Cybersecurity breaches abound, and the pace of cyber violations is increasing yearly. At the same time, organizations and individuals are also becoming increasingly aware of cybersecurity risks and demanding more protection from organizations they do business with. Regulators, too, hear those sentiments from consumers and are responding with stringent data privacy regulations. 

A solid cybersecurity architecture has never been more crucial. This article will explain cybersecurity architecture, its essentials, and how your company can design and implement a robust cybersecurity architecture.


What Is Cybersecurity Architecture?

Cybersecurity architecture, also referred to as network security architecture, is the base of a company's defense against cybersecurity attacks as it protects all components of its IT infrastructure. Cybersecurity architecture secures networks, the cloud, endpoints, IoT, and mobile. It's also the act of designing computer systems to ensure the security of your underlying sensitive data.

As an element of a company's overall security architecture, cybersecurity architecture is often designed using a cybersecurity architectural framework that specifies computer networks' standards, structure, functional behavior, and policies, including network features and security measures.

Cybersecurity frameworks help your organization identify security threats and then develop security controls to address them. Also, it shows how your security controls relate to your overall organization. A cybersecurity architecture framework allows your company to maintain integrity, confidentiality, and the availability of sensitive data within its business operations.

Your cybersecurity architecture framework needs to be flexible enough to adapt and offer security coverage for your organization despite the rapidly changing cybersecurity threat landscape. To ensure maximum risk mitigation, it should have three primary elements: standards, policy-related elements, and network and security elements. 

Most organizations already have some components of cybersecurity architecture in place, including intrusion detection systems, antivirus programs, and firewalls. A solid cybersecurity architecture must integrate these components to maintain and maximize these security features alongside your procedures and policies. That said, intrusion detection systems, antivirus programs, and firewalls only address external cyber threats--which are inadequate in today’s modern threat landscape.

That's why most organizations use “zero trust” models, which verify every login request regardless of whether a user is inside or outside the organization. By using access control and having several checkpoints within your network, you can limit your exposure to malware infiltration.

Although organizations can and should do more to build independent network security systems, many need more technology. If this sounds familiar, consider hiring a cybersecurity architect to help you anticipate cybersecurity threats and implement strategies and structures to prevent them. In addition, for many companies, hiring a cybersecurity architect is often the best way to identify system weaknesses and remedy them as quickly as possible.

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework is a robust tool that organizes and improves cybersecurity programs. It’s a set of guidelines and cybersecurity best practices to help businesses build and enhance their cybersecurity profile. The framework sets forth recommendations and standards that enable organizations to be in a better position to identify and detect cyber threats and also offers guidelines on how to respond, limit, and recover from cyber breaches.

Five critical functions of the NIST cybersecurity framework include: 

1. Identify

Make a list of your software, equipment, and data, including smartphones, laptops, point-of-sale devices, and tablets. Then, create and share cybersecurity policies that cover the following:

  • Responsibilities and roles for vendors and employees and anyone who accesses sensitive data
  • Steps to take to protect your company against cyber attacks and how to limit damage in case of a cyber attack.

2. Protect

  • Control who uses your computers and laptops and logs on to your network
  • Use security software to safeguard sensitive material
  • Encrypt confidential data
  • Backup data regularly
  • Update security software frequently, automating updates where possible.
  • Have formal policies for disposing of old devices and electronic files safely.
  • Train your staff about cybersecurity.

3. Detect

Monitor your devices and software for unauthorized access.

  • Investigate unusual activities on your networks.
  • Check your network for unauthorized connections or users.

4. Respond

Have a detailed plan for:

  • Notifying employees, customers, and others whose personal data might be at risk.
  • Keeping business operations up and running in case of a cyber attack
  • Reporting cyber breaches to law enforcement and other authorities.
  • Investigating and containing cyber threats.
  • Updating your cybersecurity procedures and policies with lessons learned.
  • Preparing for accidental events, such as weather emergencies, might put sensitive data at risk.

Test your security plan frequently.

5. Recover

After a cybersecurity attack:

  • Repair and restore your equipment and any other affected part of your network.
  • Update customers and employees on your response and recovery activities. 

How Does a Cybersecurity Architecture Protect an Organization from Cyber Threats?

Ideally, the importance of a cybersecurity architecture is to ensure the central network architecture of your company, including the critical applications and sensitive data, is completely protected against present or future cybersecurity breaches.

A well-designed and enforced cybersecurity architecture can improve cybersecurity, help your company adhere to strict data privacy regulations as they arise, and boost your reputation in an ever-increasing cybersecurity-conscious market.

When implemented correctly, a robust cybersecurity architecture can be evident in three primary areas of your business: your bottom line and overall information management.

Bottom Line

Today, consumers are more aware of cybersecurity risks and those threats that can affect them. Thus, having a solid cybersecurity architecture in place can help win your customer’s trust while acting as insurance against potentially disruptive events, ultimately protecting your bottom line. In addition, an active approach to cybersecurity threats is often more successful than a reactive or defensive one because the cost of recovering from cyber threats often outweighs the initial investment required to implement a cybersecurity architecture. 

Information Management

How you handle sensitive data is often the difference between failure and success. Integrating a solid cybersecurity architecture throughout your enterprise can simplify your data management process, with the bonus of safeguarding your system’s information network. 

Ideally, a cybersecurity architecture protects your organization from cyber threats by aligning your underlying business strategies with the risk management process with minimal interruption to daily business operations. 

Further, it’s essential to know cybersecurity basics and put them into practice to protect your business and minimize the risk of cyber attacks. 

What Does a Cybersecurity Architect Do?

A cybersecurity architect, also known as a security architect, designs, creates, and maintains the security systems within a company’s IT network, including data and computer systems.

Also, a security architect monitors an organization’s systems for vulnerabilities. They perform risk analysis, ethical hacks, and penetration testing on WANs, LANs, and VPNs. They also assess computer systems to determine the efficiency and efficacy of firewalls, routers, and other comparable systems. 

The roles and responsibilities of a cybersecurity architect include the following:

  • Gaining a thorough understanding of an enterprise’s information systems and technology.
  • Planning, designing, and researching reliable, advanced, and flexible cybersecurity architectures for all IT projects.
  • Performing vulnerability and penetration testing on the complete infrastructure, including security evaluations and risk analyzes. 
  • Researching the latest security trends, standards, systems, and updated authentication protocols.
  • Developing security requirements for all digital assets, including firewalls, routers, local area networks (LANs), virtual private networks (VPNs), wider-are networks (WANs), and any other related network devices.
  • Reviewing and approving the installation of VPNs, routers, firewalls, IDS scanning technologies, and servers.
  • Designing crucial public infrastructures (PKIs), like certification authorities (CA) and digital signatures.
  • Guiding and supervising security teams.
  • Upgrading and updating a company’s security systems as needed.

How to Become a Cybersecurity Architect?

A cybersecurity architect plays a crucial management role within a company’s cybersecurity or IT department. Security architects are often tasked with keeping their organizations secure from digital threats.

In this advanced-level role, you must have spent years developing various skills needed to succeed. Even if you’re new to cybersecurity, you may possess different workplace and technical skills required to become a security architect.

Technical skills needed to become a security architect:

  • Cloud Security: With many businesses working in the cloud, you must understand best practices for securing cloud environments.
  • Network Security: You should be able to balance security and business requirements to ensure a company’s network is functional and safe.
  • DevSecOps and Software Development: Experience in software development can help to implement security policies into the development process effectively.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): It might be your job to safeguard data from unauthorized access while making it accessible to those who need it.
  • Scripting Language: The ability to write code in PowerShell and Python to automate tasks can help you be more efficient.
  • Mac, Windows, and Linus operating systems: Based on your organization, you may need to be familiar with various operating systems to address security concerns effectively.

Workplace skills needed to become a cybersecurity architect:

  • Problem-solving: Maintaining a company’s security means being ahead of cyber criminals and other threats.
  • Collaboration: Cybersecurity architects often work with organization stakeholders to create security infrastructures that address company needs.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills: As a driver of cybersecurity policies, you’ll often have to document your work and communicate complicated concepts to colleagues with no technical background.
  • Integrity: As an advanced-level security professional, you may have to access the sensitive data you’ve been hired to protect. Further, others may look to you for what is or isn’t acceptable behavior. 

To become a cybersecurity architect, you may also need a bachelor's degree in computer science, cybersecurity, or any other related field. In addition, you may also need certifications in CompTIA Security+, CISSP, CEH, OSCP, and CCSP. 

What Are Some Common Mistakes Organizations Make When Implementing a Cybersecurity Architecture?

Businesses should adopt holistic solutions against burgeoning cyber threats instead of temporary ones. But unfortunately, companies pay a hefty price for the rapidly growing cyber attacks. Although awareness about cyber threats has increased massively in recent years, the types of cybersecurity mistakes companies make when implementing a security architecture have mostly stayed the same. Here are the four most common cybersecurity architecture mistakes businesses still make and ways to avoid them.

1. Lack of data identification and classification

The absence of effective classification and monitoring of data and not prioritizing data-centric security. To fix this mistake, you must ensure you have the inventory of your assets, which are classified and located. This inventory will enable you to ensure that proper and adequate security controls are in place to safeguard your most valuable assets. All security control definitions, prioritization, and enforcement must be by the cruciality of the data/assets in your organization.

2. Relying solely on antivirus solutions

In today’s sophisticated cybersecurity threat landscape, where a shift of focus appears from dangerous spyware to malware and data retrieval, relying heavily on antivirus software isn’t enough to protect your organization from cyber threats. Antivirus software only protects against known viruses, and cybercriminals strive to create advanced methods daily. Traditional antivirus solutions might catch ordinary spyware and malware but are no match for sophisticated adversaries with stealth intrusion capabilities. Implementing a multi-layered network security strategy efficiently protects your digital assets. It’s also an effective solution for slowing down cyber attackers. 

3. Not conducting effective testing

Testing your software is crucial to implementing robust cybersecurity architecture. Without a thorough testing process, your software might be exposed to enormous risks down the line. Software testing helps you determine if your software has vulnerability issues. Two of the most effective testing processes are third-party code and penetration testing. Performing penetration testing enables you to detect gaps in compliance and security risks and simulate the potential risk of a large-scale security breach. It can also help train your information security teams to deal with cybersecurity threats and test their response time. The third-party code performs the core functions of the software you're developing. This test identifies the weaknesses the original developer or subsequent users neglected or didn't notice.

4. Using outdated network models

Outdated network models with a single exit and entry point are based on a simplified design. Unfortunately, most small and mid-sized businesses still use basic encryption models. In addition, traditional network models lack AV software, can’t be scaled easily, and lack of segmentation exposes companies to cyber attacks. Modern network models segment local networks by function, making them easily scalable and reliable in security matters. Using modern network models based on fully virtualized zero-trust network access frameworks, WAN and SASE offer more cyber resilience as remote networks will be less prone to high-level cybersecurity threats.  

How Do You Develop Cybersecurity Architecture?

The four primary phases of developing a network security architecture are as follows:

  • Risk evaluation: During this phase, a cyber architect assesses the influence of vital business assets, the potential odds of a cybersecurity threat, and the effects of gaps, vulnerabilities, and cyber threats. Risk evaluation offers a broad overview of the current state of your company’s cybersecurity posture.
  • Design: After the risk evaluation stage, a cybersecurity architect develops the design and architecture of cybersecurity services, which facilitates organization risk exposure objectives. This is typically the roadmap for reinforcing or handling your organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure and what measures should be taken to improve protection. 
  • Implementation: Upon creating an overall roadmap, this next stage deals with implementing steps. Cybersecurity professionals implement, operate, and control cybersecurity processes and services. They design assurance security services to ensure security architecture decisions, security standards and policy, and risk management are reflected in the real runtime implementation. 
  • Monitoring and operations: This final stage includes the subsequent daily processes, including vulnerability and threat management. Here, cybersecurity professionals take measures to handle and supervise the operational state and the breadth and depth of the system’s cybersecurity. This final stage is just as crucial as the previous phases, ensuring continuous security measures are regularly monitored. 

What Is the Difference Between Security Architecture and Security Design?

Both security design and architecture are components of how cybersecurity professionals work to ensure comprehensive security for all systems. However, these two terms are quite different.

Security architecture is a set of elements and resources of a security system that enable it to function. This refers to how security systems are set up and how the individual parts work, individually and as a whole. Looking at a security software application in the context of the overall security system, for example, may be described as addressing security architecture.

On the flip side, security design refers to the methods and techniques that position hardware and software components in a better place to facilitate security. For example, authentication and handshaking are part of the network security design. However, cybersecurity tools, applications, or resources that enhance authentication and handshaking are part of the network security architecture. Security design and architecture often go in the same sentence because pros use sets of resources (security architecture) to practically implement security concepts (security design) that protect both data at rest and data in use. 

What Are Some Trends in Cybersecurity Architecture?

With the global digital evolution, many businesses currently rely on computerized systems to manage their daily operations, implementing cybersecurity architecture as a primary goal to protect data from unauthorized access and online attacks. Unfortunately, constant technological changes also mean a corresponding shift in cybersecurity architecture trends as news of malware, ransomware, and malicious data exposure become the new normal. Here are the top cybersecurity trends to watch out for:

Mesh architecture

Cyber mesh architecture aims to create ways for security solutions from different vendors to work together seamlessly to achieve specific security goals. Gartner forecasts that by 2024, businesses adopting a cyber mesh architecture will cut down the financial effects of individual cybersecurity incidents by 90%

Development-first security

Vulnerabilities and gaps in production apps are a massive problem, with the amount of newly discovered weaknesses increasing yearly. Unfortunately, this is because security historically took a backseat in the development process. With the focus on creating functional apps and meeting release deadlines, security is usually addressed in the testing stage of the software development lifecycle, if at all. Vulnerable software poses adverse effects on the manufacturer and its users, charging a new focus on prioritizing security in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). By prioritizing security in the planning process and integrating vulnerability testing into automated CI/CD pipelines, companies can lower the cost and effect of security vulnerabilities with minimal impact on release dates and timelines.

Increasing Attacks

Cybercriminals and other unscrupulous actors will continue to attack vulnerable and smaller parts of the extended organizations. Gartner reports that by 2025, over 45% of enterprises globally will experience cybersecurity threats on their software supply chains, a three-times increase from 2021. 

Targeted ransomware

Another critical cybersecurity architecture trend we can’t ignore is targeted ransomware attacks, especially in industries that rely on specific software to carry out daily operations. Today, ransomware attacks are more targeted, like the Wanna Cry attack that infected over 300,000 computer devices. These attacks will become more common because they’re more profitable to cybercriminals

Increased adoption of managed services

The cybersecurity field faces significant skills shortages, with millions of positions needing to be filled globally. Recently, organizations are increasingly adopting managed services to address their talent shortfalls. Managed security service providers, managed detection and response, VPN as a Service, Firewall as a Service, and Cloud Network as a Service offerings are examples of the available services. Besides closing talent shortfalls, managed services often allow businesses to deploy mature security solutions more quickly than is possible internally. 

Mobile Risks

With 2023 seeing a massive increase in mobile adoption, organizations and individuals will continue to battle social engineering, including smishing, vishing, and phishing, and other cybersecurity vulnerabilities like distributed denial of service (DDoS), trojans, malware, spoofing, attacks on enterprise MDM, EMM, and MAM systems, mobile ransomware, targeting of multiple layers across wearables and IoT devices, data leakage via malicious applications, and fraudulent Wi-Fi powered man in the middle (MiTM). 

How Can an Organization Assess its Current Cybersecurity Architecture?

The best way to evaluate your organization’s current cybersecurity architecture is to employ the services of a security architect. A security architect will thoroughly assess your organization’s surface vulnerabilities for cyber attacks and network topologies to effectively guard your critical apps and sensitive data.

The primary goals of robust cybersecurity architecture are:

  • First, ensure that all cybersecurity threats are minimized, mitigated against, dynamic, or hidden. 
  • To ensure that cybersecurity-attack surfaces are small and covertly stored so that it’s difficult for cyber breaches to detect and penetrate them.
  • Ensure all your sensitive and confidential data is properly encrypted and is subject to end-to-end encryption tactics during transfer. 
  • All cybersecurity threats are aggressively detected, weakened, and neutralized using countermeasures, such as Moving-Target Defenses (MTD).

Security architects are highly skilled in identifying potential cyber threats. In addition, they understand network and computer systems enough to design effective security architect plans, implement those plans, and supervise the proper implementation. 

How Can an Organization Adapt its Cybersecurity Architecture to New Threats?

Cybersecurity is a concept that has been more worthwhile for many organizations. However, what’s still unfamiliar to many businesses and their leadership is how to evaluate their cyber strategy and risks to determine how best to adapt to new threats while remaining competitive.  

Apart from remaining competitive with other organizations that are also boosting their cybersecurity architecture, it’s crucial for companies, both large and small, to adopt more adaptive cybersecurity architecture to combat the ever-growing risk of data attacks and breaches from hackers. 

Here are the three most essential strategies you need to adapt your organization to the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape and the high prevalence of breaches to data:

Constant surveillance of your application security layer

Businesses should be concerned about cybercrimes such as ransomware attacks and phishing emails, which increased by 37% in 2020, resulting in an average business expense of $4.5 million. Considering that 84% of software attacks exploit app layer-level security vulnerabilities, then you understand why you need to adopt application testing tools that protect your organization’s and customers’ data from breaches. To protect data at the application layer level, you need a single platform you and your IT team can use to regularly evaluate your apps' security risks. In addition, you'll need to use a unified platform to protect custom code, APIs, and open-source libraries DKs, to detect security vulnerabilities early before they affect your systems or users.

Blending AI and cybersecurity architecture

The modern cybersecurity landscape requires organizations to go beyond buying anti-malware and antivirus programs and perhaps using a VPN. Artificial intelligence can speed up innovative security technologies that respond to cyber threats in real time and grow alongside them. AI can adapt your cybersecurity architecture to emerging threats by working on every level to respond to internal and external breaches—all in real time. It can also help small businesses to scale their security solutions based on their individual needs. 

Boost data security with encryption solutions over VPNs

Your organization likely uses Wi-Fi to some extent. However, many businesses face the challenge of maintaining remote workers that operate on secure wireless networks post-pandemic. As a result, you must use Wi-Fi communications over a secure website (HTTP) or a VPN service to secure communications between laptops and smartphones and their access points. Organizations that use VPNs to encrypt information between network devices can leverage the “tunneling” process to securely and privately transmit information over the internet. Encrypting data is one of the most practical security measures for remotely dispersed workforces to adopt because it ensures IP addresses aren’t visible to websites you visit and that sensitive data is always encrypted over your VPN server. 

The modern cybersecurity landscape requires that organizations and individuals continue to adapt and grow to protect their data and stay competitive. To that end, organizations can start building a foundation for constantly developing cybersecurity architecture, starting with their application security layer. You must protect your data at the application layer level.