Even before the global pandemic, businesses were pivoting to allow for more remote work arrangements. Advancing technology and evolving workplace cultures made it easier than ever to work away from the office, and COVID-19 certainly pushed companies to embrace remote work options. While there are numerous benefits to remote work, its proliferation brings heightened information security risks.
Now is an excellent time to reexamine your company’s overarching cybersecurity strategy and consider a security model that is better suited for employees who are not physically in an office location for the entirety of their workweek. Zero Trust, a security model rooted in the principle of “never trust, always verify,” is proving to be a pragmatic, effective choice for IT cybersecurity strategies.
Defining Zero Trust
Zero Trust maintains strict access controls, not trusting anyone by default – even those already inside the network perimeter. This is different from traditional network security that trusts users after they provide verification. The Zero Trust security model is designed to protect modern digital environments by leveraging network segmentation, preventing lateral movement, providing Layer 7 threat prevention, and simplifying granular user-access control.
Benefits of Zero Trust for Modern Environments
Modern work environments need modern security solutions. Zero Trust is essentially a borderless security model, making it ideal for companies with employees working from home or across the globe. Some benefits include:
By constantly validating that the user and the device should have access and privileges, networks are protected from malicious internal attacks. Users, even those who aren’t malicious, won’t have wide-reaching and unnecessarily risky access as they are only allowed least-privilege lateral movement. Zero Trust is also set up to continually monitor and vet users and devices, which helps IT teams detect intruders quickly.
Collecting data on every access attempt improves the user experience while providing companies with instant risk assessments. User attributes such as identity, location, device, firmware and OS versions, and incident detections are used to allow or deny network access and assign privilege levels. The experience is improved for the user by only giving them access to what they need and not getting bogged down by security protocols. For IT teams, the information collected instantly identifies users whose attributes allow them to connect to network assets, blocking the rest. This helps limit a compromised device or login from wreaking greater havoc within the network.
Zero Trust’s preventative measures deter malicious attacks and limit access if a breach should occur. Companies are constantly expanding their infrastructures and changing network perimeters. Even if attacks come from an internal user, Zero Trust’s network segmentation and restricted access will minimize a security breach’s potential damage.
Steps for Implementing a Zero Trust Approach
To implement a Zero Trust security model, you must first assess the data, applications, assets, and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions that need to be protected. Next, use a directory of assets to create a map of transaction flows and which users need which level of access. Once the assessment and directory are complete, you can choose which preventative measures to use to deter attacks and security breaches. These can include multifactor identification, microsegmentation to prevent unauthorized lateral movement, or the aforementioned least-privilege access.
While there are some challenges to implementing the Zero Trust model – including handling of legacy tools – this solution will become increasingly popular for IT cybersecurity in an age where employees are frequently accessing applications and networks from remote locations.
Where Can I Learn More?
For more information on how the Zero Trust security model can help manage cybersecurity risks for your business, please contact a member of our team.
Published on April 13, 2021