Today’s digital world is built on a foundation of trust. We trust our email clients to send and deliver our sensitive emails, we trust our payment solution providers to handle our money, and we trust our security systems to let in those that we want to let in and keep out those that we want to keep out. But what if, in your efforts to make it easier to let the right people in, you were also leaving a crack in the door for nefarious entities to slip through into your system?
What is zero trust architecture?
Cybersecurity is an area that is constantly evolving in order to keep up with the criminals that make it necessary. Effective cybersecurity often means taking affirmative action to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. This, in essence, is what zero trust architecture is all about.
Zero trust is more of a strategic approach than anything else and is one built on the assumption that no digital interaction can be implicitly trusted. Given the rate of cyber attacks in recent years, this is an understandable stance for most businesses to take. Indeed, in 2022 alone we’ve seen everyone from Microsoft to the Red Cross being attacked and millions of documents being compromised in the process.
The key phrase with zero trust is “never trust, always verify,” which might sound strict but is designed to protect digital environments with the strongest authentication methods and by using network segmentation to prevent lateral system movement. Yes, it is going to mean a slight inconvenience for your end users, but when they learn how much safer their data is going to be as a result, they will appreciate your efforts.
Why go adopt a zero trust architecture?
Zero trust architecture has increasingly been seen as the latest major trend in security because businesses are finally starting to realise how generous they’ve been with their verification protocols (or lack thereof). The zero trust architecture model was created as a direct reaction to the fact that most traditional security operates on an implied trust model that allows users to move freely within a network once they’ve gained access.
With digital transformation accelerating faster than ever before thanks to the growing relevance of hybrid work and cloud migration, zero trust is the model that makes sense. If used correctly, it can not only increase overall levels of cybersecurity for your network but reduce complexity and operational overheads too.
How does zero trust work?
The first step in any zero trust architecture is to identify your most critical and valuable assets so you know which assets to focus the most effort on protecting. Next, you must understand your users – how do they access your network, what applications are they using and how and when do they connect to them? This way, you’ll be able to determine what policies will ensure secure access without overcomplicating their user journey.
The core concept is simple – treat all users as hostile by default. It might sound harsh and is a massive departure from the network security models built in the 90s but we live in a very different world now. A zero trust network assumes all traffic is hostile, even if it comes from inside the secure perimeter.
Zero trust architecture is about establishing visibility and control over users and network traffic. This can mean everything from implementing multifactor authentication methods including biometrics and one-time codes to monitoring traffic at every stage of the process. These identity-based identification policies ensure a secure service whether it’s based in a public cloud, on-premises servers or a combination of both.
The principles and benefits of zero trust architecture
Zero trust architecture is built on a lot more than user verification via segmentation. Overall, zero trust is an overall strategy with three key tenets.
- Terminate all connections in order to allow the architecture to analyse every item of traffic (encrypted and unencrypted) in real-time before it reaches its final destination.
- Use granular, context-based policies to protect data that are infinitely adaptive to allow access to be continually reassessed on context as and when it changes. For example, reestablish identity when a user accesses the network from their home computer one day and from their smartphone over a 4G network connection the next.
- Use direct user-to-app and app-to-app connections to mitigate the risk of compromised devices affecting other devices and resources. This also effectively makes the users invisible to the internet at large, meaning they are undiscoverable to hackers.
As for the benefits of using a zero trust architecture, while no security solution can be perfect, zero trust is comfortably the most secure cybersecurity solution. It not only minimises the potential attack surface for hackers but reduces the impact of attacks too.
Particularly when it comes to cloud security, it’s a cost-effective solution that will make life that much easier for IT teams and cybersecurity teams and for many businesses, that alone will be reason enough to adapt the strategy.
Managed cybersecurity services
Currently, while most businesses are attempting to implement zero trust architectures, 59% of them are unable to authenticate users and devices on an ongoing basis. That’s why they need to outsource their cybersecurity needs to a company that is 100% committed to providing around-the-clock, zero trust protection.
For most businesses, zero trust is seen as the future but they will openly admit that adoption isn’t going to be fast or easy for most businesses. A managed cybersecurity services provider offers an outsourced solution focused specifically on keeping your network safe.
At Transputec, we offer an award-winning cybersecurity as a service platform with dedicated security operations centres and leader-edge threat detection software. We provide 24/7 security operations focused on prevention, monitoring and mitigation, all within a zero trust architecture.