Zero Trust Helps Secure a Remote Workforce

June 8th, 2021 by admin

The words 'Zero Trust' in 3D colored metalic-red resting on a red backgroundthat has lock icons,both open and locked, on it
Zero trust has become one of cybersecurity’s latest buzzwords. So, it’s important to understand what Zero Trust is and how it can be used to improve your security stance.

Why Zero Trust?

Today, many company IT assets and devices reside off the corporate network. Employees are bringing their own devices to the workplace and/or working remotely. The data that employees are using is also being accessed from outside the corporate network and shared with external parties. Company applications are being hosted in a multi-cloud environment and sensitive data is being stored in Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Since many of these transactions don't travel across networks controlled by the company, the result is a loss of traditional network access controls.

The shift to remote work has changed the security landscape in ways most of us couldn't predict a few years ago and has reduced the effectiveness of traditional security strategy and tools. This change has made it considerably easier for attackers to bypass conventional network and data security controls. For those responsible for IT security, it has put a spotlight on the limitations of traditional security methods to keep data resources secure for mobile workforces.

To more effectively adapt to the growing complexity of the network environment and the challenges of deploying a secure remote workforce, organizations need to look to a new security model. A Zero Trust model better supports the requirements of a mobile workforce and protects people, devices, apps, and data wherever they’re located.

Zero Trust Defined

Zero Trust is not about mis-trusting IT users. It’s a strategic initiative that helps prevent successful data breaches by eliminating the concept of trust from an organization’s network. Instead of assuming that any activity that happens inside the corporate firewall is safe, the Zero Trust model operates on the principle of “never trust,” always verify.”

Zero Trust Principles

The idea behind Zero Trust has been around for over a decade, but the technology to support it is now moving into the IT mainstream. The architecture of Zero Trust is largely supported by components and capabilities for identity management, asset management, application authentication, network segmentation, and threat intelligence. While many of these technologies are ones already being widely used by organizations to protect their data, Zero Trust represents a clear pivot in terms of think about cyber defense. Rather than defending only a single, enterprise-wide perimeter, this approach moves this perimeter to every network, system, user, and device within and outside the organization.

The model is based on the following core principles:

  1. Re-examination of all default access controls. In a Zero Trust model, there is no such thing as a trusted source. The model assumes would-be attackers are present both inside and outside the network. As such, every request to access the system must be authenticated, and authorized.
  2. Leverage of a variety of preventative techniques. A Zero Trust model relies on a variety of preventative techniques to stop breaches and minimize their damage including:
    1. Multifactor authentication (MFA). Where two or more pieces of evidence are required to assess the user’s credibility.
    2. Least-privilege access. Where the organization grants the lowest level of access possible to each user or device. In the event of a breach, this helps limit lateral movement across the network and minimizes the attack surface.
    3. Micro-segmentation. Where every part of the network is divided into small zones each of which require separate access privileges. If a breach occurs, the scope of an attack can be limited, as a hacker will be confined to only those microsegments for which the legitimate user has privileges.
  3. Enabling real-time monitoring. To significantly speed up the process of detecting, investigating and remediating malicious activity when it does occur.

Increasingly sophisticated threats from mobile devices, cloud-computing and the Internet of Things has left organizations, who solely rely on traditional network perimeter security, at risk. Zero Trust is an approach to building an IT environment that can better address exposure to IT risk in an ever-growing “perimeter-less” world.

Taking the cost and complexity out of cybersecurity

While employing a Zero Trust model can’t–by itself*ndash;prevent all breaches, it can significantly improve the security of your IT environment and remote workforce. With that said, it’s important to note that implementing a Zero Trust environment doesn’t have to be rolled out as one large, comprehensive technology project. We often recommend using a multi-step plan, implemented over an established time period. This approach allows organizations to achieve their goals for Zero Trust in a controlled fashion, that’s also more tolerable for end users. It can also help to ensure best results because it allows for budgeting, with a minimum of disruption to your operations.

For more information on how to successfully implement Zero Trust and leverage its benefits within your organization, contact our cyber security team.

Posted in: Cyber Security