Cybersecurity Mesh: What is it and how can it be used in IT Development?

Updated IT News

As hackers continue to find innovative ways to exploit vulnerabilities, IT Security needs to become more modular.

The last few years has witnessed a dramatic expansion in the number and complexity of devices and processes connected to the internet – collectively known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

With a proliferation of devices and activity on the internet, the number of potential access points for hackers to steal data has increased too. As the security of an IT system is only as strong as its weakest link, this situation has produced the need for a new approach to IT Security.

This is one of the key reasons that global research and advisory firm (and major authority on technology) Gartner has included the Cybersecurity Mesh as one of its major tech trends for 2021.

Cybersecurity Mesh: Definition

So, what exactly is a Cybersecurity Mesh?

Well, as with many nascent IT concepts, its definition is neither simple nor precise – and instead refers to integrating security in a ‘horizontal’, distributed approach to a network, rather than a traditional ‘top-bottom’, all-encompassing approach.

While Confidential Computing relates more to the security surrounding sensitive data processing, a Cybersecurity Mesh is a broader concept that involves a wider network of nodes.

More specifically, a Cybersecurity Mesh involves designing and implementing an IT security infrastructure that does not focus on building a single ‘perimeter’ around all devices or nodes of an IT network, but instead establishes smaller, individual perimeters around each access point

The goal is to ensure that each access point’s security can be effectively managed from a centralized point of authority, while not providing access to the broader network should a breach occur on a given node.

In this way, the mesh can be viewed as a centralization of IT security policy, and a distribution of that policy’s enforcement.

Ideally, a Cybersecurity Mesh can establish a more robust, flexible and modular approach to network security. By ensuring that each node has its own perimeter, this allows IT network managers to better maintain and keep track of differentiated levels of access to different parts of a given network, and to prevent hackers from exploiting a given node’s weakness in order to access the broader network.

How will it affect IT Development?

Up until recently, most approaches to IT security have involved creating ‘walled cities’ around a network. Password-protected perimeters used to essentially allow devices access to the whole network, with permission levels managed internally, within the network.

A Cybersecurity Mesh approach involves a complete reconfiguration of this approach to IT security, and it can be more successfully attained if it is integrated during the actual development process of a network or platform.

For companies employing customized software or a website for employee management and communication and/or customer interaction, minimizing the risk of any given user’s device or access point being hacked and compromising the broader company network is of paramount importance.

However, as this approach relates to a fundamental IT security architecture that is best not applied as an afterthought, the developer team involved in creating the underlying network will be best off integrating a Cybersecurity Mesh during the architectural design of the network.

Similarly, companies should ask their chosen developer team about establishing a Cybersecurity Mesh for their IT project during the planning stage, and to ensure that the developer team takes active steps to mitigate cybersecurity threats on their own networks.

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