Cybersecurity Mesh: A New Approach to Network Security

As organizations adopt hybrid and remote work arrangements and migrate their digital assets to the cloud, they face increasing network security risks and more significant complexities in protecting their networks. Cybersecurity mesh has emerged as a promising way to reduce the financial risks posed by current and future security threats. Gartner predicts that by next year, organizations that adopt cybersecurity mesh architectures will reduce the financial impact of security incidents by an average of 90%.

Let’s take a closer look at this new network security strategy and what it may mean for your business.

What Is Cybersecurity Mesh?

Cybersecurity mesh — also known as cybersecurity mesh architecture — is “a collaborative ecosystem of tools and controls to secure a modern, distributed enterprise,” according to Gartner. It decentralizes an organization’s cybersecurity tools by bringing them closer to the assets they protect. Rather than relying on the traditional security approach of erecting a single perimeter to protect an entire IT network, cybersecurity mesh builds layered security around each individual access point and device for more effective network security.

In cybersecurity mesh architecture, a centralized authority still manages all of the security perimeters, but security tools work together, rather than being siloed. This security strategy deploys four basic layers:

  1. Security analytics and intelligence: This layer focuses primarily on the collection and analysis of security data provided by various security tools within an organization’s security ecosystem.
  2. Distributed identify fabric: Another layer provides a security framework featuring decentralized directory services, such as adaptive accessidentity proofing, and user entitlement management.
  3. Consolidated policy and posture management: This additional layer configures individual security tools to enable consistent and standardized security policies across different security systems.
  4. Consolidated dashboards: This layer provides a single dashboard to view and manage an organization’s entire security environment.

These four layers create a data security mesh, working together to provide safe, authorized access to data from any access point by constantly monitoring where data is used, shared, and stored for every user and device in the network.

An Extension of the Zero-Trust Approach

Cybersecurity mesh is an extension of the zero-trust approach. In a zero-trust environment, any device or connection used to access a network is considered untrustworthy until verified by a security protocol. All-access requests are continually vetted. Least privilege accessmultifactor authentication, and user and entity behavior analytics are common strategies used to protect a network.

Cybersecurity mesh architecture employs zero-trust principles to strengthen an organization’s network security. Instead of trying to protect all network assets with a singular technology, it uses an integrated approach to protect individual access points.

The Move Toward Cybersecurity Mesh

The sudden growth in remote and hybrid work arrangements, the increase in cyberattacks, and the rapid adoption of cloud-based computing have combined to make IT networks much more vulnerable to data breaches, ransomware, and other cybersecurity threats. Traditional approaches to cybersecurity cannot effectively protect a network frequently accessed by remote devices and reliant on cloud data storage.

Cybersecurity mesh is also likely to become indispensable as the European Union and other governments enact stricter data regulations to protect user data from new threats arising from the use of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things devices, and other technological advances. Organizations will likely face steeper penalties for data breaches in the future.

The Benefits and Challenges of Cybersecurity Mesh

Cybersecurity mesh architecture provides many benefits, including:

  • Increasing the agility and resilience of a network’s security system
  • Providing a more reliable approach to managing access to digital assets
  • Improving and speeding up threat detection, as well as expanding response and prevention capabilities
  • Making available additional identity-proofing tools that better distinguish authorized users from unauthorized users
  • Ensuring identity privacy and anonymity by requiring a minimal amount of personal information
  • Offering better scalability for future growth

For organizations, implementing a cybersecurity mesh involves identifying their attack surfaces and then using a unified, centralized, and multifaceted system that protects all of their digital assets. Adopting cybersecurity mesh architecture comes with several challenges because it requires completely overhauling an organization’s approach to network security. The top considerations to keep in mind are:

  • Addressing time and cost factors when making the shift within an existing network system; incorporating a cybersecurity mesh approach when planning a new network system, such as when moving to a cloud-computing platform, is less costly
  • Developing a simple identity-based system that provides security while also enabling hassle-free access for authorized users
  • Making investments in training and support to transform users’ mindsets about security

Is It a Good Fit for Your Organization?

Developing a perfect network security solution may never be possible, but cybersecurity mesh architecture provides a flexible, reliable approach that can scale to keep pace with an organization’s growth and adapt to its changing needs. By creating individual security perimeters around all access points, it ensures that only authorized users and devices access an organization’s data and applications, while also enabling IT staff to manage access points from a centralized location.

Adopting cybersecurity mesh can be a challenge. Each organization has its own legacy systems, use cases, and data assets. If you have any questions about whether cybersecurity mesh architecture is right for your organization, contact us today for a free consultation.