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Why Defense in Depth Works So Well

        posted by , February 04, 2013

You're on a battlefield. There's an impenetrable mass of troops in front of you. You can't possible break through it. What do you do?

Defense In Depth is an ancient military strategy designed to solve exactly this problem.

Hannibal, the legendary Carthaginian military commander, used it against the Romans in 216 B.C. The strategy was successful, Hannibal destroyed 10 Roman legions all at once. It was the worst Roman defeat in the history of the Republic.

Defense In Depth remains a critical military strategy today. It's also an important business strategy that has endless applications.

What Is Defense in Depth?

If you have an impenetrable mass of troops in front of you (such as 10 Roman legions) it may not be possible to cut through them directly.

Defense in Depth isn't a defense. It's more of a offense.

Engage the impenetrable mass of troops and then retreat. Get them to chase you.

As they chase you, spread out over a wide geographical area. This will break the enemy's logistical lines, exhaust them and break that impenetrable mass of troops into smaller groups.

Now that you've broken the enemy's mass, it's time to punish them with well planned tactical strikes. Strike and retreat, strike and retreat ... repeat until the enemy is in a state of confusion and panic.

How To Defend Against Defense in Depth

The main defense against Defense in Depth is not to give chase.

If you do chase, do so in a controlled fashion that doesn't break your logistical support.

When you give chase in battle, you should fully expect that it's a trap.

Defense in Depth in Negotiations

Defense in Depth is also a business negotiation strategy.

Let's say you're negotiating a salary with a potential employer.

You meet with your manager. Negotiations are tough and the manager talks you down to $100,000. Then the manager says, "just one final step I need to approve this with a director".

The director shows up and begins negotiations anew with the idea that $100,000 is too much. The director talks you down to $90,000. The director says, "just one final step I need to approve this with a vice president ... ".

Endurance and persistence is key to negotiating. By negotiating with wave after wave of fresh negotiators you wear the the other side down.

Defense in Depth is an adversarial negotiation strategy. It's not always a good idea to apply battle strategies to win-win situations such as hiring an employee.

In other words, it's probably not a good idea to treat a new employee as an adversary. However, Defense in Depth is a good negotiating strategy for adversarial situations.

Defense in Depth Information Security

Defense in Depth is recommended by the National Security Agency (NSA) as a Information Security strategy.

The idea is to incorporate information security at every level of your physical, network and software landscape (topology).

Information security defenses such as network boundaries (e.g. firewalls), authentication (e.g. passwords), authorization (e.g. permissions) and detection (e.g. anti virus software) is deployed in redundant layers of protection.

Defense in Depth is considered a basic principle of security.

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