Both cybersecurity experts and criminals talk about IT defenses in terms of layers. Every expert lists a different number of layers. Sometimes they focus on different hardware and different points of vulnerability. Other lists of layers focus on different threat mechanisms. No matter how your company’s list is organized, the most important part is that you have a comprehensive list.
Why is it important to think about cybersecurity in terms of layers?
Layers are an easy way of thinking about most problems. It means you can divide up responsibilities in such a way that each part is independent of the others’ weaknesses. Responsible parties can also specialize in a given layer type. Here are the two main reasons layers are a strong organizational structure:
Multi-layered defenses are better at keeping out threats.
No single layer is impenetrable. Twenty years ago, people with mobile devices were given tokens. These tokens, or small computers that created a one-use-only code, gave the user’s main device access to a secured file or protected network. These physical tokens paved the way for our current two-step authentication practices. But they had an inherent weakness: if you didn’t have the token, you weren’t getting access. If someone else got the token and the device, they had access.
That’s the vulnerability that multiple layers are designed to mitigate. If someone gets a password, they can’t get in unless they’re on the VPN. If someone gets into your building, they won’t have the visible access pass to walk around unnoticed. If you focus all of your security efforts on one layer, you won’t have anything to keep out the threats that eventually get through.
What are the layers of cybersecurity your company needs?
Instead of thinking of specific layers, which number from three to eight to infinite depending on how the list is organized, think about type. If you’re thinking about the objects that need to be protected, you need to look at:
- Hubs of data and control. This includes your company’s network, network infrastructure, and servers.
- Access points. This category includes both virtual entry points and physical access. Examples might include mobile devices, fax machines, and office buildings.
- Tools. Many tools might be considered access points. These are the portals and platforms your company uses to do business, ranging from your word processors to your CRMs.
- Users. Your co-workers also need to be protected. They are going to be the target of phishing schemes, disingenuous links and download offers, and more. Depending on the nature of your business, your clients might also be targets that could penetrate your overall security.
These layers just focus on targets that require specific protection, not the methods of protection themselves. Firewalls, for example, can protect your hubs of data. Access points need the two-step authentication we touched on earlier, and users need portals that make it easy to follow security protocols.
How can you build layers of protection for every IT layer in your business?
One of the most important elements of strong cybersecurity is education. If people in the office don’t know the warning signs of a phishing scheme, they can’t stop it. If you don’t make it easy and routine for employees to ask visitors where their access pass is, then your security probably won’t work. Education both alerts users of the potential risks and invests them in the process of protecting the business.
However, the majority of cybersecurity is in having the right protective tools and monitoring systems in place. Check out our blog to see what tools and procedures are the most recommended practices for tight cybersecurity. You can also browse our services to see how our IT teams can take the pressure of cybersecurity of your shoulders.