Protecting sensitive information and digital assets is paramount in an increasingly interconnected world. This is where layered security comes into play. Organizations can create a formidable barrier against any cyber threat by implementing multiple layers of defense.

 To create a comprehensive and dynamic defense system, layered security combines various security measures, such as firewalls, encryption, access controls, and intrusion detection systems.

In this article, we delve into layered security, explore its benefits, and provide insights on how organizations can leverage this approach to safeguard their valuable data and ensure robust cybersecurity. 

What is Layered Security? 

A layered security strategy is an approach to cybersecurity that involves deploying multiple security measures in a coordinated and strategic manner to protect systems, networks, and data. Instead of relying on a single security measure, layered security implements a combination of safeguards at different levels to create a strong and dynamic defense system.

Each layer of cybersecurity adds an additional barrier and helps mitigate a specific type of threat. This multi-layered security approach makes it more challenging for attackers to breach the system as they would need to bypass multiple security controls to gain unauthorized access or compromise data.

Typical components of layered security may include firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, antivirus and anti-malware software, access controls and authentication mechanisms, encryption, network segmentation, security awareness training, regular patching and updates, and incident response plans. Let's delve more into that. 

What are the Seven Layers of Security? 

The concept of "seven layers of security" is often attributed to the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, a conceptual framework that defines how different network protocols interact and communicate. While the OSI model doesn't directly refer to security layers, we can adapt the idea to represent a comprehensive approach to layered security. Here are seven commonly referenced layers in the context of layered security:

Physical Security

The physical security layer focuses on protecting an organization's physical assets, including facilities, servers, networking equipment, and data centers. This may involve access controls, surveillance systems, secure perimeters, and visitor management.

Perimeter Security

The perimeter security layer establishes the first line of defense against external threats. It typically involves firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and virtual private networks (VPNs) to monitor and filter network traffic entering and leaving the organization's network.

Network Security

Network security addresses the security of the internal network infrastructure. This includes securing routers, switches, and wireless access points and implementing network segmentation, VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks), and network traffic monitoring solutions to detect and prevent unauthorized access or malicious activities.

Endpoint Security

Endpoint security focuses on securing devices such as laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and servers. This layer includes antivirus software, host-based firewalls, endpoint encryption, and vulnerability management to protect against malware, unauthorized access, and data breaches.

Application Security

Application security encompasses measures to secure software applications and prevent vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit. This involves secure coding practices, web application firewalls (WAF), application-level authentication and access controls, and regular security testing and code reviews.

Data Security

Data security protects sensitive data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. Encryption, data loss prevention (DLP) solutions, access controls, backup and recovery mechanisms, and data classification policies are key components of this layer.

User Awareness and Training

The final layer of security emphasizes the human aspect. Educating users about security best practices, promoting strong password hygiene, raising awareness about social engineering techniques, and providing regular security training help empower users to be the first line of defense against various threats.

What is Defense-in-Depth?

Defense-in-depth is a cybersecurity strategy that involves deploying multiple layers of security controls throughout an organization's systems, networks, and data to provide overlapping layers of protection. It assumes that no single security measure is foolproof and aims to create a strong defense system by combining diverse security controls that can detect, prevent, and mitigate a wide range of threats.

How Does Defense-in-Depth Differ from Layered Security?

Defense-in-depth and layered security are often used interchangeably, as they share a similar objective of implementing multiple security measures. However, defense-in-depth is a broader concept encompassing various security controls, including administrative, technical, and physical controls, to create a comprehensive security posture. On the other hand, layered security emphasizes implementing security measures in distinct layers or levels.

What Controls Constitute a Defense-in-Depth Strategy?

Defense-in-depth strategy includes a combination of controls such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), antivirus and anti-malware software, access controls, encryption, network segmentation, secure authentication mechanisms, security awareness training, incident response plans, regular patching and updates, and physical security measures.

What Might My Multi-Layered Security Approach Look Like?

A multi-layered security approach could involve a combination of measures tailored to your organization's needs. For example, it may include a robust perimeter defense with firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, network segmentation to isolate critical assets, endpoint protection with antivirus software and host-based firewalls, secure application development practices, data encryption at rest and in transit, strong user authentication mechanisms, employee security awareness training, and continuous monitoring and incident response capabilities.

What are the Most Important Components of Layered Security?

While the importance of components may vary depending on specific contexts, some crucial components within layered security include strong access controls and authentication mechanisms, robust network security with firewalls and intrusion detection systems, secure endpoint protection with antivirus and anti-malware software, encryption to protect sensitive data, and security awareness training to educate employees about potential risks and best practices.

How Else Can I Protect Myself From Risk?

In addition to layered security, there are several other measures you can take to enhance your overall risk protection:

  • Regularly update and patch software and systems to address known vulnerabilities.
  • Implement strong password policies, multi-factor authentication, and privileged access management.
  • Conduct regular security assessments and penetration testing to identify and address weaknesses.
  • Maintain proper backup and disaster recovery mechanisms to mitigate the impact of incidents.
  • Stay informed about emerging threats, trends, and best practices in the cybersecurity landscape.
  • Establish incident response plans to respond to and recover from security incidents effectively.
  • Continuously monitor and analyze security logs and events for early detection of anomalies or attacks.
  • Establish strong vendor management practices, ensuring third-party providers adhere to robust security standards.

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