Stephanie Briggs

-August 9, 2017

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade Your Hardware, that Is the Question

When you think of security, you probably think “software” first. But software runs on hardware, and if your network security and access appliances are aging, your security profile may be crumbling – without you being aware of it.

Your network security and access appliances sit at the edge of your network, determining who can be let into the network and how much access they should be given. Since security threats are evolving by the day, these appliances need up-to-date software to appropriately protect your company and users from harm. But have you considered the vulnerabilities of outdated hardware appliances? If your appliances are three or four generations old, the latest software versions are likely not compatible with your hardware, so you’re left running out-of-date software.

This leaves you with two choices:

  • Upgrade your hardware so that you can get the latest software to maintain robust protection, or,
  • Keep your current hardware and entrust the security of your network to out-of-date software.

Frequently, companies choose the latter option. After all, their hardware appears to be working, so why upgrade it? An admin may think, “As long as my end users aren’t calling me to complain, everything must be working fine.” Unfortunately, “working” does not equal “secure.” For example, suppose you use OpenSSL for your backend services. Over the past few years, OpenSSL has identified several vulnerabilities. Hackers know this, so they look for devices running older versions of OpenSSL to exploit. At Pulse Secure, we monitor for such events and quickly provide patches in our software updates. But if your appliance can’t run the latest security software and you’re using an older version of OpenSSL, you are wide open to an attack.

That is just one example among the hundreds and thousands of enhancements and updates constantly being created to address new risks, threats, and vulnerabilities.

Aging hardware is also a risk because it will ultimately fail at some point. That is a generally-accepted principle when deploying hardware: there is a mean time between failures. It is why equipment is only guaranteed for a certain number of years. After that, the likelihood of failure becomes statistically high.

Aging hardware therefore presents a double risk: you may suffer a breach because of out-of-date security software, and you might completely lose functionality because of equipment failure. Both eventualities will leave you scrambling to repair the damage. The good news is, you can prevent a catastrophic situation by being proactive in upgrading your network security and access appliances.

Upgrading hardware not only prevents security breaches, but it also brings quantifiable value to daily business operations. For example, at Pulse Secure, our security software updates include new features to make deployment easier through wizards – so what took 30 steps before may take just five now. By minimizing the clicks, we streamline administrative tasks, saving you both time and money.

Plus, with every new generation of hardware comes leading-edge components: memory, processors, hard disks, network interface cards, etc. New hardware can handle more users and manage traffic faster and more reliably than ever so you can do more with less.

Take a hard line when it comes to upgrading your hardware. You will gain increased security to meet today’s sophisticated threats, reduce your network complexity, improve productivity, enhance the user experience, and lower your bottom line costs. The only thing you lose is the experience of getting hacked … and we can all do without that.