As a managed IT service provider in New Mexico, Colorado, and California, we are getting more questions about zero trust security. So, here we are, letting you about the importance of zero trust cybersecurity.
First, let's define what zero trust means. Essentially, zero trust is a security concept that promotes the idea of never trusting anything inside or outside of your network. This means that every device, user, and connection must be verified before being granted access to your network and its resources.
Now, you might be wondering how this concept came about. Traditional cybersecurity approaches operate on the assumption that everything inside the network can be trusted, and only external threats need to be guarded against. However, this approach is no longer effective as more and more devices are connected to the internet and the perimeter of a network becomes harder to define – think of all those remote employees and users that work from their personal phones! Check out our article of whether employees should use personal devices or not.
Zero trust was created as a response to this shift in the way we think about cybersecurity. It was first introduced by Forrester Research in 2010 and has since gained widespread adoption as a more effective method of protection.
Why is zero trust important?
There are several reasons. First, it helps to prevent data breaches and protect against insider threats. As I mentioned earlier, zero trust assumes that no one can be trusted, which means that even employees and devices within the network must go through the same authentication processes as external users. This helps to prevent malicious or negligent insiders from causing harm to your organization.
Second, zero trust can improve compliance with regulations such as the GDPR and HIPAA, which require robust security measures to be in place to protect sensitive data.
Pros and cons of zero trust
One of the biggest advantages is that it provides a high level of security without requiring a complete overhaul of your existing infrastructure. This means that you can implement zero trust gradually, starting with the most sensitive areas of your network and expanding as needed.
However, there are also some potential downsides to consider. Implementing zero trust can be complex and time-consuming, and it may require the purchase of additional security tools and resources. Additionally, the constant authentication processes can be inconvenient for users, potentially leading to frustration and reduced productivity. However, if deployed correctly, most workflows and access remain relatively unencumbered.
To give you an idea of how zero trust works in the real world, let's consider the example of a healthcare organization. In this case, zero trust would mean that every device, user, and connection would need to be authenticated before being granted access to the organization's electronic health records. This could include two-factor authentication for users, as well as regular security assessments for devices.
Implementing a zero trust network for a business involves several key steps:
Define your security perimeter: The first step is to determine what resources and systems need to be protected by zero trust. This might include servers, databases, and other critical assets.
Identify and authenticate users: Next, you will need to identify all users who will be accessing the network and its resources. This might include employees, contractors, and other external users. You will also need to establish a process for verifying the identity of these users, such as through the use of passwords, two-factor authentication, or biometric authentication.
Identify and authenticate devices: In addition to authenticating users, you will also need to verify the identity of any devices that will be accessing the network. This might include laptops, smartphones, and other connected devices.
Implement network segmentation: Once you have identified the resources and users that need to be protected, you can implement network segmentation to further secure your systems. This involves dividing the network into smaller segments or "micro-perimeters," which can each be protected with their own set of security controls.
Monitor and respond to threats: Finally, it is important to continuously monitor the network for any suspicious activity and have a plan in place for responding to potential threats. This might include the use of security tools such as intrusion detection systems and incident response plans.
It is worth noting that implementing a zero trust network can be a complex and time-consuming process, particularly for larger organizations. For this reason, it is often advisable to work with an IT professional who has experience with zero trust and can help guide you through the process.
A closer look at Microsoft and Zero Trust
Microsoft has embraced the concept of zero trust in its cybersecurity approach.
One example of this is their implementation of Azure AD Identity Protection, a tool that uses machine learning to detect suspicious activity in real-time and alert administrators to potential threats. It can also block access to resources or initiate multifactor authentication as a preventive measure.
By implementing this and other zero trust measures, Microsoft is able to improve the security of their own networks and provide their customers with robust security solutions.
For a deeper understanding, here's Microsoft's Zero Trust White Paper.
Zero trust cybersecurity is an important consideration for any organization, particularly those handling sensitive data. While it may require some upfront investment and effort to implement, the increased security and compliance benefits make it well worth considering. Kosh Solutions highly recommend giving zero trust a closer look as you evaluate your organization's security posture.
The information contained in this communication is intended for limited use for informational purposes only. It is not considered professional advice, and instead, is general information that may or may not apply to specific situations. Each case is unique and should be evaluated on its own by a professional qualified to provide advice specifically intended to protect your individual situation. Kosh is not liable for improper use of this information.