What is zero trust and why is it important?
When it comes to data security, old approaches don’t stack up against modern cyber threats. Businesses have data spread across hosts of devices, applications, and people – so it’s no longer enough to secure your data with a simple password or firewall.
As ransomware evolves to become ever more sophisticated, new strategies must also evolve to counter the threat. This is where ‘zero trust’ comes in.
Zero trust is a security framework that recognises trust as a vulnerability – essentially saying that you can’t trust anyone or anything until it has been checked out and confirmed as genuine. It requires all users, inside and outside an organisation’s network, to be authenticated, authorised, and validated before they are granted access to applications and data.
It’s a tough approach that addresses the challenges businesses face in today’s world, of remote workers and hybrid cloud environments.
Its three core principles are: verify every user, verify every device, and intelligently limit access.
Verify every user
When businesses rely on one verification method, like single sign-on (SSO), credentials can be easily stolen, leaving the door open for attackers.
Some businesses layer SSO with other technology, like multi-factor authentication – but even this can be hacked, sometimes as easily as single-factor methods.
This is where the first stage of Zero Trust steps in – monitoring all user activity related to data access. This builds a baseline of user behaviour that the system grows to learn and understand. This detects when there is suspicious behaviour and blocks that user’s access immediately. If the user is legitimate, they can be re-authorised, and access granted.
Validate every device
With remote and hybrid working becoming the norm for many modern workplaces, the number of devices on business networks has increased by large amounts.
Using personal laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobile phones empower employees to work wherever they are, but also provides access points for hackers.
Zero trust ensures that each device is checked every time access is requested, confirming it is genuine. Over time, known and trusted devices are marked, so that any suspicious behaviour is identified, immediately flagged up and access is blocked.
This makes life easy for authorised users and very difficult for hackers.
Intelligently limit access
Modern cyberattacks can take advantage of users who have privileged accounts. Often belonging to members of IT or admin departments, privileged accounts provide administrative or specialised levels of access to enterprise systems and sensitive data.
Typically, these accounts are not as monitored as regular accounts, and because they are not so heavily restricted, targeting them lets cybercriminals gain access to a wider range of data.
Limiting access intelligently means adopting a privilege model to limit users o they can only access data they need to do their job. That way, you avoid the chances of an attacker gaining large amounts of data from just one compromised account.
For businesses to move toward a privileged model, new employees should be set up from day one with access to only the files they need. If a person moves positions their access rights should update to fit their new role. Of course, if they leave, their privileges should be automatically revoked.
Zero trust empowers businesses to feel confident that their data is kept secure against breaches and cyber threats, with studies showing the approach reduces breaches by up to 50%.
With less time being spent dealing with breaches and attacks, more can go into what’s important, like the customer experience. Zero trust businesses take a step closer to zero worries.
At Aura, we provide bespoke IT solutions to help your business stay secure. To find out more about the services we provide and how they could help your businesses, get in touch with a member of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.