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Zero friction security

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Song_about_summer)

As digital transformation accelerates and more businesses switch to a work-from-anywhere model, robust security strategies are needed to protect increasingly complex IT environments.

Today, 80 percent of cybersecurity breaches include identity compromise, so securing workforce identities is becoming a critical way organizations can reduce their risk and at reduced cost.

However, CISOs are challenged with legacy systems that have been in their IT environment for years, unmonitored service accounts (programmatic accounts), third-party applications, application and resource accesses by third-party vendors/contractors, hybrid identity stores and inconsistent access policies.

Security is also becoming more complex, from the disparate use of multiple security tools that don’t correspond with one another. As systems become more complex, security gaps become inevitable. All the while, IT teams are tasked with managing these risks whilst saddled with cost constraints, particularly when limited budgets are considered.

In search of an answer, many are turning to sophisticated technology partners with innovative information security solutions. But stacks of cybersecurity solutions are increasing user friction and costs, meaning ROI is lost or difficult to achieve.  

In response to these challenges, there’s a growing migration towards smarter zero friction security solutions, allowing enterprises to benefit from a single, easy-to-use software to secure identities on-premises and in the cloud for everyone.

Why organizations are facing security complexities 

The continual growth of new cyber threats and the evolution of attack methods mean traditional defense approaches, like VLAN/ACLs, internal firewalls, are falling short and organizations can no longer rely on them to protect their business data.

Whether an organization is pivoting towards a Zero Trust approach or wants to focus on specific use cases (for example, lateral movement prevention, RDP login detection, NTLM relay attack prevention, ransomware, etc.), addressing identity threats becomes the most cost-effective method to mitigating cyber breaches.

When all authentication logs are sent to the SIEM solution for analysis and compliance reasons, this can drive up the log storage costs. As most of these are calculated on log volume (gigabytes per day)this may push organization up into a different license tier which can significantly increase log storage costs.. Also, trying to find security vulnerabilities from logs is a time consuming process. Organizations can also fail to prioritize cyber safety over internal productivity. By reducing password reset frequency and support tickets and calls, workforce productivity will improve. .

Strict, risk-based identity verification underpins every Zero Trust security strategy, allowing only authenticated and authorized users and devices to access applications and data, regardless of whether the user or device is sitting within or outside of the network perimeter. And this benefit needn’t come with the downsides of eye-watering costs or frustrating complexity.

In response, new security products are coming to market to address these flaws, using automation to deliver huge cost savings, lower solution deployment or SOC analyst time overhead; and optimizing the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employees in the buyer’s core use case.

The quest for lower risk and lower cost   

Businesses have been quick to pivot to a new work-from-anywhere reality, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While this shift has many benefits for organizations and their employees, it poses security risks from remote users, access from unmanaged workstations, workload and application service accounts and even the enterprise’s supply chain.

Tasked with managing on-premises and cloud-based identities across dozens, hundreds or even thousands of user locations in some instances, organizations have had little choice but to build layers of cybersecurity solutions to keep up.

But this approach is making security challenging to manage, and could in some instances, be making an organization an easier target for cybercriminals.

With the explosion of users, the workforce identities are now spread across on-premises and/or cloud identity stores, utilizing SSO and federation services. A hacker can exploit a single identity to gain access to the enterprise, move laterally and install ransomware exploits or exfiltrate sensitive information. Though enterprises have invested in layers of cybersecurity tools, a majority of the focus should be on protecting identities.

Faced with other challenges, such as a shortage of qualified security professionals and constantly evolving attack methods, organizations are increasingly looking for ways to reduce costs, resource demands and complexity to boost protection, visibility, and importantly, ROI.

Enter frictionless zero trust security  

Zero Trust Security is built on the premise of “never trust, always verify”, regardless of whether the user is accessing from within or outside of the network perimeter and from unmanaged endpoints.

Identity segmentation helps organizations get a clear and continuous understanding about human user accounts, programmatic accounts (service accounts) and privileged accounts, as well as how these different account types are ‘behaving’ while accessing the resources.

In response to the growing issue of stack complexity, new cybersecurity products are hitting the market with the aim of securing access to applications and resources with minimal friction for the user via workforce identity management, anywhere.

With the help of these tools, a transformational approach to securing workforce identity is emerging, broken down into three stages.

Segmentation – assigning individual risk scores to identify security gaps and auto-classifying every account, be it human or service. Automation – leveraging data to discover patterns, intent, anomalies and proactively preventing incidents, and Verification – ensuring consistent, frictionless user experience with risk-based conditional access.

This allows organizations to free up resources by doing the heavy lifting when it comes to analyzing authentication traffic in real-time and detecting threats. It also saves on cost by requiring only the curated or analyzed authentication to be logged, thus demanding much less data storage, management, security threat analysis and false positives that so many organizations encounter.

Importantly, too, zero friction security solutions are able to accommodate other legacy systems in the environment that had been built up disparately over the years by having them all feed into a unified central management console.

A new era of Zero Trust has begun 

It’s clear frictionless Zero Trust solutions with increased automation are helping organizations to reduce IT complexity by being able to secure identities on-premises and in the cloud on a single software.

Strict, risk-based identity verification is a necessity for any Zero Trust security strategy, yet many have struggled to realize the true benefits this approach can provide…until now.

Frictionless Zero Trust is an exciting area that’s evolving and maturing quickly, helping organizations to manage the demands and complexities of securing their IT environments in the age of office, remote and hybrid working.

To protect this ever-growing attack surface, enterprises need the next generation of tools that provide security efficacy, reduce risk and do not hamper or slow day-to-day operations.

Through implementation of an advanced cybersecurity solution, CISOs and security leaders can address the challenges of securing their organizations efficiently and comprehensively and in a manner that is also cost-effective. 

Who doesn’t want a win-win scenario?

Kapil Raina, Vice President, Identity Protection & Zero Trust Marketing, CrowdStrike  (opens in new tab)

Vice President, Identity Protection & Zero Trust Marketing

Vice President, Identity Protection & Zero Trust Marketing, CrowdStrike.