To an outside observer, it may seem that the tech industry is constantly inventing new buzzwords (think cloud, big data, artificial intelligence, automation, and so on) to force innovation for the sake of innovation.
In reality, IT buzzwords typically describe emerging technologies and practices that address real-world issues experienced by a large number of organizations. The inefficiency of traditional perimeter security is certainly among the most pressing issues all organizations that have embraced the hybrid work model and invested in digital transformation are experiencing these days.
Zero Trust Security, also referred to as the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), is a security model that promises to help organizations grow by protecting them from all inside and outside threats by completely eliminating the concept of trust.
What Is Zero Trust Security?
TechTarget defines Zero Trust Security as a “security framework that fortifies the enterprise by removing implicit trust and enforcing strict user and device authentication throughout the network.”
But wait—don’t most organizations already require users and devices to authenticate before allowing them to access their networks, applications, and data? Not always, and that’s the chief problem that Zero Trust Security is trying to address.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many employees were forced to leave their offices and connect to their workstations remotely over a VPN. While it’s a common practice to authenticate VPN connections, such authentications typically happen just once.
What if a cybercriminal gains control over a remote employee’s device and hijacks an active VPN connection? If the employee’s organization is relying on traditional perimeter security, then the cybercriminal will very likely have unrestricted access to the entire network, allowing them to steal sensitive data, install a backdoor, or perform other nefarious acts.
The same wouldn’t be possible with Zero Trust Security because the framework stands on the following key principles:
- Granular access control: Zero Trust Security reduces the risk of privileged account abuse by advocating just-in-time and just-enough-access (JIT/JEA) security technologies to give human and non-human users the least amount of elevated privileged access necessary to perform a task.
- Context-aware authentication: Just like you wouldn’t let a complete stranger explore your office even if the person had the right key to it, Zero Trust Security stops potentially malicious devices from being authenticated by taking into consideration a variety of different attributes, such as location, patch levels, and firmware versions, just to name a few.
- Blast radius reduction: The worst cyber attacks go undiscovered for a long time, so it makes sense to always assume a breach and attempt to minimize its blast radius using automated threat detection and response, continuous monitoring, end-to-end encryption, and other techniques.
Different descriptions of Zero Trust Security highlight different key principles, but the three described above can be identified in most real-world deployments of the framework.
Why Should My Organization Embrace Zero Trust Security?
Before moving forward with the implementation of the Zero Trust Security framework to improve the cybersecurity posture of your organization, all senior decision-makers should understand why traditional perimeter security doesn’t cut it anymore in 2022, and the castle-and-moat analogy can make this task easier.
Back when all employees were regularly gathering in the same office to work using the same desktop computers connected to a single network, it was fairly easy for organizations to build defenses around their networks using tools like firewalls and antivirus software.
But if the average modern organization were a castle, then there wouldn’t be any moat around it. Employees now work from a variety of different locations, and they are sometimes allowed to use their personal devices for work-related purposes.
What’s more, business data is spread across different public and private clouds. All this makes it impossible for organizations to build moats around their networks, which is where Zero Trust Security comes in.
How to Get Started with Zero Trust Security?
To get started on your Zero Trust Security journey, you need to have a good understanding of your castle. Create an inventory of all IT assets and determine how they’re used and by whom.
Once you know what you’re trying to protect, it’s time to come up with a Zero Trust Security implementation strategy. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that all organizations that would like to eliminate the concept of trust can take because each and every organization is different.
A managed IT support service provider like us at BCA can help your organization create a unique Zero Trust Security implementation strategy that addresses specific cybersecurity risks and business objectives.
We can then suggest and implement specific technologies to put the strategy into practice and reduce the risks from cyberattacks. Such technologies may include a Next-Generation Firewall, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Single Sign-On (SSO), or Endpoint Protection.
Schedule a free consultation to get started on your Zero Trust Security journey.