January 2, 2024

Beyond Defense-in-Depth: Why It’s Time to Embrace Data-Level Security

As we enter a new age of cybersecurity threats, our defense practices need more than a simple tactical change — we need a strategic evolution that promises to streamline cybersecurity, reduce costs, and enhance protection. That’s why shifting from a reactive, perimeter-focused defense-in-depth strategy to a more proactive, data-centric security approach is becoming a matter of necessity.

Defense-in-depth has been the bedrock of our cybersecurity strategy for decades, providing a sophisticated, layered approach to security. However, this model is fundamentally reactive, and as time has progressed, it has become increasingly complex and siloed. Because the defense-in-depth model operates on the premise that breaches will occur at the outer layers, it demands multiple fallbacks. While each layer has its role, the complexity and isolation of these systems can create gaps that savvy attackers exploit — including both malicious and inadvertent risks from insiders, who represent an increasing threat vector today.

However, if data itself is our central focus, it becomes both the perimeter and the endpoint, behaving as an active participant in its own defense. When adopting this model, security measures are embedded within the data itself, ensuring that it remains protected regardless of its location — whether within the corporate network, in the cloud, or in transit to a partner site.

Envisioning data as the new perimeter means recognizing that data traverses beyond the traditional bounds of enterprise control. It makes its presence known in the cloud, across devices, and through various networks. By embedding security controls directly within the data, we create a dynamic, mobile perimeter that offers protection wherever the data resides or travels. This approach ensures continuous protection and addresses the critical pain points of the private sector, where agility and responsiveness to threats are paramount.

Simultaneously, viewing data as the new endpoint  emphasizes the need for protection at the point of use. Whether it’s personal information or intellectual property, the data endpoint is where the value — and the vulnerability — lies. By encrypting data, we ensure that even if it falls into the wrong hands, its confidentiality and integrity remain intact.

Acknowledging this, it’s time to recognize the role of data-level security in the coming age. This data-centric methodology offers a more streamlined and efficient security process, significantly reducing the need for extensive security teams and layers of protection. This approach also translates to a direct impact on organizations’ bottom lines — not only saving on costs but also on personnel and complexity, as well as eliminating the data silos that a conventional defense-in-depth approach inadvertently creates. These benefits are especially vital when the current cybersecurity landscape is marked by drastic increases in security spending  and a shortage of qualified personnel.

As the world shifts toward adopting a data-as-a-product (DaaP) approach to information, securing this product is paramount. This perspective is not limited to data-centric businesses but is a universal value across all sectors. A data-centric security approach is not just about defense but also about empowerment. This transformation anticipates and preempts emerging threats, such as those enabled by machine learning, and, in the near future, quantum computing, constructing a more intelligent, data-first line of defense.

The transition to a data-level security approach represents a strategic reorientation that can simplify, secure, and streamline corporate cybersecurity. It’s a shift that addresses the current landscape of threats and the evolving regulatory environment, recognizing data as the invaluable asset that it is. It’s time for cybersecurity leaders to align themselves with this shift, to not only defend but to empower data to protect itself and, by extension, the enterprises that depend on it.

About the Author

Jeff Snyder  is a senior advisor at BCE Consulting and a senior Sertainty Advisory Board member and cybersecurity expert, boasting over twenty years of experience. His career is marked by significant Cyber contributions to both federal agencies and the private sector. He has been instrumental in the strategic acquisition and growth of over 20 companies in the cybersecurity industry.

Additionally, Jeff is a sought-after speaker regarding a spectrum of pressing topics, from the ever-changing cyber threat landscape to effective threat remediation and risk management strategies. His contributions to the field of cybersecurity are not only a reflection of his deep knowledge but also of his commitment to advancing security practices on a global scale.

Jeff Snyder
Senior Advisor, Technology & Industrials Arlington
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