Skybox Security Suite Review

Rich vulnerability management that is controlled from a single pane of glass, but the network modeling capability needs improvement


What is our primary use case?

We are a system integrator and this is one of the products that we implement for our clients. This is one of the vendors that we focus on, from a security standpoint.

Skybox has an amazing portfolio that makes up the security solution. You can onboard your network devices with the network assurance module. This includes layer three, layer two switches, load balancers, and so on. This partially builds the network model for the infrastructure and the entire security platform is built off of that.

How has it helped my organization?

With the combination of the vulnerability management database and third-party integration, vulnerability management is very rich. When you add the network model, Skybox can tell you exactly which vulnerabilities in the infrastructure are exploitable. I have seen examples where there are 7,000 vulnerabilities exposed at one time. This includes highlighting things that are open, or exposed.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is firewall management. It is excellent. It works by onboarding different firewall vendors and together with network assurance, builds a complete network model.

Vulnerability management is very good and it has its own vulnerability database. It gives you the ability to integrate with vulnerability management tools like Nessus, which is used by Tenable, Rapid7, and Qualys. The vulnerability software also integrates with endpoint software such as Symantec, Trend Micro, and McAfee. This is important because in this era, the biggest threat is from the endpoint. This is where most of the attacks are coming from these days.

Skybox integrates with patch management, which contributes to the broad functionality.

Everything is controlled from a single pane of glass.

The Skybox Suite includes change management, which makes up part of the complete security solution.

Skybox Horizon is a dashboard that shows you all of the modules. It is nice because it can show granularity at the level of interest for the NOC or SOC, but it can also give executive dashboarding for the VP or CTO at a business level that is not as concerned about the details.

The out-of-the-box compliance is very good, as it handles PCI and ISO.

What needs improvement?

The Network Assurance, which helps to create the network model, is not so rich. It tells you the best part, and it gives you the alternate routes that are available based on the configuration and the routing table, but it doesn't give you the analytics. One of the issues with security is that if the network model is incorrect then no matter what I add on top of it, it's going to be of no use. Network modeling is the foundation for vulnerability management, test management, firewall management, and change management.

The focus on risk analytics is not very good and should be improved. It relies on the CVSS (Common Vulnerability Security Score), which gives you a vulnerability score based on the standard. The difficulty with this is that sometimes, risks are based on critical assets, and these can differ between environments. My critical assets, for example, may be different than those of my customers. As such, it doesn't give you a fully-fledged risk score. On top of this, it doesn't give you the flexibility to configure a set of weights to adjust the criticality of the assets, the users, and the entities within the infrastructure.

Another area where Skybox lacks is the calculation for combinations and permutations of traffic from each interface. For example, in RedSeal, if traffic comes in from one interface and doesn't go out the desired interface, you can see what is vulnerable, what the vulnerability is, what is exposed, what is exploitable, whether it is subject to an insider threat or an outside threat, what the criticality is, and so on. It is all related to network modeling and seeing what happens when an interface goes down. In general, it needs to be enhanced.

They have to improve their integration with vulnerability management tools. It is good with some products, such as Tenable, but not really good with Rapid7.

Technical support can be improved in some regards because certain teams are better than others.

There is no dashboard for ISR compliance or NESA compliance.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Skybox for more than a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Skybox Suite is a stable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a scalable solution.

In the region that I am working in, the director has indicated that we want to target organizations with a minimum of 15 firewalls and 500 devices. Essentially, the networks are very big, the firewalls and devices might be from different vendors, and the operations teams are having trouble managing them.

Skybox, from a scalability perspective, is only for customers with a very large environment that is complex.

Scalability is also a factor when a customer is migrating to the cloud. Specifically, when transitioning from on-premises to the cloud the customer will need cloud-based firewalls, load balancing, sandboxing, etc. This means that the network map in Skybox needs to include the cloud.

How are customer service and technical support?

When I am working on a deployment or on a PoC, and I see an issue with the software that is not related to the configuration, I open a ticket with the support team.

I am not always satisfied with the support that they provide. In general, I am satisfied, but there are different teams within Skybox that handle different modules. The firewall management team is the best, the network assurance team is very good, and the vulnerability and threat management team is not so good. Sometimes, I get the wrong person and I have to escalate the ticket to the highest priority and get the engineering team on it. With change management, I have only had technical support in regards to a single client.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward, as you have a template for the network assurance.

This solution can be installed on-premises or as a cloud-based deployment with the virtual edition. The architecture for the latter is very simple. In a small environment with less than 1,000 devices, you can use one server, install the software, and it has a database associated with it. You just have to make sure that it can be accessed by every device across the VLAN.

The tricky part of the configuration has to do with vulnerability management, threat management, and change management. When it comes to difficulty, change management is the hardest one when it comes to configuration. The reason for this is that customers normally have their own change management solution, such as ServiceNow and they are not very comfortable offloading the ITSM to do change management. It's a hard shift and a difficult sell. If it is done properly, however, it can automatically identify the vulnerabilities and threats and mitigate them as per the change management policy. Workflows need to be defined. For example, when a firewall change is needed then it needs to know the chain of approval. Since every customer has their own approval or rejection procedure, it has to be based on their requirements.

When it comes to deployment, we use a "Land and Expand" strategy. We land with network assurance and firewall management, which gives the customer a taste of the product. From there, we onboard vulnerability management and threat management. I don't recommend to anybody that they start with this solution full-fledged because it will not necessarily yield a better ROI.

For a network of perhaps a thousand network devices, if all of the ports are open and the permissions are in place, then it should not take longer than two days. You can take one extra day for fine-tuning, but three days is more than enough. After this, it will take another two days for firewall management. When we consider the vulnerability management and threat management modules, we have to take them on a case-by-case basis.

Sometimes, a customer will not have a vulnerability management tool like Tenable or Rapid7, so we rely solely on the Skybox vulnerability database. We also integrate with endpoint solutions because of the importance of protecting them. As an example, if the customer is using McAfee for the endpoint protection then it will take me around three days to complete the integration. Certain vendors do not provide out of the box integration, so we have to use the API, which adds to the time required for deployment. Often, it can be done in three days.

Finally, change management is a tough thing to do that depends on the use cases. Without this aspect considered, I would say that the deployment can be completed in 15 days. This is all for a typical deployment. If the customer needs customization then it will change the deployment date.

What about the implementation team?

A deployment engineer is a single person and I can do the deployment myself. It is not often very complex, as long as things are done correctly from the beginning. The checklist has to be complete, which means that the image has to be stable and the compute that you requested is there. You also need to ensure that the required port numbers for device accessibility are there from the server, and the database is there. Once all of that is in place, the configuration is not difficult.

When it comes to integration, the other vendor has to be available during the same period. It is sometimes difficult to schedule but it is necessary to complete the deployment in a specified timeframe.

What was our ROI?

The ROI would not be good for a smaller company, which is why Skybox is better for large networks. It may take three or four years for a small company to break even.

All of the firewall vendors have their own firewall manager. Fortinet, for example has FortiManager, whereas Palo Alto has Panorama. If a customer has only four firewalls and they are all from Fortinet then it makes more sense for them just to use FortiManager.

The value really comes in when there are a large number of firewalls and they are from different vendors. This is where 360-degree visibility really starts to help. When you see the amount of time it saves, this is where the ROI becomes obvious.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have been evaluating other options including RedSeal, AlgoSec, Tufin, and FireMon. Each vendor has its own strengths and weaknesses. I think that the network modeling capability in RedSeal is far ahead of the rest. Also, in terms of vulnerability management, RedSeal is amazing.

FireMon is really lacking in terms of network modeling.

My second choice after RedSeal is Skybox. The area that Skybox excels in is firewall management, which is where RedSeal is behind.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anybody who is implementing this product is to make sure that they utilize it. The usage of it should be mandated for the NOC and SOC. They should use a single dashboard to take care of all of your infrastructure components.

When a Skybox representative visits to discuss this solution, it is important to discuss the use cases properly. Have a good project plan and it is also very important to have the right partner. They should be certified, trained, and involved at all stages.

Overall, it is a pretty good product. When you use it, you will see the benefit of it.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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