Zero Trust Cybersecurity
Zero Trust cybersecurity is a buzz term that has grown in popularity in recent years amongst business owners and cybersecurity specialists alike. The question that remains– what is it?
What is Zero Trust Cybersecurity?
Zero Trust cybersecurity takes a strategic approach to organisation-wide cybersecurity. It eliminates elements of implicit trust and continuously validates each stage of every digital interaction. In essence, it revolves around the concept of “never trust, always verify”, which is in stark contrast to the traditional mindset of “trust, but verify”.
Emerging trends, such as hybrid working supported by a nigh unprecedented level of digital transformation, have made standard network boundaries almost disappear with the greatly expanded perimeter. As these boundaries have diminished, traditional security protocols could be considered inadequate. For many security professionals, Zero Trust is seen as an attractive solution to this challenge presented by the modern business climate.
How does Zero Trust differ from Traditional Cybersecurity?
As previously stated, Zero Trust cybersecurity addresses a cardinal flaw of traditional security strategies: once a user is inside the network, there isn’t a whole lot stopping them from accessing business critical and sensitive data within the network.
To help illustrate the difference between both approaches, a brief analogy. Traditional security measures represent a medieval town defended by a moat and wall. To enter the town, a wayfarer must present a valid reason to the gatekeeper. Once access has been granted, they can visit any building inside the town of their choosing. Now let’s expand this narrative to the Zero Trust model. Once again, our wanderer must successfully bypass the gatekeeper. Once inside the town, however, they are accompanied by a watchman who questions each and every decision to enter buildings and domiciles and monitors for any suspicious behavior.
What are the origins of Zero Trust Cybersecurity?
Even though it has only risen to widespread fame in recent years, Zero Trust has existed as a strategy for many years. Stemming from the works of John Kindervag is 1994, the method has been parlayed in cybersecurity circles for decades. Despite this, many organisations to this day struggle to properly conceptualise it, therefore hampering implementation.
The “Zero Trust Mindset”
Zero Trust, like any cybersecurity initiative, must be supported by best-in-class software and solutions, however the strategy involves far more than the simple implementation of a suite of products. It must be considered a broad, organisation-wide strategy, not just a defined architecture. Without the right mindset and cultural shift in thinking, the efforts of even the best solutions will be stunted at best.
Put simply, Zero Trust cybersecurity requires that all connected devices and users be considered potential threats. This truism dovetails nicely into one of the key strengths of the strategy. Due to the fact that the initiative must be integrated at a near cellular level within the organisation, as the organisation grows and adapts the Zero Trust policy will, by default, conform to the organisation’s requirements. This provides the agility and flexibility to develop at pace with demand.
Zero Trust demands that security be woven into every fibre of an organisation’s infrastructure, not merely included as an afterthought. This extends past the actual infrastructure itself and requires integration into the way that employees carry out their day-to-day tasks. As no two companies are entirely alike, there is no one-size fits all approach to achieving Zero Trust and nor is there a “magic-wand” solution or product that can be bolted on to assuage all concerns.
There are however a number of elements of the Zero Trust mindset that can guide cybersecurity teams down the right path:
- There must be systems and efforts in place to coordinate the monitoring, management and defensive capabilities of the system. Disparate and siloed solutions and procedures will hinder in any Zero Trust implementation.
- Security teams must assume that each and every request for critical resources, indeed, ALL network traffic may be malicious.
- Always assume that all devices and infrastructure connecting to the network are already compromised.
- Teams must accept that all access approvals to critical resources may incur risk. In the eventuality of an attack, they must be prepared to perform rapid damage assessment, control and recovery operations.
If you have any concerns or questions relating to your organisation’s cybersecurity position, please feel free to leave your details below for a free, no-obligations discussion with one of our experts.
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