How Trust and Security in the Enterprise Have Evolved in 40 Years

How Trust and Security in the Enterprise Have Evolved in 40 Years
The Dark Ages of Security
The Dawn of the Mainframe
The Introduction of the Perimeter
The Internet Creates New Vulnerabilities
Security Follows the Cloud
BYOD Exposes Mobile Security Challenges for Business
Security Evolves Along With New Application Architectures
Introducing the Internet of Trusted Things
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How Trust and Security in the Enterprise Have Evolved in 40 Years

As new technologies and movements have been introduced, security in the enterprise has changed—and that will continue into the future.

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The Dark Ages of Security

Even before computers, enterprises had assets to protect, some of them intangible such as intellectual property. Security and controls often evolved from the financial side of the business, and many of those controls are still relevant today. These include, for example, physical security measures, careful personnel vetting and dual control for highly valuable assets.

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The Dawn of the Mainframe

Early business computer systems ran batch jobs, typically on mainframe computers. All the computing assets were usually together in a single place—generally a "computer room" before we started calling them "data centers." Largely, the same types of controls were still applicable: secure the people, the room and the physical objects going in and out (tapes, card decks, printouts).

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The Introduction of the Perimeter

Time-sharing came along and, later, client/server computing. Users no longer had to be in the computer room; the systems could be accessed from anywhere. Perimeter security was introduced with protocols such as RADIUS combined with traditional data center controls; encryption was used to protect data for things such as payment card PINs and communication lines.

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The Internet Creates New Vulnerabilities

The Internet arrived in 1994, and with it perimeter security came into its own. Firewalls provided the network equivalent of the guard at the data center door, virtual private networks (VPNs) allowed the data center to be virtually extended, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) was created to provide a standard for secure communication and a universal trust model. Additionally, online access became increasingly important as a channel for securing and conducting business, not just internal employee access. But new attacks and weaknesses emerged as well. All those endpoints became new attack points.

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Security Follows the Cloud

Cloud computing emerged, and with it assets moved out of physical control of enterprise IT and into data centers, where they were mixed with those of competitors. Security of those assets depended on the cloud vendors. Identity became key to security and an attack point, through identity theft. Weaknesses were aggravated by the rise of consumer Internet usage (especially social media), enabling sophisticated attacks such as spear-phishing. As a result, ID federation was developed as a way to help manage large numbers of identities for users and to establish identity trust models between systems.

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BYOD Exposes Mobile Security Challenges for Business

Mobile phones evolved into smartphones, used for more than calls and texts. This resulted in an explosive burst in the number and types of endpoints. "Bring your own device" (BYOD) complicated the problem of securing these devices for enterprise IT (by increasing complexity while reducing control), and WiFi and cellular networks introduced new attack vectors. Encryption and identity became more important than ever, as well as improvements in mobile device security.

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Security Evolves Along With New Application Architectures

Application architectures evolved as virtualization developed. Virtual machines allowed for better utilization, isolation and management of server resources. Now containerization and microservices are a new approach for development, especially under continuous integration/continuous deployment. The application itself might be distributed, using smaller units of computing that can run anywhere and have a limited lifetime. As a result, security needs to evolve as well to focus on the workload, not just the infrastructure and people.

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Introducing the Internet of Trusted Things

What's next? The Internet of things (IoT) will cause another exponential leap in the number of networked devices, while adding new complications and threats. Application development will continue to move toward smaller, more ethereal units with event-driven computing. Massive scale in computing power and data storage will become routinely available, introducing both new threats as well as tools to help fight them. The race will continue, with the defenders continuously raising the bar as the attackers find new ways to jump higher.

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