When some people look at a map of Westeros they see a land of war, intrigue, and magic. We see a network security schematic. Seriously.
Yes, Season 5 of Game of Thrones is almost here. And yes, we’re at least as excited as you are. Will Stannis Baratheon actually take the North? What new adventures will Arya find when she gets to Braavos? What will be the fallout from Tywin Lannister’s death? Can HBO add even more gratuitous sex and violence that wasn’t in the books? Probably not...the books aren’t exactly up for Caldecott Medals.
If you’ve read the books, don’t answer those questions. Even for those of us who have read the books, watching them get played out and, sometimes reimagined onscreen is always good fun. And yet, here at Fortinet, we’re security fanatics first, Game of Thrones fans second. Which is why, when we watch Game of Thrones, we can’t help but find parallels to network security. Yes, network security.
Think about it...There’s a big wall that keeps out everything from wildlings to (presumably) undead beasts. Sure, the wall is made of ice, but the books are collectively known as A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s hardly a stretch to compare the wall in the North to a firewall. In fact, all of Westeros has some pretty gnarly edge protection in the form of the Narrow, Sunset, and Summer Seas. Few people have seen what lies beyond the edges of Westeros, but we know that it’s either exotic or downright dangerous.
Then there’s the entire threat landscape. Carefully constructed alliances formed through reluctant betrothals and shady deals sounds a lot like the way too many businesses cobble together applications, infrastructure, and security solutions. We learned how well those betrothals work at the Red Wedding, didn’t we?
And don’t get me started on employee churn. I mean, murders. Wait...Bottom line, nobody kills off beloved characters with the panache or nonchalance of George R. R. Martin. He’s the master. And when trusted employees leave, they not only take their knowledge with them, but also open a variety of security holes for organizations that don’t have measures in place to de-provision accounts, change security codes, and eliminate mobile access to corporate resources.
Not that there aren’t potential armies of White Walkers, dragon-wielding would-be queens, and seafaring lords threatening the borders of Westeros, but the internal threats even within each house and realm are enough to destroy even an iron-fisted grip on power. In the world of network security, we’re increasingly finding that edge protection isn’t enough. Too often, threats come from within, either because employees have inadvertently compromised network credentials, disgruntled former employees launch their own attacks, or hackers use some other nefarious means to bypass external protections.
Even the Internet of Things rears its heavily hyped little head in Game of Thrones. Varys’s Whisperers? Oh yeah, if it wasn’t a semi-magical realm set in a fictionalized version of medieval Europe, those would be called connected devices. And talk about insecure WiFi - Could you imagine implementing WPA with crows? Even the great Maesters haven’t figured out how to secure those little critters.
This is why we affectionately refer to Game of Thrones as Game of Threats around here. In the next couple of weeks as we come up on the RSA Conference and Season 5 of our favorite show gets underway, we’re going to be having some fun. Keep an eye out for special features on the blog and some cool schwag at the conference - We’ve only just begun to explore the Game of Threats.