Digital transformation is creating a wealth of new opportunities for today’s businesses, but it’s also increasing the risks to the security of their data and information assets. From “living-off-the-land” attacks to novel strains of ransomware, it seems each new day brings potential dangers. With attackers constantly innovating, it can be a real challenge to design a robust information security architecture that’s resilient enough to defend against as-yet-unknown threats.
That’s why it’s critical to adopt the Zero Trust model of information security. Putting Zero Trust at the center of your security architecture means eliminating the idea that there’s a zone inside the corporate network’s perimeters in which all traffic can be trusted. It means abolishing “Default Allow”—for user actions, for traffic and for unknown file execution—throughout your IT environment. It means segmenting the network, restricting lateral movement and revoking default permissions. Zero Trust assumes every unknown— a file, data packet or user action—carries risk and seeks to identify and contain all potential risks, so as to defend against tomorrow’s threats as well as yesterday’s.
Zero Trust can provide a blueprint for your information security architecture, but it’s also a mindset. These three central concepts are at its core.
1. Never trust, always verify.
You must stop thinking users and devices inside the perimeter of your network can be trusted. Instead, assume all traffic is potential threat traffic until proven otherwise.
2. Protect customer and business data.
Zero Trust is fundamentally a data-centric approach. Securing your data begins with a thorough understanding of where it’s stored, how it’s used, why it’s sensitive and what might put it at risk.
3. Continuously monitor your infrastructure and network traffic.
Monitoring and logging all traffic passing through your network on an ongoing basis is crucial for preventing incursions from becoming breaches.
Additionally, building a Zero Trust architecture into your IT ecosystem is an ongoing process that involves technologies, processes and people. It involves changing how employees, not just business or IT leaders, think about data access, security and risk. Here are the five most critical steps to take to set your organization on this path.
1. Change your mindset
Instead of thinking “How can I keep attackers off my network?” you should inquire “How can I build a set of protections that will travel with my data no matter where it is located?” and “How can I ensure that security is central to all our digital business processes?”
2. Map data and transaction flows within your organization.
Understanding where your data resides and how it flows is where Zero Trust begins. Capture a comprehensive inventory of data assets within a data-flow diagram that shows how your data is created, collected, used and stored.
3. Define microperimeters around sensitive data
When you set microperimeters, you establish strict access control rules and policies that enforce data security regardless of where your users, their devices or the services they’re accessing are located.
4. Validate every device and endpoint.
Unknown devices should never be allowed to access your organization’s network unless they have security controls installed that you’re able to manage and administer. Ensure that you have granular device discovery capabilities in place.
5. Continuously monitor your Zero Trust Ecosystem
Once you’ve defined the microperimeters around your most sensitive data repositories, established granular access controls, and implemented a solution that gives you complete visibility into connected endpoints, you’ll need to monitor these systems on an ongoing basis.
Achieving Zero Trust throughout your entire organization’s IT environment isn’t simple or easy. But with annual losses to cybercrime exceeding $3 trillion per year globally, and projected to continue to climb, the benefits to developing robust and truly effective defenses have never been greater.
If you can bring stakeholders from across the business together to support a Zero Trust initiative, you will be building a more resilient cybersecurity posture and be poised to take better advantage of digital transformation’s many benefits.
To learn more about how to build Zero Trust into the foundation of your organization’s information security architecture, download our new eBook “Preventing Breaches by Building a Zero Trust Architecture,” today.
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