As your business is expanding, technology is expanding too, meaning you need to think about how best to implement a cyber security architecture to protect your company data.
With more and more companies using online services, sharing data between team members and with other companies, as well as storing data digitally, this increases the chance of threats for everyone involved.
This is where your cyber security architecture comes in.
Different businesses have different needs when it comes to data protection, so cyber security architecture isn’t a one-size-fits-all system.
However, it’s essential that cybersecurity frameworks are always central to the process of designing and putting security systems into place, as this ensures the foundations for your company’s security are following the set standard guidelines at all times.
This post will take you through what it takes to go from IT to secure IT, by outlining the benefits of having a solid cyber security architecture, and how this system can help protect your company data. We’ll also be providing some examples of architecture frameworks to help you understand what is involved.
So, let’s get into it.
What Is Cyber Security Architecture?
Whilst you may know that cyber security protects people and technology from cyber attacks or unauthorised access, cyber security architecture is the process of designing the systems that ensure the security of underlying data.
In a nutshell, cyber security architecture is the foundation of defence created by your team of security architects, based on the specific security requirements of your business.
Overall, your cyber security architecture is an important part of the security measures you adopt, as it protects the whole infrastructure including every IT component within your company.
This leads us nicely onto our next section.
What Are the Components of Cyber Security Architecture?
Your cyber security architecture should be split into 3 separate sections that must work together to be effective.
Below, we will go into a bit more detail about each of these 3 sections, outlining how they improve the flow of information in and out of your company, whilst mitigating risks in the process.
People, policies and procedures
This component is fairly straightforward as it’s exactly as the title reads – it concerns the people, policies, and procedures of your business.
The people who have access to your company data and information in the workplace, are all under the umbrella of your security policy.
This policy should be clear and easy to understand as it outlines what to do when procedures aren’t followed, the levels of protection requirement for all parts of the IT infrastructure, and who has access to different pieces of information.
All of your team members should be aware of the overarching cyber security policies that make up your architecture, and holding staff training sessions ensures the correct information is available to everyone.
Network and security
This component is slightly more detailed as your company must include network and security elements that are specific to you.
For example in this section of your cyber security architecture, you need to include your inventory of network nodes, communication protocols as well as any cyber security software or multi-factor authentication processes you use.
This ensures that you and your company have a complete record of everything involved in your architecture that is used to keep your systems organised and safe from risk.
Standards and frameworks
Basing your architecture on the industry guidelines can be done by considering the broader framework created by larger institutions (some of which we go into below!)
This is not only a legal requirement, but also a great way to ensure your cyber security architecture is as risk-free as possible by implementing various standards from the range of frameworks available.
This is an important component in your architecture that will need to be updated as and when industry standards change, as well as when the requirements of your business change.
For example as your business grows, you will need to expand your security architecture and this may include switching to a different framework to accommodate for these changes.
As we have briefly outlined, there are various approaches and frameworks that can be used to map out your companies architecture such as:
- Zero Trust
- ISO IEC 27001
- NIST CSF
We will get into these a little bit later in the post to explain exactly how they can help secure your company’s data and information by providing guidelines for your security architects to follow.
But before that, let’s move on to the exact purpose, and some of the benefits of cyber security architectures.
What Is the Purpose of Cyber Security Architecture?
Cyber threats can pose all kinds of threats to your company, so your security system is key in helping to avoid attacks or risk of attacks.
Using cyber security architecture helps you be more prepared by placing people, technology, and processes in the right position in order to detect and manage security risks before they get out of hand.
For your architecture to be effective in managing and preventing cyber security risks, the following processes are vital.
Finding and Closing Blind Spots
Detecting and eliminating blind spots ensures you are doing everything you can to reduce risks and threats.
If you know your cyber security architecture inside out, this will result in fewer blindspots, and therefore fewer threats for you to deal with.
This can be done by penetration testing, or regularly checking that your security design is up to date.
Using network security controls allows you to control how easy or how difficult it is for attackers to penetrate your network.
The best way to do this is to put yourself into the shoes of the hacker.
Make sure that your network is difficult to find and access, by creating an architecture that has several layers to it in order to protect all of your company’s vulnerabilities.
Whilst all your company data is important and should be safe from attack, your private and confidential company information should be encrypted.
This ensures that data is changed into an alternative format, a bit like a company code, so only authorised parties are able to understand and decode the information.
Reduce the Infection
In the event of your company network being breached, the first thing on your list should be to reduce the damage as much as possible.
Believe it or not, you can achieve this in advance, by ensuring that your cyber security architecture is properly prepared.
Having an idea of how you will respond to these threats before they happen, gives you an advantage over attackers. For example, adopting the policy of not trusting any networks, and adding several layers to your security architecture, will make it more difficult for hackers to access and infiltrate.
Benefits of a Solid Cyber Security Architecture
As we can see, there are so many benefits to a solid cyber security architecture, but some are more obvious than others.
The main purpose of implementing an architecture is to protect your company’s data, however, there are further advantages including:
- Improving overall security – businesses who work online need to have a strong and secure architecture, in order to protect sensitive data and close the gaps to prevent attackers.
- Preventing known and unknown threats – by creating an architecture framework that monitors all cyber risks and threats, this allows you to stay one step ahead of the rising numbers of attackers.
- Helps to Earn Trust – by adopting the best security practices and implementing a strong architecture, this helps to demonstrate your reliability, internally and externally.
Now that we know more about the importance of a cyber security architecture, and how it can benefit your company’s data protection, let’s go into more detail about the principles of Zero Trust.
This is a type of security architecture framework which is widely recognised as being effective in preventing data breaches and cyber attacks.
The Principles of Zero Trust
In order for your cyber security architecture to protect your company’s data, knowing the importance of these principles, will come in handy.
Before your team of security architects can even begin to build your foundation of defence, there are multiple objectives that need to be considered first.
There are several stages at which your architects should be continuously validating the interactions that are taking place online, so let’s get into some of the stages in a bit more detail.
Know your architecture
First up, you need to know and understand your cyber security architecture in order to get all of the benefits of the Zero Trust principles.
Knowing everything there is to know about your users, services, and components of your architecture that are already in place, puts you in good stead to start making improvements.
For example identifying where your main risks are coming from (whether that be individual hackers or data breaches), helps you understand where your architecture needs added security.
Know Your Identities
Now this sounds vague to begin with, but by identities we mean users, services, and devices.
Essentially, this principle involves identifying everyone who is trying to access your data and services, which includes user behaviour and device health.
By doing so, it is then easier for you to decide whether you want to give access to users or not.
Authenticate and Authorise Everywhere
Within your organisation, it is important that you assume that all access requests are hostile, as this means you are in a routine of evaluating everyone who requests access.
You should consider assessing requests based on multiple signals, such as device location, device health, and user identity.
This way, if you recognise the user and their location, and their device is free of risks, it is easy for you to grant them access through this authorisation and authentication process.
Don’t Trust Any Network
When communicating between different networks, make sure these interactions are secure.
Your cyber security architecture can help with this by using a ‘don’t trust any network’ policy.
This means regardless of who is trying to gain access to your data or infrastructure, even if it’s a member of your team, they will have to undergo security checks, inspection, and continue to be monitored.
Common Cyber Security Frameworks
As we touched on earlier in the post, there are several cyber security frameworks available to help ensure your architecture is following standard guidelines.
They provide your security architects with a consistent set of best practices, when considering what processes and systems are best suited to your company’s needs.
Therefore, it is so important that you choose a framework, or mixture of frameworks, that works best to solve your company’s most common security problems.
This could be individual, hostile attacks, or perhaps an insider threat, which is why you need to be prepared for the risks that are most likely, in order to combat them head-on.
ISO IEC 27001
The ISO 27001 framework sets the international standard for security by providing a list of 114 best practices for security controls that can be tailored to a company’s individual prominent risks.
The Minimum Cyber Security Standard is one of many standards set by the UK and National Cyber Security Centre. It sets out a list of mandatory standards that can be used as a basis for a company’s security efforts.
The primary purpose of the National Institute of Standards and Technology framework is to strengthen company infrastructures against internal and external attacks, used mostly by companies in the US.
Cyber Security Architecture: From IT to Secure IT
Cyber security architecture helps to protect your company data by providing layers between your important information, and attackers.
Hackers (both internal and external) are increasing in numbers, meaning you must be aware of the processes and systems that you can put in place for protection.
Ultimately, it’s your job to find the best solutions to suit your company’s requirements when it comes to being more cyber aware.
You need to cover all bases with your cyber security architecture, adhering to the several guidelines and frameworks available to prevent penetration, and ultimately, make it as difficult as possible for your data to be accessed.
At TLR we have helped several companies become more cyber aware and create security systems that protect their important and confidential data. We can provide you with confidence in your cyber security system, by ensuring you and your team are prepared for any cyber threat or attack. For more information on what we do, and how we can help you to become more cyber resilient, get in touch with our friendly experts.