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The Seven (7) Layered Approach to Cybersecurity

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Destiny Young
Destiny Younghttp://linktr.ee/youngdestinya
Destiny Young is a highly credentialed information technology professional with over 13 years of industry experience. An HND/BSc (Hons) Computer Science graduate. He holds a Master of Technology degree in Information Technology from the prestigious University of South Africa (UNISA). He is a Distinction-grade MBA alumnus of Nexford University, Washington, DC, where he also obtained a First-class MSc degree in Digital Transformation. He is currently pursuing MSc in Cybersecurity. His professional development direction is in Cybersecurity, Digital Transformation, and Business Intelligence. He is a member of the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute of Administration of Nigeria (CIA), the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), etc.

A layered approach to cybersecurity is a comprehensive security strategy that involves multiple layers of defence to protect against cyber threats. It involves the use of various security controls, including people, processes, and technology, to provide robust protection against cyber attacks.

The layered approach to cybersecurity is based on the principle of defence-in-depth, which means that multiple layers of security controls are used to protect against different types of threats. This approach involves implementing multiple security measures across different levels or layers of a system to create a defence-in-depth strategy.

The following are some of the tactics that IT teams should consider when creating a layered security environment:

·        People: Employees can create some of the greatest risks to cybersecurity. However, when they are well informed, they can also be an asset and a first line of defence. IT teams should provide regular training to employees to help them identify and respond to cyber threats.

·        Processes: IT teams should establish processes and procedures to ensure that security controls are implemented and maintained effectively. This includes regular vulnerability assessments, patch management, and incident response planning.

·        Technology: IT teams should deploy various security controls to protect separate entryways. For example, deploying a web application firewall, endpoint protections, and secure email gateways, rather than relying only on traditional perimeter defences. While these solutions are all part of a layered security approach, it goes well beyond deploying layers of different security tools.

The Seven (7) Layered Approach to Cybersecurity

1. The Human Layer: The human layer, often regarded as the most vulnerable layer, focuses on the human element within an organization. It involves implementing practices and policies that ensure that employees, contractors, and other users do not fall victim to phishing attacks and other security threats due to human error or lack of knowledge.  Examples of human layer security measures include security awareness training, strong password policies, and multi-factor authentication, ensuring that users can identify and respond appropriately to security threats.

2. Perimeter Security Layer: Perimeter security layer is akin to the walls of a fortress. It serves to protect the network by controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organization’s previously established security policies. At its core, it involves implementing firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and VPNs to create a barrier between your secure internal network and untrusted external networks such as the internet.  An example of how this works is a firewall that filters incoming traffic to allow or block packets based on the organization’s security policies, thus preventing unauthorized access to networked resources.

3. Network Layer: The network layer is crucial in managing and protecting the communication between applications and devices on your network. This layer employs various security measures and controls to prevent attackers from intercepting and tampering with information as it travels over the network. Examples of network layer security include the use of secure protocols like HTTPS, employing network segmentation to separate sensitive parts of the network from less sensitive ones, and implementing security solutions like anti-malware and antivirus software to monitor and analyse network traffic for malicious activity and unauthorized access. The network layer is pivotal in the cyber security landscape as it serves as the communication bridge connecting various components within a network, facilitating data transfer between them. It holds immense importance because it is inundated with a multitude of information exchanges, making it a lucrative target for cyber adversaries aiming to intercept, modify, or disrupt the data flow. By securing the network layer through strategies like encryption, secure protocols, and robust network architectures, organizations can ensure the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of the transmitted information, thereby protecting against unauthorized access and potential cyberattacks, and maintaining seamless and secure organizational operations.

4. Application Security Layer: This layer focuses on keeping software and devices free of threats. Secure coding practices are vital here, as vulnerabilities in the application can serve as entry points for cyber threats. Examples of application security measures include regular security scanning and testing to identify and remedy vulnerabilities and employing application security solutions like Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) to protect against threats such as SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).

5. Endpoint Security Layer: The endpoint security layer concentrates on safeguarding the individual devices that connect to the network, like computers, smartphones, and tablets. Since these endpoints serve as access points to the network, securing them is crucial. An example of endpoint security is employing antivirus programs and endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions to monitor, detect, and block malicious activities and threats on endpoints, ensuring that even if a device is compromised, the threat does not propagate through the network.

6. Data Security Layer: This layer is dedicated to protecting the data residing in the network, focusing on maintaining its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Encryption is a prime example of a data security measure, where sensitive data is converted into a coded format to prevent unauthorized access. Another example is employing backup solutions and establishing robust access controls to safeguard data from loss, exposure, and unauthorized access, ensuring only authorized personnel can access sensitive information.

7. Mission-Critical Assets: This layer focuses on safeguarding assets that are crucial to an organization’s operations and business continuity. These could include proprietary software, sensitive customer data, or essential hardware. Protection strategies here involve implementing layered defences like firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and robust access controls. For instance, regularly updating and patching mission-critical applications ensures that vulnerabilities are addressed, minimizing the risk of exploitation and ensuring the uninterrupted functionality of essential assets.

By taking a layered approach to cybersecurity, organizations can create a more effective defence against cyber threats and reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.

Destiny Young
Destiny Young is a highly credentialed information technology professional with over 13 years of industry experience. An HND/BSc (Hons) Computer Science graduate. He holds a Master of Technology degree in Information Technology from the prestigious University of South Africa (UNISA). He is a Distinction-grade MBA alumnus of Nexford University, Washington, DC, where he also obtained a First-class MSc degree in Digital Transformation. He is currently pursuing MSc in Cybersecurity. His professional development direction is in Cybersecurity, Digital Transformation, and Business Intelligence. He is a member of the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute of Administration of Nigeria (CIA), the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), etc.
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