Palo Alto Networks deployed its own product, Prisma Cloud, to secure a highly complex multicloud environment in their cloud-first journey, which began in 2018 and accelerated with the pandemic. In this three-year period of rapid growth, Palo Alto Networks acquired more than 10 companies, and its expectations for speed, scale, and security climbed off the chart. With 80% of its workloads in the cloud, the company faced the challenge of delivering optimal security measures for both on-premises and cloud environments.
The First Customer program refers to Palo Alto Networks commitment to rely on its own products to secure its global workforce, applications, infrastructure, and data. As the world’s largest pure-play security company, Palo Alto Networks takes its internal security seriously.
At the onset of COVID-19, the company transitioned from 35 office locations to approximately 12,000 remote workspaces, which posed a significant challenge to secure overnight. A distributed workforce, stringent security requirements across a multicloud environment, and an evolving cyberthreat landscape called for an agile cloud security solution.
“COVID accelerated the move to the cloud and support for a hybrid workforce, and I don’t see us going back,” said Yousuf Hasan, who runs the First Customer program at Palo Alto Networks.
Palo Alto Networks had to find a way to adjust and upscale its security measures to accommodate the increased number of entry points into its network, as well as the varying security standards of each home network. Pressures to scale security were high with Palo Alto Networks multicloud environment encompassing Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. At the same time, the company was growing rapidly, having completed 10 acquisitions in three years. Speedy deployment, scale, and security expectations were high across the board.
Maintaining the company’s world-class standard of security involved a strict implementation of the Zero Trust model across applications, users, and infrastructure. This was a balanced approach that incorporated traditional security measures while also remaining nimble enough to adapt to the unique challenges of the cloud. What’s more, solutions also had to accommodate a high-velocity environment with new code deployments exceeding more than 150 commits daily in the IT department alone.
“The stakes are high for publicly traded cybersecurity companies like Palo Alto Networks, and we maintain a high bar for security,” Hasan said. “We live and breathe Zero Trust for applications and infrastructure to assure that we are protecting our users and our crown jewels. We also share best practices with our customers so they have a predictable journey with cybersecurity, since they’re often in the same shoes as our company,” he added.
Palo Alto Networks focused on meeting the security demands of its cloud-first environment and distributed workforce. It introduced a platform delivering visibility into all cloud assets—and fortified by runtime application protection and preemptive risk mitigation.
The focus areas encompassed:
To meet the company’s high security standards in a cloud-first environment, Palo Alto Networks made the decision to use Prisma Cloud to protect its multicloud infrastructure, applications, users, and data. “And that includes our code repositories and pipelines and runtime applications,” Hasan said.
Prisma Cloud secures Palo Alto Networks multicloud environment, supporting a highly distributed workforce and infrastructure while enabling collaboration between IT and InfoSec for operationalized security. It provided comprehensive protection, securing a large and complex environment involving:
That’s not all, however. Prisma Cloud secured 1,000 cloud projects, 100+ apps, and 300+ million daily cloud transactions in the IT department alone.
The company must provide consistent and effective security for both cloud-based and on-premises applications. Prisma Cloud delivers comprehensive security with both continuous visibility and proactive threat prevention throughout the application lifecycle. It further enables security and DevOps teams to effectively collaborate to accelerate cloud-native application development and deployments.
Prisma Cloud’s integration also offered Palo Alto Networks the added benefit of improved efficiency, especially in container microsegmentation and cloud workload protection. The platform enabled swift detection and response to vulnerabilities, boosted application development speed, and resulted in a 75% improvement in compliance with NIST, CMMC, and CIS standards.
Prisma Cloud enabled the company to effectively deliver quick and comprehensive protection, along with solid compliance management across the entire multicloud infrastructure. Cloud Security Posture Management and cloud infrastructure entitlement management modules were particularly effective in providing visibility and control and managing excessive permissions in the cloud environment.
The platform’s seamless integration into the company’s existing workflows made it easy for developers to use, allowing for a streamlined approach to managing security. All cloud projects, for example, were connected into Prisma Cloud within 30 minutes, giving quick visibility and control over compliance.
Prisma Cloud’s recommendations on how to address discovered risks and policy violations in the environment, in part, the result of excessive permissions, also proved beneficial. And the teams found the move to cloud workload protection extremely useful. In addition to enabling comprehensive protection against threats, the platform promoted a shift-left approach to deliver prevention capabilities supporting our business outcomes.
Implementing Prisma Cloud resulted in approximately $2 million in cost savings. Fifty percent of the savings stemmed from increased productivity as developers now spent only about four minutes addressing vulnerabilities—down from the previous average of 72 minutes. In addition, the shift-left mindset with workload protection increased application development, with teams delivering 50 or more applications 25% faster than before. The company also improved NIST, CMMC, and CIS compliance by more than 75%. Adding to the business outcomes, the east-west container microsegmentation, a key feature of Prisma Cloud, led to a 27-fold time-saving increase in deploying policies. Developers were turned into security champions by building automation to recommend policies and detect policy drifts. The company saw the ROI immediately. Policies deployed in only 30–45 minutes.
The Prisma Cloud team shares security best practices with customers based on company-wide learning to help ensure each organization has a predictable journey with cybersecurity. For more information, please visit https://techinsider.paloaltonetworks.com/.
COVID-19 accelerated Palo Alto Networks cloud-first journey in a shift from 35 office sites to approximately 12,000 work-from-home setups, requiring a swift operational transformation to secure what had quickly become a highly distributed organization. Faced with setting a high bar for securing its complex multicloud environment and protecting a highly distributed workforce, Palo Alto Networks implemented its own solution, Prisma Cloud. The platform delivered comprehensive visibility, effectively securing key assets, workloads, and processes. A bonus came in the form of substantial operational efficiencies that eased pressure on developers and saved time and money.