It may be tempting to overlook cybersecurity due to the complexity, duration and potential cost of implementing the appropriate protection. Additionally, it can be difficult to visualize the benefits of such measures outside of a cyber-attack context. However, it is worth noting that having strong cybersecurity measures in place is like an insurance policy; it is preferable to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them.
As businesses like yours become more reliant on digital and cloud technology, there is an ever-growing requirement to implement robust cybersecurity measures across the organization. Cybercriminals are continuously looking for new ways to target organisations, and the remote working practices that have been implemented to protect staff in light of the COVID-19 pandemic present even more opportunities for these malicious actors.
The importance of security cannot be overstated, and there are a number of approaches which can be taken to ensure it. These include “Trust but Verify”, conventional security architecture and custom software development from a reliable business such as Works. However, the Zero Trust (ZT) approach is the most effective way to protect sensitive information and mission-critical data. In this article, we will explain the concept of ZT, discuss its advantages and provide guidance on how to incorporate it into your organisation.
If There Is No Trust, Then What Does It Mean?
The ZT Model promotes the ongoing identification and authentication of all users, both internally and externally to an organisation’s network. It utilises methods of identity verification, such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), to provide these prerequisites.
The “trust but verify” concept assumed a level of security within the corporate firewall, however, ZT adopts a more thorough approach. This previous paradigm could potentially increase the risk of both external and internal threats.
These are the elements that Microsoft claims make up the ZT model:
Rules of No Trust
The following are the guiding principles by which the ZT model functions:
There can be no confidence in any of the cited sources.Employees are included in the category of possible threats posed by anybody seeking network access.
Methods of avoiding a problem.Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is utilised by organisations following the Zero Trust (ZT) model in order to guarantee the security of their customers and employees. Typically, MFA involves two or more factors, such as a password and a one-time code sent to a mobile device.
Privilege for the least.The organisation also follows a policy of ‘Least Privilege’, where employees are granted the minimum access rights necessary to carry out their duties. This is also known as ‘Need-to-Know’ regulation.
Microsegmentation.Microsegmentation, where the network is split into smaller sections to prevent assaults, is also used.
Constantly checking in on things.Businesses using the ZT model need to keep an eye on their networks and systems at all times in case of a security attack.
For ZT to be effective in an organisation, it must be committed to the values outlined. It is important to remember that a ‘one-and-done’ solution is not sufficient, as the security landscape can change at any time. The video below details some of these concepts in further depth.
Tutorial on Establishing a Trustless System
It is likely that, as with any new programme, ZT will require thorough preparation, implementation and multiple attempts before a robust foundation is developed.
Check the safety measures.Identify the data, programs and hardware that need to be prioritised for protection. Subsequently, evaluate your existing security measures and utilise those which are already in place. Record any items that are missing.
Choreograph the missing pieces.Each vulnerability you uncover should prompt you to reconsider your approach to protecting the assets in question.
Streamline the process.Once you have secured your most valuable possessions, you can assess your use of ZT principles and identify areas where improvements could be made. Where necessary, new processes should be implemented.
Set up constant checks.The implementation of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and other security measures is inadequate. To ensure the effectiveness of these safeguards, it is important to monitor their performance in real-time and take appropriate action to limit the impact of any malicious activity.
Working Remotely With No Trust
Implementing ZT is more challenging with a distributed workforce. Some suggestions for promoting cyber safety among your WFH staff:
Stuff that’s safe to use.With work-from-home policies in place, having employees bring their own devices to the workplace is a common occurrence. This presents a security risk, as these devices may not be adequately regulated. To address this issue, we recommend either making it compulsory for employees to use company-issued devices for work or mandating that they use company-issued software and applications.
Control your software on the cloud.Ensure that any cloud platforms in use for your remote working setup are compliant with your security protocols for multi-factor authentication, least-privileged access, microsegmentation, and monitoring.
Allow safe entry.If the methods of remote access to the network are not secure, then any other attempts to maintain cyber security will be ineffective. It is essential that staff are made aware of the risks of using public Wi-Fi, and that they have access to secure networks in their homes. Furthermore, providing them with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as an extra layer of protection is highly recommended.
Keep the fundamentals in mind.It is imperative that all staff members who are working from home adhere to cyber safety protocols. Training should be provided to ensure they are aware of the importance of cyberhygiene and the practices that should be followed to maintain a secure working environment. This should include updating antivirus software, avoiding opening attachments from unknown senders, and always verifying the caller’s identity prior to taking a call from someone claiming to be from the IT department.
A Radical Plan?
A hack can have varying levels of severity, ranging from inconvenient to catastrophic. If any consumer data was taken, the company may face the task of expending considerable resources in order to rectify the damage caused by the security breach.
ZT is an extreme measure, yet it is essential given the current state of the data landscape. As data assets become increasingly dispersed amongst offices in multiple locations, through cloud-based operations and remote working, it is increasingly important to have a single platform to manage them all.