Impact Group: Blog
Can Zero Trust Help Small and Medium-Size Businesses?
In this post we’ll look at how implementing Zero Trust can improve the overall security posture of small and medium enterprises.
Due to today’s rapid technological advancement, companies are increasingly utilizing enterprise resource planning software to manage processes such as financial transaction handling, sales management, and inventory handling. The drawback of being reliant on SaaS powered applications, is that attackers have become very good at exploiting vulnerabilities in information systems, cloud powered platforms included.
Adopting Zero Trust can help greatly improve SMB’s security posture while allowing the enterprise to continue adopting cutting edge technologies and platforms.
WHAT IS ZERO TRUST?
Zero Trust is a security model also known as ‘perimeterless security’ which assumes the traditional network edge has morphed and can now be found anywhere: on premise, in the cloud and in hybrid environments where the organization houses its data.
With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated at a rate the security industry is finding difficult to keep up with, the Zero Trust cyber security framework deserves more attention than ever.
The Zero Trust security model requires all the users in the company – both internal and external – to repeatedly prove themselves as way of protecting information systems from unauthorized access. The principle of Zero Trust requires all users connected to the organization’s network to be authenticated, authorized in real-time, and continuously validated if needing access to the enterprise system. The premise here is that the implementation of the Zero Trust framework can help to secure the business infrastructure from emerging threats.
HOW DOES ZERO TRUST WORK?
The working principles behind the Zero Trust framework is a combination of different methodologies ranging from risk based multi-factor authentication, identity protection algorithms, end-point security, and the utilization of advanced cloud workload technologies, all with the aim of verifying users in real time vs. relying on databases.
The Zero Trust technology can work at different levels of the organization – from Finance to HR and Sales, to protect crucial information. It’s a comprehensive mechanism of blocking malicious activity through deployment of several security layers within the enterprise system. For instance, instead of using passwords as a way of accessing the information system, businesses can adopt a multi-factor approach (combination of password, one time password (OTP), and biometrics readers).
THE BENEFITS OF ZERO TRUST
One major advantage of implementing Zero Trust is the enablement of secure access to remote users at different locations. After the emergence of coronavirus pandemic, working remotely was heavily promoted as a way of reducing the spread of the virus. Overnight the Zero Trust solution all but replaced traditional Virtual Private Networks (VPN). The adoption of this approach has allowed organizations to manage a lot more dynamic and fluid networks, without compromising on security. For example, Zero Trust enables the real-time creation and revocation of access policies based on identity and privileges, while further adjusting any privilege change synchronously. The Zero Trust security model is very scalable and resilient in light of the increased need for remote connections, and more efficient handling cyber threats.
Another benefit of adopting the Zero Trust approach is the unified endpoint security management for critical assets within the business. The process for implementing Zero Trust security starts with identification of the critical assets (valuable data, application and services). Through identifying the critical assets in the organization, the next phase entails prioritizing the assets through a comprehensive zero trust technology. Such approach not only safeguards users, but also safeguards the users, application and infrastructure within the business.
While Zero Trust is not a magic bullet and has been around for a long time, the times we’re living in have made it more relevant than ever. Small and medium size businesses should remember the following when looking at revamping their information security architecture:
- Any size business can adopt the best practices normally driven by larger enterprises
- Implementing strong identity authentication, ‘least access privileges’ policies, and verification of the user integrity, are within reach for any size organization. The smaller, the easier it can be to increase the security posture
- Developing a roadmap and getting started is better than not doing anything and only hoping a breach won’t occur
Here’s how cybersecurity company NuSpire has outlined the steps any organization should be aware of when planning out their journey to better security using the Zero Trust model:
- Discover your assets, including networks, servers, PCs, laptops, mobile devices, physical storage and data.
- Classify data assets, including intellectual property, customer and employee information and assets in content management systems, according to type, sensitivity and value. This exercise helps you apply appropriate data protection strategies and comply with applicable regulations.
- Implement an identity and access management solution. Look for flexibility to set identity policies and apply automation features. Choose a sustainable multifactor authentication process.
- Implement an endpoint protection solution to protect against threats such as malware, ransomware and zero-day attacks.
- Implement an email security solution with granular control that classifies email types and detects and blocks threats.
- Implement a web security solution that protects users browsing the web.
- Implement a proxy solution for applications, cloud access and/or services. A cloud access security broker (CASB) solution, for example, can address security gaps in SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
IMPACT Group is helping small and medium-size organizations from different industries to get started with their journey to Zero Trust. Reach out to us if you need a partner who can help consult and guide you through this process.
George Bakalov is the Director of Cybersecurity at IMPACT Group, a leading Twin Cities Managed Service Provider, helping Minnesota-based organizations manage through and navigate the complexities and challenges of IT, among which is cybersecurity. Click here to get in touch with him and our team, and to discuss your strategic or immediate IT needs.