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The cybersecurity needs of the borderless enterprise

Nicholas D. Evans | June 14, 2013
As the traditional security perimeter dissolves in a virtualised environment, organisations need a new cybersecurity framework and architecture

A borderless nation would be extremely difficult to defend, to the point of rendering the idea unthinkable. The same can be said about borderless enterprises, except in that case the idea isn't unthinkable. In fact, borderless enterprises are becoming the rule, not the exception.

In a borderless enterprise, the traditional security perimeter no longer exists. Organisations are now faced with the task of securing highly virtualised IT environments that embrace cloud, mobile and social computing and server virtualisation. At the same time, the emerging trend of software-defined networks (SDN) means that computing networks, like applications and infrastructure, are becoming ever more virtualised.

These dispersed and virtualised IT environments must defend against a rising tide of increasingly sophisticated attacks, with greater costs hitting those that fall victim. According to a recent study from the Ponemon Institute, the annual cost to remediate a data breach for the average U.S. organisation was $8.9 million during the past year, up 6% from 2011. The rise in sophistication was demonstrated by this fall's wave of distributed denial-of-service attacks against many large financial institutions.

The upshot of these trends is that if cybersecurity is going to effectively protect and partition data and applications across all these virtual pathways, it will need to be embedded in the enterprise architecture.

In fact, borderless enterprises need a new cybersecurity framework and a corresponding cybersecurity architecture that can serve as a guide to implementing cybersecurity strategy and policies in a manner that ensures a consistent, well-integrated and cost-effective approach.

The main goal of the cybersecurity framework is to categorise the areas that should be secured. The framework outlined in the accompanying diagram addresses five logical domains — users, data, applications, infrastructure and assets — together with horisontal functions such as governance, risk and compliance; situational awareness; andsecurity operations. Such a framework can help you migrate from tactical, point solutions to a more coordinated set of tools and techniques — a system of systems approach that looks at the big picture. Actual frameworks will vary, depending upon an organisation's industry and the countries in which it conducts business.

cybersecurity chart
Logical framework for cybersecurity

Once you have outlined your cybersecurity framework, it can serve as the reference for developing the accompanying architecture. The framework tells you what needs to be protected; the architecture defines the implementation of that protection in ways that are technically feasible and adhere to standards and compliance requirements. It needs to address broad questions, such as how to establish trusted identities, how to secure sensitive data, how to secure enterprise applications, how to secure cloud computing and mobile computing infrastructures, and how to secure the cyber supply chain itself, including all the people, processes and technology involved in conducting business in cyberspace.


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