Thursday, January 27, 2011

Security Architecture – moving forward with an approach to outline a framework

It is a key success criteria in system development and architecture to improve and extend models, procedures and underlying frameworks. This is especially needed when it comes to cyber security of complex systems. I started recently to improve my framework for a robust security architecture. Many stakeholders tend to start with the details in such complex systems which may result in missing overall requirements and ramifications. Security in the scope of vast, distributed systems needs to be specified, designed, implemented and operated based on a solid framework – let’s call it a Security Architecture. I have seen many approaches in order to cover this tricky task. Many of them tend to be too complex. Unfortunately, complexity is not a driver for security (in contrast to simplicity). On the other hand, it’s a tough job to keep the Security Architecture for huge systems simple. Beside the need for a simple approach, transparency and clearness in the scope of Security Architecture are important attributes that should be addresses as key-objective. Security controls need to be structured and encapsulated in the relevant components of the Security Architecture in a clear and traceable manner. I prefer a structure consisting of the following main components:

  1. Security Infrastructure [ Communication and Network Security, Perimeter Security, …]
  2. System Security Services [ Access Control, Identity Management, Credential Management, Audit, Backup and Recovery, …]
  3. Application Security [ Operation Systems, Databases, Web and Application Server, SaaS, Enterprise Applications, Collaboration, and Messaging, … ]
  4. Service Security [ System Maintenance, System Operation, Change Management, Incident Management, Event Management and Forensics, Stakerholder & User Feedback, ...]
  5. Security Management [ Policies and Roles, Risk Management, Training and Awareness, Secure Coding, Design Principles, Algorithms]
The components 1-4 are the basic layers of the Security Architecture. A more vertical component is Security Management which covers and affects all the other 4 essential parts of the Security Architecture.