The cost of data breaches and successful cybersecurity attacks continues to rise across the globe. In fact, over the last few months, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, instances of malicious threats and their subsequent damage rose exponentially. According to IBM’s annual Cost of Data Breach Report, the average cost of a single data breach incident comes in at a whopping $4.24 million. This is the highest figure since these annual reports were put in place.

Small and medium businesses are no longer safe from malicious entities in today’s digital landscape. Every company is fair game as far as hackers are concerned. With the changes ushered in by COVID-19, it is all the more crucial to protect your operation from these potentially business-destroying threats. 

Arguably, employing a Zero-Trust Security protocol is one of the most effective ways to safeguard your company’s most sensitive data. In this article, we will explore Zero-trust security protocols, including how it works and the benefits you can gain from the framework. 

What is Zero Trust Security? 

At the core of the Zero Trust Security framework is the assumption that no credentials should be trusted. Regardless if the user is outside or within the organization’s network, access requires authentication, authorization, and continuous validation.

There are several forms of Zero Trust Security. In fact, companies can craft their own form of this framework. Nevertheless, there are a number of recognized organizations that created a standard for Zero Trust Security protocols. The NIST 800-207 is a set of Zero Trust guidelines that aim to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and create granular control over credentials and access. 

The NIST 800-207 highlights seven crucial zero trust security tenets, including:

  • Considering all data sources as “resources”
  • Securing all forms of communication
  • Proving Access “Per Session”
  • Securing All Devices
  • Implementation of Dynamic Authentication and Authorization before providing access
  • Collecting as much information about the network as possible

Most governing bodies, including all U.S. Federal Agencies, adhere to the NIST 800-207 for their Zero Trust Security protocols. The response resulted from the ever-increasing number of high-profile attacks in 2020 and early in 2021. 

How Does Zero Trust Security Work?

Truth be told, implementing a Zero Trust Security framework isn’t as simple as downloading a singular software. This protocol is a combination of several advanced cybersecurity technologies that aim to protect a network and its data at every point. Such advancements include multi-factor authentication, endpoint security, and cloud technology. 

Zero Trust Security is a welcome departure for the current security principle “trust but verify.” Instead, this framework operates on a “Never Trust, Always Verify” standard. This architecture requires continuous monitoring and validation for all users and devices within and outside a network. It is hinged on real-time visibility with all access requests vetted. In this model, one-time verification and authentication aren’t enough to protect a network’s data. 

Core Principles of Zero Trust Security

Aside from the seven tenets, the NIST 800-207 Zero Trust Security also complies with three core principles. This includes:

  • Continuous Verification

As mentioned earlier, the Zero Trust Security framework operates on a “Never Trust, Always Verify” principle. As such, this protocol trusts no zone, credentials, access, user, or device at any time. Continuous verification is required of any user trying to get access to a network. Zero Trust Security protocols employ continuous verification through risk-based conditional access. This ensures that user experiences aren’t compromised even with a high level of security verification. 

  • Limited Credential Scope

Aside from verifying all users that try to gain access, Zero Trust Security always tries to limit the scope of damage in cases of successful attacks. Through identity-based segmentation and the least privilege principle, users, even those with credentials, are given limited access to the network. 

  • Automated Information Collection and Response

Zero Trust Security strategies should build on previous security encounters. This framework continuously processes data and acts on pertinent changes in real-time if done effectively. 

Zero Trust Security Implementation Stages

As mentioned earlier, implementing Zero Trust Security protocols isn’t easy. It is also not a one-size-fits-all. Each organization can craft a Zero Trust Security strategy that fits its needs. Nevertheless, there are three general stages involved in implementing zero trust protocols. 

The first stage entails visualizing the external or internal threat. In this stage, an organization’s primary goal is to identify all possible threats to the network. In this stage, all endpoints are sought out and accounted for. 

After identifying threats, mitigating attacks is the next crucial step in the Zero Trust Security framework. During the second step, organizations are often ready to face possible attacks through a combination of real-time monitoring, behavioral analytics, and limiting access and breach impact. 

Once a workable mitigation plan is set in place, the last step involves optimizing the security protocols and extending the protection to every aspect of the organization. 

Benefits of Employing Zero Trust Security

There are plenty of benefits that come with employing Zero Trust Security for your business. Because of its stringent attributes, it reduces a company’s risk of falling for cybersecurity attacks and data breaches. It provides a clearer picture of the network’s current status, including everyone who has access to it. 

It also allows organizations to move to a cloud-based architecture without the threat of losing control over a network. Through Zero Trust Security, assets enjoy ample protection without being affected by different network constructs, including IP addresses and ports. 

Likewise, Zero Trust Security protocols ensure that a company is compliant with privacy standards. Because this framework protects all users and connections from the internet, information can neither be shared nor exploited. 

Building a zero-trust security framework from scratch is neither simple nor easy. It requires a level of expertise and familiarity with a company’s goals and priorities. 

Thankfully, your company doesn’t have to go through the transition alone. We at SecureBrain offer tried-and-tested security solutions that would complement any Zero Trust security strategy. Reach out to us today to learn more about what we have to offer.