Zero Trust Policy-Always question before you allow

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If you receive an email from your colleague, what do you do? Undoubtedly, you open it.

This innate trust that we carry is what causes internal threats and breaches given how often internal emails seldom come with warning messages and why should they, you may wonder. What then can you do to protect your organization against internal threats?

We’ve massive firewalls to protect us from external threats and these perimeters are focused on keeping the external threats at bay, but, what is left unattended are internal threats themselves. The ideology that external access is unsafe and internal access is safe is the root of this mindset.

Insider threats cost organizations an average of 8.3 Million a year. Today, as the world gets smaller with its feasibility of access across all devices and the rise of cloud technology—it is imperative that organizations transition into a space of Zero Trust Policy.

What is Zero Trust Policy?
Zero Trust Policy is an approach where you assume all networks—internal and external, are supposed to go through a process to gain your trust. Just because access is supposedly from your own user, or the device belongs to your user does not mean that can be trusted by default. Neither does it mean that you don’t trust your internal corporate ecosystem, it simply means you always question before you allow.

Without Zero Trust, your hackers will only need to break through your external perimeter of security which is separating you and ‘them’ – the traditional approach of castle and moat. With lateral movement, they invade your internal network which offers minimum resistance, allowing them to move about freely and access your sensitive information.

Everything is in the open today – loopholes in your organization
There is a world of difference in today’s technology and what existed 25 years ago. The perception of protecting yourself from potential external cyber attacks is simply not enough. Once you have your network ports beyond the traditional office environment, and out in the world—your internal network of security goes out of the window.

It is a necessity to allow your employees feasibility of work location, time, and device. Your employees may be working from a café, wherein your traditional perimeter is as good as non-existent—here, you may not have control over the device directly, but you do have control over the policies that you set.

Often, for the sake of feasibility, exceptions are made in the internal networks on the demand of employees to reduce friction to their work. Even such seemingly harmless acts can have massive repercussions.

Also, with an ever-expanding business, an organization has employees, partners, and contractors all over the globe. It is virtually impossible to bring them all under your traditional perimeter.

Enforcing a stringent Zero Trust Policy, with a motto to “always verify, never trust” is the answer to all the situations which can compromise your security. This ensures that only the right people have access to the right resources and only at the right time. This lets you provide context to the accesses you provide without causing any conflict to the work of your employees—in fact, it allows them to be more secure.

How can you enforce it?
Enforcing Zero Trust is more than just a technology transformation. It is a cumulative union of the right mindset and processes.

  1. Know your user traffic- Always know what or who your users are interacting with. All the traffic from your users must be tracked to ensure they are using the right applications, at the right time and in the right manner for which checkpoints at the intersection of user interactions must be available. Single Sign-On is a critical feature to ensure all the applications are accessed from a single point of contact and can also eliminate password hassles. An important step to ensure all your user identities, both on-premise and cloud are in one effective consolidated manner, you must have a unified directory where the database of all your users is made available in one comprehensive unit.
  2. Authenticate everything – You might have infinite trust on your user, but it is imperative to understand if it is indeed your user who is trying to interact with your network. Multi-Factor Authentication allows your users to verify their identities with ease and at the same time keeps your attacker at bay.
  3. Enforce effective governance policies- An integral part of building sub-perimeters internally is to enforce a comprehensive, fool-proof governance policy. Here you can assign accesses based on each role and further allocate appropriate time-frames for each access. This ensures applications are only made available when required and follow the assigned pathways.
  4. Notify your users- When your user access shows signs of an anomalous behavior—an unusual time, location, IP address, and device, then the user must get an automated push notification and go through an additional verification process. This allows the user to access the application with ease if it is indeed your user, else, it empowers them to deny the attack that was impersonating them.
  5. Access Certification- It is important that accesses are monitored and managed as easily as they are provided. A seamless access certification/review allows respective managers to monitor, allow and revoke accesses with ease.
  6. Multi-tenancy- If an organization has multiple sections, mergers, and acquisitions, it gets complicated to streamline accesses and enable them without causing a conflict of interest within applications. Your IAM operations can be decentralized using “sub-tenants” where the administrative rights to the different sections or companies can be tailored based on each requirement.

Enforcing a strong Identity and Access Management solution in your organization is the stepping stone to enable yourself with Zero Trust Policy. Empower your users with productivity and allow yourself to trust your users with the right validation.

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