Info security: an eggshell defense or a layer cake strategy

By Susan Richardson, Manager/Content Strategy, Code42

58118920_1920_1080Eggshell security describes a practice in which organizations depend on a traditional model of a “hardened outer layer of defenses and a network that is essentially wide open, once the attacker has made it past perimeter defenses.”

In an article published in The Register, a leading global online publication headquartered in London, Trevor Pott describes the four pillars of Modern IT security as layers of protection in lieu of a brittle and penetrable outer shell protecting the interior.

Eggshell computing is a fantastically stupid concept, Pott says, yet our entire industry is addicted to it. We focus on the “bad guys” battering down the WAN with port scans and spam. We ignore the insider threats from people downloading malware, being malicious or even just Oopsie McFumbleFingers YOLOing the delete key.

Prevention is only the first layer of security surrounding the network. It includes firewalls, patches, security access lists, two-factor authentication and other technology designed to prevent security compromises.

Detection is the second layer of defense: it includes real time monitoring of breach types via periodic scanning. In this category, intrusion detection systems, mail gateways that scan for credit card numbers moving through email, or auditing systems that scan logs comprise the layer.

Mitigation is the third layer. This is a series of practices in which the idea of compromise is accepted as part of doing business. Thus, an organization designs a network so that a compromise in one system will not result in a compromise of the entire network.

Because an incident is inevitable, incident response rounds out the layered security methodology.

Accepting that your network will inevitably be compromised, what do you do about it? How do you prevent a malware infection, external malicious actor, or internal threat from escalating their beachhead into a network-wide compromise?

The ability to respond to the inevitable by reloading from clean backups, learning via forensic analysis and returning to work from compromised systems (thereby assuring business continuity) isn’t giving up the fight, it’s understanding that the enemy will penetrate (or is already inside)—but recovery is always within reach.




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