Building components with an autonomous posture is a core element of good software and systems engineering, but it also provides essential security benefits as well. Autonomous posture means that components are loosely coupled, where actions of one component, doesn’t have a strict, deterministic effect on another component. Components don’t order other components to do anything, rather they ask components to do something. That component may choose to not do what is asked. This ability to choose is the essence of autonomy.
Components interact with each other, but their essential functionality will not be impaired if another component fails or misbehaves in some way. Autonomous posture is the opposite of tightly coupled, or brittle, systems where each component relies on other components for its operations, and any failure of another component will cause the first component to work improperly or stop working altogether. In brittle systems, one component has control authority over another component.
Autonomous poster, when applied to cybersecurity, aids in isolating a compromised component from other components in a system. Unintended behavior in the component compromised by the attacker will not affect the essential behavior of other components. Furthermore, the use of secure communications will create components that are isolated from each other in terms of cybersecurity, as the communications to each component is independent of other components. Indeed, the attacker will need to compromise each component individually, as if starting a new attack, if the attacker wishes to expand the attack beyond the initial component.