New ways of working call for new methods of network security. As remote working continues to grow, we thought we would take a look at one of the key trends that is building in popularity and what this means for your business.
What is Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is billed as the next-generation trend in security for businesses looking to for network protection.
Designed from a position of ‘trust nobody, deny everything,’ Zero Trust is an IT security model for the remote-working age, when networks are spread further and wider than ever before. The primary goal is to reduce the network attack surface by treating internal and external users the same, requiring strict identity verification for every person and device.
Why is Zero Trust useful?
The increase in remote working has complicated network security for many businesses. Companies no longer have a neat and tidy IT environment housed under one roof, and data estates are spread further and wider than ever before. With cloud services supporting remote and hybrid working, users and devices access network resources from hundreds of locations at any one time, meaning attack surfaces have become unwieldy.
Zero Trust meets the increased demand for more stringent network security, while ensuring the right people can access the right resources, wherever they are working from.
The main features of Zero Trust
By trusting no one and verifying everything, Zero Trust aims to protect valuable data and applications by limiting access to only what is necessary. It does this by:
- Continuously monitoring and validating access. Verifying users, privileges, devices, and actions at every turn.
- Requiring multi-factor authentication. Users are required to verify their identity using more than one piece of evidence.
- Using micro-segmentation. Breaking security perimeters into smaller zones ensuring access is only ever granted to one area of the network. Accessing other areas requires separate authorisation.
- Ensuring least-privilege access. By carefully manages user permissions, it’s possible to minimise access to sensitive parts of the network.
- Controlling device access. Zero Trust monitors devices trying to access the network, ensuring all are authorised and none have been compromised.
On balance how does Zero Trust stack up?
Zero Trust is primarily about enhanced network security, but the setup and functionality bring other benefits. Businesses employing Zero Trust are inherently less vulnerable to in-network lateral threats. They also benefit from stronger policies and more robust management required for user identification and access. With smart segmentation and protection of data, this security model ensures all security elements are working effectively and efficiently.
The Zero Trust model does, however, make security more complicated and one of the biggest drawbacks is the time and effort required to implement and then access it. Businesses will need to ensure legacy systems are compatible, taking time to segment users and network areas. Zero Trust also requires increased management of a bigger, more complex network of users, devices, and applications. As well as a lengthier log-in process for users accessing the network, which may result in some internal grumblings.
However, for businesses who invest the time and resources into it, Zero Trust is a strong security solution for the remote-working age.
Technology supporting Zero Trust
Businesses need consider the technological support required for successful implementation, which begins with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). This is similar to the software-defined perimeter (SDP) approach to network security, ensuring connected devices can only ‘see’ the resources they have been authorised to. ZTNA has no inherent connectivity functionality so requires integration with existing connections to ensure optimal user experience.
Protection for the future
With more and more organisations relying on remote access for business-critical workloads and functions, it’s vital to stay ahead of the game in ensuring adequate protection. Zero Trust is not just about keeping intruders out; it’s about ensuring the right people have access to the right resources at the right time, wherever they are.