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In today’s digital landscape, companies of all sizes and in all industries face a growing threat from cyber-attacks. In response, many organizations are adopting a ‘Defense in Depth’ approach to cybersecurity. This involves implementing a range of security checkpoints, such as identity access management, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems & Intrusion Prevention Systems (IDS & IPS), access controls, Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR), and more to protect against a wide range of increasingly sophisticated threats.

What is a ‘Defense in Depth’ strategy?

A defense-in-depth cybersecurity posture is a security strategy that involves implementing multiple layers of security controls to protect against cyber threats. This approach is based on the idea that no single security measure is enough to provide complete protection and that multiple layers of security can provide added resilience and reduce the likelihood of a successful attack.

What are the benefits of a ‘Defense in Depth’ strategy?

One of the key benefits of a defense-in-depth approach is that it helps to prevent breaches by creating multiple hurdles that attackers must overcome. For example, if an attacker tries to gain access to a company’s network, they may be stopped by a firewall, but if they manage to get past that to a host on the network, they may be detected by an EDR platform and so on. This makes it much more difficult for attackers to succeed and reduces the likelihood that they will be able to penetrate the Company’s defenses.

Another advantage of a defense-in-depth approach is that it provides a degree of redundancy. If one security measure fails or is bypassed, the other layers of security can still provide protection. This means that even if an attacker can breach the first line of defense, they may still be stopped by subsequent layers of security

There are several key steps that companies can take to implement a defense in depth cybersecurity posture:

  • Understand your attack surface. This means truly knowing where all of your Company’s connected assets are, their configurations, and any vulnerabilities they may have.
  • Conduct a baseline security assessment: This involves identifying the Company’s assets and vulnerabilities and determining the current security measures in place to protect them.
  • Think like a hacker: think of any and every possible way. Based on your current baseline, hackers can gain access to each individual asset across your organization. For most companies with a critical mass of assets, this needs some layer of automation- we recommend leveraging an Attack Surface Management Tool (link to Attack Surface) that will run automatic asset discovery and assess vulnerabilities across your Company’s assets. 99.999% of the time, you will find assets you had no idea existed.
  • Implement multiple layers of security: Once the security assessment has been completed, the next step is to implement the appropriate security measures. This should include multiple layers of security, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, access controls, and encryption, EDR, to provide protection against a wide range of threats.
  • Understand how quickly threat actors and their tools evolve. Legacy security solutions that rely on non-real-time updates should (in reality) be completely deprecated. If you see the term “signature updates” in a product white paper, run for the hills. Leveraging next-generation, cloud-native security platforms that have continuous, near-to-real-time protection against new and evolving threats are a massive force multiplier to your security. Many of these next-generation platforms also leverage some level of artificial intelligence that can find extremely stealthy attack vectors within massive scales of event data, often with higher speed and accuracy than human capability. In almost all cases, these next-generation tools are worth every penny.
  • Train employees (but also have backup defenses!): Employee education and training are important components of a defense-in-depth approach. Employees should be trained on the importance of cybersecurity and the role they play in protecting the Company’s assets. This can help to reduce the risk of human error, such as clicking on a malicious link or sharing sensitive information. Be aware, though, if your cybersecurity strategy is predicated on training your most trusting employees to outsmart the best hackers in the world, you are likely to fall short of your objectives.
  • Monitor and respond to threats: A defense-in-depth approach is not a one-time effort but rather an ongoing process. Companies should continuously monitor their networks and systems for threats and have a plan in place for responding to potential attacks. This may include regular security audits, incident response plans, and other measures to ensure that the Company is prepared to handle any potential threats.
  • Update and maintain security measures: In order to maintain an effective defense in depth posture, companies must regularly update and maintain their security measures. This may include patching software, studying evolving threat actors and their campaigns, and implementing new security technologies as they become available. By staying current with the latest security technologies and practices, companies can ensure that their defenses remain effective against the evolving threat landscape.

In conclusion, a defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity is an effective way for companies to protect against a wide range of threats. By implementing multiple layers of security, training employees, and continuously monitoring and responding to threats, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of a successful attack and improve their overall security posture.