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6 Myths About Zero Trust Security

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The Zero Trust security model is not new. It’s been around since John Kindervag from the Forrester Research wrote his paper “No More Chewy Centers: Introducing the Zero Trust Model of Information Security” in 2010.

The Zero Trust approach is centered around the belief that no user or application should be inherently trusted, even those already inside the network perimeter.

This idea is already being embraced by large companies and organizations like Google, Coca-Cola, and the NSA to combat the growing threat of cyberattacks. However, there are still roadblocks impeding its mainstream adoption.


Myths About Zero Trust Security

As organizations’ interest in the Zero-Trust model approach increase, some misconceptions about the basic principles of the framework have got in the way of adoption. Here are a few myths you shouldn’t believe.

Myth One: Zero Trust Creates a Culture of Mistrust

Distrust

A common misconception about Zero Trust is that it promotes the idea of not trusting your employees. While the Zero Trust framework requires companies to scrutinize users accessing their network resources, it shouldn’t be misinterpreted as something personal.

The fact is that trust represents a vulnerability that can put your organization at risk of an attack. Cybercriminals specifically exploit trust to target companies, and Zero Trust offers a way to mitigate this. It’s equivalent to a key card entry instead of allowing everyone to enter a building.

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By using the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP), organizations can personalize their threshold policies so that users are granted access only to the resources they need based on the trust they’ve earned.

Myth Two: Zero Trust Is a Product

Zero Trust is a strategy or framework, not a product. It’s built around the idea of never trusting and always verifying.

The various products offered by vendors can help achieve Zero Trust; however, they are not Zero Trust products. They are merely products that work well in the Zero Trust environment. So, if a vendor asks you to buy their Zero Trust product, that’s an indication they don’t understand the underlying concept.


Related: What Is a Zero Trust Network and How Does It Protect Your Data?

When properly integrated with the Zero Trust architecture, various products can effectively minimize the attack surface and contain the blast radius in case of a breach. Once fully implemented, a Zero Trust solution with continuous verification can completely eliminate the attack surface.

Myth Three: There’s Only One Way to Implement Zero Trust

Zero Trust is a collection of security principles that involves constant verification, the Principle of Least Privilege access, and mitigating the attack surface.

Over the years, two approaches have emerged to get started with a Zero Trust model. The first approach starts with identity and involves multi-factor authentication, which delivers quick results.

Related: What Is Two-Factor Authentication? Here’s Why You Should Be Using It

The second approach is network-centric and starts with network segmentation. The concept involves creating network segments to control traffic within and between those segments. Network admins can then maintain separate authorization to each segment, thus limiting the spread of lateral threats in a system.

Myth Four: Zero Trust Only Serves Large Enterprises

organizations

Google was one of the first companies to deploy the Zero Trust architecture in response to Operation Aurora in 2009. This was a series of attacks aimed at large enterprises like Google, Yahoo, Morgan Stanley, and Adobe Systems.

When Google adopted the Zero Trust model immediately following the attacks, many businesses thought (and still think) it only applies to large organizations. This notion would be true only if cyberattacks were confined to big enterprises, which is not the case. In reality, about 46 percent of data breaches in 2021 were aimed at small businesses.


While the media tends to cover data breaches affecting large enterprises, there’s no question that small businesses also need protection against cyberattacks.

The good news is that small organizations don’t have to break the bank to implement the Zero Trust model. Since it’s not a product, businesses can introduce it gradually by allocating a modest yearly investment in the Zero Trust architecture.

Myth Five: Zero Trust Impedes User Experience

User-Experience

One of the impediments to Zero Trust adoption is the perceived impact on user experience. It’s understandable to assume that the productivity and agility of users would suffer when continuously verifying users’ identities. However, when appropriately implemented, Zero Trust can deliver a user-friendly experience.

Organizations can assess user profiles and combine risk-based authentication with machine learning to identify risks and make quick access decisions. If the risk is high, the system may require an additional authentication step or entirely block access to safeguard its resources. On the contrary, it can eliminate authentication challenges if the risk is low.


A Zero Trust approach also reduces complexity on the administrative side of things. Contractors and employees will no longer be security liabilities in case they stop doing business with you. Under an efficient Zero Trust model, the system will immediately terminate their access to key assets, eliminating back doors.

Myth Six: Zero Trust Is Limited to On-Prem Environment

Many businesses still view Zero Trust as a model that can only be managed on-premises. This becomes a major issue since sensitive data now resides in hybrid and cloud environments. With cyberattacks and hacks impacting on-prem architecture on the rise, more and more businesses are moving to the cloud.

The good news is that Zero Trust is quickly moving with it.

Related: Top Cloud Security Data Breaches in Recent Years

By establishing a Zero Trust architecture in the cloud, companies can protect sensitive data and reduce exposure of vulnerable assets in their network.

Additionally, as the remote-work culture intensifies and cybercriminals develop new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, businesses that rely on on-prem infrastructure risk disruption.

Never Trust; Always Verify

Based on the number of data breaches targeting organizations, it’s evident that the old-school approach towards security isn’t enough. While many believe that Zero Trust is expensive and time-consuming, it’s a fantastic antidote to the security problems of right now.

The Zero Trust model seeks to remove trust-based systems simply because it gets exploited too often in cyberattacks. It works on the principle that everyone and everything should be verified before gaining access to the network resources. This is a worthy pursuit for companies looking to reduce risks and improve their security posture.


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