Never Trust, Always Verify: Why Companies are Turning to the Zero Trust Model

Security

For many years, auditors and IT professionals alike have used the motto "Trust, but verify". The massive influx of cybersecurity attacks and dramatic shifts in technology solutions over the past few years and the introduction of the Zero Trust security model has shifted that motto to "Never trust, always verify". It's no surprise that companies around the world are looking for ways to tighten their security posture by reducing access and security levels for staff members and contractors, ramping up physical and cybersecurity and focusing on ways to protect their digital assets.

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(Re)Defining Your Organization's Perimeter

The Zero Trust security model provides a robust framework for defining the perimeter of an organization. With staff members working from home, the rise of remote data access and the growth of cloud-based hosting and storage, companies are no longer able to protect only the physical barriers of their organization and expect to be successful. Network firewalls and VPNs are still necessary but are now simply components of a more comprehensive end-to-end solution. Implementing a Zero Trust model allows organizations to take full advantage of the flexibility needed for today's mobile workforce and advanced cloud storage and application power without limiting security levels.

Improving Visibility Into Assets and User Activity

Are you confident that your IT team has identified and is tracking all assets (physical and digital!) that are being used within your organization? What about random SurveyMonkey accounts, a test Azure profile or marketing platforms used only by one team? Today's complex organizations tend to grow organically, leading to an amalgamation of resources that are a moving target to maintain. If users or teams are allowed to create individual profiles within networks, this can lead to a variety of security breaches that can be challenging to identify or remediate.

With a Zero Trust approach, applications that attempt to communicate with your network are automatically deemed as "unworthy" without an identity fingerprint is provided. You're able to gain greater control over cloud-based platforms where sensitive customer data is stored while still providing users with the tools and information needed to be successful in their roles.

Six Foundational Elements of the Zero Trust Model

The core of the Zero Trust security model lies with ensuring that no one -- inside or outside the organization -- is inherently trusted. These additional layers of security are considered an integral part of reducing the possibility of breaches. With the costs of a data breach climbing into the millions of dollars for organizations of all sizes, it's vital that companies learn to integrate these six foundational elements that comprise the Zero Trust security model.

1. Identities

Defining the Zero Trust control plane is often considered the first step in bringing this strategy into your organization. Strong authentication is required to test and pass an identity from inside or outside the organization, with compliance access requirements. Once admitted, each identity receives the least privilege access principles to limit incursion into unapproved areas of the business.

2. Devices

Business technology departments are overburdened attempting to maintain control of internal devices such as laptops and company-issued phones. When you add in the BYOD options and staff members working from home on less-secure personal computers, devices are becoming one of the key avenues for incursion into your sensitive information and business applications. Monitoring and enforcing device health is considered a critical component of any Zero Trust security process success.

3. Applications

APIs and applications can be cloud-based, on-premise, hosted remotely -- and any range of combinations you can imagine. This complexity introduces new opportunities for breaches, requiring active controls that ensure permissions are allotted utilizing security rules. Active monitoring and user action controls are critical components needed to provide additional layers of security.

4. Data

While the focus should always be on protecting data, this same data must still be able to flow smoothly to a variety of onsite and cloud-based applications. Users and customers alike need to securely access data via the web and a variety of devices, adding complexity to the situation. All data should be consolidated in secure locations, encrypted and with tight security added for user access permissions.

5. Infrastructure

Regardless of the configuration, your infrastructure can be vulnerable to both internal and external incisions. Version control and JIT access can help reduce the threat, but active monitoring and flagging abnormal behavior can help sustain security within your infrastructure.

6. Networks

Your network is the base layer over which all other operations can flow. With end-to-end encryption, active monitoring and aggressive machine learning analytics deployed, your team will gain confidence that your networks are protected and prepared to repel attacks.

 

If you are confident that your organization is able to fully address each of these Zero Trust security model challenges, count yourself extremely fortunate. For those organizations still struggling to close gaps, identify digital assets and ensure appropriate access levels for users, contact the professionals at Vertikal6 today and schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our Senior Consultants.

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