Understanding Zero Trust
Able to get past even the most sophisticated and complicated cybersecurity programs, cybercriminals aka “cyberpirates” are stealing vital information from companies right and left. Not to fear – there is a new cyber security approach that is able to stop these cybercriminals dead in their tracks: the zero trust network model, also known as ZTN.
ZTN is a cutting-edge cybersecurity approach with an overarching theme that no one, no matter their position or role, can be blindly trusted with company data. In fact, the entire model operates on the notion of “least privilege access,” meaning that it grants users permission to access only the resources required and not a shred of additional data is made accessible to anyone. Ever. And even when its users are able to gain initial access to the data they need, they must repeatedly authenticate their identity to avoid being kicked off of the system. Is this security overkill? Nope. It works.
Why Traditional VPNs Fall Short
Before the advent of ZTNs, virtual private networks, or VPNs, were primarily relied upon for security. This technology’s main plus is that it encrypts tunnels between corporate networks and authorized end-user devices, though most of its access is limited to use in the office. This creates serious accessibility issues for SMBs who have remote workers. In contrast, user location is irrelevant for a ZTN as the model grants access to information based on a user’s identity and role.
VPNs and ZTNs are on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to cybersecurity. VPNs allow authenticated users to access company data freely throughout the network. ZTNs, on the other hand, strictly limit user access to company data.
VPNs Are Insecure
SMBs are likely to employ remote and hybrid workers, which necessitates multiple types of networks and connections to be in place. Not surprisingly, this growing level of sophistication is trumped by cybercriminals’ heightened ability to hack into virtually any VPN. VPN is like safeguarding a bicycle with an old-school bike lock and chain – somewhat effective, but nothing that can stand up to a pair of bolt cutters. Take that same bike and lock it inside of a bank vault. Good luck breaking that bike out to steal it. That is the equivalent of ZTN’s ability to protect a company’s sensitive data.
Choose Zero Trust Over a VPN: Here’s Why
In addition to enhanced mobility and increased security, there are eight other key reasons to choose ZTNs over VPNs:
- Improved Visibility – Offering greater visibility into network activity, businesses are more able to identify potential threats and respond to them more quickly.
- Simplified Management – A ZTN is much easier to manage than a VPN because they have user-friendly configurations. Yes, you have to repeatedly authenticate, but doing so is simple.
- Scalability – Designed to scale easily, ZTN is ideal for SMBs that need to add or remove users or devices quickly. This saves a lot of time and aggravation.
- Enhanced Compliance – A ZTN helps SMBs with their data privacy and security compliance regulations.
- Reduced Costs – ZTNs require few hardware and software resources to deploy and maintain, which reduces costs.
- Improved User Experiences – Able to provide a seamless and simple user experience, ZTNs are less stressful and less time-consuming to engage with.
- “Future proofing” – Sensitive to emerging threats and always aware of newly-introduced technologies, ZTNs are a smart long-term investment for SMBs.
- Competitive Advantage – Companies that prioritize data privacy attract customers and partners, which can give SMBs who use ZTNs a competitive boost.
How to Implement Zero Trust
This all sounds great – where do I sign? Ah, if it were only that easy for SMBs to adopt a ZTN model. To ensure the successful implementation of a ZTN, SMBs need to take certain basic steps: identify business needs, put plans in place to implement ZTN, incorporate tools that will help achieve zero trust, identify sensitive data that needs to be protected, and commit to continual monitoring to safeguard against attacks, breaches, and compliance issues.
The Importance of Adapting Your Cybersecurity Plans
Implementing and maintaining a ZTN is not a one-and-then-done activity; rather, a ZTN framework requires ongoing maintenance and customization in order to remain effective. “Zero Trust represents a new way of thinking about cybersecurity, where security is a continuous process that is continually monitored and where every employee is a team member,” says Jeff Ton, Institute Fellow with the Institute for Digital Transformation.
An Action Plan for Cyber Resilience
Given that it’s significantly difficult to protect against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, SMBs must reduce the impact of cyber breaches by becoming more cyber resilient. This requires a systematic, structured, adaptive approach, and ZTNs are just the ticket.
Do you want to know more about how Zero Trust can keep your company network safe? Get in touch with our team now.