Why a Zero-Trust Model for Email Security is Critical
- by Justice Levine
Zero-trust security is a policy consisting of zero trust among users, providers, network traffic, and even those inside the network. Zero-trust policies allow you to take a network breach as a given and assume that all activity is malicious while forcing you to ask how to best protect assets and whether the network itself can be trusted.
Zero-trust encourages the point that you should “never trust, always verify,” as users, platform providers, and network traffic should be treated as potential threats, and additional measures are necessary to minimize risks. Implementing this framework helps to make sure that only the creator and authorized recipient have access to the sensitive content. This article will discuss the benefits of implementing a zero-trust model and why it is critical to the security of your business email.
Why Zero-Trust is Crucial For the Security of Your Business
Zero-Trust strategies help protect against large-scale data breaches both of a company’s information and that of their customers, insecure email sharing and misconfigured or exposed cloud services that leave the intellectual property vulnerable. As cloud computing and integrations become more widespread, this trend will continue to grow, especially as more data is now stored in the cloud than on private servers or consumer devices.
Unfortunately, less than 1 in 10 cloud providers encrypt data that is at rest within their service, and 1 in 3 networks have exposed passwords, while 3 in 4 have mediocre control over the account access. Zero-Trust helps to bridge the gaps from insufficient protection of sensitive data found in network security.
Zero-Trust strategies reduce the chance of a breach with a result of 50% fewer breaches as well as 40% fewer expenses spent on technology due to integration, according to results from a recent study.
Statistics show that 90% of cyberattacks start with a phishing campaign, and 30% of phishing messages are opened. By implementing a Zero-Trust strategy to your email security plan, anti-phishing capabilities will grow. Enforcing a zero-trust policy for email security helps to protect both inside and outside of company networks, improves compliance, and increases deliverability.
Three Elements of Zero-Trust
Zero-Trust security is based on three core principles; verify every user; validate every device; intelligently limit access.
Verify every user
Confirming a user’s identity often falls short when organizations only rely on one verification method, such as single sign-on. Single sign-on (SSO) has a lot of security advantages, but creates security gaps should one credential get stolen, or if someone doesn’t lock their device.
With behavior-based access, machine learning, and intelligent technology, organizations can learn the behavior of their employees and can block an employee’s access when a suspicious variation is detected.
Validate every device
Ensuring safety requires devices having adaptive MFA to go along with your password. MFA-supported passwords combined with device management, the right policies on the device and locked in place, and the context of the device understood, make it safe to decide on access.
Intelligently limit access
The last element focuses on an organization’s resources, who is granted access, and what is needed to accomplish their job. Should an employee change roles, their access should change to fit their new job, or if they leave, those privileges should be revoked.
It is vital that these capabilities are integrated so they can be applied in real time without creating delays to access decisions for APIs.
Applying Zero-Trust to Email Security
Roughly 68% of phishing attempts have never been seen before and last only 12 minutes. This is because criminals have automated phishing to avoid detection. Existing email security systems are content and context centric, using an AI/ML model to estimate risk factors based on what's in a message.
This type of system needs to identify and classify a phishing attack once at a minimum before the same type of attempt can be blocked in the future. The majority of attempts are brand new, leaving systems vulnerable to zero-day phishing attacks.
A zero-trust solution focuses on identifying legitimate senders and enables the inbox to automatically flag, block, or send to spam everything that doesn’t come from a trusted sender list. This email security model is vital to closing gaps created by slips in identity-based email attacks. Authenticating everything eliminates areas of policy ambiguity that criminals can sneak through.
This applies to most digital interactions, such as payments, logging into websites, and authenticating employees. A Zero-Trust approach redefines email security by not allowing messages to be delivered to the inbox unless they are from an authenticated sender who has been granted permission to deliver messages.
The Bottom Line
Phishing attacks are showing no signs of lessening and so businesses must work harder to ensure the security of their email to avoid falling victim to a phishing attack. Adopting a zero-trust framework forces senders to prove they deserve to enter your inbox before they actually do. Adding a filtering solution that is multi-layered, works harmoniously to detect and block threats in real-time, building on each other to provide stronger, more effective protection on top of that foundation helps to catch anything that may unknowingly pass through, such as messages sent from compromised accounts. Only with this approach to email security can we confirm email can be truly trusted.
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