De-perimeterisation on a business level can be simply described as the changes that stem from the natural desire of organisations to interact with the world outside their organisation. In a historical context the same desires can be seen in the changes that caused the dismantling of city walls over time, traders wanted the free flow of goods and information. To achieve this there was a shift from city states to nation states and the creation of standing armies, so that city boundaries were extended to surround multiple cities. (See Macro-Perimeterisation below)
In information security, de-perimeterisation is a concept/strategy used to describe protecting an organization's systems and data on multiple levels by using a mixture of encryption, inherently secure computer protocols, inherently secure computer systems and data-level authentication rather than the reliance of an organization on its (network) boundary/perimeter to the Internet.
Successful implementation of a de-perimeterised strategy within an organization thus implies that the perimeter, or outer security boundary, could be removed.
Origin of the term
The de-perimeterisation term was initially devised by Jon Measham, a former employee of the UK’s Royal Mail in a 2001 research paper, and subsequently is a term used by the Jericho Forum of which the Royal Mail was a founding member.
Claims made for removal of this border include the freeing up of business-to-business transactions, the reduction in cost and the ability for a company to be more agile. Taken to its furthest extent an organisation could operate securely directly on the Internet.
Operating without a hardened border frees organizations to collaborate, utilizing solutions based on a Collaboration Oriented Architecture framework.
Variations on the term
More recently the term is being used in the context of a result of both entropy and the deliberate activities of individuals within organizations to usurp perimeters often for well intentioned reasons. The latest Jericho Forum paper named "Collaboration Oriented Architecture" refers to the trend of de-perimeterisation as a problem:
The traditional electronic boundary between a corporate (or ‘private’) network and the Internet is breaking down in the trend which we have called de-perimeterisation.
Variations of the term have been used to describe aspects of de-perimeterisation such as:
- "You’ve already been de-perimeterised" to describe the Internet worms and viruses which are designed to by-pass the border using web and e-mail.
- "re-perimeterisation" to describe the interim step of moving perimeters to protection groups of computer servers or a data centre – rather than the perimeter.
- "Macro-Perimeterisation" the act of moving the security perimeter into "the cloud", see Security As A Service, examples of such security services in the cloud are exemplified by email cleaning services or proxy filtering services provided by towers in the internet.
- "micro-perimeterisation" moving the security perimeter to surround the data itself, interim steps might include moving the perimeter around individual computer systems or an individual application (consisting of a cluster of computers).
The spelling preferred by the originators of the term, and the spelling preferred in locales that follow British usage, is de-perimeterisation, with a hyphen and an s. In locales that follow American usage, the term is often spelled with a z instead of an s: de-perimeterization.
The spelling without the hyphen is also seen (deperimeterization or deperimeterisation), but is considered incorrect by the term's originators, the Jericho Forum.
- The Jericho Forum's Collaboration Oriented Architecture Paper Collaboration Oriented Architecture paper
- Joanne Cummings "Security in a world without borders" Network World 27 September 2004 "Face it, you've already been de-perimeterized. The question now is, what are you going to do about it?"
- Jericho Forum FAQ