As we enter 2021, businesses and organizations remain focused on how they can continue pushing forward amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, they have turned their attention to cybersecurity, as they look for ways to protect sensitive information and data while still giving employees the tools they need to work remotely. While advancements in technology have expanded “the office” to include employees’ homes, these new developments pose a new cybersecurity dilemma. As businesses and organizations rely more heavily on mobile devices, communication software, and cloud repositories, cyber criminals now have a wider attack surface, as the security perimeter is no longer confined to the walls of an office building. Combine that with the fact that employees working from home are more likely to cut security corners for convenience, and you have the probability of a dangerously high level of attacks. As a result, this calls for new security measures and security professionals across the industry are shifting to a Zero Trust security model.
What is Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is a security paradigm that combines strict identity verification and explicit permission for any person attempting to access the network. Simply put, it’s a model in which no device, user, or system should be trusted, regardless of the location from which they are operating. This security model is centered around the belief that no person or entity in an organization can be trusted inside or outside its perimeters and everything must be verified before access to the network can be granted.
Why is this Model Needed?
Zero Trust models are becoming more and more popular as the threat of data breaches continues to grow. According to IBM, the global average cost of a data breach is $3.92 million. Recent studies on cybercrime estimate that online security crime could cost over $6 trillion in 2021. As the pandemic continues to force millions to work remotely, the risk of data breaches continues to rise, which can be devastating to businesses. Despite organizations’ efforts and their continued spending on more cybersecurity, hackers are still finding ways to attack. As organizational leaders recognize that existing security measures are not enough, they are left searching for something better. As of now, the Zero Trust model seems to be delivering the best results.
How Does it Work?
Traditional security methods focused on defending the perimeters of an organization, while assuming that those on the inside didn’t pose a threat. Security and technology experts have found that this old method isn’t effective because hackers are finding ways to gain access inside corporate firewalls and are then able to move through the entire internal system quite easily. Today’s IT experts agree that cybersecurity requires a new way of thinking, because companies’ infrastructure is rapidly changing. Today’s network of systems involves applications that are both on-site and off-site in the cloud, as users access applications from a range of devices and locations. In order to properly secure all of these new access points, a new and more effective security method must be implemented. There are several technologies and practices that make up a Zero Trust approach:
- Least-privilege access means only giving access to the information that each individual needs. By reducing exposure to sensitive information, you can limit the ability of malware to jump from one system to another. In turn, this reduces the chances of internal infiltration.
- Micro-segmentation divides up a network into separate segments with different access credentials. This increases the amount of protection and keeps malicious actors from infiltrating an entire network even if one segment is breached.
- Data usage controls limit what people can do with data once they are given access. This means you may allow individuals to access a document, but it’s read only and can’t be changed or printed. They can also be restricted from downloading data to s USB disk, email, or cloud apps.
50% of IT leaders say that better protecting remote workers from cybersecurity risks is one of the top priorities for 2021. For this reason, IT leaders are employing new technologies and strategies to protect themselves from cyberattacks. Strategies such as a Zero-Trust model take traditional security measures one step further by adding additional restrictions for granting access to the network. This is paramount for today’s remote workforce and the companies that take advantage of these measures will stay one step ahead.