Is Zero Trust Beneficial For Businesses?

Zero Trust might be the most cryptic and hyped trend in cybersecurity at the moment. Beyond being a trend, it's also a fundamental concept and represents the best hope of stopping the significant increase in cyberattacks. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion concerning which cybersecurity tools help achieve Zero Trust and which ones pretend to live up to their potential.

Zero Trust is the most abused and misunderstood security term today. This article will discuss the common misconceptions that make experts wary, the difficulties of implementing Zero Trust, and why the tool benefits your business’ email security.

What Can Zero Trust Do For Your Business?

Zero Trust is a security framework that requires all users in or outside the organization’s network to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated for security configuration and posture before being granted or keeping access to applications and data. Networks can be local, in the cloud, a combination, or hybrid with resources anywhere and workers in any location. Zero Trust is a framework for securing infrastructure and data and addresses the challenges businesses face, including ensuring remote workers, hybrid cloud environments, and malware ransomware threats.

Executing Zero Trust combines advanced technologies such as risk-based multi-factor authentication, identity protection, next-generation endpoint threat protection, and robust cloud email security technologies to verify a user or system's identity, consider access at that moment, and maintain system security. Zero Trust also requires consideration of data encryption, securing email, and verifying the hygiene of assets and endpoints before they connect to applications.

Traditional network email security followed the “trust but verify” method, automatically trusting users and endpoints within the organization’s perimeter. This method ultimately risks the organization from malicious internal actors and legitimate credentials being taken over by malicious actors, enabling wide-reaching access to unauthorized and compromised accounts once inside.

Zero Trust architecture requires organizations to continuously monitor and validate that users and their devices have the correct privileges and attributes. Additionally, the architecture requires enforcing a policy that considers the risk of the user and device, along with compliance or other requirements to consider before permitting the transaction. The organization must know all its service and privileged accounts to establish controls about what and where they connect. 

More than one-time validation is required as threats and user attributes are subject to change, and 80% of all attacks involve credentials used or misused in the network. Therefore, additional protections for credentials and data must extend to email security and secure email gateway providers as this helps ensure greater password security, the integrity of accounts, adherence to organizational rules, and avoiding high-risk shadow IT services.

What Are the Seven Pillars of Zero Trust?

Many organizations have referred to the Forrester Zero Trust eXtended (ZTX) model to help migrate from a perimeter-based email security architecture to a Zero Trust framework. The Forrester framework breaks down seven necessary pillars to properly deploy Zero Trust security, including:

Workforce Security

This pillar uses security tools, such as authentication and access control policies, to identify and validate the user attempting to connect to the network. Afterward, they can apply policies limiting access to parts of the system to decrease the cyber attack surface area if needed.

Device Security

The primary goal of this pillar is identification and authorization. When devices attempt to connect to enterprise resources, they could be user-controlled or completely autonomous.

Workload Security

This pillar refers to the applications, digital processes, and public and private IT resources an organization uses for operational purposes. Security is wrapped around each workload to ensure data loss prevention, unauthorized access, or tampering with sensitive apps and services.

Network Security

This pillar is used to help microsegment and isolate sensitive resources from being accessed by unauthorized people or things.

Data Security

This pillar centers around the categorization of corporate data so that it can be isolated from everyone except those who need access. It also includes the process of determining where data should be stored and the use of encryption mechanisms while data is in transit and at rest.

Visibility and Analytics

Security processes around access control, segmentation, encryption, and application or data organization must be monitored. This pillar may use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate processes, including anomaly detection, configuration control, and end-to-end data visibility.

Automation and Orchestration

The last pillar covers ways organizations can automate and centrally control the entire Zero Trust model on the LAN, WAN, wireless WAN, and public or private data centers.

Security leaders can implement these seven pillars of the ZTX model to apply the appropriate cybersecurity tools and better secure IT. Zero Trust posts are designed to help IT security administrators identify, organize, and implement the proper security tools that satisfy the overall goal of a Zero Trust strategy.

What Are Common Zero Trust Misconceptions?

While the framework has rapidly grown in reputation in recent years, there are still many myths and misconceptions regarding Zero Trust and how it relates to your organization.

Zero Trust is a Solution or Software You Can Implement

The first assumption most people make when they hear about Zero Trust is that it’s a product or software that will enhance their existing cybersecurity platforms. This is inaccurate. Zero Trust is not a plug-in solution; instead, it is a set of principles and best practices designed to change prevailing mindsets and approaches to cybersecurity. The most important result of Zero Trust is organizational behavior and value change.

Zero Trust Means Trusting No One

The Zero Trust motto, “never trust, always verify,” is often a misconceived belief that trust should be eliminated across an entire organization. It indicates a need to move away from assuming trust since it could allow unchecked access throughout a network to a user. Zero Trust thinks all network traffic is potentially malicious, meaning every user should be verified and authenticated to access sensitive data or systems. Overall, trust is provided following verification rather than right from the get-go.

Zero Trust is Only About Security

Improving security is a significant benefit of Zero Trust. Still, it can also help to improve compliance, enhance productivity, and support the use of new technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). Adopting a zero-trust approach can improve email security and support your organization's evolution.

Zero Trust is a One-Time Implementation

Zero Trust is an ongoing process, as the threat landscape is constantly evolving, and your security strategy must be able to adapt. A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help you continuously monitor and update your zero-trust implementation, ensuring that it remains effective, protecting your organization from new and emerging threats, and ensuring your email security software strategy remains effective.

Zero-trust is Only Relevant For Larger Organizations

Because larger organizations represent more obviously lucrative targets for cyberattacks, small and mid-size enterprises are often under the impression they don’t need to invest in cybersecurity.

Zero-trust is Not a Panacea

Zero Trust is a preferable email security framework for businesses of all sizes. Zero Trust is not the solution against all cyber threats. Organizations need other security measures to bolster it, mainly because less than 1% of large organizations have a mature and measurable Zero Trust program.

Solving Zero Trust Challenges

Zero Trust has challenges but remains the preferred posture for security-conscious companies. To mitigate the inherent risks, consider the following:

Run Zero Trust Trials

Before implementing Zero Trust, conduct user trials and security evaluations, as this gives users experience employing these types of systems, admins the opportunity to manage these types of systems, and security teams a chance to practice responding to incidents and email security issues.

Start Small

Start small when entering Zero Trust into live environments, and don't abandon legacy systems altogether. Identify the most sensitive data and critical workflows, and subject them to stricter access controls, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), privileged access, and session management.

Scale Slowly

Scale the deployment once prosperous. Gradually introducing Zero Trust email security helps maintain the continuity of a cybersecurity strategy. Companies begin locking down crucial assets, but because they're not entirely abandoning one system for another, they're exposed to fewer threats.

Marriott Hotels Suffers Data Breach That Hit Millions

In 2018 the Marriott Hotels chain was fined £18.4 million ($22 million) for a significant data breach that may have affected up to 339 million guests.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said names, contact information, and passport details might all have been compromised in a cyberattack and included seven million guest records for people in the UK. The ICO said the company failed to put appropriate safeguards in place. Still, despite imposing a fine, the ICO acknowledged that Marriott had acted quickly once it found the flaw and had improved its systems since.

The first part of the cyberattack happened in 2014, affecting the Starwood Hotels group, which was acquired by Marriott two years later. The problem went unnoticed for four more years, and the attacker had access to all affected systems, such as names, email addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, arrival and departure information, VIP status, and loyalty program numbers. On that basis, the ICO said Marriott had failed to protect personal data as required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Keep Learning About the Benefits of Zero Trust

Understanding how Zero Trust can assist your organization is valuable in determining how to protect your company from data breach and other email security issues. As companies and government agencies begin implementing Zero Trust architectures, the highest-level executives must propose and approve initiatives to ensure success.

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