The importance of multi-layered security

Cybercrime is one of the biggest challenges that most organisations face.

The threat is continuously evolving and can have devastating impacts.

From a financial point of view, the effects of a cyberattack or data breach can be huge, not only in terms of financial loss and the cost of putting things right, but also in the potential fines your organisation might face for not complying with data protection legislation.

The reputational damage a breach can cause, meanwhile, can be just as damaging.

The advent of GDPR has placed additional pressure on ICT departments to safeguard their organisation’s networks and infrastructure from cyberattack and data breaches.

However, because of network complexity and the number of applications, users, systems and devices that many organisations have, there is no single, standalone security measure that guarantees 100% protection across all an organisation’s ICT assets.

However, there are cloud security services, such as Cisco Umbrella, which pulls together into a single panel a set of defensive measures that can add multiple layers of security to your ICT.

What is multi-layered security?

Multi-layered security is an approach that utilises several distinct components, which all serve different purposes and protect different things, to defend your operations and secure your ICT infrastructure and services.

The aim of a multi-layered security strategy is to ensure that each defensive component put in place isn’t the only defensive measure protecting that particular access point, to help counter any flaws or gaps in your security or defences. Each layer focuses on protecting a specific area which hackers or malware could attack. These layers work together to tighten your organisation’s overall network security and significantly reduce the risk of a successful cyberattack or data breach compared to using a single security solution.

A multi-layered security approach can be beneficial for many reasons.

In isolation, it’s unlikely that each layer will provide adequate protection to your network.

However, layering them together improves their collective effectiveness. Each layer provides an additional level of protection, meaning the more layers you have, the harder it will be for hackers to infiltrate your network. With enough effective layers in place, you should be able to block a hacker’s ability to gain entry completely.

How multi-layered security works

Multi-layered security is designed to mitigate, delay or prevent threats.

So, it’s essential for your organisation’s ICT team to assess every aspect of your ICT security, to understand the risks and vulnerabilities and see where additional measures need to be implemented.

It’s about taking a holistic view of the whole organisation and all its ICT functions end to end, from customers and staff through to the services they are accessing, with controls at every stage.

These controls should cover every step in the staff or customer journey – so for staff for example not merely antivirus on the laptop the staff uses, and the server hosting the application they are accessing, but the configuration of the laptop and server, the host firewall, switch configurations, routing configuration, connectivity, the firewalls that protect services they are accessing, intrusion detection, DDOS protections, monitoring and correlation of security events etc.

Where Cisco Umbrella and similar solutions help is by providing all the right tools required to secure all the different stages from a single vendor, integrated together.

Without this, achieving proper visibility and understanding what’s actually happening can be extremely challenging.

In a multi-layered security strategy, each layer should focus on strengthening specific vulnerable areas or weak spots.

These multiple layers of security ensure that your data is protected in the event of a failure or loophole anywhere in the system. If one layer fails, the threat will be blocked or eliminated by another.

Cybercriminals often target entry points and end-users. So, the best approach would be to cover each of these layers first so that your critical data remains safe from both cyberattack and user error and in the case of system breakdown.

A multi-layered security approach can help you protect your organisation’s data better, so it should be an essential element of your overall ICT security strategy. The most common types of security layers include:

  • Monitoring: Ensuring you know what is happening in your environment and can correlate events taking place in different parts of your environment to understand the full picture
  • Network: Ensuring your network is properly protected, minimising unnecessary services, using a baseline secure configuration, ensuring bandwidth is protected.
  • Internet: Ensuring that your access to the internet is monitored and protected but also that users trying to access your services from the internet are properly controlled.
  • Users: Reducing privileged access to the minimum and ensuring user identity is properly authenticated before a user is given access. Ensuring users are given Cyber Awareness Training and understand, for example, what phishing is.
  • Devices: Ensuring that devices configuration matches a secure baseline, running an effective antivirus and host firewall.
  • Firewall & Intrusion Prevention: Ensuring that access to your services from staff, partners and the public is properly protected and that staff remote access is secure. Taking measures to ensure you know if your firewall and other measures have been breached.
  • Patch Management: Making sure that updates are applied to user devices, servers, applications, appliances and network equipment in a timely manner.
  • Data Protection: Taking regular backups of your data and ensuring that restoration works, ensuring that you know what data you hold and have appropriate controls in place to protect it.

A big challenge with multi-layered security is how to deploy it and which tools to use and how to control spend. As we said earlier, there is no single, standalone security measure that will guarantee 100% protection, so your organisation will have to deploy an array of security tools to keep your ICT infrastructure and assets fully protected.

Cloud security services like Cisco Umbrella bring many of these tools together into a single platform, enabling you to quickly implement a multi-layered security solution across your organisation that allows you to monitor your network, server and applications virtually.

How a multi-layered security strategy can protect your organisation

With cybersecurity becoming increasingly important for organisations of all sizes, it’s vital to adopt a security approach that considers a wide range of potential threats and implements measures to mitigate as many as possible.

A multi-layered security strategy is an efficient and effective way of identifying and eliminating threats on many levels. Each layer of security you add will bolster your defences until you have built a virtually impenetrable wall of protection.

Your organisation will benefit in many ways.

It means your team can work at full speed while your security features work in the background to eliminate any potential threats before they get the chance to do any damage.

Attacks or breaches can be detected and dealt with early, without the need to block authentic attempts to enter your network.  

Any emails that enter your system and identified as a potential threat can be quarantined or ‘sandboxed’ until an authorised user can verify them. This can result in less downtime and allow your staff to continue to be productive.

Email security and antivirus can help mitigate the risks presented by malware,while using encryption will make your data difficult for a mal-actor to access. Patch management, vulnerability assessment and privacy controls, meanwhile, will work together to protect your data.

Together, these layers are designed to protect your organisation’s data and provide unparalleled security.

The result is greater peace of mind that your cyber defences are is working as hard for you as possible to keep your critical data safe from hackers and malware.

If you enjoyed this blog and want to find out more about how we can help your organisation protect its data, bolster its cybersecurity and achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588 or book a meeting using the button below.

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