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Layered Security: A Robust Cybersecurity Defense System

Shannon Mayberry
4 min read
Nov 27, 2023 9:34:55 AM
This post covers:Your Business. Secure. | Managed IT

Updated February 19, 2024

Businesses are more vulnerable than ever to a myriad of persistent and emerging cyber threats. From data breaches to ransomware attacks, the stakes are high, and the consequences can be devastating. To fortify their defenses, organizations must adopt a layered security strategy that incorporates both technical and organizational controls. These dual pillars work in tandem to create a robust defense against a constantly evolving threat landscape.

Understanding layered security

Layered security, or defense in depth, is a cybersecurity strategy that uses multiple layers of defense to protect against potential cyber threats. The concept is based on the military principle that it's more difficult for an enemy to breach multiple barriers than just one.

In the context of cybersecurity, these layers could include physical security measures, network security tools, application-level controls, and user-focused strategies. We’ll take a closer look at the layered security approach, including both the technical fortifications and the organizational controls needed to establish a strong defense-in-depth strategy.


The technical components of a defense-in-depth strategy

Technical security controls include the composition and setup of your IT environment and tools. This involves configuring and utilizing these elements and incorporating security tools around them and within them. Security tools help recognize and safeguard against unauthorized activities. Here are some of the most critical technical controls to have in place.

Firewalls and Managed Detection & Response (MDR)

Firewalls act as the first line of defense, monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic. MDR complements this by identifying and thwarting potential threats in real-time.

Technical controls, such as firewalls and MDR, are the soldiers that safeguard a business's network infrastructure. Firewalls establish a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted external networks, managing the flow of traffic based on established security rules. MDR, on the other hand, can actively monitor both network and host-based system activities, alerting administrators to potential security threats or taking automated actions to block malicious activities.

Antivirus and vulnerability scanning

In a cyber landscape full of malware, viruses, and other malicious software, having robust antivirus and anti-malware solutions is crucial for detecting and neutralizing threats.

Antivirus solutions and vulnerability scanning act as the immune system of a business's digital infrastructure. These tools scan files and programs for known patterns or behaviors associated with malicious software, preventing infections and safeguarding sensitive data.

Secure data backup and encryption

Secure data backup is the systematic and regular copying of important data to a secure, off-site location, ensuring its availability and integrity in the event of data loss, corruption, or a cybersecurity incident. Encryption protects sensitive data by converting it into unreadable code, ensuring that even if unauthorized parties access it, they cannot decipher the information without the appropriate decryption key.

Without a reliable and secure backup, a business risks irreparable damage to its operations and reputation. Encrypting any sensitive data adds an extra layer of protection, making it exponentially more difficult for cybercriminals to exploit.

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA adds additional identity verification beyond just usernames and passwords, reducing the risk of unauthorized access, even if login credentials are compromised.

In a landscape where password breaches are common, MFA is a vital technical control. By requiring users to authenticate their identity through multiple methods (e.g., passwords, biometrics, or security tokens), businesses can significantly reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access.


The organizational components of a defense-in-depth strategy

Organizational controls involve emphasizing the importance of a security mindset with your organization’s culture while also safeguarding the trust of your customers and partners. Here are some things to consider for establishing organizational safeguards.

Security education and awareness training programs

Human error is a significant factor in many cybersecurity incidents. Educating employees on cybersecurity best practices, along with simulated periodic testing, reduces the risk of falling victim to social engineering attacks.

No matter how sophisticated the technical controls are, human behavior remains a wildcard. Training employees to recognize phishing attempts, avoid suspicious links, and follow security protocols enhances the overall resilience of the organization against cyber threats while creating a work culture that values and prioritizes security.

Access controls and privilege management

Limiting access to sensitive data and systems based on job roles ensures that only authorized personnel can access and modify critical information.

Organizational security controls involve defining and enforcing access policies. By implementing the principle of least privilege, businesses can minimize the potential damage caused by insider threats and restrict access to sensitive data to only those who require it for their job responsibilities.

Incident response and disaster recovery plans

Preparing for the worst-case scenario is crucial. Incident response plans outline the steps to be taken in the event of a cyber incident, while disaster recovery plans ensure business continuity in the face of catastrophic events.

Despite best efforts, no system is infallible. Organizational controls involve planning for the aftermath of a cyber-attack. Having well-defined incident response and disaster recovery plans enables businesses to minimize downtime, recover lost data, and restore normal operations swiftly.

Regular security audits and assessments

Periodic evaluations of security controls, policies, and procedures help identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that may have been overlooked.

Continuous improvement is the hallmark of effective cybersecurity. Regular security audits, assessments, and penetration testing identify potential weaknesses in both technical and organizational controls, allowing businesses to proactively address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.


The benefits of layered security

While technical controls form the barricades, organizational controls establish the rules of engagement within a business. These two pillars together create a resilient cybersecurity ecosystem. Here are a few of the benefits.

Holistic defense

A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy acknowledges that technical controls alone cannot guarantee security. By integrating organizational controls, businesses create a holistic defense that addresses both technological and human aspects of cybersecurity.

Adaptability to emerging threats

Cyber threats are dynamic and constantly evolving to overcome existing defenses. The synergy of technical and organizational controls enables businesses to adapt quickly. Technical controls can be updated to defend against new threats, while organizational controls, such as security training, keep employees in the know while fostering a culture of vigilance.

Compliance and regulation

Many industries have stringent regulatory requirements regarding the protection of sensitive data. Technical controls ensure compliance with encryption and access control standards, while organizational controls, such as regular audits, demonstrate a commitment to meeting regulatory requirements.


Establishing your own defense-in-depth strategy

Layered security can provide comprehensive protection against a wide range of cyber threats. By implementing multiple layers of defense, organizations can ensure that even if one layer fails, others can still provide protection. With a well-implemented layered security approach, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to cyber-attacks.


The team at Locknet Managed IT are experts at assessing your current vulnerabilities and helping you develop a strong set of technical controls. Our Keysuite program is a comprehensive technical control offering for businesses who already place a high value in establishing sound organizational safeguards within their organizations. By fortifying a layered security approach, businesses can navigate the digital terrain with confidence, knowing that they have a comprehensive defense in place.  If you are uncertain about the level of your current technical fortifications, partnering with a Managed Security Service Provider to conduct a comprehensive security assessment can be a good first step.

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