How Adaptive Security Architecture Can Protect Your Business

November 20, 2018


If there’s one thing we know about cyber security, it’s that cyber security is ever-changing. As the good guys come up with new ways to secure our systems, the bad guys figure out ways around that. It’s gone on this way for many years now and we expect to see that continue. Adaptive security architecture is a different take on cyber security, using an intuitive, multi-layered approach.

If we look at the human immune system, we see a complex system that is agile and a system that can learn. Your body reacts and responds to new threats, such as this year’s strand of the flu, through an involuntary system, your immune system. If you beat that version of the flu, you’re immune to it forever.

An ecosystem, in many ways, reacts similarly to threats, except in an ecosystem there are several components which do not depend on a single entity to survive. Feedback is critical to both of these systems and allows them to adapt, making them dynamic and autonomous. These systems have worked out pretty well over the last few million years.

The architecture of cyber security, in the past, was nothing like these biologic systems.

In the past, firewalls, software, and the like were in place, but they were stagnant. Your typical instruction defense system or instruction prevention systems were only as good as their last update. All of these measures were unable to receive feedback and adapt.

This architecture fed into the cyclical nature of cyber security that we’ve become accustomed to: new update, new threat, new update, new threat, and so on and so forth.

Introducing Adaptive Security

Adaptive security architecture is different. It acts much more like the biological systems discussed. Receiving feedback to increase the ability to respond to threats isn’t a new concept, but applied to cyber security, it’s revolutionary.

Adaptive security architecture does not rely on one single system or process; instead, it relies on a multilevel, around-the-clock monitoring system that is designed to evolve as cyber threats evolve.

Adaptive security is a security model in which security threats are continuously monitored to improve the cyber security measures taken. In other words, as the cyber security risks change, adaptive security changes right along with it.

Adaptive security architecture gains knowledge from experience, called heuristics. Heuristics allows adaptive security to study patterns of behavior (vs simply examining log files), as well as monitor checkpoints and respond to alerts.

Adaptive security is an intuitive, smart approach. This architecture identifies the methods and techniques used by cyber criminals, and uses the information to prevent an attack from occurring. This also allows for potential breach response to be reduced to milliseconds.

Why Adaptive Security

The greatest benefit derived from employing adaptive security architecture is the early detection of security incidents. As discussed, potential breaches are responded to within milliseconds. These responses are automatic and autonomous, stopping malicious events in their tracks. What all does this entail, exactly?

Data loss prevention

There was a time when simply losing your data could cripple your company. Not only making it impossible to work in the present, but setting you back months or years in actual man hours of work.

With data backups becoming more prevalent, the biggest risk with losing your data now comes with your liability for that data loss. If the data is confidential or sensitive, you could be responsible for making it right. This includes hiring tech forensics, lawyers, call centers, and more.

Containing the threat

When you detect the threat early, you are able to lessen the dwell time. The less time the bad guys are trolling your systems, the better. Containing the threat hopefully means no one was in your system long enough for anything of value to be taken.

Recognize ongoing breaches

You may be surprised, but in a lot of cases, cyber breaches happen months before any internal stakeholders know about it. The bad guys quietly enter your network and lay low as they start gathering information, making process changes, and so forth.

Typically, without decent cyber security in place, the victim never realizes a breach has taken place until a third party, such as a vendor, alerts them that a payment never made it over, or something similar.

With adaptive security, an ongoing breach will be identified and squashed.

How Adaptive Security Works

Not unlike other types of cyber security measures, there are four main steps to adaptive security architectures.

  1. Predict – anticipate attacks and malware through baseline security checks; assess risk-prioritized exposure
  2. Prevent – implement cyber security measures to harden and isolate systems to prevent security breaches to prevent attacks
  3. Respond – investigate incidents, remediation, create policy changes, and conduct retrospective analysis
  4. Defect – detect incidents, confirm risks, contain incidents

These four stages can be applied to all cyber security plans, but with adaptive security architecture each stage is fortified through the intuitive nature of this cyber security type. As with all security architectures, these stages should run continuously. You’re never done with cyber security.

Machine Learning and Big Data

The way adaptive security architecture works allows for your security measures to be proactive versus reactive. A great way to think about your cyber security is to assume something is wrong, even if you don’t know what. That mindset is how your adaptive security will stay fresh and proactive.

Your adaptive security architecture will be continuously changing, just as cyber threats are continuously changing. If you identify the weaknesses in your system early, you can fix them before a breach takes place.

Big data plays a pretty significant role in your adaptive security, on both ends. There are data centers, cloud architectures, and the like holding endless amounts of data. This means your adaptive security architecture can lean on this data to learn, understand patterns of behavior, and act accordingly.

However, big data is also useful for the other team. The bad guys are able to disguise their malicious activity as legitimate commands through these huge data centers and cloud storage. This is especially dangerous because server activity is incredibly difficult to detect.

Machine learning allows your adaptive security architecture to work through millions of logs per day to reduce the number of data analysts you need in order to run a successful cyber security team. Your adaptive security architecture learns autonomously from past success and failure to achieve higher success rates when it comes to preventing and detecting data breaches.

Adaptive Security for You

Adaptive Security is a robust solution. It incorporates your data into a variety of security measures, including predicting threats and ensuring comprehensive network and endpoint protection.

Adaptive security is a proactive approach to cyber security that takes the pressure off of your cyber team through the machine learning possible and the intuitive nature of this tool. Adapt to the changing threat landscape through your new-found ability to initiate rapid incident response in order to squash breaches before sensitive data is compromised, or, preferably, before they enter your network at all.

Adaptive security architecture allows you to classify old, new, and exiting cyber threats to your network and endpoints. This architecture will also ensure your cyber team transitions its mindset from incident response to continuous response. As mentioned above, this is the only way to stay in front of the cyber criminals who are continuously trolls for ways into weak networks.

When creating your adaptive security architecture, it’s important to approach your policies as uniquely as you approach your company goals. Your existing security investments, your data types, and your approach have been individual. Don’t let your adaptive security architecture be defined by what has worked for other businesses. They aren’t you and your team should be prepared for the unique challenges and needs of your individual organization.

The way our digital presence has been crafted creates complex systems where a one-size-fits-all security approach simply won’t work.

In Conclusion

Adaptive security will help protect your business as the next phase in cyber security. Unlike the cyber plans of yesteryear, adaptive security is built on the knowledge that your security measures cannot be stagnant.

Although this next phase may feel like just another step, it can be an end-all solution for your cyber security, if treated as an ever-evolving entity.