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Key Learnings from F5 Agility 2021

Check out our summary of F5's Agility 2021, written by Jason Mehta, Partner Specialist at CDW Canada, who outlines key learnings from the event.

Key Learnings from F5 Agility 2021

I recently had the pleasure of attending F5's Agility 2021, which isan annual conference that F5 hosts for partners and customers. This event isone I look forward to each year, as it brings together the latest innovationsin application security, DevOps and infrastructure. Attendees learn how toweave security into every part of their application infrastructure and optimizetheir performance in multi-cloud environments.

Agility offers educational sessions covering solutions from 5G,access and authorization, app performance, security and troubleshooting, tomanaged services, multi-cloud management and online fraud protection. There wasa lot of great content throughout the event, however I will focus on the topsessions I attended in this blog.

Keynote:Security and the Future of Adaptive Applications

Due to the pandemic, we'reseeing digital transformation accelerate with applications. For example, in2020 we saw that remote working increased usage by 275% through Teams and WebEx1.Additionally, the amount of time spent using finance applications increased by45%1, as people were no longer going to the bank branch in person.Similarly, F5 Networks saw an increase of 75% in the number of customers1who have virtualized their workforce. Because of this, cybercrime is expectedto cost $6 trillion globally1, with automation, sophistication andthe scale of attacks increasing compared to previous years. Security is notjust a perimeter issue anymore, it also now applies to the cloud and modernapps.

According to F5, nineout of ten organizations have a mix of traditional and modern applications1,where multiple vendors, time to market pressure and tool sprawl all affectcustomer experience. In addition to customer experience, the toil of manualstitching is another challenge, as 40% of organization's time is spent on toil1.

WhatBreaches Teach Us

This second session examined some of the trends incybercrime today, looking at data spills, breaches and thefts, as well as therisk equation, which equals threat x vulnerability x cost. It also emphasizedthe fact that cybercriminals are always one step ahead of us, and that we alwaysneed to be prepared. One area of focus in this session was on the importance ofgood password hygiene, as employees are recycling passwords by changing onlyone or two characters from their existing password, which allows for easyhacking.

It's common to find in most businesses that they will respond to a threat only once it is materialized. To survive in this decade and beyond, it is beneficial to have a system that takes a zero-trust approach. As referenced in our 2021 CDW Security Study, unlike traditional perimeter security architectures, which trust all individuals and applications inside the perimeter, zero-trust architectures trust no one on either side. Identity and access management is a critical component of zero-trust architectures  

TheRole of Security in Digital Transformations

While the workforce shifted to remote work due to the pandemic,hackers did as well. I attended a panel discussion which discussed how thepandemic has accelerated the rate of digital transformation so dramatically,that organizations have made five years of progress in a little more than 12months. With this change happening so quickly, we are met with new challenges inapplication security, resource optimization and more.

During this panel session, Gail Coury, SVP & CISO at F5Networks, shared one interesting story where the US Government was experiencingfraudulent and credential stuffing attacks, which was largely due toindividuals using the same passwords across several applications. Theorganization deployed Shape by 17 agencies to secure and remediate thecredential stuffing attacks. Dave Estlick, CISO at Chipotle Mexican Grill, sharedsome cyberattacks as well, including digital loyalty programs, automated botsand account takeovers, which are common threats for retailers. The panelistsalso discussed the topic of misinformation during the pandemic, and the many COVID-19frauds and scams that have been reported.

Hackers today utilize several automation tactics to directly monetize and probe for vulnerable areas. It is important that build a foundation around AI security controls, have the ability to reroute traffic when attacks are happening and to have managed security services in place due to how fast hackers are moving today.

Key Takeaways

Overall, this year's Agility was bothenjoyable and informative, and brought forward three key takeaways forattendees:

  • Application security will be the security challenge of the decade, due togrowth in cyberattacks against applications in the enterprise
  • There is a growth in modern application environments, with highlydistributed applications leveraging container environments
  • The edge will become increasingly important for applications of all types

If you are interested in learning more about the application security, edge computing, adaptive applications or any of the other topics discussed in this blog, please visit or contact your account team.

  1. Source: Security and the Future of Adaptive Applications.F5 Agility 2021 conference, F5 Networks (April 20, 2021), virtual. KeynoteAddress.