The Top 5 Networking Security Lessons from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Watching a movie generally requires suspension of disbelief, especially with an escapist movie like Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Tom Cruise’s latest summer blockbuster.

As I watched the film (it’s excellent, by the way), I couldn’t help but think of the networking-related takeaways we could learn from the movie. (Note: Spoilers ahead; if you haven’t watched the movie, I tried to include scenes covered in the trailers).

#5: Always be on the lookout for wireless security risk

In the movie’s opening sequence, Ethan Hunt has to enter a cargo plane that is about to take off. Benji Dunn, played by Simon Pegg, is able to hack into the plane’s flight control system using satellite relays, successfully opening a door mid-flight. Today’s network is ubiquitous, and smart companies need to think about network segmentation for greater security. A recent, well-publicized supermarket hack was caused by criminals gaining access to data through wireless access points. This sequence would have been a lot shorter if Benji couldn’t get past Avaya Identity Engines to open the correct door on the plane.

#4: The Internet of Things is here

Technology has come a long way since the self-destructing tape recorder, popular in the original Mission: Impossible TV series. Rogue Nation featured a number of IoT devices, including communicator glasses, access control for automobiles and water pressure control systems. As these systems come online, they create unique requirements for the network in terms of connectivity and availability. Read my article on IoT and the future of retail, presented recently at San Francisco Design Week.

#3: With connected devices, authentication is key

In Rogue Nation, the “red box” is a software object that both sides are trying to acquire and access. Without giving away too much plot, the assumption of security based on obscurity and physical access wasn’t enough. Ideally, what should happen is that security administrators at companies (or shadowy, pseudo-governmental organizations from the movies) are able to deny access to the networking edge when an unauthenticated device is connected to it. Admittedly boring for a movie plot, but a lifesaver for real-life security. Learn more by downloading the white paper here.

#2: “The Syndicate” is not that far-fetched

The movie revolves around “The Syndicate,” which is effectively the anti-Impossible Missions Force, the team that Ethan and Benji work on. In real life, organized crime syndicates are targeting vulnerable systems every day to access sensitive information. Addressing attempted breaches to governments and companies in the private sector is an ongoing effort that involves users and administrators alike. Read our recent blog on why BYOD users should take security more seriously.

#1: Be fast, smart and flexible to accomplish your mission

Without spoiling the ending too much, the finale of Rogue Nation is not your typical “hero fights villain and wins.” The ending here is more along the lines of the classic Mission: Impossible TV series, where the IMF works together to outsmart the villain, who figures out in the end that he lost to the entire team. In the world of technology, being able to operate your network at the speed of your business is critical. Download the Avaya white paper on networking at business speed, to learn how we can help your mission, impossible or not.

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