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What is Zero-Trust & How Can It Help Your Organisation?

The landscape of modern, digital business has seen the threat of cyber-attack loom large. Nowadays, organisations of all shapes and size face an ongoing battle to protect their data and systems.

We discussed this with London IT support companies that have been providing support to different kinds of businesses for many years. The consensus is that traditional security models – those the focus on perimeter defences – are no longer sufficient in mitigating modern cyber-risk.

This is why Zero-Trust has become an increasingly popular topic for businesses and security experts. But what exactly is zero-trust, and how can it help your organisation?

Understanding Zero-Trust

Zero-trust is a security framework that operates on the principle of “never trust, always verify”. This means that in a zero-trust organisation, no user – not even the CEO of the company – is assumed to be trustworthy. Every time – and at any level – that a user wants to access company systems or resources, they will be required to verify their identity and authority to access the resources. In this way, zero-trust is closely associated with security principles like Access Control (which stipulates that users will only have access to resources they need directly in their line of work).

Traditionally, businesses’ security frameworks relied on a perimeter-based model. This approach assumes that once a user has verified themselves at the perimeter, they are deemed trustworthy. 

Unfortunately, there are many types of modern cyber-threat that deem this ineffective. With insider attacks, advanced persistent threats, identity theft, and more, there are many ways that malicious actors can get past the company perimeter where, assuming there are no restrictions on access, they can do, see, and take whatever they want. This is understood in the tech sector, which is why the IT support London-based professionals recommend typically includes the use of security models like access control, multi-factor authentication, network segmentation, and (increasingly) Zero-trust.

Benefits of Zero-Trust

There are a great many benefits to adopting a zero-trust model of security. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Enhanced Security Posture

Zero-trust models encompass a complex set of solutions that connect together to make a business’ overall security posture much more robust.

With practices like multi-factor authentication, network segmentation, encryption, and identity and access control, the overall, end-to-end security of a company’s network becomes increasingly resilient to attack.

  1. Protection Against Insider Threats

Insider threats are a significant risk to organisations nowadays. They may be malicious in nature, or unintentional – rooted in negligence or user error. Either way, zero-trust is an effective way of mitigating the risk of insider threats.

A traditional security model – one that assumes all users that have access to the organisation beyond its perimeter – is less able to detect and identify insider threats. But with zero-trust models, all users at every level are subject to the same level of scrutiny.

  1. Mitigation of Lateral Movement and Privilege Escalation

When malicious actors infiltrate the perimeter of an organisation, they typically attempt to move laterally within the company’s network and systems – the goal being to escalate their own privileges within the network.

Many providers of IT support North London businesses have had success with recommend zero-trust approach specifically because it allows organisations to segment their networks, and apply strict controls and authentication requirements for each segment. This in turn means that it is much harder to move laterally within a network, because users must prove their identity and access permissions at every single gateway.

  1. Improved Incident Response and Detection Capabilities

Due to the segmented nature of zero-trust environments (as laid out above) it is much easier for organisations to detect, respond to, and contain a threat that has crossed their perimeter.

In addition to segmentation, zero-trust implements continuous and detailed monitoring – this includes metrics such as network traffic, user behaviour, and system logs. These monitoring allows organisations to quickly identify anomalous activities, and investigate them to ascertain whether they are malicious.

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