The cybersecurity posture of most organizations has been to screen everything coming into their networks. That is, by using a constantly updated database of all known threats, you can essentially let the good in and the bad out. And once an actor is in your network, it is presumed harmless until proven otherwise.
Those on the cutting edge of cybersecurity technology consider this presumption of trustworthiness to be faulty and dangerous. In truth, files and users that are able to pass through your firewalls and other perimeter safeguards aren’t necessarily trustworthy. Industry experts instead advocate for the application of the “zero trust” rule — and more and more businesses are starting to adopt it.
But first, what exactly is this new “zero trust” rule?
In a nutshell, this rule is actually an assumption that your network has already been breached by bad actors — you just don’t know it yet. This mindset entails monitoring your network for threats, then isolating and nullifying them before they inflict much harm to your organization. Here are a couple of reasons why many firms similar to yours are implementing this rule.
Zero trust catches threats that aren’t caught by perimeter defenses
There are many reasons why a cyberthreat can enter your network easily:
- The threat is not yet listed in the anti-malware database.
- The threat was introduced via an unguarded endpoint, such as an infected personal smartphone that was used for work.
- A user’s device was stolen while the user was still logged into the network.
More than outsiders breaching your network, insiders can also pose as threats:
- Employees unknowingly download malware from phishing emails.
- Corporate spies steal company information.
- Disgruntled staff sabotage databases.
In a zero trust framework, important segments of your network are identified and categorized as either data, assets, applications, and services (DAAS). These are done to reduce the attack surface — the total number of points a hacker can use to enter your IT environment — that needs protection. Around the segments, micro-perimeters are built. These fences are more stringent in the sense that network permissions alone are not enough to be granted entry.
Instead, the principle of “least privilege” is applied. That is, users are only given access to the data they need to do their job. In any given data transaction, the identity of the user and the payload are verified at the micro-perimeter, and if the user does not have access privileges, they are blocked. In the case of cyberattacks, assaults are halted even before data can be reached.
In addition to micro-perimeters, zero trust also employs network monitoring tools. These tools are not limited to databases of cyberthreat signatures. Rather, these also check for behaviors within the network. Via machine learning (ML), zero trust tools familiarize themselves with normal user behavior. This is so that when an abnormal event occurs — such as massive exfiltration of accounting records by someone in sales — this can be flagged as suspicious, stopped immediately, and corrected as necessary.
Reduces cybersecurity costs
If regular network perimeter defenses are like human skin, then a zero trust framework is like our internal immune system in the sense that it proactively protects your network from the inside. This prevents paying dearly for data breaches.
And implementing the framework isn’t necessarily more expensive than traditional cybersecurity. Because what needs protecting is reduced to the smallest possible area and the tools used are automated, the costs of having zero trust are dramatically reduced.
Zero trust supports data regulations compliance
Organizations must be able to show regulators that they have complete oversight over how personally identifiable information (PIA) is collected, stored, accessed, shared, processed, and/or sold. As previously stated, implementing a zero trust framework requires conducting a DAAS inventory. This, plus other related documentation and recordkeeping, offers immediate proof of compliance to regulators.
Furthermore, the use of micro-perimeters and smart monitoring tools demonstrates that firms have taken reasonable measures to safeguard data from breaches. These zero trust components also create audit trails, which are useful for tracing the history of data breaches when they do occur.
Easily fits business models
Our cybersecurity team at CAPSTONE has helped hundreds of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across various industries in Western New York implement the zero trust framework. We are certain that we can do the same for your unique business.
Capstone IT provides highly responsive computer IT network support, strategic guidance, managed services, and cloud services to organizations in Rochester, Buffalo, and throughout Western New York. Email us to schedule a complimentary network consultation at [email protected] or contact us at www.capstoneitinc.com/contact-us/.