Today, it is painfully apparent that mere perimeter defenses are not enough to protect your data and communications from malicious intruders. For this reason, misplaced trust and the role that it plays in undermining security is coming under increased scrutiny by system administrators.
In a recent Forbes Insights survey of over 1,000 security experts, 66% said they had zero trust policies for access, application behavior, and devices, while 9 out of 10 organizations that the survey identified as “cybersecurity trailblazers” also had zero trust policies in force.
The notion that a user should receive unlimited access to a communication system because they have a username and password is being increasingly questioned and has fed the growth of the so-called zero trust security model.
The zero trust model takes a “trust no one and trust nothing” stance when it comes to security. For example, even if a user has a valid username and password but tries to access a system from a new location or unfamiliar device, they should have their access challenged.
Common Misconceptions about the Zero Trust Model
From its implementation to its overall functionality, many misconceptions surround the zero trust security architecture. Below we debunk 5 major myths about the zero trust model and outline how it can help to improve an organization’s overall data security.
1. Only Large Organizations Can Benefit from Zero Trust
Google is known as one of the first major companies to adopt zero trust as a security model. This has led to the misconception that this architecture is only for the biggest organizations. In reality, however, nobody is safe from a cyberattack, so implementing a zero trust model makes sense even for smaller businesses.
Sitelock’s 2019 Website Security Report states that attacks on small businesses increased by 59% in 2018. On average, there were 62 attacks per day over the year, with a peak of 80 per day in December. According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report of 2019, 43% of all cyberattacks are targeted at small businesses.
Still, there is the good news that zero trust security is affordable. No matter how small your business, you can get started with implementing a zero trust strategy by taking a step-by-step, cost-effective approach. By spending just a couple of hundred dollars per year, you could shield yourself from fines, losses, or brand damage.
2. You Need to Rip Up and Replace Your Existing System
Many businesses avoid implementing a zero trust architecture as they believe it would require them to completely overhaul their existing security measures. However in reality, as this model is meant to augment existing security protocols, there are typically very few disruptions when it is implemented. What this means is that, with a zero trust system in place, you can enjoy a simplified but smarter and more powerful security model that offers increased operational efficiency while being more cost-effective.
Implemented as a network-centric solution, the zero trust architecture is infinitely scalable, can be set up fairly quickly, and offers your organization a viable security solution without the expense and disruption caused by a “rip and replace.”
3. Zero Trust Means a Loss of Control
Security practitioners are, by the very nature of their job, control freaks. For this reason, one of the biggest fears that they have about moving to and using the cloud and implementing zero trust is a perceived lack of control and loss of visibility. Despite the major evolution in due diligence on the part of cloud service providers’ security, the responsibility of securing a system still remains a shared effort between your data security professionals and the CSP. With that being said, their job is made a lot easier thanks to this shared responsibility.
4. Zero Trust Results in Negative User Experiences
A major impediment to the adoption of security measures has always been the perceived negative impact on users’ productivity and agility. Your employees often expect to be able to work and communicate on the go, using whatever device they want. With many workplaces allowing a BYOD strategy, the issue is further complicated, with organizations forced to tread a fine line between protectionism and allowing more flexibility.
However, poor password management among users remains one of the greatest cybersecurity threats. A Centrify survey determined that 74% of breaches occurred as a result of unauthorized access using a privileged account. Today, hackers aren’t breaking in, they are gaining privileged access and strolling in through the front door.
This is where zero risk authentication comes into play. Using machine learning technology, the model can learn to define and enforce your access policies on the basis of user behavior. By combining analytics, policy enforcement, user profiles, and machine learning, access decisions are made in real-time, eliminating any authentication challenges for lower-risk access and stepping them up if the system senses higher risk.
5. Zero Trust Can Only Be Deployed On-Site
By 2020, 90% of businesses are expected to move their operations onto hybrid cloud infrastructures, according to a report by Gartner. This leads us to the next myth.
Some organizations think that zero trust only works on-premises but is not effective on the public cloud. This is a major concern for sensitive data storage or communications occurring outside your network perimeter.
However, the fact of the matter is that it is easy to extend zero trust to applications that reside within the cloud environment. The implementation of this architecture will become essential as different systems move toward hybrid, multi-cloud implementations. What’s more, zero trust is designed to not only cover network devices, databases, and infrastructure, but also other strategic business systems, like DevOps containers and big data.
Why Your Business Communications Need to Adopt a Zero Trust Model
Besides the obvious advantages of securing your data, the implementation of a zero trust model leads to increased business confidence. A Forrester study established that companies that implement zero trust are more confident in adopting mobile work structures and DevOps environments. Zero trust gives you the ability to accelerate newer business models and offer your customers a better experience with more assurance of success.
Wickr is a corporate communications solution that utilizes the best in security practices, including end-to-end encryption and zero trust authentication. Download Wickr today, and enjoy secure enterprise communications.