Zero trust security, or zero trust network access, is a flexible and adaptive network security infrastructure that eliminates trust from network access and requires additional verification from all users, entities or devices before granting access. Understanding zero trust security begins with understanding how legacy security systems work. Traditionally, IT security was built on a perimeter system that trusted then verified users on-premise that were signing into the network. Instead, zero trust assumes any user or device is a possible threat regardless of where users are signing in from. It relies on strict access controls, multi-factor authentication, identity and access management and endpoint security to create a secure network ecosystem. Although this method seems harsh, zero trust is quickly emerging as the only security model that can protect businesses in a rapidly changing data environment.
Cyberattacks on enterprises have grown exponentially over the last few years. Not only have they become more frequent, they’ve become more complex and detrimental for their victims. Paired with the rise in remote work, IT experts are charged with finding solutions to face an increasingly vulnerable data environment.
Understanding zero trust security and implementing its framework helps address this continually growing threat. Relying on verification, authentication and permissions ensures that access to your business’s network and work applications is limited to authorized users and devices.
Existing legacy data security practices rely on a moat and castle network security method. In this method, security measures make two assumptions that are proving to be problematic in today’s data landscape: 1. Users within the network perimeter can automatically be trusted and 2. All users are protected by the network’s firewall. As cyberattacks using stolen credentials rise, this method is slowly becoming outdated. Requiring additional verification like multi-factor authentication with zero trust updates security measures to match the current trends in data breaches.
Stolen employee credentials are the costliest of data breaches. Using a zero trust approach not only saves company data, it saves the company’s bottom line.
Although remote work came with unintended benefits like increased productivity, it also brought unintended consequences such as weakened security infrastructures. The added vulnerabilities brought on by remote work also increased the costs of data breach containment. Having a remote workforce increased the average cost of data breaches by $137,000. Implementing a zero-trust architecture across your remote teams not only unifies the team’s security processes, it also protects against the added costs of remote data events.
By understanding zero trust security and using such a framework for all employees, remote or in-office, employee security is unified under a single process regardless of where employees are signing in from or what device they’re using (personal or company supplied machines.) Running a singular, catch-all policy allows IT to manage access and user activity in order to more accurately assess threats to enterprise data.
In zero trust architecture, remote teams are further protected by microsegmentation. Segmenting out access to the network limits users access to only the network applications they need rather than the entire network. This granular access allows IT to better manage user activity and limits potential cybercriminal access by isolating communications to the network.
The rising threat of cyber attacks affects company costs in more ways than one. Other than the direct cost of a data breach response, companies also pay indirectly. Loss of consumer confidence and client trust can be just as harmful and have lasting effects long after the security issue is resolved. Studies have shown that 65% of victims lose trust in a company after they suffer a data breach event.
Updating security practices to zero trust improves your data safety and builds greater trust with new and existing customers. Using the latest in security keeps companies ahead of the curve, giving them an advantage over the competition while simplifying their security stacks. Zero trust simplifies security solutions across all networks and portals rather than relying on redundant use of legacy perimeter measures like firewalls and secure gateways for each. Then, the protocols used by zero trust architecture constantly adapt to user behavior, easing use of applications. This applies to both employees and clients.
When migrating to a zero trust policy for customer facing portals and web applications, clients benefit from ease of use in addition to enhanced security measures. This provides a better customer experience, strengthens security and helps to avoid loss in customer confidence.
Purpose limitation is a pillar of both existing data regulations and zero trust. Keeping data access on a need-to-know basis limits its vulnerability to breach and fulfills existing compliance regulations. As regulations expand to protect consumer data, companies can expect more regions to adapt a purpose limitation clauses to protect consumer data.
Migrating to a zero trust architecture now prepares enterprise data for regulations that may arise in the future. A zero trust infrastructure builds upon least privileged access, granting users and employees access to only the data they require in their roles. Business owners and IT administrators are then able to expand or further limit access as needed and create additional entry challenges for users if necessary. This keeps data protected, secured and compliant as regulations are updated or changed.
Using security policies like zero trust that are easily updated as needed also saves companies from unnecessary upgrade costs if regulations become more restrictive. With relative ease compared to legacy perimeter security measures, zero trust policies can be modified as compliance regulations change.
For business owners, understanding zero trust security can be explained by its effect on company financials. Not only does zero trust provide the latest in cybersecurity to best protect company data, it offers huge savings when it comes to addressing data breach.
In their annual report on the cost of data breaches, IBM explored and analyzed the costs associated with data breaches affecting organizations using zero trust security. The results prove that zero trust benefits the price of a data breach as much as it protects against breaches themselves.
Organizations with fully deployed zero trust saw an average cost of just $3.28 million while those without zero trust averaged a data breach cost of $5.04 million. And zero trust didn’t have to be fully deployed for an organization to see the savings of the security model either. Organizations with only partially deployed zero trust security still saved $660,000 on average against those without zero trust. These figures show that zero trust is a benefit for IT as well as the company as a whole.
The policies in zero trust security aren’t new. Cybersecurity principles like multi-factor authentication, microsegmentation, and least privileged access have been around for some time. What’s new is how zero trust uses them. By assuming no user or device is trustworthy and requiring additional verification while limiting access provides increased security to organizations. As a result networks, data and users will be better protected and prepared as cybercrimes and business trends evolve.
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But don’t just take our word for it…