Australian business owners who are concerned about the security and privacy of their data should consider updating their security architecture to the zero trust network security model. While traditional approaches to protecting data have worked well in the past, advances in technology and the increasing sophistication of hackers have created a need for a more holistic and comprehensive approach to security.
The Problem With Old Security Approaches
Traditional enterprise security architecture operates on the assumption that malicious activity exclusively comes from external sources. It functions like the moat of a castle—it prevents the bad guys from getting in—and the folks inside the castle are good guys by default. Similarly, organisations simply widen and strengthen the perimeter to protect against outside threats. But what if the threat comes from inside?
As its name implies, the zero trust network security model removes trust from the data security equation. The zero trust concept is founded on the belief that all traffic is assumed a threat until it is verified. Whether it is inside or outside the firewall, every transaction, user, and device is considered compromised.
The Fundamentals of Zero Trust
Zero trust is not a single product or technology. It is a strategic, architectural approach to security. John Kindervag, a former principal research analyst at Forrester, created the zero trust concept in 2010.
With the zero trust network security model, the mindset is no longer “trust but verify” but “never trust, always verify.” Before being allowed to access a network, all types of traffic must be inspected, authorised, and secured. However, even after passing the verification procedures, users get only the minimum amount of access needed to perform their duties.
Protecting Against Lateral Threat Movement
Another problem with the conventional approach to enterprise security is that once attackers breach the parameter, they can get access to privileged information and exfiltrate it in minutes, if not seconds. In some cases, threats are undetected and attackers are free to move deeper into a network. When this happens, they can gain access to the tools and credentials of authorised users. This makes the attackers’ movements harder to detect.
With the zero trust strategy, network microsegmentation is utilised. This involves creating sub-parameters throughout the network to function as a barrier to lateral threats.
In addition, auditing and compliance are essential to the success of the zero trust strategy. While a network audit won’t prevent attacks, it can help organisations determine whether there have been attempts to gain access to the network laterally and if the attempts were successful.
Why You Should Implement the Zero Trust Model
The reason is simple. Enterprise network security approaches cannot protect against attacks that utilise the identities and credentials of authorised users. No matter how wide, strong, or resilient a perimeter is, it cannot deny entry to an attacker with stolen access privileges.
For this reason, organisations operating within the zero trust network security model should implement granular segmentation and enforce access policies. User identity and credentials do not automatically grant access to an organisation’s IT infrastructure if it operates according to the zero trust philosophy.
In addition, advancements in IT such as mobility, microservice architecture, and the cloud have hastened the demise of the traditional network perimeter. Implementing a zero trust strategy in your organisation is an excellent way to keep up with these changes.
What You Need to Know Before Implementation
Before transitioning to zero trust architecture, it’s important to have an IT audit performed on all assets, including users, devices, and endpoints, because they are all potential risks. In addition, you would need to know how users work together and how limiting access to resources can affect your employees’ ability to perform their job functions.
The Final Word
A parameter firewall is no longer enough to prevent hackers from targeting your organisation’s valuable data, and it is not designed to detect malicious activity within your network. By contrast, the zero trust network security model protects against both outside hackers and malicious insiders within your organisation. Soon, we’ll tell you why more and more organisations are switching to the zero trust approach to IT security.
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