p>With the move to remote working and the increased use of remote access to systems and data, IT Security has become of great importance. In the broader sense, Cyber Security has taken a more holistic approach to the overall digital security landscape.
One model that is gaining some traction is the Zero Trust Architecture (“ZTA”) model.
ZTA – What is it?
The ZTA model, simply put, trusts nothing, with the basic premise that any person or device interacting with your systems is a potential security threat, It starts with airtight access management and denies access to unauthorised devices and users through strict authentication.
These principles are applied at all levels of the network architecture. In some applications, the network is segmented, with movement between segments strictly policed.
Why You need ZTA
Non-ZTA IT security models are usually focused on the network perimeter and less so on internal network activity. They assume that once inside, activities can be trusted. That is not the case. Recent advances in hacking and cyber-attacks make that a very dangerous assumption.
If you only guard the perimeter, it means that once inside the perimeter, malware can spread rapidly laterally over the internal network.
Cyber Security ZTA models are designed to address lateral movement in networks to stop the spread of malware, as far as is possible.
Here are five benefits that flow from adopting a ZTA IT Security model :
Simplified IT Management
One of the founding principles of ZTA is continuous monitoring and analysis, often by an AI- driven engine. This means that existing staff can be redeployed to more productive roles while routine management and authorisations are managed automatically.
Better Performance from your Security Team
Allied to automated processes is a security team that works smarter. Having the automated engines collect data and carry out routine tasks, means that your security team can work on analysing timely and accurate data to identify potential threats.
In addition, automated processing can remove background noise from the collected data, making a more effective and productive security team.
Better Data Protection
Implementing a ZTA zero-privilege environment can make makes it easier to identify rogue employees trying to breach security or malware attacks starting up. Alerts generated by the automated process will help security staff to implement remedies much more quickly, something that is absolutely vital in a DDoS attack.
Further, it allows security to limit what users can access and how long they can access it for, reducing the impact of a breach. Ideally, it will prevent attackers finding the data they want to steal.
Security in a Remote Working Environment
Back in the day, IT had total control of the devices attached to the network. They knew the equipment, its configuration, and it’s anti-malware status. In a work-from-home or remote working environment, that is not possible. Users will connect using a complete variety of desktops, tablets, laptops, or smartphones, meaning that IT has no control over the device a remote user attaches to the network.
IT has an understandable worry about remote access being used as an entry point for bad actors.
The authentication paradigm needs to change. One example is that rather than applying security to a device, it is applied to a user. What they can do is determined by their user profile, irrespective of how they connect.
Some observers have noted that this moves the network perimeter from the physical firewall to user profiles and identities.
Many organisations have compliance requirements to aid later audits. User access, time and place, are needed. Tracking interactions, and identifying who did what, when and from where is an essential part of an audit trail. Having automated processes maintain the audit trail reduces the time and effort needed to uphold governance.
It will also help identify how, and who, committed a data breach is one is detected.
Moving to a ZTA environment is complex, involving cultural changes from the top of an organisation to the bottom. New policies and procedures are needed, as are new technologies and IT processes.
Overall, it will take some time to complete, but the benefits are seen immediately and can go beyond IT Security.