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There's a New Cybersecurity Perimeter - Here's How You Protect It

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By Andrew Gibson is a Technology Solutions Manager at STANLEY Security

Over the past few years, digital transformations have affected companies of all sizes. Next-generation XaaS platforms, coupled with Bring Your Own Device and work-from-anywhere policies, means any device can easily become a "work device." As a result, IT teams face a dissolving network perimeter-the network has expanded to the internet itself.

These changes were underway before the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital workplace transformation. Organizations wanting to protect their workforce and assets now must adapt and develop an infrastructure that supports wide-scale remote work, rendering moot the traditional "castle and moat" and "M&M" cybersecurity models.

The employee is the new cybersecurity perimeter. Wherever work is being done, companies have to protect it. When an employee can access a cloud-based CRM from their tablet on their couch, securing connectivity between devices and dispersed resources requires a different approach.

Bring on the Zero Trust model

The traditional perimeter model worked great when the mindset was protecting resources "inside the network." When users, data, locations and resources could connect in endless combinations outside the network, as is what happened during the pandemic, the perimeter fell apart. To address it, companies have to rethink their mindset.

That starts by adopting a Zero Trust model and setting identity as the new perimeter. A user's identity lets them access resources wherever they are, extending beyond the traditional perimeter. Identity management is a crucial part of the Zero Trust model, as is asset management, micro-segmentation of resources, threat intelligence, dynamic policy enforcement and encryption. These components altogether form the Security Control Roadmap, a concept from the National Institute of Standards and Technology that helps companies better protect their new cybersecurity frontier.

Identity is key to future perimeter

The roadmap starts at the first building block of Zero Trust - identity management, which controls how users gain access to every company resource. Modern identity management isn't simply a username and password but rather a method to verify and authenticate a user, which should include multifactor authentication. That ensures users are who they say they are and receive access only to specific resources - an important piece of the Zero Trust model. Regularly audit your systems to ensure users have proper access levels and find other potential risks.

Use the same risk mentality when managing company assets as well. It's important to conduct an inventory of all hardware and software/application assets, but beyond that, run a risk assessment and classify every asset. Each should have specific assigned policies depending on its classification, and teams should regularly check for compliance.

Micro-segmentation can help better protect identities and assets from external threats. Essentially, it involves splitting up applications, workloads and networks into segments based on their purpose and which users need to interact with them. For example, physical security assets need their own network separate from other workloads, and cloud-based applications should only allow user access from permitted devices. This gives you more granular control over your resources, dramatically reducing attack fallout.

Employ automated, dynamic threat reduction

Reducing threats along this new perimeter is key for any cybersecurity specialist, and any opportunity to automate threat reduction makes it easier. That's where threat intelligence comes in. Generally, it means compiling data from multiple sources and transforming it into actionable intelligence to adjust configurations and policies and pre-emptively prevent attacks. Systems often use log and packet capture data from internal systems, combined with external internet-wide threat trends and resources like security bulletins to make decisions.

Machine learning and automated systems are now shouldering more of the burden related to threat intelligence. They can review information sources and stop threats much faster. Most modern firewall platforms employ some level of automated threat intelligence.

Alongside threat intelligence, the new perimeter also requires dynamic policy enforcement. This takes shape as a dynamic application or rules engine that analyzes an identity and asset and then allows or prevents access based on risk, classification and current policies. Threat intelligence can provide data to enable the engine to make risk calculations in near real-time. Policy enforcement must also cover data use and storage, including encryption for any user or device accessing data across public or private networks. The engine should also offer governance and reporting functions to keep teams apprised of changes or issues.

Companies are already facing many challenges, but their cybersecurity vulnerabilities require a closer look. Employees will likely work remote for the near future, increasing the risk of cyber attacks. Teams should not only understand these risks but be prepared to shore up their defenses against them. By following the cybersecurity roadmap and adopting a Zero Trust model, companies can reduce their risks and better protect their people and assets.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Gibson 

Andrew Gibson is a Technology Solutions Manager at STANLEY Security, a provider of integrated security solutions defining the future of the security industry. Gibson has more than a decade of experience working in the security space with a background in a variety of areas including physical security, IT infrastructure, IT operations and project management. In his role with STANLEY Security, Gibson works to design and implement SaaS-based security solutions that protect customers from a variety of security threats. Acting as an IT and technical liaison for SaaS solutions and implementations, Gibson helps customers successfully navigate the convergence of IT and physical security environments.

Published Friday, March 05, 2021 7:42 AM by David Marshall
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