Community Blog The Evolution of Enterprise Security Systems and Best Practices by Alibaba

The Evolution of Enterprise Security Systems and Best Practices by Alibaba

This article describes the evolution of enterprise security systems, Alibaba's best practices, and the impact of cloud computing on security systems.

By Xiao Li, VP of Alibaba Group and General Manager of Alibaba Cloud Security Department.

In this article, Xiao Li introduces the development and best practices of enterprise security systems. This article describes the evolution of enterprise security systems, Alibaba's best practices in each basic risk domain of its enterprise security system, and the impact of cloud computing on security systems.

This article is based on a livestream presentation given by Mr. Xiao at the 10th session of the Alibaba CIO Academy's training on epidemic defense technologies on March 19: Development and Best Practices of Enterprise Security Systems.

1) Evolution of Enterprise Security Systems

1.1 Security Issues Faced by Enterprises

(1) Ineffective control of data breach risks
(2) Ransomware
(3) Content security violations, which seriously affect business continuity
(4) Internal staff, who constitute the greatest threat to data security
(5) Increasingly serious threats from high-risk vulnerabilities
(6) Increasingly serious threats from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which affect business continuity

1.2 Driving Forces of Enterprise Security Needs

Enterprises' security needs are driven by regulation compliance and threat defense.

(1) Threat Defense

In recent years, more threats and attacks have emerged as enterprises have transitioned to online businesses based on data and mobile devices. Security threats include data breaches and tampering, encryption by ransomware, threats affecting business continuity and availability, punishment for content security violations, and business asset loss.

(2) Regulation Compliance

Enterprise security needs are also driven by the need to comply with security regulations, including China's Multi-Level Protection of Information Security 2.0 (MLPS 2.0) and the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


1.3 Different Security Pain Points of Different Industries and Business

Different businesses confront different difficulties. For example, Alibaba's different businesses have different security needs and priorities, which determine the focus of their security systems. The security needs of Tmall and Taobao include privacy protection, business risk control, counterfeit product identification, intellectual property rights protection, and click farming prevention.

For Alibaba Cloud, which provides infrastructure products, the key risk domains for cloud computing businesses include hardware, systems, networks, and user compliance.

As the world's largest Internet finance company, Ant Financial prioritizes financial risk control, also called core security capacity building.

The focus and orientation of security system development vary depending on the business needs of specific industries.


1.4 Different Enterprises in Different Stages of Security System Development

The maturity of security system development varies from enterprise to enterprise, and is measured by considering three aspects:

  • Business maturity: Enterprises that are more online and data-driven can build more comprehensive security systems.
  • Security team accumulation: An enterprise's core security capabilities rely on the size and experience of its security team.
  • Organizational architecture of the security team: A security team develops internal influence primarily based on its organizational architecture.

1.5 Profound Technological Changes in Enterprise Security Systems Caused by Digital Transformations

(1) Migration of IT Infrastructure to the Cloud

In the future, all enterprises will fully migrate their businesses to the cloud. Cloud computing gives more users convenient access to computing resources through inclusive technologies. Users do not need to build or connect switches and can quickly obtain computing capabilities through virtualization and servitization.

(2) Internet-based Core Technologies

All industries can be empowered by Internet technologies. For example, a distributed architecture can extend the capabilities of a single machine, big data can be processed on the cloud in real time, and security capabilities can be provided as online services. Internet-based core technologies solve performance, cost, and even elasticity problems.

(3) Data-driven and Intelligent Applications

In the future, all enterprises will develop data-driven and intelligent applications. Data is the energy, power, and lifeblood of a business, while intelligence is the ability to maximize the value of data. When going through digital and intelligent transformations, enterprises experience profound technological changes in their security systems. For example, network-wide threat data is centralized to drive policy unification, automated feedback-loop response capabilities improve efficiency, and security integration empowers intelligent and proactive defenses.


2) Security Best Practices

2.1 Enterprise Security System

In terms of technical domains, an enterprise security system includes office network security, also called internal network security. Comprehensive technologies must be developed for the infrastructure layer, from hardware to systems to networks. As shown in the following figure, security is related to every technical domain and determined by the depth of each domain. A security system is a typical example of the leaky bucket principle. The most basic security weakness of an enterprise determines its overall security level. A security system involves mechanisms, processes, organizational specifications, products, and even operations.


2.2 Eight Major Risk Domains of an Enterprise

(1) Secure O&M

By integrating security with O&M, enterprises can manage security operations such as account permissions, software audits, access control, and vulnerability management in a standardized, process-based, and sustainable manner.


(2) Application Security

Enterprises can detect system defects earlier and reduce business risks by taking safety precautions throughout the software development lifecycle.


(3) Threat Detection and Response

To protect assets and comply with regulations, enterprise must promptly identify, analyze, respond to, and issue warnings on cyberattacks, web intrusions, ransomware, and other attacks.


(4) Identification and Access Control

Through centralized identity management, enterprises can implement unified permission management and access control for users, services, and resources.


(5) Internal Network Security

Internal network security includes security assurance for office network terminals, prevention of enterprise core data breaches, and protection against viruses and worms.


(6) Data Security

Enterprises can accurately identify data security threats through machine learning and prevent data breaches and ensure compliance with security regulations such as GDPR through encryption and decryption, auditing, and risk warnings.


(7) Business Risk Control

Through big data and intelligent technologies, enterprises can make their anti-fraud measures more efficient in key businesses such as user registration, operation activities, transactions, and credit auditing.


(8) Content Security

Based on the AI technology, enterprises can reduce the risks of violations such as pornography, violence, and terroristic content and significantly reduce the cost of manual review.


3) Changes Brought About by Cloud Computing

3.1 Off-premises Security Is Better Than On-premises Security

Cloud computing will bring major changes to the evolution of security systems. Most users have already seen how the cloud has changed the technologies and systems of entire enterprises. In the future, all enterprises will focus on improving their security systems based on cloud computing and cloud native capabilities.

In the cloud, cloud service providers hold the data of many business systems, which means cloud service providers must invest heavily in security. It has become a common consensus that off-premises security is better than on-premises security. It is important to build a comprehensive and in-depth security system regardless of whether the system is on or off the cloud. Compared with traditional data centers, public clouds provide security capabilities that will help enterprises reduce security incidents by at least 60%. Alibaba has been considering how to use its security capabilities to help the many enterprises it serves to build stronger security systems. Alibaba has many advantages, including superiority in security data intelligence and threat intelligence. We plan to provide cloud-based security products and global vulnerability management capabilities, many of which will be free of charge. Our goal is to help users improve their security through a cloud-based architecture and build their own security systems based on the extensibility of the cloud.


3.2 Cloud Empowers Enterprises to Improve Security Capabilities

As shown in the following figure, the cloud has many native advantages. For example, each enterprise needs a unified authentication and authorization system and can use virtualized network scheduling capabilities to implement omnipresent network access control and isolation measures on the cloud. All cloud products provided by Alibaba are integrated with security capabilities at the design stage, including code security. Products are launched only after passing rigorous security tests. In addition, our off-premises global data security system gives users more confidence in the security of their cloud data throughout its lifecycle. Finally, our global threat detection platform helps users better cope with threats by building a feedback loop covering detection, response, and defense.


3.3 Inclusive Security Is Provided to Cloud Users

To date, Alibaba Cloud protects more than 40% of websites in China. This requires us to possess powerful data capabilities, intelligence capabilities, and security capabilities. Alibaba provides its core capabilities and products in all security technology domains to Alibaba Cloud users to help them build safer enterprise security systems.

Enterprise security systems must constantly evolve to keep pace with constant business changes. Alibaba Cloud users enjoy the same level of security capabilities as Alibaba. Going forward, Alibaba will continue to build secure and robust systems to safeguard user businesses.


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