The corporate sector has been experiencing a dreadful wave of data breaches and cyber threats are on the rise. In a world of ‘Big Data’, enterprises fear nothing more than losing their sensitive business information. However, data breaches are misconstrued as an act of only external hackers, whereas in reality, a significant number of data breaches happen at the hands of the people within the organization. Be it accidental or intentional data leakage by an insider, or employees’ unencrypted devices being lost/stolen with corporate information in them, data breaches can very well be an inside act.
If malicious actors reside within the company’s network, then traditional cybersecurity measures are not of much use. Businesses need an approach that ensures stringent access controls for all users, inside and outside the organization. The ‘Zero-Trust’ model offers an additional layer of security and takes corporate data security to the next level.
What is the Zero-Trust Security Model?
Zero-trust is a security model that follows the principle of maintaining strict access controls. Businesses that follow a Zero-trust security model require their users to be authenticated, authorized and validated before they can access the corporate network. Whether the users are working within the organization, or outside, every user is authenticated and has access enabled just-in-time to the corporate network and resources.
With the current trend of BYOD management and remote working, employees are more prone to committing accidental data breaches and corporate data is more vulnerable than ever. The Zero-trust cybersecurity model fits perfectly in today’s enterprise mobility-driven corporate environment where you cannot completely trust your users, networks or devices.
Why Does Your Business Need the Zero-Trust Security Model?
1. Enterprise Mobility Is on the Rise
The constantly evolving digital technology is making it easy for businesses to adopt enterprise mobility and explore untapped markets and deliver better customer service. Because enterprise mobility is all about remotely operating teams, heavy dependence on mobile devices and accessing corporate resources and networks from public or remote locations, it has turned perimeter-based cybersecurity models obsolete. The ZTA drives security on a micro level, requiring every employee no matter where he operated from to provide user authentication before accessing the enterprise data.
2. WFH Environments Cannot Be Trusted
Businesses cannot completely rely on the security measures taken by their employees in a work-from-home setup. The use of untrusted WiFi, unsecure web browsing, lack of employee awareness, improper data security measures taken at home such as leaving the laptop open, sharing the work device with family members, sharing device passwords with friends and family are some of the many reasons that lead to increased security risks. With the ZTA approach, employees are enforced to offer continuous verifications and minimize security risks.
3. Businesses Rely Heavily on Third-Party Tools
The corporate world relies heavily on third-party tools and services. Businesses use a plethora of third-party applications. The app developers themselves use several third-party components to create their applications. This means that no business or app provider can be completely certain of the integrity of the application. Such app vulnerabilities create entry points for hackers to access devices on which these unsecured apps are installed and eventually lay hands on the data stored on them.
The ZTA does not allow any unauthorized application to be executed and disallows data collection permissions unless previously authenticated.
4. The BYOD Work Trend
In relation to the new work-from-home trend, employers are enabling employees to use their personal devices for work. Employees can access their corporate files, and networks, connect with their remote teams, and exchange information using their personal devices. While this has some benefits in terms of cost management and productivity, it poses alarming risks to data security.
Even though the ZTA cannot completely take control of the user’s device and configurations, it minimizes the attack surface by enforcing access controls at every level for the corporate networks.
5. The Evolving Landscape of Cyberattacks
It is true that with technological advancements, businesses are obtaining newer and better security tools and measures. But it is also equally true that using the same technological benefits, hackers today are becoming more sophisticated. Newer and more dangerous ransomware, spyware and trojans are surfacing frequently that target vulnerable and overburdened businesses. The ZTA is suitable for all businesses since it is simple to implement and offers a layer of security and prevents security vulnerabilities.
6. Data Breach Consequences Faced by Businesses
There are several reasons why businesses must reinforce their security policies in whichever way possible. The prime reason is the large consequences that enterprises have to bear in the events of corporate data breaches. There are several regulatory bodies around the globe that govern data breaches and businesses have to bear great legal consequences for failing to protect their corporate data. Moreover, businesses are at great risk of revenue loss, brand defaming and loss of customer loyalty if they have a history of data breaches.
Benefits of the Zero-Trust Security model
1. Reduces the Risk of Data Breaches
Securing sensitive corporate resources is the top priority of every business. The ZTA helps businesses reduce the risk of data breaches and deploy streamlined and secure remote management.
2. Enables Remote and Hybrid Environments
The corporate world has seen a radical shift in the work environment in the post-pandemic world. With a stringent security policy like the ZTA businesses can rest assured of their corporate data security with constantly changing work trends such as remote working, enterprise mobility, as well as newer emerging trends such as hybrid working, without hesitance.
3. Better Data Access Visibility
With the ZTA, you can decide the security and authentication measures for your networks, assets and other resources. Once the authentication system is in place you have organization-wide access to anyone who accesses your networks and resources including their details such as date, time, location, and application with each verification. This helps businesses gain greater visibility of their users’ activities and flag any abnormal or suspicious behaviors.
4. Simplify IT Management
A big part of the ZTA relies on continuous monitoring and organization-wide analytics. While this process itself sounds complex and tiring, it does bring in the scope of automation. Businesses can automate their routine IT compliance monitoring activities. This not only helps businesses save costs on a big IT workforce but also helps in-house IT teams or IT service providers to save time on redundant tasks.
5. Unified End-User Experience
One of the strategies of the ZTA is multi-factor authentication. Employees find it complex and confusing to keep up with the plethora of security and passcode policies laid down by their organizations. With multi-factor authentication, users need not remember a dozen passwords or engage in tedious password management processes.
6 Pillars of the Zero-Trust Security Model
Different businesses have different implementations of the Zero-trust security model. To implement a Zero-Trust model effectively, it is important for businesses to first know what they want to protect and what their potential risks are.
The following 6 principles are the foundational elements of the Zero-Trust security model:
1. Trusted User Identities
The Zero-Trust security model works on the ‘never trust, always verify’ approach. This approach requires businesses to enforce continuous verification and authentication every time the user attempts to access the corporate network and resources.
2. Endpoint Protection
Digital devices and endpoints are the media through which all the corporate data flows, making them the biggest potential targets for data breaches. With ZTA, access to corporate devices is granted on a per-session basis with maximum emphasis on device health and compliance.
3. Network Security
The microsegmentation, monitoring, analysis and end-to-end encryption of the on-premise and cloud networks. The corporate data exchange across diversely located remote teams happens through the corporate networks making them an important factor to consider in the ZTA security model.
4. App and API Protection
Mobile-first businesses rely heavily on applications and API. App vulnerabilities are one of the most common loopholes for cyber attacks. This makes it extremely important to tighten the reign on the app permissions and security configurations.
5. Data Security
The whole purpose of implementing every security strategy, including the ZTA, is to protect corporate data. Data categorization, least-privileged access and data encryption are a must to safeguard sensitive business information.
6. Process Monitoring
Simply data protection is not enough, precautionary measures in terms of constant monitoring of networks, devices and associated systems have to be established. Predictive analytics help businesses anticipate emerging threats and take the necessary actions.
Scalefusion for Zero-Trust Security
Scalefusion MDM offers extensive features that cater to the key principles of the Zero-trust security model and helps businesses reinforce their data security.
1. User Activity Monitoring With Extensive Reports
Pull extensive reports for various device vitals such as account activity, unlock attempts, WiFi connectivity reports, etc. and keep a constant track of your user activities and organization-wide device usage. Scalefusion dashboard lets you constantly monitor the health of your inventory with comprehensive reports which can also be scheduled for a particular time frame for deeper analysis.
2. Organization-Wide Monitoring With DeepDive Analytics
Gain a 360-degree overview of your organization-wide inventory with Scalefusion’s DeepDive analytics. You can leverage a comprehensive overview of your devices, platform summaries, last connected stats, compliance violations and much more straight from the Scalefusion dashboard.
3. Automated Compliance Alerts With Workflows
Create automated workflows and pre-schedule routine IT security and management tasks including periodic OS and system updates, locking and unlocking devices, pushing apps on device groups and much more. Schedule routine checks and obtain compliance alerts based on security incidents.
4. Passcode Policy Configuration
Improperly secured devices and endpoints are prone to data leakage. Passwords and repeated authentication form the basis of the Zero-trust security model. Your IT admins can enforce strict password policies on all your employees’ devices from the Scalefusion dashboard. The Passcode Policy entails the password strength, complexity as well as frequency of password renewal to help employees protect their devices efficiently.
5. Network Security Configuration
Because improperly secured networks are one of the biggest entry points for hackers, Scalefusion offers several security features to protect the corporate network. VPN configurations, firewalls and certificate management can be deployed straight from the Scalefusion dashboard.
6. Endpoint Protection Policies
IT admins can enforce a variety of security configurations that allow your data to be protected even if your devices are lost. Scalefusion enables you to remotely lock your lost or stolen devices and erase your corporate data to prevent sensitive business information from falling into the wrong hands. To add an extra layer of security, you can also configure data encryption policies with BitLocker on your Windows devices and FileVault on your macOS devices.
7. Secure App Distribution
The decision of which apps are to be pushed on the employees’ Scalefusion-managed devices lies in the hands of the IT admins. You can distribute secure and trusted apps from the Google PlayStore, Apple App Store, Windows Business Store or in-house apps using the Scalefusion Enterprise Store. All the app-related controls such as app permissions, timely updates, installing and uninstalling of apps can be taken care of from the dashboard.
8. Kiosk Lockdown
Scalefusion allows IT admins to go an extra mile in securing the app usage and preventing unauthorized device usage with the Kiosk Lockdown. You can lock your employees’ devices into a single-app Kiosk mode, or multi-app Kiosk mode to run preselected apps on the devices and block usage of all the rest. This not only strengthens security but also improves employee focus and productivity.
9. Role-Based Access to the Scalefusion Dashboard
Lastly, because the main concept of the Zero-trust security model is to never trust and always verify, Scalefusion allows IT admins to configure Role-based access to the dashboard. IT admins can manage administrators, configure SAML-based sign-in, create custom roles such as group admin, device admin, co-account manager, etc. and customize permissions for each role.
They say trust takes forever to build and seconds to break. In the corporate setup, trust acts as a vulnerability that can cause immense damage to a business’s reputation and revenue, if broken. With the world advancing towards a desk-less work environment, businesses need new levels of security to protect their integrity from the rising cyber threats. The Zero-trust security model is a promising way to address the challenges presented by remote working environments.
An ideal way for businesses to build their Zero-trust security model is to invest in a comprehensive MDM solution like Scalefusion, which helps enterprises manage diverse configurations and organization-wide deployments from a single unified console.