With cybercrime on the rise, there is no room for complacency when it comes to protecting your organization’s digital assets. Traditional cybersecurity methods have proven to be outdated against increasingly sophisticated and agile cybercriminals.
To counter this threat, it’s no longer sufficient to rely on isolated cybersecurity protocols. You need a layered cybersecurity approach. That way, if one or more layers are breached, there are others in place to prevent unauthorized access.
In this article, we’ll outline what exactly we mean by layered cybersecurity and detail how it can help to protect your business.
What is layered cybersecurity?
Layered cybersecurity, also known as multi-level cybersecurity, is an approach to network security that incorporates multiple, distinct security controls.
This approach is premised on the fact that any individual cybersecurity control is prone to failing since no single method is flawless.
With multiple, overlapping cybersecurity layers, these individual weaknesses are minimized. If a cyberattacker bypasses one security protocol, they will be immediately faced with another. A lapse in one of your employee’s vigilance will be detected and protected against.
The multiple layers work together to cover potential gaps and weaknesses to give your network the best chance of comprehensive protection.
Layered cybersecurity also means adopting a proactive approach to network protection. It is not enough to simply prevent a cyberattack at the moment it takes place. Multiple layers of security should help you to identify potential threats and weaknesses before an attack occurs. And, as well as ensuring any breach is detected, your system must also have protocols in place to respond and recover from a cyberattack that puts the integrity of your businesses’ digital assets front and center.
Why you need a layered cybersecurity approach
Instances of cyberattacks have increased at an alarming pace in recent years. According to Check Point Research, 2022 saw a 38 percent jump globally in cyberattacks compared to the previous year.
And it’s not just large corporations, financial institutions and government agencies that are being targeted. Increasingly, cybercriminals are launching attacks on healthcare organizations, educational and research establishments, and SMBs with greater frequency and intensity.
This is driven not only by more agile and sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals but also by the rapid digitization of the work environment, notably the shift to remote working, which has significantly expanded the attack surface of an organization’s network.
Whereas in the past, businesses would host the vast majority of their technological infrastructure on-site in a relatively closed system, organizations are now increasingly reliant on work collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom and Google Drive, cloud storage and applications, cell phones, Internet of Things devices, as well as public and home Wi-Fi usage. This creates many more vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can seek to exploit.
The digitization and remote working trend has been in motion for years, but it accelerated significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and is certain to continue.
Many businesses, however, have not kept pace with these changes. This puts them at serious risk of a cyberattack that could have devastating consequences. Theft of intellectual property and confidential information, organizational downtime, as well as potential litigation and fines for non-compliance with data security standards, mean serious financial costs and reputational damage that can be very hard for a business to recover from.
What are the six layers of cyber security?
Layered cybersecurity is your best bet to protect your organization from these outcomes. While there are varying interpretations as to how many cybersecurity layers are optimal, in our opinion these six layers, if executed and managed professionally, are what you need to have confidence that your business is well-protected from threats.
1. Endpoint Security
All network devices, including laptops, tablets, servers and cell phones, are kept up to date with the most advanced threat protection features available. This includes but is not limited to antivirus software, email protection, in-transit and at-rest data encryption, and remote device management.
2. User and Account Management
Whether in the office or working at home, employees need uninterrupted access to online tools to do their jobs. This can, however, lead to “privilege creep” whereby more and more users have access to information and applications that are not necessarily required.
A comprehensive user and account management system ensures access is only given to users who really need it, while also logging the records of who, when, how, and where it is used. This zero trust-based approach ensures any unusual behavior is detected and access is then restricted until the individual has been verified.
3. Availability and Performance
Cyberattacks can happen at any time. This means you need round-the-clock monitoring of your IT infrastructure and digital assets every day of the year. Not only does this proactive approach help to prevent attacks and potential downtime, but it also helps your business get back up and running as quickly as possible should the worst occur.
4. Beyond the Perimeter Security
As stated earlier, the security of your organization’s digital assets must go beyond your network’s perimeter. In today’s world, you need robust off-site security for your workers and data, wherever they may be.
In addition to comprehensive firewall and network access control (NAC) solutions, this also necessitates strategies to secure cloud applications and resources, mobile devices, and remote employees.
5. Security Strategy
A robust cybersecurity plan has to evolve in response to changes in the landscape. New threats can always emerge, and your response to these will always be constrained and conditioned by your organization’s budget, goals, and compliance requirements.
This means you need to take a strategic approach to your network security that takes into account the most serious risks to your business, what you can do about them, and how they can best serve your organization’s objectives.
6. The Human Layer
The human element is often overlooked in cybersecurity strategy, but your employees can either be the weakest point in your network or its greatest strength.
To help ensure the latter, you need to develop a workplace security culture that is savvy and alert to vulnerabilities. This can involve cybersecurity training sessions for employees, as well as introducing security controls and processes that are user-friendly.
How to create a layered cybersecurity plan
All this might appear overwhelming, and that’s perfectly understandable. Cybersecurity threats are pervasive and organizations rely on secure networks to operate effectively, yet many don’t believe they are sufficiently protected.
Many businesses and organizations also don’t have the resources or capacity to hire and establish a dedicated IT security team, or they simply don’t know where to begin even if they want to adopt a layered cybersecurity approach.
But your organization doesn’t need to go it alone or reinvent the wheel when it comes to layered cybersecurity.
At Vertikal 6, we can draw on a wealth of experience in providing managed IT services and developing IT strategies with a diverse range of organizations. We can work alongside you to formulate a cybersecurity strategy based on six layers of protection that incorporates the needs and goals of your business.
To get started, get in touch with us to schedule a free IT strategy session with one of our expert advisors. Let this be the first step towards putting in place a cybersecurity strategy for your organization that’s data-driven, evidence-based and robust.