Defense in Depth

Defense in depth also known as layered security, is a cybersecurity strategy used by organizations to secure and safeguard their network, system, and data. The strategy assumes that attackers will try to penetrate the organization’s defenses, so multiple layers of security controls (physical, technical, and administrative) are put in place to detect attackers at every stage of their attack cycle. If one defense fails, another is there to block the attack. This intentional redundancy creates greater security and can protect against a wider variety of attacks.

Why is defense in depth important?

Because no single security tool or practice is the best, Defense in depth ensures that the systems are protected in all possible ways. Having layers of security reduces the chance of a single point of failure occurring within the systems.

Redundancy is another reason for Defense in depth. If an attacker takes down one line of defense, other security measures are in place to limit and mitigate the damage to the entire network, which is in contrast to using only one security measure.

The guiding principle of a defense in depth strategy is the idea that a single security product cannot fully safeguard a network from every attack. However, implementing multiple security products and practices can help detect and prevent attacks as they arise, enabling organizations to effectively mitigate a wide range of threats.

Defense in Depth Controls

Defense in depth uses controls that are designed to protect the systems. These controls are:

Physical controls include security measures that protect IT infrastructure, and other physical assets against threats like tampering, theft, and unauthorized access. These controls may include access control, and surveillance methods like a security guard, security cameras, alarm systems, ID card scanners, and biometric security, etc.

Technical controls include security measures that protect network systems, and resources be it hardware or software to prevent data breaches, DDoS attacks, and other threats. Controls at this layer antivirus, firewalls, intrusion detection or prevention systems (IDS/IPS), technologies, endpoint detection and response (EDR), data loss prevention, and web application firewall software.

Administrative controls include procedures, and policies set in place to protect the network, and resources. Controls at this layer include instructing users to label sensitive information as “confidential”, creating security awareness training for all staff to ensure users practice good security hygiene, avoid exposing systems, devices, and applications to unnecessary risks.

Additional security layers of security can be added to protect individual facets of the systems. Such as;

  • Access measures include authentication controls, biometrics, VPN, and timed access.
  • Workstation defenses include anti-spam or antivirus software.
  • Data protection includes password hashing, encryption, and secure data transfer protocols.
  • Perimeter defenses include intrusion detection and prevention systems and firewalls.
  • Monitoring and prevention include log monitoring, vulnerability scanning, sandboxing, and security training for staff.
  • Threat intelligence includes providing up-to-date information about threat actors and their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP).

Therefore, the security team of an organization must take their time to fully understand what needs to be protected because creating an effective defense in depth strategy takes significant time and resources.

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