5 things you need to know about zero-trust security

zero-trust security

Despite its ominous-sounding name, zero-trust security isn’t about not trusting anyone and implementing oppressive measures that get in the way of routine workflows. At its core, the term means what it implies — the end of implicit trust. It’s about implementing security by design and default, rather than having it tacked on afterward.

Zero-trust security has garnered a lot of attention in recent years, thanks largely to the rise of cloud and mobile computing. Conventional cybersecurity measures, by contrast, refer to the internal company network, in which people were trusted largely because of their physical location.

Here are five things you need to know about the zero-trust model:

#1. It enhances productivity | zero-trust security

One of the most common misconceptions about zero-trust security is that it will require more logins for end users. After all, the model requires users to be authenticated every time they do anything involving a data-bearing system. But that doesn’t mean they need to enter their login credentials over and over. Instead, single sign-on systems (SSOs), combined with multifactor authentication (MFA), reduce the number of verification steps visible to end users.

#2. Cloud technology makes it easier

Zero-trust security departs from password-centric network security solutions, changing the way apps and data are accessed. While it’s possible to implement the zero-trust framework in an existing on-premises data center, cloud migration makes things a lot easier while also presenting benefits like reduced costs and flexibility. Many cloud-hosted software solutions come with zero-trust security built in, allowing you to adapt them to your policies through customizable administration dashboards.

#3. It augments your VPN

Zero-trust security ensures that every user-to-server communication channel is authenticated. In the past, enterprise-grade VPNs were used to control and monitor traffic flow. These are still essential for businesses, particularly those still using legacy systems and in-house data centers. But application-specific security controls such as MFA and encryption add an extra layer of protection when employees are accessing work files remotely.

#4. Zero-trust fortifies the weakest links

Traditional enterprise security environments revolved around the moat-and-castle concept, in which firewalls would keep the bad stuff out while implicitly trusting all traffic within the network. But with human error being the weakest link in the average organization, most threats come from within. That’s not to say you shouldn’t trust your employees — it just means that every access point and application needs to be protected on an individual basis. That’s better than having a single point of failure that can leave your entire network vulnerable.

#5. It provides better visibility | zero-trust security

Most companies don’t discover a data breach until several months after it actually happens, leaving them struggling to find its source. With the zero-trust model, every action is recorded. Each system comes with a complete audit trail of each access attempt, like which data was accessed, at which time, from which device, and which geographical location. This provides administrators with full oversight over systems, while allowing them to identify potential threats faster and more accurately.