Security architecture can be defined as the controls that support IT infrastructure. For a large enterprise, security architecture extends beyond prescriptive processes; it must adapt to address evolving cybersecurity threats and risks. Following a selection of common enterprise security architecture requirements and implementing best practices across industries can help any organization achieve robust cyberdefenses while optimizing ROI. Read on to learn more.
How Can You Implement Robust Enterprise Security Architecture?
Security requires visibility for organizations of any size. It also requires staff-wide commitment to ensure objectives are met. Top enterprise security architecture considerations include:
- Meeting applicable requirements for enterprise security architecture control design
- Aligning with cross-industry best practices for implementing enterprise security
One of the best ways to ensure buy-in across your personnel and increase trust among clientele is to work with a quality security program advisor when implementing and maintaining controls.
Enterprise Security Architecture Requirements to Design Controls
Organizations looking to build robust cybersecurity programs can utilize the list of wide-ranging enterprise security architecture requirements theorized by Rassoul Ghaznavi-Zadeh for ISACA Journal. The most critical first step is identification, specifically for the following security assets:
- Mission-specific objectives, including goals and strategic plans
- Processes needed to achieve mission-specific objectives
- Risks and threats related to core business processes
- Cybersecurity controls to manage identified risks
- Program design to achieve effective and secure controls
Designing robust enterprise security architecture depends on addressing the above factors. You’ll also need to allow room for growth and adaption for any future, as yet unforeseen risks.
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Conceptual Enterprise Security Architecture Design
For enterprises to address business risks, security architecture design must align with their mission-specific objectives. Enterprise risk is constantly evolving as IT environments change with growing technologies–your security architecture must reflect these changes.
Enterprise security architecture requirements for conceptual design include:
- Governance and policies – Robust and sustainable enterprise security architecture starts with managing the moving parts of IT infrastructure. Effective governance requires alignment between organization leadership, mission-specific objectives, and policies to support processes such as:
- Compliance (regulatory or otherwise)
- Threat and vulnerability management
- Incident response protocols
- Operational risk management – Enterprise risks change frequently and require effective risk management to mitigate threats. Ongoing risk analysis helps identify and address any security gaps and vulnerabilities before materialization into threats.
- Information architecture – Any risks, gaps, or vulnerabilities that are not identified promptly can result in an attack. Implementing tools and processes to extract security information from critical systems, applications, or data improves enterprise security.
- Access controls – Without safeguards to access points, enterprises are at risk of malicious intrusion. Your organization needs access controls to secure sensitive data, applications, and systems from breach risks. Types of access controls include:
- Passwords and passphrases
- Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)
- Access cards and cryptographic keys
- Biometrics (e.g., facial scans, fingerprints)
- Role-based access control (i.e., access by privilege)
- Incident response – Any threats or incidents must be addressed right away to minimize further damage and prevent any malicious intrusion. Examples of incident response are:
- Threat detection and identification (e.g., monitoring and scanning tools)
- Containment and eradication (e.g., isolation, escalation, malware removal)
- System recovery to maintain business continuity
- Learning and review to prepare for future incidents
- System testing to ensure vulnerability and gap remediation
- Application security – The effectiveness of enterprise systems depends on application security, especially for the most commonly used applications, including but not limited to:
- Web applications (e.g., browsers, eCommerce applications)
- Email applications, web-based or on users’ devices
- Mobile applications (including on personal devices)
Conceptual enterprise security architecture is customizable to the needs of your business and can help you effectively address evolving risks and threats.
Physical Enterprise Security Architecture Design
Physical enterprise security architecture requirements address risks to existing IT system components. IT assets to incorporate into enterprise security architecture design include:
- Platforms – Enterprise security architecture must safeguard all assets used to host services or applications. Examples of platforms often at risk of threats include:
- Computing platforms (e.g., cloud computing)
- Integrations (e.g., Application Programming Interface (API))
- Storage locations (e.g., shared cloud storage)
- Media platforms (e.g., video streaming applications)
- Hardware – Any physical IT assets used to run systems, applications, or software must be protected from threat risks. Examples of hardware to incorporate in enterprise security architecture design include:
- Physical servers and infrastructure
- Workstations (shared and individual)
- Computers (e.g., laptops, desktops)
- Handheld devices (e.g., tablets, mobile devices)
- Networks – As one of the most frequently targeted assets, networks must be protected against threats. Specifically, enterprise security architecture design should address network security risks, the most common of which include:
- Viruses spread via networked devices
- Malware spread via email or web applications
- Phishing launched via email, text, or phone calls
- Rootkits, which use keyloggers to steal sensitive information
- SQL injection, which use malicious code to steal sensitive data
- Operating systems – Your hardware and software run on operating systems (OS), which, if compromised, can affect business continuity–determining risks to enterprise operating systems is critical. The most common operating systems include:
- File storage – Regardless of your preferred file storage system, you should ensure that your enterprise security architecture contains robust access controls to protect:
- Any files containing sensitive information
- Digital file storage (i.e., on-site or cloud servers)
- Hard copy storage (i.e., papers, filing cabinets)
- Databases – Enterprise security for databases should incorporate similar controls like those of file storage, except the safeguards should address the vast amounts of data collected over long periods, typically months or years. Essential components of databases include:
- Sensitive data contained within databases
- Database management system
- Physical servers and access controls (for on-site databases)
- Cloud servers and hosting networks (for cloud storage)
- IT infrastructure used to support, manage, or run databases
Most enterprises already have many of the physical assets above within their infrastructure. As such, the enterprise security requirements can help design effective safeguards for physical IT assets and improve existing cybersecurity processes.
Operational Enterprise Security Architecture Design
Managing enterprise security architecture requires implementing processes that streamline the physical or conceptual cybersecurity architecture designs. As your enterprise scales up business operations, it is critical to establish operations that address risks as they evolve.
Some of the operational processes for robust enterprise security architecture include:
- Implementation – When an enterprise creates a security policy to address threat risks, processes must be implemented to ensure cybersecurity. Considerations for implementing IT security include:
- Designating roles and responsibilities to address specific tasks.
- Compliance checklists to ensure adherence to regulatory frameworks
- Periodic review of security goals, whether annually, bi-annually, or quarterly
- Administration – It is critical to establish administrative processes to help your personnel implement security controls. Administration helps simplify cumbersome processes in enterprise security architecture by:
- Providing direction for new personnel (e.g., phishing training support)
- Assisting personnel with troubleshooting controls (e.g., email access support)
- Establishing processes for personnel to relay feedback on security processes
- Patch management – It is essential to deploy patches timely to mitigate any threats to IT security components, such as critical software. Designing enterprise security architecture for patch management must incorporate the following processes:
- Identification of IT assets in need of security patches
- Sorting assets based on level of vulnerability risk
- Testing the stability of patches before deployment
- Monitoring deployed patches to identify any issues
- Backing up data and testing processes used for data backups
- Deploying patches, either manually or automatically
- Tracking the performance of patches following deployment
- Monitoring – Enterprise security architecture should include processes for monitoring systems, applications, and sensitive data environments for cybersecurity risks, including:
- Sudden changes to IT environments (e.g., sensitive data storage)
- Unusual network traffic, a common sign of malware threats
- Higher than typical external data downloads or uploads
- Unauthorized changes to access controls (e.g., the sudden elevation of privilege for user accounts)
- User access events at odd times of day (e.g., late-night)
- Logging – Operational security design must also include processes for tracking security events or threats, which can help:
- Provide insight into future threat attack vectors
- Guide threat identification by eliminating false positives
- Increase accuracy of machine learning-dependent threat detection
- Penetration testing – One of the most effective methods for testing system, application, or data security is pen testing, also called “ethical hacking.” When added to enterprise security architecture operational design, pen-testing will help:
- Identify vulnerabilities and gaps in security systems
- Test new security processes (e.g., patches)
- Comply with regulatory frameworks (e.g., PCI DSS, HIPAA)
- Access management – As your enterprise grows, you could face multiple malicious actors attempting to gain unauthorized access to digital assets. Critical processes for access management, best implemented via an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system, include:
- Authentication to verify the identity of users attempting to gain access to IT infrastructure
- Authorization to provide access to authenticated users
- Change management – Many enterprises do not manage changes to their infrastructure, leaving room for security risks and vulnerabilities. Essential processes for change management include:
- Scheduling changes to critical infrastructure to minimize risks to business continuity
- Testing infrastructure changes before deployment (e.g., pen testing)
- Monitoring changes to critical processes (e.g., tracking firewall performance)
- Reviewing risks to any planned changes
Operational enterprise security architecture design can help streamline security processes and strengthen overall cybersecurity. Compared to physical and conceptual enterprise security architecture requirements, the operational design processes apply mostly to evolving risks.
Enterprise Security Architecture Best Practices for Growth
When planning to implement enterprise security architecture requirements, your team should ensure that desired controls will support enterprise growth. Even after deploying conceptual, physical, or operational controls, you still need to ensure the effectiveness of controls within your enterprise environment. Doing so requires sound management and regular assessment.
One approach to optimizing architecture involves outsourcing individual components to a managed security services provider (MSSP). A quality MSSP will integrate multiple areas of cyberdefense (SIEM, FIM, etc.) into a single, accessible dashboard, optimizing efficiency.
As you design enterprise security architecture, you should ensure that your IT assets are constantly available if stakeholders (e.g., customers, business partners, third-party vendors) depend on these processes. Some best practices for continuous asset uptime include:
- Asset backups and updates – Any risks or threats to asset availability can potentially disrupt business continuity. Examples of critical assets to consistently back up and update include:
- Systems (e.g., operating systems)
- Software versions, if used for service provision (e.g., SaaS platforms)
- Data storage (e.g., employee files, intellectual property)
- Security infrastructure (e.g., antivirus and anti-malware versions)
- Monitoring of assets – Even when continuously backed up or updated, your IT assets must be monitored to identify any threats that can result in breach attacks. Asset monitoring processes include:
- Identifying assets at end-of-life (EOL) cycles (e.g., software not currently supported by vendors)
- Scanning for vulnerabilities to assets, especially heavy-use assets such as hosting networks
The continuous availability of IT assets contributes to the growth of your enterprise and minimizes risks to business continuity. Disruptions in asset uptime due to cyberattacks also threaten your enterprise reputation and result in financial loss.
Besides asset availability, compliance with regulatory frameworks is typically the most critical aspect of effective enterprise security architecture—especially for growth. A growing business needs to prepare for a larger volume and complexity of regulatory requirements as it expands into and across various locations and industries. Many of these overlap, causing confusion.
Common compliance frameworks that may apply to your enterprise, now or imminently, include:
- PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards), which addresses the security of card payment transactions and helps minimize threats to sensitive data
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), which protects patient health information (PHI) processed by organizations within and adjacent to the healthcare industry
- EU GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Regulation), which safeguards and guarantees certain rights concerning personal data to citizens of EU Member States
- HITRUST CSF which streamlines compliance across multiple regulatory frameworks and applies to organizations within and adjacent to the healthcare industry and beyond
Regulatory compliance may be challenging to maintain, but it will also help you strengthen aspects of enterprise security, especially with the help of an experienced compliance advisor.
Build Robust Enterprise Security Architecture
Meeting all enterprise security architecture requirements applicable to your organization is much more feasible with the help of a security program advisor. A provider like RSI Security will work with your internal teams to decide which best practices are most apt, given your specific needs and means.
To learn more about enterprise security architecture and begin rethinking your cybersecurity system design, contact RSI Security today.