integrated security

What Integrated Security Really Means — and Why It Matters

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With the number of cloud deployments for any given organization increasing and a growing number of security breaches, companies are scrambling to secure their data, especially the data that they have stored on the cloud. Some companies attempt to do this by employing complex security and protection policies for every new layer. All that achieves, however, is allowing certain security threats to slip through the cracks.

A better approach is integrated security. The term may sound like a mere marketing buzzword, but it actually refers to a valuable and specific approach to security that saves time, maximizes flexibility and helps to address the ever-growing array of security threats that cloud-native organizations face today.

This article explains what integrated security means, what its benefits are and how to achieve it.

What is integrated security?

Integrated security is a security strategy that leverages a common set of configurations, rules, policies and practices to secure all of an organization’s workloads. In other words, integrated security provides a unified solution for every type of service that you run. That includes different types of cloud-based services, such as IaaS or a cloud-based container hosting environment, as well as on-premises or hybrid resources.

In this way, integrated security eliminates the cost and hassle of provisioning, managing and scaling security software for each individual workload that you have to secure. This results in fast and consistent delivery of the newest security technologies and updates.

To a certain degree, most security operations are integrated by default to a greater or lesser extent. For example, if you run multiple types of services in the same cloud, you probably use a common set of IAM rules to help secure them. However, this approach would not, on its own, qualify as a truly integrated security model. Rather than simply merging security configurations for overlapping environments, integrated security makes infrastructure-wide security integration a primary component of your overall security strategy.

An integrated security solution requires that an organization implement cloud-native tools that are compatible with whichever types of workloads and services it uses. The ability to monitor interactions between different services is also crucial.

I would recommend a unified protection system such as Twistlock that covers virtual machines, containers, serverless and more. A unified platform removes complexities and allows organizations to streamline processes and workflows.

The Benefits of Integrated Security

An integrated security strategy provides a number of benefits, as detailed below.

Proactive identification of risks

In choosing to apply multiple security solutions, companies are more likely to focus on detection and eventual resolution of threats as opposed to the proactive solutions offered by integrated security that can block threats from a wide range of sources, and combat them if necessary. When the constantly evolving nature of malware and security breaches is taken into consideration, multiple layers of security to tackle different threats becomes tremendously impractical. The best way for organizations to take on this issue is through proactive as opposed to reactive measures.

Scalability

Because integrated security models are based on a common set of rules that can be applied across an entire infrastructure, they are highly scalable, designed to scale as a company’s environments and architecture do. Even for models that do not scale in this way, it is significantly less complex to scale a single integrated security model than to scale many different ones.

The scalability of the integrated security model ensures that applications are safe and prevents a waste of time and resources by otherwise scaling multiple layers of protection.

Time and money

Integrated security models save companies time and money through automation of updates. Monitoring security issues from a single platform also reduces cost and makes for a more efficient system overall.

Future-proofing

The types of services and environments that you use today may change in the future. It’s hard for anyone (least of all security teams) to predict what these changes will look like.

With an integrated security strategy, future-proofing against change is easy. Instead of having to write a new set of security rules or deploy new tools whenever you roll out a new type of service or environment, you can simply extend the ones you already have to support the new addition to your infrastructure.

Conclusion

In today’s fast-moving, cloud-native environments, integrated security is becoming an essential component of a security strategy that is capable of protecting against all types of threats, and can secure any types of workloads an organization uses today, or may use in the future. Tools like Twistlock, which supports any type of cloud or on-premises environment and can enforce a central security policy across a wide infrastructure, help make integrated security possible.


Efua Boham is a third-year student at Ashesi University pursuing a degree in Computer Science. Boham is deeply interested in Python as a tool for global technological leaps in various fields. She has worked in the areas of data science, web development and software engineering.


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