The Cybersecurity Mesh – Rethinking Your Approach to IT Security in the IoT
With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and our homes, workplaces, and lives becoming more interconnected online, creating opportunities that hackers are eager to exploit. Something as simple as a smart refrigerator or home assistant connected to your network can easily become a gateway to your business’s most sensitive and valuable information. The answer lies in a new approach to your IT security – the cybersecurity mesh.
What is a cybersecurity mesh?
Currently, the most common approach to cybersecurity is called castle-and-moat. Here, you keep all your important assets together, as if they were locked in a castle, surrounded by one strong layer of protection, like a moat. It’s was a good approach at the time, but as industries have digitised and smart devices have worked themselves into every aspect of our lives, it’s just not as effective as it should be.
For example, this approach worked well when none of us had smartphones and tablets, and public Wi-Fi was a rarity. Essentially, our work and personal devices were, for the most part, physically connected to the internet on a secured network. Now, however, we all carry at least one device that comes with us wherever we go that can connect to any network. When we bring our personal smartphone into the office and log onto the Wi-Fi, we are potentially bringing an enemy inside our one line of defence, making everything within it vulnerable to attack. Once inside your line of defence, malware that is accidentally or purposefully uploaded off a personal smartphone can access anything on your network, stealing data or blocking your access.
The cybersecurity mesh or horizontally distributed cybersecurity approach is a little different. Here, different IT assets are given their own layer of protection based on the importance of the data they contail. For example, if you are storing financial information that is especially valuable, you can give those servers additional layers of protection over and above your general IT security. This makes it far more difficult and time-consuming to attack your network and gives you time to react against any attacks before these assets are in the line of fire.
This approach also allows you to better manage network access because each asset is treated separately. By doing this, you are able to see who is on your network and what asset they are accessing, and you’d be able to grant access to certain individuals and not others by using permissions. Just like you would have physical access control in your office building, you can apply similar barriers to your different servers or data, making sure that only the people who need access for work purposes can do so. Even if hackers get into your network, they will also have to get past this identity-based access control feature in order to actually get into that database or server.
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