What Is Enterprise Security Management?

With enterprises moving towards new technologies to minimize costs and optimize resources, they face increased security risks as cybercriminals adopt new techniques to target BYOD devices, corporate networks, backend servers, and more. As a result, it has become crucial for stakeholders to understand how to balance the security management landscape with enterprise operations.

Organizations need to place more focus on enterprise security management (ESM) to create a security management framework so that they can establish and sustain security for their critical infrastructure. Enterprise security management is a holistic approach to integrating guidelines, policies, and proactive measures for various threats.

Read more: How to Handle Security Incidents and Data Breaches

A Closer Look at ESM in the Enterprise

Understanding Enterprise Security Management

ESM pertains to all risks that may affect the core business of an organization. It includes failed software processes, inadvertent or deliberate mistakes committed by staff members, internal security threats, and external security threats. The concept also takes into account the following factors related to the security architecture framework.

Enterprise-Wide Compliance

The number of regulatory requirements can affect the end product/service delivery. The ESM framework aims to resolve conflicting business objectives, as well as fulfill regulatory and internal compliance requirements.

Business-Focused Outcome

In a standard ESM framework, security risks and company objectives drive the selection of security implementations. As it is a top-down architecture, it ensures the identification and control of all policies.

Clarity at Data-Infrastructure Level

The key challenge for the enterprise is to gain clarity and resolve conflicts pertaining to data privacy requirements, vulnerability vectors, and company objectives. The ESM approach to clarity enables the enterprise to gain transparency around the aforementioned, both at the infrastructure and data security level.

Transformation of Security at All Levels

ESM adopts the approach called “architecting a security framework at all levels” of an organization. It defines security capabilities from the governance level all the way through architecture, and involves planning to build, monitor, and deliver security within all organizational units, processes, and business functions.

Deploying an ESM Framework

All stakeholders will look to the CISO, CSO, or CIO to deploy and manage ESM frameworks, as well as the steps the organization is taking to reduce risk to the enterprise. How does a CIO integrate the ESM framework and cultivate a security culture that finds long-term success throughout the organization? 

The answer lies in adopting a strategic approach towards enterprise security management. The following steps should be taken:

Patch Management

Software vulnerabilities are one of the leading issues in the enterprise environment. Patches are additional code to replace flaws in software. Patch management is part of the software development life cycle (SDLC) and can occur in any primary process of SDLC.

The importance of implementing patch management as a part of ESM is gaining value, especially due to a plethora of exfiltration and data breaches around the globe. Scanning and updating patches to prevent and mitigate undiscovered vulnerabilities is important and requires security management at all phases: QA, development, staging, and maintaining strict policies to avoid any unexpected events.

Threat Modeling

Who might attack the enterprise? Is it only cybercriminals, or nation-states as well? What about company insiders? Start thinking about the list of possible adversaries and get detailed, without ruling out outlandish ideas your team may come up with. Threat modeling requires the following steps:

  • Identification of security objectives
  • Company-wide survey
  • Decomposition
  • Identification of threats
  • Identification of vulnerabilities

Typically, a threat model takes longer to construct, but a sample structured list can be followed. Usually, the model is based on the following assumptions:

  • Data validation may enable SQL injection.
  • Authorization may fail, so authorization checks are required.
  • SSL should be used as the risk of eavesdropping is high.
  • Anti-caching directives should be implemented in HTTP headers, as the browser cache may contain man-in-the-middle vulnerabilities.

Read Next: What is an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Attack?

Architecture Principles

ESM never assumes that developing a threat model can provide sufficient risk mitigation for specific threats. It aims to deploy multiple controls in order to prevent and minimize damage while an enterprise responds. Architecture principles in ESM include the following:

Security Resiliency

Ensure security defenses throughout the organization by strengthening the resiliency of software, applications, networks, servers, and systems to recover from unforeseen circumstances.


Security initiatives should be categorized into functional blocks, and organizational units will have distinct roles within each block to facilitate management and secure the critical infrastructure.

Regulatory Compliance and Efficiency

Industry best practices should be followed to achieve regulatory compliance. Efficient configuration throughout the infrastructure lifecycle and increased visibility will allow for faster troubleshooting, incident response, and auditing.

More on security auditing: Creating a Network Audit Checklist

Systemwide Confidentiality and Collaboration

Security controls need to include accepted levels of confidentiality, and effective infrastructure security will require correlation, collaboration, and sharing of information from all systemwide sources.

Risk Management

The compromise of R&D intelligence, customer data, and company secrets leads to the loss of millions of dollars in terms of trust, confidence, and monetary value. As such, enterprises must employ a risk management approach against targeted attacks.

Because conventional security implementations are no longer sufficient against techniques such as hacking, DDoS, botnet, state-sponsored espionage, and others, the latest ESM model includes the adoption of behavior detection and network virtualization to avoid becoming victims. It would be based on a custom defense strategy that utilizes a specific intelligence adapted to each enterprise and its potential attacker.

Additionally, risk management enforces stronger adoption of intelligence-based security solutions that are backed by reliable threat information sources. This will help enterprises to thwart attempts to vulnerabilities before patches are updated.

Combating DDoS and other attacks: Top Zero Trust Networking Solutions

MDM and Mobile Safety

With the inception of BYOD, many issues pertaining to data protection and control arise when an enterprise defines the lines between personal and corporate data. Other threats, such as data breaches through staff-owned devices and physical theft, are also an issue.

As a result, enterprise security management must address mobile device management (MDM) to protect enterprise data, devices, and apps. Administrators in the IT department should be able to centrally manage all device users from a centralized console, enabling visibility and increased mobile use safety.

SDN and IoT

In ESM, the security control layer needs to be centralized for different parts of the critical infrastructure. That is where software defined storage (SDS) and software defined networking (SDN) comes into play. 

These two software strategies have been separated in the enterprise environment over the years, but need to come together in the future to deal with cyberthreats. Increased unity can reduce the damage across enterprise operational networks and industrial complexes.

Also, whatever air gaps and network segmentation methods an enterprise may have employed, there will be instances where the Internet of Things (IoT) intersects the enterprise network, and these touchpoints will be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

In fact, IoT can exacerbate the problem to a point where it gets messy to control internal and external networks and devices, especially when users are using all kinds of devices to access enterprise data stored in the cloud, BYOD applications, networks, and other places. 

This means a hacker can get into a web-enabled device, and because of its connectivity with a corporate network, they can create a bridge to transfer malicious traffic back and forth.

These threats present an opportunity for enterprises to step in and implement security as a service in ESM for safeguarding those checkpoints and interactions, so the organization can continue to focus on gleaning security and corporate data.

Upgrading Your Security

The ESM market continues to change and grow, with a recent Markets and Markets study predicting a security and vulnerability management global market size of $15.5 billion by 2025. Companies will need to start investing to upgrade their security beyond checkbox implementations to achieve compliance-level protection. Enterprises keep IT security lean, in an attempt to cut operational costs.

ESM is a time-intensive exercise, and to keep every aspect of their company secure, organizations can’t afford to take any shortcuts. CIOs can use this information to make sure their organizations are adapting to the latest threats.

Read Next: Credentials are Hackers’ Holy Grail: Are You Doing Enough to Keep Them Safe?

Dan Virgillito
Dan Virgillito
Dan Virgillito is a security researcher at InfoSec Institute.

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