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Employing a “Zone Defence”security strategy

Matthew Johnston, managing director for South Asia, Dell Software | May 4, 2015
A zone approach will offer more security to the most valuable assets given the resource and financial constraints we all face.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Everyone seems to spend more and more time and money on security, but we're making little progress.  Reports of major breaches seem to come more frequently, not less.  In Dell's latest edition of the Annual Threat Report it found a surge in point-of-sale (POS) malware, increased malware traffic within encrypted (https) web protocols, as well as twice the number of attacks on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems over 2013. 

Are businesses less secure than they were before, despite the increased investment?  Or are hackers just smarter than ever?  I don't think either is true- I think there's a connection that links raising kids, football, and the way businesses should think about security.

 With kids, parents move from one strategy to another.  With a single child, parents can play man-to-man defense similar to the football strategy, where a player guards against a specific opponent.  In the parental vernacular, while one parent is occupied, the other can localise the damage the little angel can inflict on a single room. 

With two or more kids, parents move to a zone defence where each defensive player is assigned an area on the field, and when an offensive threat enters their area, they are responsible for covering the person.  In this configuration, parents let the little hellions loose around the house and simply try to protect the valuables and breakable wares in the dining or living room. 

From my perspective, businesses today operate in a man-to-man situation, trying to protect each and every little detail of their infrastructure.  I think they'd be more effective using a zone defence as part of a playbook that is continually updated. How would that work?  Here's how it goes:

1)      What do you really need to protect?  You can't walk away from perimeter defenses like next-gen firewalls or encryption technologies, so invest there, but perhaps focus what limited resources you have somewhere else.  Determine what IT assets, critical apps and data absolutely must be protected.R emember that not everything needs the same security focus. 

2)      A security breach is not an "if," it's a "when."Your best bet is to limit exposure and mitigate risk by controlling access.  Hackers are in constant pursuit of credentials, ideally with elevated or privileged access, so tightly control what each and every credential has access to.  Make sure there are no shared admin accounts.  When an employee leaves, CUT THEM OFF.  When they change jobs, change their access to match their new job and eliminate the access from their previous role.  This is the ZONE in ZONE defense.  Isolate access to only what the user/credential needs.

 

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