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How businesses are making way for zero trust

security
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Song_about_summer)

Traditionally, the companies used to work on a castle-and-moat security principle. In this model, it is not easy to obtain access to the application from outside the network. However, anyone inside the network is considered a trusted source by default. The issue with this system was that once anyone gained access to the network, the attacker could easily access all data.

This vulnerability was increased because companies don't store their data in a single place now. The data is usually spread across multiple cloud vendors. It increases the difficulty as it is not possible to have security teams control the whole network. Thus, the requirement of zero-trust security arose. It offers multiple lines of defense. In addition, zero-trust security also provides reduced complexity and more business value.

Understanding zero trust security

Zero trust security for businesses is an IT network security model that requires verification of identity for every device or person trying to place an access request on a network. This applies to every person requesting access within or outside the network. It is a holistic approach where only authorized devices and users can access data and applications. It is done to protect the application from hackers and prevent. 

As compared to the original security model, stronger identification of user devices, restricted access to data, secure data transfer, and storage are some of the primary advantages of zero-trust security. 

Working of zero trust security system

The basic principle behind zero-trust security for businesses is the assumption that hackers or attackers can be within the network or outside the network. Thus, no machines or users are automatically trusted by the system. Another fundamental feature of the protocol is the least-privilege access rule. 

It means that a user will get only the accesses which he needs or as much as he should know. Thus, not all users who drop access requests can get access to the sensitive parts of the application. In other words, the confidential data remains safe.

The main issue with this new system is how to implement zero-trust for business. Since the workflow of every business is different, a single system cannot be used by all. Microsegmentation is utilized in zero-trust security networks. It is the process of breaking up the various security parameters into smaller zones to maintain an access rule for individual parts of the network. 

Ideally, a network containing sensitive data files and working on the above principle will contain several separate and secure zones. A user with access to only one of those zones will be unable to access the other zones' authorization for the same.

Multi-factor authentication or MFA is another fundamental aspect of zero-trust security businesses. It simply means that a user will require evidence for authentication. Multiple popular online platforms like Google have incorporated MFA into their workflow. As of 2017, more than 60 percent of enterprise organizations have adopted MFA. 

Lastly, there are strict restrictions on device access. Zero-trust strategy systems keep track of how many devices and which devices are trying to access the network. They ensure that every device has proper authorizations. Thus, the network's attack surfaces reduce considerably.

While there are no immediate disadvantages of zero-trust security models, especially for small businesses, setting up the system is complex and time-consuming. It involves defining the different kinds of users, devices, applications, etc., followed by defining the information they should be allowed access to. Setting up and defining the boundaries in a world where more data is stored on cloud systems becomes challenging.

Making the perfect zero trust road map

Adapting the perfect zero-trust road map helps businesses utilize the benefits of zero trust architecture. This security system focuses on reducing the potential for time-consuming, costly data breaches that not only cause data leaks but also reduce the momentum of the market. Small businesses can adopt these strategies to plan the zero-trust road map for their business to minimize the potential attack surfaces and hasten threat detection. 

Multi-factor authentication

Zero trust security for businesses can be established easily by using multifactor authentication for every user and partner account. According to a report by Centrify, even though more than 70 percent of threats and breaches of the security model occur because of privileged access, business owners don't adopt the model despite being well-aware of its benefits. 

Shared accounts

Get the credentials of a shared account to minimize the risk of a data breach due to a rash usage of privileged access. Password vaults are mandatory for any business that relies on source code under development, proprietary data, parents, and IP ( intellectual property). These facts are critical for the growth of a company using a zero-trust strategy.

Secured remote access

To reduce the potential breaches, businesses should focus on devising a system that gives limited access to the remote workforce, i.e., employees from different departments only have access to the data they specifically work with. 

Real-time audits and monitoring

Implementing zero trust security for businesses also involves adding a supporting system that keeps a check on the ongoing workflow thus, immediately pinpointing the starting of any security incident. The data from these audits can also be used to identify privileged credential use. 

Privileged access credentials

Another common mistake made by small businesses is they keep the preset passwords for data protection in most of the applications. The preset passwords are not only weak but also well known and can be a weak point for hackers.

Having implemented zero-trust cybersecurity protocols, organizations can enhance the security models required to safeguard their applications, resources, and confidential data. In today's world of distributed computer systems, zero-trust protocols can offer several business benefits as well. Organizations can improve the user interface and user experience and successfully migrate their application to a cloud system. 

Apart from the UI advantages, the cybersecurity system will reduce the time to detect data breaches, and it will also increase the visibility of the enterprise. The additional layer of data protection and application protection will improve brand perception and reduce considerable financial losses due to security breaches. Thus, migrating to the zero-trust security for businesses protocols will benefit the firms implementing it.

Deepak Gupta, CTO and co-founder, LoginRadius