Lights.

Protecting connected homes is a massive blind spot for most service providers and CUJO AI is out in front drawing a contrast between its approach and the legacy efforts like deep packet inspection, DNS blacklisting and traditional antivirus scanning. Those other methods work well enough, but they're typically only set up to protect PCs and smartphones, while IoT devices and smart speakers are left exposed. CUJO AI uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) analysis to look for known -- and previously unknown -- threats. Network operators deploy CUJO AI's service and -- without SSL interception or DPI -- they can analyze anonymized data packets and both keep customers safe without compromising their privacy. Charter is an investor and customer. Comcast is a customer. KPN is an investor. Again, it says a lot when major service providers are using the solution to protect their own IoT and smart home customers.

Fortinet's security strategy pitch was all around offering visibility, protection and integration, while carriers are evolving their networks to provide 5G services. Fittingly, the company's offers a collection of security virtualized network functions for the protection of a carrier's mobile core and telco cloud.

The company's security strategy gets more interesting with its ecosystem integration with leading NFV and SDN vendors to simplify and automate operations. It plays well with others and that's incredibly important in the carrier world, as the number of NFV platform providers, orchestration systems and SDN controllers seems to grow every week. For its carrier partners, Fortinet's broad security portfolio and its ability to lean on and work well with other vendors and technology players sounds like a reasonable approach to providing 5G network protection as their networks become more virtualized, cloudified and complex.

ZTE's security strategy is aimed at being more comprehensive and helping carrier networks stay safe by using cloud-based VNFs to provide security features to virtualized carrier infrastructure. The company's Leading Lights entry listed several features delivered via the cloud, including intrusion detection and prevention (IDPS), access control and identity management.

The company said it has partnered with several public cloud providers to provide VNFs with "protocol and architectural specific security enhancements." These include VNFs for malware detection on telecom networks, telecom signaling firewalls and end-to-end VNF trust management. It also uses cloud services to help telcos with their security needs. For example, it can offer the machine learning capability of AWS Macie services to detect, classify and display sensitive data for telco fulfillment of GDPR regulations. It also uses AWS Shield for protecting against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on NFV infrastructure, applications and user traffic.

In each case, ZTE said it is dedicated to helping telcos protect infrastructure, networking, management, virtualization and data as they evolve their networks, either by bringing in its own products or that of its cloud partners.

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Phil Harvey, US Bureau Chief, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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