Developing a high-level information security (InfoSec) infrastructure for your organization takes plenty of time and manpower. If you’re not devoting the appropriate efforts to securing your network data, it will most likely be compromised in some way shape or form. It is for this reason why building and nurturing an Enterprise Information Security Architecture (EISA) from idea to creation.
Developing an EISA is more than just developing a checklist though. It’s an undertaking that requires planning exercises that help key InfoSec team members the ability to thoughtfully define system data and protect it with robust diligence. Let’s review what does EISA stand for, how it can be utilized in your organization, and how this dynamic set of planning and design activities can benefit the other cyber security solutions in your company.
Why are Enterprise Information Security Architectures (EISAs) Beneficial to Your Bottom Line?
Enterprise Information Security Architectures (EISAs) are fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in its elements, relationship, and in the principles of its design and evolution. They are fundamental concepts and properties of a system that establish the purpose, context, and principles that provide useful guidance for IT staff to help make secure design decisions. EISAs also define the environment and relationships that it exists in, while also doing some deep digging into the concepts and imagination of a system.
In layman’s terms, EISAs plan your network infrastructure to react in a specific way for the purpose of increased cyber security. They are given the ability to respond to scenarios, react to inputs and interactions, exhibit behaviors based on the internal and external environment. Whether it’s compliance with GDPR, EI3PA, or PCI DSS, the defined design principles that the EISA outlines are vital to how critical data assets are used in our organizations.
WhatIt can be overwhelming to find the methodology that works effectively, but building small and steady along the critical artifacts is best. This will help you find the sweet spot and begin providing the information infrastructure your company needs to grow to its potential.
An EISA should be defined by business objectives and support the business needs in a flexible way that allows your organization to staff at the level that you require. It should also be utilized as a layered IT defense plan that analyzes the risks and threats to your portfolio, laying out practical standards for how to assess risks, rather than just technical ones. Maintaining a focused EISA strategy is ultimately what will help your organization understand how internal and external forces can and will affect your bottom line in the short and long-term.
EISA Optimization to Promote Business Benefits
Although often associated strictly with information security technology, it relates more broadly to the security practice of business optimization in that it addresses business security architecture, performance management and security process architecture as well. Optimizing the EISA is done through its alignment with the underlying business strategy. Once a robust EISA is fully integrated, companies can capitalize on new technology opportunities that can enable business benefits.
EISAs also align risk management strategies to the business strategy, allowing for the support of new technologies that embody organizational goals. Through the facilitation of operational controls, EISAs can help organizations remain nimble even in periods of rapid change. By leveraging policies, rules, and human knowledge, EISAs can also optimize the promotion of operational efficiencies.
The Structure and Content of an EISA Framework
The primary function of EISA is to document and communicate the artifacts of the security program in a consistent manner. As such, the primary deliverable of EISA is a set of documents connecting business drivers with technical implementation guidance. These documents are developed iteratively through multiple levels of abstraction.
The three key dimensions of the EISA framework are as follows:
|Business||Represents the information security organization and process dimensions. This viewpoint reflects the “business of security,” in the sense that it represents the way information security is practiced in the organization, as well as how the “security business” interrelates with the rest of the enterprise via processes, roles, responsibilities and organizational structures.|
|Informational||Represents the information required to run the information security function. It represents the information models used by the security team, as well as the models used to capture the security requirements for enterprise information.|
|Technical||Represents the security infrastructure architectures. It captures the models that are used to abstract varying requirements for security into guidance for required hardware and software configurations.|
The EISA should describe how security is woven into the fabric of the business. The EISA process must allow inputs from and interface points with design components from other planning disciplines. Then, as the architecture and security processes mature, the EISA can have a more symbiotic relationship with the enterprise architecture, allowing further changes to be integrated easily.
Documentation of the Organization’s Strategy and Structure
The EISA process should flow down into the discrete information technology components that include organizational charts, activities, and process flows of how the IT organization operates. These charts can be configured into organizational cycles that include periods and timing that correspond to suppliers of technology hardware, software, and services. EISA applications, software inventories, and diagrams should also be included in these charts to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the architecture is achieved.
Events, messages, and data flows should also be accounted for in the EISA structure as they pertain to interfaces between applications. Data classifications, databases, and supporting data models should also be designed in the strategy as they relate to hardware, platforms, and hosting components. This ensures that the organization understands the complexities of its servers, network components and security devices and where they are kept in case of a data breach.
Levels of Documents
EISA consists of three levels of documents (requirements, principles, and models). Requirements are documents that define what the architecture is trying to achieve. From an ideation stage, this represents business requirements (i.e. strategic product plans or regulatory requirements). At the implementation phase, it represents technology product specifications.
Principles are those documents that contain statements that guide decision making during the architecture process. This helps guide organizations to design, comply, and track their progress without slowing down any processes. This enterprise-wide perspective of decision making has a greater long-term value because of the flexibility in allowing an enterprise to plan and manage their data in accordance with their business strategy.
Defining the Structure and Scope for an EISA
An effective EISA requires an integrated approach where the organization’s IT team infuses policies, processes, behavior, and technology across all business processes, applications, technology infrastructure, and people.
To ensure the scalability and repeatability of such a solution, the security team must define and implement strategic security processes. The structure of such a program should be built on appropriate policies that are enforced by effective combinations of operational processes, cultural behavior and technology. All personnel and organizational sub-units should remain in accordance with the organization’s core goals and strategic direction while the EISA is set on its present trajectory.
The EISA structure should focus on helping the enterprise create, communicate, and improve its key security requirements, principals, rules, and models to help the enterprise evolve. By developing an EISA structure in this manner, an organization can improve their ability to maintain and sustain positive changes as different environments and conditional issues for security problems occur in the future.
EISA Positioning, Goals, and Framework
Successful application of EISA requires appropriate organization positioning. Inventories and diagrams support decision making, but in the end, it is the living process of the company that moves it forward.
Organizations must design and implement a process that ensures continual movement from the current state to the future state. The current state and future states are constantly being redefined to account for the evolution of the architecture as it relates to the business strategy. Other external factors such as technology and vendor requirements should be considered in the framework to ensure that organizational goals can be met sustainably.
1. EISA Positioning and Goals
EISA has moved from being a silo-based architecture to an enterprise-focused solution that incorporates business, information, technology, and security. EISA change imperatives are no longer focused on being one-dimensional service-based models. Instead, they are now being positioned to include items such as business and technology roadmaps, legal requirements, industry risk trends, visionaries, and much more.
Positioning data security in this way inevitably leads to process improvements and ‘end-to-end’ process integration. The result of these integrations is the adaptability of corporate governance processes that have fewer management layers. These process-oriented organizational structures provide a level of coherence and cohesiveness that are tough to find elsewhere.
EISA goals focus firstly on the alignment of the business to its security components. This is defined from the top-down beginning with a comprehensive business strategy. This is to ensure that all models and implementations can be traced back to the original business strategy, specific business requirements, and key principles.
2. EISA Framework
EISA is not simply about building a wall between enterprise IT systems and the rest of the world. More importantly, it is a security architecture that aligns with the strategies and objectives of the enterprise, while also taking into consideration the importance of the free flow of information from all levels of the organization (internal to vendors to customers, etc.).
The development of this security architecture framework is purposely constructed to outline the current, intermediate, and target reference architectures, allowing them to align programs of change. This framework provides a rigorous taxonomy of the organization that clearly identifies what processes the business performs and detailed information about how those processes are executed and secured.
This framework goes into many levels of detail that vary according to practical considerations such as budget. This allows decision makers to make the most informed decisions about where to invest their resources and where to align organizational goals and processes to support core missions or business functions.
3. Information Architecture Framing
Information architecture plans allow security teams to better understand the optimal flow of information within the enterprise. It ensures that team members understand what applications are used to achieve business objectives and what types of data do the applications require in order to achieve those objectives. Only by understanding these technologies and processes can it be possible for the security teams to develop a strategy for ensuring the security of this data while allowing vital business processes to progress unimpeded.
4. Technology Architecture Framing
The technology architecture of most enterprises is highly complex, involving a range of different technologies running on different platforms, each relying on a range of heterogeneous legacy systems. Ensuring the security of these technologies while allowing business processes sufficient access to information can be a daunting task. To ensure the security of data within this architecture, it is necessary to build a map of every piece of that architecture, and to understand how information moves between its components.
EISA In a Nutshell
As we can see, the process of developing a functional Enterprise Information Security Architecture (EISA) is extremely complex; requiring a variety of key leadership pieces to carry out the construction of its foundation. Those who are tasked with framing the EISA should be aware of every piece of technology that exists within the business and why all of these technologies interact with each other to achieve the objectives of the enterprise.
Through this multi-level understanding of the EISA, they can then develop best practices to ensure the security of information passes along the appropriate connections while optimizing the passage of information to protect the interests of the enterprise. Through configuring the EISA in this manner, organizations can remain aligned with the goals and objectives of the enterprise and allow the business and security strategies to remain connected at all times.
If you’re business needs a risk assessment or a stronger security strategy, RSI Security can help. Call our team of experts today to learn more about our cyber security services.