09:06 AM
Ed Amoroso
Ed Amoroso
Connect Directly

The New Security Architecture

Recent high profile attacks reflect a new reality in which perimeter-based security models are increasingly less effective in protecting key corporate assets and information.

Over the past 18 months, many corporations have been forcefully introduced to a new era of highly visible security events, from large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to social media account takeovers. To those outside the security community, this may feel like a sudden assault on the world’s organizations, but these attacks are merely the tip of an iceberg that has been growing inside enterprise networks for more than two decades.

What lies beneath
Since businesses first opened up their networks with Internet gateways in the early 1990s, we’ve seen security administration become increasingly distributed, enterprise perimeters become less effective, and frantic protections impede user experience. For organizations realistic enough to accept that their perimeter no longer protects key assets and intellectual property, there is a new model for enterprise security that brings together mobile devices, identity and access management, virtual private networks, and cloud infrastructure.  

However, this new model requires security teams to rethink their reliance on traditional firewalls and adopt a new paradigm better suited to protecting against ever more sophisticated and stealthy threats such as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). Audits and certifications will also have to be redesigned and businesses will need to prioritize their protection decisions.

Management priorities 
Understanding where to reduce, maintain, or increase security investments will be critical to mounting an effective defense against the next evolution of threats. Reducing investments in legacy systems, including perimeter-based firewalls, untethers essential resources that support the trajectory of today’s business transformations into mobile and the cloud. Maintaining existing protections while transitioning to advanced architectures is important, but adding more sandbags to traditional perimeter strategies will provide limited return.  

The challenge, then, for senior management and audit teams, is to focus protection efforts on the most critical resources. But this strategy will require a major change in thinking since the most basic tenet of today’s corporate audit involves testing controls to ensure 100 percent compliance with corporate policy. This mentality needs to change so businesses can prioritize investments on protections that will yield the best possible security posture. Forward-thinking security teams are already heavily invested in network-based protection, and are increasing investments in virtual security operations. 

Securing mobile business
For now, the most pressing security needs for most businesses include the rise of BYOD, mobile threats, and the cloud.  Other threats include the ever-increasing sophistication of DDoS attacks and APTs. Network-based protections, also known as cloud-based protections, are minimal defenses against all of these threats because of the network visibility required to detect and mitigate them.  

With the network as the foundation, security teams can then create security “zones” to provide customized levels and types of protection for each asset based on its individual risk profile. For example, access to an asset categorized as high risk could require device level controls, multi-factor identity authentication, VPN/secure tunnels, and API verification. Access to a low-risk asset could be managed with fewer controls.

Look up to the cloud
The future of cybersecurity will be virtualized, moving management and threat detection to the cloud. When deployed properly, the cloud provides several critical security advantages over perimeter-based models including greater automation, self-tailoring, and self-healing characteristics of virtualized security. In this new architecture, identify and access management should be viewed as primary controls enabling the cloud to become the platform for enterprise security. This approach allows security teams to decouple security software from hardware and deliver on-demand protection rapidly and flexibly via APIs. 

Do you see the demise of traditional perimeter-based security in your organization any time soon? Let’s chat about what that will mean in the comments. 

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Kim Davis
Kim Davis,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 12:12:47 PM
Re: Compliance vs. security
I've been hearing healthcare IT professionals recently describing how they're torn between the need to release patient data to patients, security concerns, and compliance issues.  It's a minefield.
Susan Fogarty
Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 11:51:42 AM
Re: Compliance vs. security
David, my interpretation was that the strict focus on compliance is taking away from organizations' ability to protect their most critical/sensitive resources, which Ed notes should be the goal. 

Another point I found really interesting was the statement that "cloud-based protections are minimal defenses against all of these threats because of the network visibility required to detect and mitigate them." I was surprised to hear that coming from AT&T. Is there no hope for network-operator-based security improvements to help screen out more of the threats?
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 10:08:05 AM
Compliance vs. security
I was left wondering by the statement about audit requirements focusing too much on compliance issues. Is that in conflict with the security imprerative for some reason? Or you just saying that security needs to be given an even higher priority?
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
11/20/2013 | 10:03:18 AM
Investment priorites
Ed, You paint a pretty sobering picture for IT security executives & the new paradigm you describe will clearly require a major shift in thinking. What are some suggestions on  how IT senior management and audit teams  should start to refocus protection their efforts?  Your point noting that "the most basic tenet of today's corporate audit involves testing controls to ensure 100 percent compliance with corporate policy" sounds to me like it wil l be to be a heavy lift.

<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2014-11-24
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in mod/feedback/mapcourse.php in the Feedback module in Moodle through 2.4.11, 2.5.x before 2.5.9, 2.6.x before 2.6.6, and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML by leveraging the mod/feedback:mapcourse cap...

Published: 2014-11-24
lib/classes/grades_external.php in Moodle 2.7.x before 2.7.3 does not consider the moodle/grade:viewhidden capability before displaying hidden grades, which allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information by leveraging the student role to access the get_grades web service.

Published: 2014-11-24
mod/lti/launch.php in the LTI module in Moodle through 2.4.11, 2.5.x before 2.5.9, 2.6.x before 2.6.6, and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 performs access control at the course level rather than at the activity level, which allows remote authenticated users to bypass the mod/lti:view capability requirement by vi...

Published: 2014-11-24
mod/data/edit.php in Moodle through 2.4.11, 2.5.x before 2.5.9, 2.6.x before 2.6.6, and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 sets a certain group ID to zero upon a database-entry change, which allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information by accessing the database after an edit by a teacher.

Published: 2014-11-24
mod/forum/externallib.php in Moodle 2.6.x before 2.6.6 and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 does not verify group permissions, which allows remote authenticated users to access a forum via the forum_get_discussions web service.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?