Why a Layered Approach to IT Security is the Most Effective Strategy

Faced with rapidly evolving threats and a steadily rising number of attacks, life for corporate IT security teams has never been more hectic.

Phishing, ransomware, and malware attacks can cause anything from minor inconvenience to major and costly disruptions. Being able to identify them quickly and respond effectively is vital.

Security teams know that, unfortunately, it is not a case of ‘if’ their organisation will suffer an attack but ‘when’. For this reason, teams need to have in place a layered range of protective measures that both prevent intrusions while also allow them to be dealt with rapidly should they occur.

The rise of security analytics

Increasingly, one of the most important layers being deployed is security analytics. These rapidly evolving tools allow teams to rapidly sift through large volumes of alerts and focus their efforts on the ones most likely to represent a significant security issue.

The tools work by first constructing a baseline of what is deemed to be ‘normal’ activity within an IT infrastructure. Day-to-day traffic patterns are examined to determine what result work patterns exist and what actions are typically undertaken by staff.

This allows the tools to then spot activity that is outside this baseline. This could be a sudden transfer of large files to an external party or increases in internal network traffic at odd times of day.

The role of EDR, NDR, and XDR

As well as analytics capabilities, effective security teams will also have access to a range of other important tools. Each has a particular role to play in building a robust and comprehensive layered security solution.

One of the first many organisations consider is endpoint detection and response (EDR). This is an integrated, layered approach to endpoint protection that combines real-time, continuous monitoring with rules-based automated response capabilities.

EDR can help security teams spot unauthorised activity on endpoints and quickly take the steps need to stop an attack before it escalates. The tools provide a level of visibility that previously would not have been possible.

The next step is to introduce network detection and response (NDR) capabilities. These tools rely on a combination of non-signature-based, advanced analytical techniques to detect suspicious network activity.

NDR tools allow security teams to be automatically alerted if unusual activity is spotted across an organisation’s network. This could be anything from an initial intrusion to traffic generated by attackers moving laterally in search of targets.

The third step for security teams is to make use of newer extended detection and response (XDR) capabilities that are now on the market. XDR tools collect and correlate data across multiple security layers including endpoints, cloud platforms and networks.

XDR allows a security team to carefully analyse threats by making use of the rich data that has been collected. The tools provide another layer of security that can help to overcome any blind spots that might exist.

The importance of user awareness

A final important layer of security comes in the form of user awareness. Organisations need to work hard to ensure their users understand the types of threats being faced and their roles in preventing them.

Regular education sessions around issues such as phishing attacks need to be conducted to ensure staff are always on alert for what are becoming increasingly sophisticated attacks. Staff need to understand that all it takes is for them to click on an infected attachment or web link for the organisation to suffer significant disruption.

By focusing on each of these layers, organisations can ensure they have the best possible security measures in place and are well placed to ward off attacks. Cybercriminals are going to continue their relentless activity so taking time now to put effective measures in place is vital for all organisations.

Michael Bovalino, ANZ Country Manager, LogRhythm
Michael Bovalino
Michael Bovalino is the ANZ Country Manager at LogRhythm