As more businesses get digitalized and heavily rely on data for crucial decision making, the importance of protecting the resources increases. The rising number of devices connected to corporate networks, users accessing valuable intellectual property via unsecured public networks globally, and the increased generation and consumption of data pose a growing security challenge for many organizations. Therefore, implementing infrastructure security practices will ensure greater work efficiency. This article will elaborate on the different levels of solid infrastructure security measures and provide the best practices and tips to strengthen your organization’s systems.
The Practice of Infrastructure Security is an Asset
Infrastructure security means the practice of protecting critical systems and assets against physical and cyber threats. It is the protection of hardware and software assets such as end-user devices, data center resources, networking systems, and cloud resources. To protect the organization, protecting technology infrastructure is a must as enterprises depend majorly on their technology assets to maintain operations. If this infrastructure is not properly safeguarded, organizations face the risk of unauthorized data breaches, which automatically lead to potential financial and reputational losses. Reports suggest that the worldwide average expense of a data breach in 2023 stood at $4.45 million, marking a 15% rise in three years. The study further reveals that 51% of organizations intend to strengthen their security following a breach.
Hackers and other malicious data-users are using highly advanced methods to target organizations of various sizes across sectors. However, one must understand that not all security threats have malicious intent; human error and natural disasters can also pose similar risks to an organization’s technology infrastructure. To ensure continuity of business operation, it is crucial to have a strategy addressing both cyber and physical security across all key systems and assets.
4 Levels of Infrastructure Security
Network security addresses the protection of the communication infrastructure, including data transmission, network devices, and protocols. The first line of defense, Firewall, serves as a barrier between an enterprise’s trusted and untrusted networks; for example, public Wi-Fi. By monitoring incoming and outgoing of the network traffic based on a set of rules, it only allows the traffic defined in the security policy to access resources on the trusted network. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), intrusion detection/prevention systems, virtual private networks (VPNs) are other such techniques to protect the enterprise network.
This level focuses on the safety of physical components such as data centers, servers, networking equipment, and other hardware. It includes elements such as fencing, surveillance cameras, backup generators, and secured doors. A comprehensive physical security strategy should include data recovery protocols, like offsite backups located in multiple geographic areas to overcome situations like physical theft, or natural disasters.
As data is generated and stored in multiple locations, protecting it becomes more complex. Data-level security focuses on ensuring the safety of the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data, regardless of its state — whether at rest, in transit, or being actively used. At this level, some common measures include URL filtering, anti-virus tools, sandboxing, secure email gateways, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools.
Cyber attackers can easily exploit the vulnerabilities that the outdated software posits, giving them access to IT systems. Safeguarding these software and applications involves implementing measures against potential threats. Some of the preventive measures include ensuring regular patching, incorporating API authentication and authorization mechanisms, conducting regular security tests, and implementing strict input validation.
Benefits of Implementing Infrastructure Security Practices
A robust infrastructure security system ensures:
Best Infrastructure Security Practices & Tools
- Enable Role-Based Access
Depending on the roles of individual users within an organization, it restricts network access. This technique first assigns permission to specified roles and then users are assigned those roles appropriately. This ensures that only the necessary users have the access to certain resources, reducing the potential risk of malicious data breaches. It also limits the number of users who can access specific information.
- Monitor Network Traffic
Regular monitoring of network traffic for unusual and suspicious activities is equally necessary. Potential threats and unauthorized actions can be detected in real-time by consistent analysis of the flow of information which will ensure enhanced infrastructure security. It’s a critical component that ensures both operational efficiency and data protection.
- Establish Security Compliance Standards
To ensure consistent management of security, implementation of clear standards will result into no weak links in the security chain. An organization much ensure that all security policies, procedures, and controls are thoroughly documented. All company employees must be aware of the compliance standards. Some specific set of regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR often helps in identification of potential threat.
MAINTAINING FIRMWARE, PROTOCOLS & STANDARDS
- Securing Business Data with Encryption
The initial line of defence is data encryption. Encrypted data becomes inaccessible and useless for hackers. Technology consultant and service provider suggests the implementation of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which would act as an added layer to your infrastructure security. This is particularly crucial for employees needing remote access to sensitive data.
- Regularly Update Backup Copies
Creating backup copies regularly that duplicate data, applications, and configurations are important to maintain infrastructure security. It acts as a safety net, allowing organizations to recover lost data from any malicious attack or potential risks. This technique minimizes downtime, enabling you to maintain your services and uphold customer trust.
- Implement Endpoint Security
This level means the protection of all devices connected to your network. Some of the solutions include antivirus programs, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools. These tools continuously monitor endpoint activities to detect, block, and respond to any suspicious or malicious actions. It further involves establishing policies and rules of access.
- Regularly Conduct Security Audits and Periodic System Testing
Regularly perform security audits with an IT Audit Company to detect potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities that could be exploited, taking proactive measures to address them. Systematic evaluating software, hardware, and network components ensures the resilience, security, and preparedness of your systems to face both current and future challenges.
There are several approaches including penetration testing, functional testing, and performance testing. Additionally, it’s essential to update testing scripts regularly to align with changes in system features and requirements.
- Consistent Cybersecurity Assessment
Cybersecurity Assessment Checklist is a highly essential tool for organizations, which helps in evaluating their overall working of cybersecurity and identification of potential vulnerabilities in systems.
- Developing Robust Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems
Firewalls serve as protective barriers between trusted internal networks and potentially harmful external networks. They analyse incoming and outgoing traffic according to preset security policies, deciding whether to allow or block data packets based on their source, destination, and type. Simultaneously, intrusion detection systems (IDS) continuously monitor network traffic, identifying suspicious patterns and anomalies that may indicate a security breach. Integrating firewalls and IDS provides real-time threat detection and comprehensive network visibility, ensuring the protection of crucial assets and data. This integration effectively reduces the risks associated with cyber threats and vulnerabilities, thereby strengthening overall infrastructure security.
While cybersecurity may seem complex, it is constantly evolving and is all about staying ahead of the malicious acts of hackers. With the surge of IoT devices and data on cloud services, it has increased the risk for enterprises, making infrastructure security essential. Only through secure practices can one truly mitigate risks and maintain an organization’s trust. As of 2023, the global spending on infrastructure protection reached around 32 billion U.S. dollars, undermining the successful role of infrastructure security practices in safeguarding organizations against sophisticated threats.
Ram is a Cloud Security Expert with 30+ years of IT experience, holding 26 patents in Infra, AI-ML, and Automation. He’s a Wipro Fellow, an Independent Consultant for Fortune 15 companies, and has won international awards for Automation. Ram’s cost rationalization work benefited enterprises like Citi Bank, Credit Suisse, and UBS.