5 Key Benefits of Implementing Zero Trust

August 18, 2022 | By IANS Research

Putting together a robust security program offers countless configuration options and numerous industry opinions on the best protection for the organization. However, zero trust frameworks are becoming widely accepted and understood as a requisite starting point that provide blanket security protection to the organization. 

This piece provides a background on the zero trust methodology and its key principles, along with five benefits of launching a zero trust program.  

What Is Zero Trust? 

By definition, a zero trust strategy is a methodology that treats every device, user and application accessing an organization’s IT network infrastructure as untrustworthy. It works like the TSA at an airport: scanning and checking every single “passenger” as they enter, regardless of the person’s profession or background. 

In a zero trust model, no user, device or resource is trusted. Whether the user is inside the company or outside, this model treats everyone and every device the same, following the motto “never trust, always verify.” 

Other security strategies might include creating a hierarchical ladder, where C-suite executives and admins are at the top, and general-access users are at the bottom. Along the ladder, different assumptions and levels of security are granted. But what happens if a COO gets hacked? The system already makes an assumption and allows that executive into parts of the network with no restriction or verification. Suddenly, a hacker has complete access to your organization with no internal safeguards slowing them down. 

What happens if a user’s personal device gets hacked or a disgruntled employee is paid by a competitor to steal data? A zero trust security system doesn’t make any assumptions or give special privileges. As a result, a hack is more likely to be prevented or stopped, regardless of where the source is (especially if it’s an insider attack). Many users and devices are linked to your company’s network. What if even just one of those devices is held by a hacker? With zero trust, that’s less of an issue. 

Zero Trust Principles   

Zero trust is built on a system of cybersecurity policies that ask questions whenever a user or device requests access. Common network access control (NAC) policies will apply when users attempt to access a folder or device in the network. Regardless of who the user is, they need to go through the same access checkpoints. 

The system will effectively assume every access request is a potential hack until it’s proven wrong. A different system might assume that in-house devices are safe, granting them unlimited access without verifying who they are. 

A zero trust policy asks who, what, when, where, why and how for every user who wants to gain access, without exception. Again, this is all done through a series of policies that check identities, monitor actions on the network and react accordingly. 

 

DOWNLOAD:  Zero Trust:  A Step-by-Step Guide 

 

Top 5 Benefits of Zero Trust 

There are many benefits to using a zero-trust strategy for your organization. Any size business or organization can gain the following advantages from adopting a zero trust methodology. 

• Justifies Performing a Complete Inventory 

Before rolling out a zero trust system, the security team must perform a complete company device and platform audit. This involves locating, counting and identifying every device, user and resource on the network. You might find some devices that don’t belong on the network while auditing. In some cases, you might even find a hacker lurking in the network. 

• Improves Activity Monitoring   

If you want to understand user activity without manually sifting through piles of data, use a zero trust model. By default, you’ll get much better monitoring of activities and alerting when potentially dangerous actions happen. For example, a user might plug in a corrupted thumb drive. With a zero trust strategy, the flash drive will be fully scanned and denied access, keeping the malicious code out of your system. 

• Streamlines Security Policy Creation   

In a traditional cybersecurity system, the stack is typically created with independent pieces that aren’t connected. This can result in a lot of gaps within the system. Every gap is a potential weakness hackers can manipulate and use against the organization. 

Using zero trust, the stack usually has a universal policy that governs all the components. With this larger cybersecurity umbrella, creating, editing and removing security policies is much easier. It also helps ensure previously existing gaps are filled. 

• Improves Overall Security Posture 

Your overall security posture gains immensely from a zero trust framework, both on-site and in the cloud. 

Security posture defines overall organization cybersecurity strength. It outlines how well your security framework can prevent, detect and respond to an attack, as well as the ability to adjust as potential threats change. A true zero trust network offers a more fortified and generalized defense against hackers. 

• Limits Data Exfiltration Risk   

A common goal for attackers is to breach a system and rapidly steal as much data as possible. This data can be sold to your competitors, used against individuals or to blackmail the organization. Common data exfiltration tactics often involve a hacker stealing a list of sensitive client information and then launching a ransomware attack. 

With a zero trust strategy, accessing data becomes much more difficult. Even if a hacker steals an internal employee’s credentials, no user is fully trusted and other policy checks will kick in, making it far more difficult for a hacker to masquerade as an employee and access sensitive data. 

Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in connection with such information, opinions, or advice. 


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