Don’t Rely on Castles and Moats to Protect Your Data — Build a Healthy Immune System Instead

Have you ever taken a trip to Europe and looked at castles there? At one time, those beautiful, ancient relics were highly functional. Actually, for about 600 years, castles and moats were the absolute best you could do when it came to warding off invaders.

Of course, you don’t see castles being built today. Around about the 16th century, the development of powerful artillery made them passé. That didn’t stop people from building these fortresses for a long time, though; sometimes it takes folks a while to catch on.

You see the same type of thinking today when it comes to IT security. Most people are still stuck on a castles-and-moats approach to protecting their networks; just build thicker walls and deeper moats and you’ll be able to keep the bad guys out. But the bad guys aren’t playing along, and they’ve developed a more powerful arsenal.

Cybercriminals Are Ready to Invade

The bad guys look at those walls and moats and they don’t see deterrents — they see places to infiltrate. Those slim little cracks between the bricks in your walls? Those are doorways. Attackers know they only have to be right once to get in — and you have to be right every single time if you want to keep them out. So the IT walls and moats have become an obsolete way to protect your network.

You should think of your network more like a body dealing with infections. The body has its front-line defenses, such as skin, just as your network has firewalls and anti-malware programs. For many organizations, though, the entire defense is skin-deep; they count on this perimeter defense to stop everything.

But fortunately, your body knows better. It knows there are going to be cuts and scrapes and things are going to get past the skin. That’s why there’s an immune system — a network of cells, tissues and organs that defends the body against attacks. That is how your IT security should act.

A security system should function like an immune system for your network, where critical capabilities can interact, communicate, and integrate with one another across your hybrid IT environments
A security system should function like an immune system for your network, where critical capabilities can interact, communicate and integrate with one another across your hybrid IT environments.

Building an Immune System

When it comes to IT security, IBM BigFix with QRadar is a critical part of that immune system.

BigFix is constantly looking for cuts and scrapes. It places intelligent agents on all your endpoints — including servers, clients, point-of-sale systems, kiosks and ATMs — and even discovers endpoints you may not know about. Those intelligent agents provide continuous real-time data on vulnerabilities and ensure all devices are in compliance with security, regulatory and operational mandates. That’s how BigFix quickly knows if there has been a breach.

Using all that deep endpoint state information, QRadar correlates assets and vulnerabilities with real-time security data. This allows it to automatically prioritize all vulnerabilities based on actual — not potential — risk.

It correlates enterprisewide threats and detects suspicious behavior by checking to see if a program is interacting or communicating with anything it shouldn’t. It communicates all this information back to BigFix, which can start remediation immediately and automatically if needed, just like your immune system’s built-in response of sending white blood cells to the spot where an infection has occurred.

The castle-and-moat mentality may have been simpler, but that also made it more vulnerable. Once you can treat the threat from the outside and inside with prevention and remediation, you’ll be prepared to stop the bad guys of the modern age.

Read the “Endpoint Platform for Organizations of Every Size” White paper

Read the “Proactive Response to Today’s Advanced Persistent Threats” White paper

Mitch Mayne

Marketing and Communication, IBM

Mitch leads the communication, branding and content marketing agenda as part of IBM Security's Business Unit. Mitch has over a decade of experience leading technology marketing and communication efforts and writes about technology from a non-technical angle--translating deep technical content into consumable information for the business user. Mitch's expertise includes software, services, business partners, social media and platforms, and corporate brand design and integration. He holds a Masters Degree in Communication and Media from Stanford University.