August 16, 2016. Technical Security Author: John Watkins

The IBM Onion of Security – It Will Make Hackers Cry! Part 2

In my last blog post, I shared with you my insight into the IBM Onion of Security – a particular way of looking at the concentric rings of security needed to protect your business critical information assets. In this blog, we look in detail the tangible benefits the IBM security solutions can deliver.

So, what benefits does the IBM Security solution bring?

Security in depth

The IBM security solutions deliver security in depth, no single point of failure will enable someone looking to steal business critical data and IP to succeed. In fact, it is possible (although unlikely) for several layers of security to be compromised and the attackers still not achieve their goals!

Integrated and collaborative layers

All the layers are integrated and work together. For example, if AppScan identifies a vulnerability in a newly launched App, rather than having to take the App offline, locate the issue, fix, re-test and re-launch the App (all of which could take weeks), the App can remain in place, with AppScan telling the Perimeter Intrusion Protection security tools to explicitly block attacks against this vulnerability.

Smart security

QRadar enables the onion to be smart. It can scan in real-time who is accessing the systems within the enterprise and what they are doing, identify attacks by recognising tell-tale signatures and block and remediate the attack. QRadar can also learn from historic logs and recognise and highlight previous attempts to attack the enterprise, and prevent future attempts.

Ethical Hackers improving the tools every day

The very highly respected IBM X-Force team of elite ethical hackers is constantly working to identify security vulnerabilities and remediate against cyber-threats - before they are found by the cyber criminals! This research is used to constantly update the IBM tools – enabling QRadar to be ready to detect and block new cyber-attacks before they are even launched!

IBM Onion of security

Full traceability and reporting

Today, it’s not just important that you are protecting your business critical data and IP, you also need to be able to prove that you have protected your business critical data and IP. The IBM security solutions provide full traceability and reporting facilities to enable an enterprise to explicitly demonstrate they have complied with industry standards and regulations. In fact, some of the tools, such as AppScan will allow you to test other Apps and websites against standards and regulations such as HIPPA, PCI, SOX, etc.

Protection from internal threats

The concentric protective layers of the IBM Onion of Security work just as well to protect the enterprise from internal threats, such as staff with a grudge or criminal intent; sadly a significant threat today and one that many other security product vendors struggle with.

COBIT base model

The onion agrees well with the COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) industry best practices in terms of the security areas that the layers of the Onion protects. IBM adds intelligence and integration to strengthen the COBIT base model.


As a final thought, the complete and integrated IBM Security Solution takes the pressure off an enterprise by avoiding the need to stitch together diverse security products and open source code (itself a major security risk) to create their own haphazard quilt-work security solution. The maintenance overhead alone is a nightmare, with component tools undergoing separate release-cycles with updates and new features, all of which WILL need to be re-integrated and re-tested to ensure that effective security cover remains in place! Leave just a single small hole in the quilt-work and the cyber-criminals are in!


So, let the hackers bite into the IBM Onion of Security – it will make them cry! Now, just where is my Security Top Gun cap; I hope nobody has stolen it!  


To find out more about IBM Security portfolio please watch IBM's Introduction to Security video from here. 

*** Stop Press ***

Fast Breaking News: IBM Deploys Cognitive Technologies to fight cyber-crime!  Following on from the success of the Watson Cognitive Computing initiative, IBM is now applying cognitive solutions (that is, computer solutions based upon the way “human experts think”) to its security arsenal – resulting in the promise of enhancing its security portfolio with systems that understand and reason about security threats, and which gain security knowledge by being able to learn by experience! This is a major leap forward in computer security, and promises to make life for the cyber-criminal fraternity even more difficult.


This post was written as part of the Arrow TESA Community. John Watkins is an Arrow Technical Account Manager within the IBM team.

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