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Why adaptive security architecture is essential for hybrid work environments

While businesses have previously thought of cybersecurity in terms of incident response, it’s increasingly apparent that organisations must adopt the continuous response mindset, typified by the adaptive security architecture approach, if they are to stay actively ahead of cybersecurity threats.

There are a number of reasons for this. In recent years, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart and wearable devices, and the evolution of digital technology platforms has required security to be more fluid and adaptive in response to technological environments that increasingly connect people, devices, processes, services and data in widespread networks.

Secondly, the 2020 transition to hybrid work environments by many organisations has come with additional cybersecurity challenges. IT departments are managing more devices than ever, while workers are accessing business data from a multitude of locations, networks and devices. When facing these new and increased security vulnerabilities, organisations need a strategic and adaptive approach to securing their hybrid workplaces.

“Whilst you can never truly mitigate all cybersecurity risks from your business, you can substantially minimise them with adaptive security architecture,” says Damian Huon, founder and CEO of Huon IT, a Kyocera Group Company.

What is adaptive security architecture

Adaptive security architecture uses a continuous monitoring and analysis approach to detect vulnerabilities, identify potential threats and improve systems before an incident occurs. In contrast, a traditional incident response approach to cybersecurity focuses on prevention and detection of issues and future prevention considerations after they have occurred.

The disadvantage of the traditional approach is that it fails to acknowledge that no system or network is foolproof, and security threats are increasing at a rapid rate worldwide. In other words, it’s more likely a case of when a cybersecurity incident will occur rather than if it will, so a proactive approach to minimising threats is more effective than a reactive one.

This is where adaptive security architecture is beneficial. Rather than focusing only on log files and security checkpoints, it uses continuous monitoring systems to study the patterns and behaviours of a network, taking into account the fact that environments develop and change over time. With this level of insight, intelligent and integrated security can be implemented to detect newly emerging threats, enabling your organisation to respond with the necessary preventative measures.

It should be no surprise that adaptive security architecture generates significant amounts of data. Consequently, artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine learning are key to effectively implementing this approach. AI and machine learning are able to analyse vast quantities of data to establish activity baselines for users and systems, therefore allowing them to detect anomalies and unusual behaviour that could indicate the presence of a threat actor or data breach. They also have the potential to learn from past threats and update security responses to make them more effective in preventing cyber incidents.

In a hybrid workplace, with numerous devices, multiple worksites and employees accessing business data in a variety of ways, identifying threats before they compromise your business is absolutely critical, as is continuous learning to improve security. By adopting an adaptive security architecture, organisations can benefit from:

  • Dynamic security infrastructure with real-time monitoring and response abilities

  • Threat ranking and filtering based on level of risk and frequency of occurrence

  • Reduced attack surface due to the adaptive security approach

  • Faster response to attacks

Four pillars of adaptive security architecture

According to Gartner, the four pillars of adaptive security architecture are Predict, Prevent, Respond and Defect.

  • Prediction involves assessing your business’ exposure to cybersecurity threats.

  • Defect includes risk hierarchisation and identifying vulnerabilities that are most likely to be exploited.

  • Prevention involves the isolation of different processes to reduce the potential impact if an attack occurs.

  • Response includes addressing an incident, as well as making security changes based on learnings from the attack.

These four stages work in cycle, constantly informing one another. As businesses adopt hybrid working models, they must embed these pillars into their organisational structure to keep it secure. 

Building a resilient and productive hybrid work environment requires the right hardware, software and processes. Download our Guide to Hybrid Workplace Strategy for a step-by-step strategy for implementing an effective hybrid work model that equips your employees to work anywhere, any time.