Build for strength: Planning for a risk-aware secure architecture

Dec 14, 2023
Risk consulting Cybersecurity consulting

Designing, deploying and maturing a secure IT architecture that will scale and adapt with your organization is much like designing and building a home that lasts for generations. The architect and builders must consider a range of risks alongside the homeowner’s needs—or, in the case of business, your strategies, operations and goals. In both cases, the better the design and build, the easier it will be to stay secure, stable and cost-efficient for years to come.

Let’s explore more of the similarities between designing and building a secure home and architecting and implementing a resilient, secure technology foundation for your business.

1. Start with a risk-aware, business-oriented strategy

Where and how you choose to build your house makes all the difference in security and longevity: busy street or gated community? Vinyl siding or more durable brick?

Similarly, when designing foundational IT architecture that will grow and evolve with your business, every choice should be filtered through a risk-aware mindset that balances the need for operational efficiency with organizational protection. You must account for security and compliance needs, but also business opportunities with IT scalability, flexibility and agility.

2. Compliance and regulatory requirements

Building codes protect homeowners and their neighbors from future calamities caused by poor construction quality. Likewise, today’s businesses must adhere to their cybersecurity “building codes”: regulatory requirements.

Assessments and reviews by regulators can send you back to the drawing board. Following industry standards like the ISO27001, OWASP Top Ten and the NIST 800 series that were created to support secure web applications from the start can help.

3. Network perimeter

The first line of defense for any home is around the property line: a tall fence, locked gate and motion-activated lights and security cameras.

Your network perimeter is a one of many critical defenses against intruders, and it’s constantly expanding. From headquarters, manufacturing facilities, and retail locations to each device employees use for work from home or the road, your network perimeter needs stringent security.

4. Entry points

In a home, window locks, deadbolts and doorbell cams help protect against intruders that made it past the gate.

Organizations must also find and secure exposed entry points while controlling access to data and systems. Key to maintaining this security is an architecture built for automation and scalability with zero trust principles in mind, allowing your IT teams to keep up with growth—whether that’s new SaaS platforms, locations, partners or employees.


of executives expect unauthorized users to attempt to gain access to their data or systems in 2023

5. Protecting what’s precious

Whether a house contains a few precious items tucked in a safe or rooms filled with priceless artifacts, a good architect will consider additional security for those goods.

A secure IT and data architecture design also must account for the biggest risks to your organization to safeguard key business processes and your most critical, sensitive and regulated data. Knowing what is most important to secure is crucial for informing a more secure architecture design.

6. Cyber insurance

Every home with a mortgage must have insurance. If your insurer discovers you were negligent after filing a claim, there’s little recourse.

Due to rising incidents of cybercrime, cyber insurance providers are enacting stringent checklists to ensure businesses are performing due diligence. Those that stretch the truth or make a mistake may be denied a payout should a breach occur. In some cases, insurance policies are becoming so expensive that some companies are choosing to rely solely on their own security protections to reduce their risk instead of absorbing the high cost of cyber insurance premiums.


of respondents in RSM’s 2023 MMBI Cyber Report have a cyber insurance policy to protect against internet-based risks, up from 61% in 2022

7. Maintenance

Even the sturdiest homes need regular maintenance to keep them safe, from trimming foliage to prevent fires and changing smoke alarm batteries.

Businesses also must keep up with IT maintenance—such as patching technology assets and training employees on the latest threats—to stay secure. A well-planned secure architecture and engineering that utilizes solutions to enable security and compliance automation make this ongoing maintenance easier so that your environment remains secured.


Building a secure, stable, risk-aware security architecture takes expertise and careful consideration. Environments that are architected with vulnerability and threat mitigation as a key requirement reduce operational risks, are easier to maintain and more cost efficient, and will have the flexibility and agility to evolve with your business.

Whether you are in the planning stages or want to make adjustments to your current layout, working with a team that demonstrates the right balance of technology proficiency and business-oriented insights can create a holistic secure architecture that works for what you have today—and will adapt to whatever you may need in the future.

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