How to Build a Strong Enterprise Security Architecture Framework

December 19, 2019 Eric Dosal Eric Dosal

3 Min Read

The security architecture used by your enterprise is the basis of your cybersecurity measures—including the tools, technologies, and processes you use to protect your business from external threats. However, to get the best results from these tools and policies, they need to be part of a comprehensive enterprise security architecture framework that helps to define what all of these measures are, when/where/why they should be used, and how to integrate changes in the future so your organization has a solid and consistent security architecture design.

What is Security Architecture and Design?

A basic definition of security architecture and design is that it's a systematic approach to improving network security and mitigating risks. Security architecture refers to the systems, processes, and tools in place used to prevent or mitigate attacks. Design refers to how the security architecture is built.

Organizations of all sizes have a security architecture—whether they have intentionally applied a design to it or not. Having any kind of technology solution means having to consider your security architecture and design. If your security architecture and design is weak and has a lot of gaps, cybercriminals will have an easier time cracking your systems and causing damage.

So, how can you build a robust enterprise cybersecurity architecture framework that will stand the test of time? Here are a few tips to help you out:

Start with an Existing Enterprise Network Security Architecture

When in doubt, study what others have done to establish their own enterprise security architectures in the past. There are many different enterprise information security architecture frameworks out there that you can draw inspiration from—though you might notice that there aren’t any established frameworks that fit your needs perfectly, odds are that there are some that are relatively close.

In his LinkedIn article "The Best Framework for Security Architecture,” Senior Security Consultant Pascal de Koning highlights several different architectures and states that the key to finding the best architecture to fit your needs is “to determine what problems you want to solve with the security architecture” and to use that to “develop a security architecture that is effective.”

Basically, instead of using an existing framework as your “start to finish” solution, you can borrow elements of that framework and adapt them to your needs.

One example of a fairly comprehensive and robust enterprise network security architecture framework is the Sherwood Applied Business Security Architecture, or SABSA, framework. This framework uses a matrix along two axes to help businesses develop their security architecture.

One axis of this framework’s matrix establishes a series of questions that address the “five Ws” (who/what/when/where/why) as well as the “how” for different layers of the security architecture. The other axis of the framework’s matrix covers the context, concept, logical, physical, component, and operational layers of your security architecture to create a holistic approach to enterprise security architecture.

This matrix provides a pretty solid basis for creating your own enterprise security architecture framework and can serve as a wonderful starting point. Using this matrix, you can define the different components of your security architecture and contextualize them for your business’ needs.

Identify Your Specific Needs

The SABSA framework outlined above is meant to provide a comprehensive umbrella for your enterprise network security architecture framework. Tackling everything all at once might be a little too much, however. Trying to create an entire framework from scratch overnight is a sure-fire way to miss important details and ensure that there aren’t sufficient resources to implement the changes.

Rather than trying to fix everything all at once with a single framework, it can be helpful to identify what your biggest challenges/needs are and use that information to jump-start your security architecture design.

Here, performing a network security audit/assessment can help. These assessments can be used to identify specific vulnerabilities that need fixing so you can prioritize the most important issues that have the biggest impact on your network security and regulatory compliance.

This helps you focus your efforts and ease your organization into the changes so your security framework implementation can be carried out without undue strain on your resources.

Get Buy-In for the Cyber Security Architecture Framework from All Levels of Your Organization

One of the keys for any successful network security architecture implementation is getting buy-in to the program from people at all levels of the organization—from the CEO on down to the front-line workers handling their daily task lists.

In some ways, getting everyone in the organization to accept and align their daily work with your network security architecture framework can be more important than having the right cybersecurity tools and software programs in place. After all, one of the biggest threats to your business’ network security is the insider who intentionally or accidentally misuses their access.

Gaining buy-in from senior-level personnel and having them model the cybersecurity behaviors outlined in your security architecture framework can be vital for ensuring the long-term success of your cybersecurity initiatives. After all, if employees detect a double-standard (the old “do as I say, not as I do”) for the enforcement of policies outlined in your network security architecture, they aren’t as likely to keep following the guidelines set forth in your framework for very long.

Be Sure to Clearly Communicate Expectations and Changes Moving Forward

Communication is key for success in many business endeavors, and creating an enterprise security architecture framework is no exception. In fact, you could call communication a core enterprise security architecture principle because, without it, nobody is going to know what they need to do, when they need to do it, and what resources are available to them.

Being able to clearly communicate expectations helps you to ensure that everyone in your organization is equipped to follow your security architecture framework—both by apprising them of the requirements and laying out the consequences of noncompliance for the organization and the individual.

Need help building an effective enterprise security architecture framework for your organization? Contact the cybersecurity experts at Compuquip to get help and advice for protecting your business’ interests.

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