Many IT security teams that focus on preventing cyberattacks tend to adopt an ‘incident response’ mindset rather than a ‘continuous response’ as their adaptive security architecture. What’s the difference?
A continuous response approach assumes that all systems are potentially compromised and thus require constant security monitoring and remediation. Essentially, the traditional ‘prevent and detect’ approach to security is no longer adequate in today’s complex threat landscape.
Gartner’s Adaptive Security Concept
At Securus Communications, we support Gartner’s concept of adaptive security architecture and see it as a vital building block of a modern digital business. The digital business world is a complex integration of software, devices, people, and processes, which demands a continuous and coordinated approach to security.
In line with the continuous response approach, the adaptive security architecture model helps organisations classify existing and potential security investments, ensuring the approach is balanced. It requires organisations to evaluate their existing security competencies and liabilities to identify security deficiencies.
This article discusses the adaptive security architecture cycle as defined by Gartner, which comprises four stages or pillars that work together.
Adaptive Security Architecture Explained
Adaptive security is a cybersecurity approach that analyses behaviours and events in readiness to adapt to threats before they happen. An organisation can continuously assess risk and provide appropriate enforcement using an adaptive security architecture.
Consequently, moving from the traditional incident response mindset to a continuous response is becoming more and more necessary as security incidents are not one-off events.
Security teams must assume that the organisation will be compromised and that, while strong, preventive measures may fail. Continuous monitoring and alerting is the most reliable way of detecting threats.
Adaptive security software uses heuristics, which studies behaviours and patterns rather than simply monitoring checkpoints and responding to alerts. It is an intuitive intelligence approach that identifies cyber criminals’ techniques and uses that information to prevent an attack and respond to a breach within milliseconds.
Benefits Of Adaptive Security Architecture
Adaptive security offers several benefits over traditional security platform design. While you can customise these features to match the size and needs of your organisation, the following are some of the more important benefits to consider:
- Real-time monitoring and response. The real-time evaluation of events, users, systems, and network traffic makes immediate, dynamic, and autonomous resolutions possible.
- Prioritisation and filtering. IT teams can apply advanced analytics and machine learning processes to detect security breaches.
- Reduced attack surface. Adaptive security shrinks the attack surface and limits the damage caused by a threat.
- Reduced resolution times. Security threats are detected and handled quickly using a combination of automated and manual processes.
- Prevent data theft and sabotage. The preventive measures protect sensitive data from theft or corruption due to ransomware attacks.
- Recognise ongoing security breaches. The advanced analytics of adaptive security enables it to recognise new and ongoing security breaches in real-time.
4 Pillars of the Adaptive Security Model
Gartner identifies four stages, or pillars, of the adaptive security architecture: predict, prevent, respond, and detect. These four stages, along with security policy and compliance measures, create a system that can quickly find and respond to suspicious behaviour at the source.
The prediction component of the adaptive security model involves assessing risk, anticipating potential threats, and evaluating the organisation’s current security status to determine whether it can stand up against the threats for which you are preparing.
It reviews current security trends and analyses how they may impact your organisation. This phase provides the intelligence needed to predict future threats and prepare a response.
For example, the system may use Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) feeds to gather intelligence about external security events known to escalate quickly. This threat information then augments the detection and prevention capabilities of the adaptive security model.
This predictive layer provides your IT teams with alerts about external events occurring outside of your system. Hence, you are prepared should a similar attack occur within your network environment.
Monitoring hacking activities allows your security model to anticipate new attacks as they emerge and provides the intelligence needed to enhance any compromised security layers you may have.
Prevention entails preventative capabilities that allow enterprises to create cybersecurity defence products and appliances such as firewalls (physical or virtual), intrusion prevention devices and SASE.
Security policies, processes, and access controls are also defined in this phase. The prevention element integrates these risk-based security measures into an organisation’s digital framework.
Adaptive security should also review systems, patch vulnerabilities, and strengthen security controls. It needs to implement practical methods such as Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to reach a granular level of network access, prevent lateral movement in a network, and limit visibility.
Prevention at this phase will stop most cyber threats. However, the following phases are needed to handle more advanced threats like Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) and zero-day exploits.
The detection pillar of an adaptive security model identifies attacks that may have slipped through the preventative protocols. Detecting early reduces the time it takes to stop a potential risk from becoming an operational risk.
This detection component employs continuous monitoring techniques to detect threat incidents, plus any abnormal behaviour occurring within the system. IT security teams can deploy various dynamic tools to accomplish this, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.
AI allows cybersecurity tools to learn and adapt as they observe data signatures and system behaviour patterns. Such tools can analyse potentially malicious code, preventing it from becoming an actual threat.
With the response component, you build your processes and tools for how best to respond to predicted risks and threats, thus mitigating similar security incidents in the future. In this phase, your adaptive security system evaluates risks not captured by the other layers.
Here is where your team develops an incident response plan to remediate security incidents. Keep in mind that you’ll modify and adjust that plan based on the vulnerabilities you find through ongoing analysis of your current security plans.
Your security team can investigate and analyse each incident, look at related user behaviour and define the security response. The system gathers forensic information and your analytic tools to help with greater prediction, prevention, and detection.
Each investigation creates suggested countermeasures for improving security. Some examples include changing your IT security policy and configuration settings on your security solutions.
The Future of Adaptive Security Architecture
The adaptive security model is evolving to incorporate analytics and machine learning into its architecture to become more diverse and resilient. A cornerstone of the model is to assume something is wrong with the system and employ continual monitoring to find vulnerabilities and adapt.
Security analytics and machine learning are crucial to accomplishing this, automating many of these processes, much like an autonomous autoimmune response in an organism.
Because advanced machine learning employs AI to amplify this analytical approach to security, security vendors can now integrate security functions into single platforms powered by AI and robust analytics. For these reasons, adaptive security architecture will likely become the foundation of all cybersecurity solutions.
Today’s enterprises face constant security threats from both external cybercriminal attacks and compromised internal systems. Thus, organisations must be vigilant and prepared to do more than simply maintain current security policies. Enhancing and modifying those policies in near real-time to protect against emerging threats and then applying them across their enterprise is a must.
Due to the tenacity of cybercriminals and the constant evolution of security threats, organisations no longer employ only antivirus and other blocking mechanisms. The same applies to response measures that handle attacks as they occur.
While those elements are still needed, security teams must adopt adaptive security platforms that can adapt to the latest threats and use dynamic protection and response mechanisms. Their defence system must be able to monitor for existing and potential threats, deliver real-time feedback and quickly revise current security policies to protect enterprise networks.
If you would like to discuss your network security requirements in more detail with one of our cyber security professionals, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.