Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to footer

With the current trend of digital acceleration and hybrid workforces, many resources, including staff, are located and operating outside of what can be considered traditional network infrastructure. The big challenge now facing organizations and employees is the rate at which digital transformation is accelerating and increasing the risks and complexity of securing the expanded attack surface.

What we knew as the traditional network perimeter is now spread across a diverse network infrastructure, encompassing edge computing devices, remote machines and their users, cloud technologies, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

The Gartner® Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022: Cybersecurity Mesh report states that new attack surfaces have opened up due to a pandemic-inspired shift to remote work. Remote staff members, edge computing devices, virtual networks, IoT technologies, and other facets of digital transformation demand flexible and scalable security strategies. The answer to this problem is a broad, integrated, and automated cybersecurity mesh architecture. 

So what is cybersecurity mesh?

Cybersecurity Mesh 2022: Definition

Gartner defines cybersecurity mesh architecture as  “a composable and scalable approach to extending security controls, even to widely distributed assets. Its flexibility is especially suitable for increasingly modular approaches consistent with hybrid multicloud architectures. CSMA enables a more composable, flexible and resilient security ecosystem. Rather than every security tool running in a silo, a cybersecurity mesh enables tools to interoperate through several supportive layers, such as consolidated policy management, security intelligence and identity fabric.”

Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture

Cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA) advocates interoperability and coordination between individual security products, resulting in a more integrated security policy. This bolsters the security of an organization by protecting individual endpoints, instead of attempting to protect all assets with a singular technology. CSMA is designed to help an organization move away from obsolete standalone systems and toward an integrated approach. How is this accomplished? According to Gartner:

  1. CSMA creates a means for individual security services to communicate and integrate, creating a more dynamic environment for security across the network.
  2. CSMA makes your organization’s security posture more agile. As increased digitization takes place, CSMA solutions offer a more scalable and flexible security response.
  3. CSMA improves your defensive posture by facilitating collaboration between analytical and integrated security tools. This greatly enhances your response to attacks and breaches.
  4. CSMA creates an environment in which cybersecurity technology can be rapidly deployed and conveniently maintained. It minimizes investments in situation-specific security solutions for which you may only have a temporary need, freeing up your assets, whether financial, technological, or personnel-related, for more critical operations.

Cybersecurity professionals offer consultation, implementation, and management of a cybersecurity mesh strategy as part of managed IT services. A solution such as Fortinet Security Fabric and Managed IT Services can streamline your adoption of cybersecurity mesh, making the onboarding process seamless and efficient.

Why Enterprises Need Cybersecurity Mesh

According to Fortune Business Insightes, the global cybersecurity market is projected to grow to over USD $375 Billion by 2029. Enterprise resources are more and more likely to be located outside of an organization’s localized security perimeter, and growth trends indicate that businesses of all sizes need to be agile enough to expand rapidly at scale without compromising network security.

As organizations grow beyond a physical location, each node becomes a potential access point that can be exploited to compromise the whole network. Hackers increasingly use these vulnerable access points to deploy cyberattacks such as ransomware and other forms of malware. Losses due to such attacks are estimated to be around $6 trillion per year and rising.

Cybersecurity mesh is the most practical and adaptable approach for dealing with these threats in an enterprise-level organization. It extends security across your entire architecture, making it possible to secure all systems and points of access with a single, unified set of technologies. Further, because it is driven by the most recent threat intelligence, a cybersecurity mesh can evolve as new threats emerge.

In addition to security, enterprises need cybersecurity mesh to facilitate core business initiatives, including:

  1. Using third-party apps and services. Part of strengthening the core of an organization’s business is integrating third-party applications and services. In this way, the distributed nature of cybersecurity mesh allows companies to increase market share and engage consumers more rapidly while minimizing their security investments. 
  2. Establishing new distribution channels. Third-party partnerships often lead to new channels for the distribution of products and services. Deploying individual security tools to protect the architecture needed to support new distribution channels can be costly and complicated. Using a cybersecurity mesh approach eliminates some of the cost and complexity. 
  3. Launching new initiatives. Agile businesses may see opportunities to launch new initiatives that involve additions to their network infrastructure. This requires the kind of flexibility you get with a cybersecurity mesh.

Applications of Cybersecurity Mesh

There are numerous applications of cybersecurity mesh, resulting in increased flexibility, adaptability, and an overall stronger security posture for an organization. For example, using this strategy in IT development enables an organization to centralize its security policy management. As a result, they have a modular system that can be applied to multiple architectures simultaneously. This supports both agility and scalability.

CSMA also provides an opportunity to take your security infrastructure to the next level by integrating it with your network. In this way, you have tools protecting all communications coming to and going from your networks, making your network inherently safer. This allows you to:

  1. Prepare for the future. Your organization can be positioned to respond to future security risks by selecting cybersecurity technologies that facilitate integration. For example, there are plug-in application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow customization and extensions, as well as extensible analytics.
  2. Close the gaps. Using current and emerging security standards, you can close any security gaps due to weaknesses and vulnerabilities in different solutions.
  3. Make the most of CSMA layers. Be sure to make the most of CSMA’s supportive layers, such as security analytics, identity fabric, policy management, and integrated dashboards. When combined into a single, overarching solution, these can give you an end-to-end, comprehensive security package.

The 4 Layers of Cybersecurity Mesh

Adopting a cybersecurity mesh strategy has distinct advantages, specifically scalability, composability, and interoperability. For new developments, this strategy changes the approach to designing and building the network infrastructure. For existing networks, evolving to a new strategy may mean significant adjustments to the infrastructure at first, but the benefits justify the cost. 

According to Gartner, CSMA provides four foundational layers that allow for an agile and adaptable response to modern integration and security challenges. 

1. Security Analytics and Intelligence

Centralized administration means that vast amounts of data can be collected, consolidated, and analyzed in real-time at a central location. This improves your risk analysis capabilities, threat response time, and mitigation of attacks. CSMA “combines the data and lessons from other security tools, and provides analyses of threats and triggers appropriate responses.”

2. Distributed Identity Fabric

This layer “provides capabilities such as directory services, adaptive access, decentralized identity management, identity proofing and entitlement management.”

3. Consolidated Policy and Posture Management

CSMA “can translate a central policy into the native configuration constructs of individual security tools or, as a more advanced alternative, provide dynamic runtime authorization services,” ensuring IT teams can more effectively identify compliance risks and misconfiguration issues. 

4. Consolidated Dashboards

CSMA “offers a composite view into the security ecosystem, enabling security teams to respond more quickly and more effectively to security events” to deploy the appropriate responses. 

Digital Security, everywhere you need it

How To Simplify Security With Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture

Download the Checklist

Key Considerations When Adopting Cybersecurity Mesh

With so many advantages to the cybersecurity mesh approach, it is clear to see why this strategy is being adopted by more and more organizations. So why should you consider this approach for your organization? First, consider the following statistics:

  1. Vulnerability. There has been a 600% increase in phishing schemes over the past couple of years, and ransomware attacks occur every 11 seconds. This exposes the reality that current IT systems are vulnerable. In addition to existing vulnerabilities, there is the threat of a zero-day attack, an attack by a method previously unknown. 2021 broke records for zero-day attacks, with 66 zero days, more than double those in 2020. The cybersecurity mesh approach helps to reduce these vulnerabilities significantly and prepare an organization’s security infrastructure for zero-day attacks. 
  2. Cost. The cost of ransomware attacks alone is about $6 trillion annually, and the cost of cybercrime attacks is on the rise at about 15% per year. Digital transformation incurs its own cost, too, especially if an organization’s infrastructure or architecture has to be redesigned. But the reduction in costly attacks and company downtime realized by leveraging cybersecurity mesh far outweighs any initial cost.
  3. Migration. Meeting the needs of clients and consumers has caused an accelerated shift to cloud computing platforms. However, it can also result in breaches. Cybersecurity mesh enables migration by providing flexible and scalable protection for cloud computing environments.

These factors highlight the need for cybersecurity mesh, but there are other factors that make the cybersecurity mesh option attractive:

  1. Ease of implementation. Digitalization has accelerated exponentially in recent years. This rate of growth can render traditional security models top-heavy and cumbersome. Cybersecurity mesh is uniquely suited to make design, deployment, and maintenance simple and efficient.
  2. Practicality. Cloud-based applications, distributed data, and uncontrolled devices all complicate traditional security policies and techniques. Therefore, a cybersecurity mesh strategy is a more practical model for dealing with components of an organization’s digital assets that lie outside the traditional network perimeter.
  3. Agility. The nature of the cybersecurity mesh approach is that it makes an organization’s response to security and expansion more agile. Nodes can be added or removed with relative ease, new locations can be monitored and controlled from a central control point, and threat response and mitigation can more easily mitigate an attack.

Digital Transformation That Highlight the Need for Cybersecurity Mesh

The acceleration of digital transformation and innovation has caused a whirlwind of evolution in the cyber needs of organizations of various sizes. Keeping up with existing threats and preparing for zero-day threats has become more complex and challenging. As a result, an organization must unify its protection tools so they cover all access and endpoints. With cybersecurity mesh, security policies can be applied to all segments of your environment.

Firewalls and network control tools ensure that a particular area is independently safe and not a threat to the rest of the infrastructure. Cybersecurity controls can be delivered and managed through the cloud from a single control point. By centralizing controls in this way, an organization can reduce their IT staff expenditure, including the workstations they would need to manage disparate solutions. Additionally, you can use one control center—managed by a single individual or small team.

How Fortinet Can Help

Fortinet Security Fabric is designed to manage the entire digital attack surface—while reducing risk by eliminating vulnerabilities and gaps in security. It automates much of the mesh, reducing complexity while increasing speed and efficiency. The Fortinet Security Fabric offers security-driven networking, zero-trust access, and an adaptive cloud security, helping your organization efficiently scale to an ever-changing digital landscape.

Please read our solution brief Making Cybersecurity Mesh Architectures a Reality with FSF.

FAQs

What is a cybersecurity mesh?

Gartner defines cybersecurity mesh architecture as “a composable and scalable approach to extending security controls, even to widely distributed assets. Its flexibility is especially suitable for increasingly modular approaches consistent with hybrid multicloud architectures. CSMA enables a more composable, flexible and resilient security ecosystem. Rather than every security tool running in a silo, a cybersecurity mesh enables tools to interoperate through several supportive layers, such as consolidated policy management, security intelligence and identity fabric.”

What are the three advantages of cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity secures a system against viruses, worms, spyware, and other unwanted programs. It offers protection against data theft and maintains the privacy of users.

What is cybersecurity mesh by Gartner?

Cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA) is a security approach proposed by Gartner and is an architectural concept that advocates interoperability and coordination between individual security products, resulting in a more integrated security policy.

How do you implement a cybersecurity mesh?

Implementing a cybersecurity mesh involves identifying your attack surfaces, then using a unified, centralized, and multi-faceted system that protects all of your digital assets.