With the recent increase in the adoption of new technologies used in different aspects of enterprise IT systems, cybersecurity threats have in turn become ever more sophisticated. Rather than attempt to address issues within a system using one comprehensive solution, enterprises are now using what are known as layered cybersecurity approaches to hinder attacks targeting their assets.
What are layered security approaches?
As their name suggests, these approaches establish sets of solutions – such as specialized security controls – to address any potential vulnerabilities within each layer comprising a system. According to Remini Street, layered security has been proven to be such an effective approach that it is the preferred cybersecurity method for multiple US government agencies – notably the Department of Homeland Security.
In its explanation as to why it takes a layered approach to network security, the DOD explains that “there is no single or set of defensive techniques or programs that will completely avert all malicious activities.” As a result, the recommended solution is that “multiple (layered) defensive techniques and programs should be adopted and implemented” to form a series of barriers so attacks are more easily detected and less successful.
We believe there are four general levels in any one system that a layered cybersecurity plan needs to cover: devices, applications, networks and of course, the system’s infrastructure itself. Each of these components has its own layers that are only increasing with the implementation of new technologies like cloud services, for example.
In the event of a cyberattack, any one of these layers may be targeted, yet like the peeling of an onion, all have the potential to be put at risk without layered security, as one industry expert explains in an Entrepreneur article. For example: ineffective security controls for IoT devices make them prime candidates for attacks – in the event a smartphone is compromised, perpetrators could possibly breach other layers in the system using installed applications and stored network information.
Why do enterprises need layered security in 2020?
1. New technologies, new risks
From IoT devices to cloud computing – the integration of new technologies into new or existing IT system infrastructures can bring about positive changes for an enterprise, yet not without associated cyber risk. IoT devices are cited by many experts as an important layer for which security controls should be implemented due to their typically diverse and relatively limited resources to address endpoint cyber risk. Near the end of 2019, Sternum Founder and CEO Natali Tshuva estimated that there would be approximately 75 billion IoT devices in use worldwide headed into 2020, with one quarter of all attacks on enterprises stemming directly from the portable technology, according to Forbes.
Other technological advances such as the development of artificial intelligence and 5G are also potential double-edged swords in regard to both the benefits and cyber risks they create, experts claim. In 2020, it is predicted that enterprises will begin to combat AI-driven cyberattacks using the same technology themselves to perform security measures at rates that humans cannot. 5G networks, on the other hand, pose a cyber risk in the form of the additional data stored in connected IoT devices compared that of 4G and 3G predecessors, per Forbes.
2. Cyberattacks increasingly common, complex and costly
In recent years, ransomware has been perhaps one of the most prevalent and costly types of cyberattacks carried out on victims across the world – with more than 200 million attacks worldwide in 2018 alone and ransom demands averaging $229,000, according to Statistica. Specifically, the most high-profile ransomware targets have been the sensitive data stored in the IT systems of health care enterprises – ranging from hospitals to relatively smaller private practices.
Due to the fact most single cyberattacks are carried out through individual series of processes called “cyber kill chains,” Armor explains that layered security controls are especially important because only specific ones are truly capable of detecting different steps in an attack. Armor explains that many ransomware attacks in past years could have been prevented with layered IT security approaches to limit users’ exposure to external attack vectors (such as firewalls to block phishing emails) and properly segment networks to prevent further infection.
3. Outdated security techniques now vulnerabilities
Many of the once tried-and-true IT security measures used on a widespread basis with older technologies that are still in use today have essentially become obsolete in regard to their ability to reduce cyber risk and prevent attacks. According to Entrepreneur, examples of outdated security methods include WEP and WPA Wi-Fi protocols (succeeded by WPA2) and the continued use of the same (especially short and simple) passwords for logins. Layered solutions for the latter issue might be the adoption two-factor authentication, which allows secure logins using confirmation sent to users’ linked phone numbers and emails, or changing to fingerprint and facial recognition password techniques.
4. Compliance with data privacy laws and regulations
Combined with the associated risks and unnecessary costs, enterprises that continue to use outdated system security features in 2020 are truly taking a gamble – both financially and legally. With a modern, layered security approach in place, there is less of a need to worry about any costs associated with rectifying damage done by cyber attacks or legal repercussions for violations of privacy.
5. Preparing the next generation of security experts
Compared to its status when it was first introduced in the mid-19th century, computer-based IT networking is something that many aspects of legitimate business enterprises rely on today in order to help employees carry out, facilitate, or record their day-to-day work. With more important (and trivial) information stored on the internet and IT systems than ever before, cybersecurity as it pertains to data protection is now a top priority, especially for young and up-and-coming generations. By setting up layered security approaches now, rather than later, enterprises will benefit in the long term by instilling a strong cybersecurity-based culture in the next generation of employees, according to one expert quoted in Forbes.