As a product manager, I often talk to infosec leaders around the globe about urgent cybersecurity issues. They all want to know why enterprises require zero trust security. This is a growing interest and demand. I have often explained why a zero-trust architecture is the best cybersecurity solution for enterprise security, now and in the future.
These are the top 10 reasons security leaders should implement zero trust strategies to improve security postures within their organizations.
Top 10 Reasons Enterprises Need Zero-Trust Security Strategy
1. Perimeter-Based Security Is Ineffective in an Evolving Enterprise
How enterprises conduct business and use digital technology is constantly changing – and at an ever-quickening rate. Digital transformations render traditional perimeter-based cybersecurity models obsolete and irrelevant. Perimeters no longer define security enforcement’s scope.
Only zero-trust security uses a micro-level approach for authenticating and appraising access requests at all points within a network. This concept of least privilege ensures that no one has unrestricted access. Each request must be monitored and validated to gain access to the different parts of a network. If a breach does occur, micro-segmentation can prevent East-West movement from occurring and reduce the potential damage caused by a threat agent.
2. Cloud Data Centers Need Offer Security Responsibility
Critical workloads and applications are shifting from corporate-owned data centers to the public or mixed cloud. Security leaders must reexamine their legacy assumptions about people and data center security tools, technologies, skills, and processes.
This cloud environment demands a shared responsibility model. Some security aspects are provided and managed by the cloud vendor, while others fall on the enterprise. It is not possible to trust the infrastructure as an assumption. This shared cybersecurity responsibility can be covered by a zero trust model.
3. Third-Party PaaS and SaaS Applications can’t be Trusted Blindly
Applications now are more likely to be offered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Software OEMs create applications by using readily available services such as authentication, logging, and database. While they own the core logic and the business logic, they have very little control over the components of the software used to build the application. Application developers cannot trust their own applications anymore.
Security controls are implemented using the zero trust approach. They assume that the network has been compromised. Access to data is restricted to authorized processes and applications, and authentication is required.
4. The Internet Network is Not a Secure Network
Apps and workloads are now in the cloud. Users can access them remotely. The network is now not a secure enterprise network. It is now an unsecured Internet. Most businesses use network visibility and perimeter security solutions to protect their networks and Keeping attackers away are not practical anymore and is not strong enough. Implicit trust is no longer an effective concept.
Zero trust uses least-privilege principles and “always verify” principles to provide complete visibility in the network, regardless of whether it is located in the cloud or data centers.
5. Everybody in the Expanding Workforce Needs to Have Some Access
Companies have made significant changes in the way they conduct critical business, as well as the people who rely on them to perform key functions. Users of the network are not just customers and employees anymore. Many users who access business applications and infrastructure could be accessed by vendors, partners, or suppliers.
These non-employees do not need or should have access to all business applications, infrastructure, or data. Employees perform specific functions, so they don’t need full network access. Zero trust strategies that are well executed allow authenticated access to be granted based on key dimensions and trust. This allows businesses to control access more precisely, even for those with higher privileges.
6. All WFH Environments are Not Secure.
Remote work was common in the pre-COVID era. WFH is now the norm after the pandemic. Security technologies and processes that were based on established geographical locations, such as the headquarters of a company, are no longer relevant. Security risks are exponentially increased by remote workers and Wi-Fi networks that may be unsecured.
Companies must assume that employees work from home environments and settings are less secure than the office. Their Wi-Fi router doesn’t support WPA-2. The security protocols used by their IoT devices (e.g. the baby monitor and the smart thermostat) are not compatible with WPA-2. It is impossible to verify or control whether employees are working in a secure environment without an overarching system such as a zero trust framework.
7. BYOD Does Not Provide a Safe Work Environment
The WFH new norm states that employees are less likely than their employers to use the devices they use. Laptops and phones owned by employers are typically managed, patched, updated with security tools, and maintained up-to-date with policies and procedures. Employees may forget basic cyber hygiene skills as they work remotely and use their own devices for accessing work networks or apps. They could also be shopping online using their laptops from work between Zoom calls.
Although zero trust security cannot force employees to use their home devices for work purposes, it can limit the possibility of security breaches due to the “trust nobody; verify all” rule that controls access at every point in the network.
8. Cyberattacks Are Increasing
Cyberattacks are increasing in frequency every year and none sector appears to be immune. COVID-19 saw hackers focus on healthcare, and retail to cause pandemics. Cyberattacks are ideal targets because of the overburdening hospitals that have to deal with a flood of patients, and the pharmaceutical research labs trying to create a vaccine. They are prepared to pay huge ransoms to maintain business continuity. Cybercriminals have targeted online retailers who are able to take advantage of increased e-commerce orders during shelter-in-place. They have also targeted financial institutions as well as transportation service providers.
These businesses can build a stronger security position and be more resilient to cyber-attacks by implementing zero trust architecture. They will be less susceptible to security breaches, and better equipped to limit and mitigate financial and reputational damage.
Also read: 17 Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks
9. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), are Becoming More Sophisticated
In the 2000s, Cybercriminals would launch cyberattacks to expose security flaws on well-known websites. Cyberattacks are big business today. High potential financial returns can be made by deploying ransomware and stealing intellectual property. Hackers are constantly improving their tools and techniques to maximize their earnings. Cyber threats today are not just phishing scams. These contemporary cyberattacks can have societal, physical financial, and national repercussions.
Cybercrime is highly organized now and is carried out by nation-states, international crime rings, and ransomware organizations. These criminals are clever enough to bypass traditional perimeter security. They stealthily deploy APTs until they achieve their goal of stealing information and disrupting systems that implemented micro-segmentation or a zero trust model.
10. Security Risks are Higher
Cybercriminals are now playing a more elegant, long-term game than deploying DDoS attacks against businesses. Cyberattacks can now be used to target customer data, user data, financial data, core business knowledge such as IP or proprietary functions, and basically anything that could potentially be valuable. At risk are core government systems, weapons, nuclear power stations, and elections. Strong and resilient cybersecurity strategies are vital for every level of government and society, as the stakes are so great.
Whether implemented by a multinational company or a government agency, The zero trust framework will increase cybersecurity posture and increase cyber resilience, enabling containment in the unlikely event that there is a breach
Zero trust: The Solution to Enterprise Security Challenges
The future of cybersecurity lies right now. It is the zero-trust security model. Relics of the past are the perimeter-based, reactive security methods that were used as a foundation for traditional security. To ensure a secure future for their customers, partners, and employees, governments and businesses must take proactive steps and adopt Zero Trust now.
Security must be a top priority in order to prevent, detect and mitigate current-day threats. This new-gen zero trust security platform provides network visibility and continuous monitoring. It allows trust to be dynamic, context-based, and contextually-based by verifying each access request and authorizing access only when certain parameters are met.