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Understanding The Zero Trust Framework, and Its Importance.

With more virtual workers conducting sensitive business operations from remote locations, the concept of an office in a post-pandemic era is becoming obsolete. Despite the remote working arrangement being financially beneficial to companies looking to reduce business expenses, facilitating entirely critical operations from a fully virtual environment poses a significant cybersecurity challenge to the confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy of information assets.

The security risks associated with a virtual environment is far-reaching because remote workers tend to blend their personal computing infrastructures with that of their organization. Thus, blurring fostering attack surfaces and poor security hygiene that could be exploited by threat actors.

As corporate infrastructures expand, mobile devices and emerging technologies, including IoT devices, are introduced into the corporate network. As such, the idea of data privacy, security, and trust becomes a critical subject of interest. Because, without a baseline to define the level-of-trust required to access information assets on a corporate network, user experience suffers – this causes users to circumvent security controls in place to protect the company.

Understanding The Zero Trust Framework

In simple terms, ‘Zero Trust’ is a cybersecurity concept that is anchored on the mantra of “trust nothing; verify all.” This very concept translates into security policies, standards, and procedures whereby security controls within an organization are configured to trust no one – this applies to users inside or outside the corporate network.

With the zero-trust framework, every system that connects to the corporate network constantly undergoes robust verification and authentication tests before permission is granted to interact with enterprise information assets.

Benefits of Zero-Trust

Although some users have complained about the poor user experience of the zero-trust framework, with proper implementation it is one of the most important facilitators of critical business operations.

When compared to conventional cybersecurity frameworks, the zero-trust framework boasts of the following practical and cost-effective benefits:

  • Provides a layer of protection for sensitive data, using an authentication mechanism that verifies the innate identity of people and devices on a network. Thus, reducing data exfiltration.
  • Reduces the time required to detect for the source of a security breach attempt during security incident response processes – high visibility into your enterprise traffic source.
  • Resolves the security skill shortage to a great extent, allowing businesses to assign business-related activities to senior IT personnel and reduce costs.
  • Facilitates the move from traditional, on-prem computing to a cloud-based systems infrastructure set-up.

Why Should Organizations Care About Zero-Trust?

With more businesses adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices during the current work-from-home culture, having a Zero Trust Framework is pivotal to reducing the security risks associated with virtual workers.

Organizations should consider employing the Zero Trust framework to manage the ever-increasing cybersecurity risks ranging from data manipulation to ransomware attacks. As such, organization should care about the zero trust framework for the following reasons:

  • Serves a Dual Purpose of Cybersecurity and Regulatory Functions – Since the introduction of stringent data protection and compliance regulations like GDPR and HIPAA, securing customer data has become more critical and regulatory. A zero-trust framework can prevent disruption, reputational damage, loss of intellectual property, and financial costs.
  • Saves Time and Provides Greater Visibility – The Zero-trust framework does not consider location as a trust indicator. It replaces the ‘trust but verify’ concept with ‘always verify and never trust.’ Thus, it provides your IT security team with useful information on who is accessing the network; the user location; what device is being used; and the given timeframe.
  • Manages Critical Information Resources and Assets – A cloud-based zero-trust framework can use a single cloud service to secure all software applications, personally identifiable information (PIIs), and other devices operating inside a corporate network. Zero-trust framework automates the authentication and authorization processes for people and devices, thus minimizing help-desk ticket requests for issues, such as forgotten passwords, locked devices, etc.

Best Practices For Implementing Zero-Trust Framework

Utilizing micro-segmentation and breaking up the security perimeter into smaller zones can help organizations in ensuring separate access for different parts of a network. Thus, preventing a single-point-of-failure which often gets exploited by malicious actors.

Another best practice for implementing a zero trust framework is by using multifactor authentication (MFA) that can help with ‘Bring Your Own Device’ related challenges.

MFA in the form of a knowledge factor (password or PIN pattern), a possession factor (a device like a smartphone or a token card), and/or a biometric factor (fingerprint or face scans) can help authenticate authorized users within seconds. Zero-trust security should implement the Principle of the Least Privilege to grant minimum access to a specific user. Thus, ensuring access only to the resources needed to perform a specific job. This restricted access is critical for a zero-trust framework to be fully implemented.

Final Words

By implementing a zero-trust security framework, organizations can exercise more precise control over who and what devices have access to their resources. However, the most important aspect of the zero-trust framework is finding a Managed Security Service Provider with expertise to tailor the zero-trust framework to your company’s specific needs and computing environment.

Let GoldSky Security cybersecurity engineers be your preferred partner for the implementation of the zero-trust framework across your corporate infrastructure. Our cyber-threat experts will help to minimize your organization’s attack surface, while preventing lateral attacks and providing you with greater visibility and sights into your critical infrastructure.